A beginner’s guide to setting up a website for your professional portfolio
Whether you’re a writer looking to showcase your work or a job hunter wanting to boost your CV, creating a website for your professional portfolio could be the ticket.
In this beginner’s guide, we’ll take you through the early stages of creating your website, including choosing a domain name, a host and an email address.
Deciding your domain name
Firstly, you need to decide on your domain name – this is what visitors put in a browser’s address bar to reach your site.
Your domain name is your website address. For example, the domain for the BBC is bbc.co.uk.
As you’re looking to build a website for your professional portfolio, whether that’s for articles or photography etc., it’s best to have the domain as your name, for example, yourname.com.
You can tweak this depending on your site’s purpose though – so you may choose to have the domain name as your brand or company name instead.
It’s worth pointing out that your first choice of domain name may not be available and is owned by someone else. You can search for the owner’s contact details via Whois, and enquire about buying it from them, but for privacy reasons, many hide their details. If the owner is willing to sell, you can expect it to be for a higher price than your standard registrar.
Then there comes the .co.uk, .org and .com situation.
We recommend choosing a domain extension that matches your location as search engines are smart enough to identify where a user is located. For example, UK users are more likely to see sites ending in .co.uk, US users will visit .com sites and Republic of Ireland users will reach .ie sites.
Top tip: Since .com is the most popular, it might be worth purchasing .com and .co.uk so that users can be redirected to the best site for them.
Purchasing your domain
If you’re based in the UK, it may be better to purchase your domain from a UK registrar such as Fasthosts. However, there are also US-based hosting providers that offer domain services such as GoDaddy. Domain names typically require an annual fee and they vary in price, however; on average domains cost around £5 to £10 per year.
Choosing a hosting provider
Once you’ve purchased your domain name, you need to find a hosting provider. The good news is that many companies offer both. Since this is a beginner’s guide, we’re going to focus on ways of creating your website via all-in-one solutions which will include hosting as part of the service. Therefore, you don’t necessarily need to know the ins and outs of web development.
WordPress powers 28% of the Internet. As a result, you can be sure they’re a trusted hosting provider.
If your professional portfolio consists of articles, WordPress is your best bet as it was originally developed as a blogging platform. However, you can build any site with WordPress, providing you choose the right plan. You can use WordPress for free, but it does mean that your domain name will be restricted to yourdomain.wordpress.com – not ideal for a personal, professional brand. Your site will also be subject to WordPress ads and limited designs.
However, WordPress offers a range of paid plans that give your site more flexibility, but as you may expect, the more flexibility, the higher the fee.
SquareSpace is another provider and is renowned for its slick appearance. Unlike WordPress, SquareSpace’s templates are fully customisable and as a result, this provider is best if you’re looking to showcase visual content, such as photos or graphic design. SquareSpace also features an intuitive content management system. This system does a lot of the heavy lifting for you. It allows you to drag and drop content on your site to make it look and behave the way you want. As a result, you don’t require any web development knowledge to create your website – however, its price plans are slightly more expensive, starting at $12 per month.
Wix is thought to be the easiest website builder to use. It is very similar to SquareSpace in that it enables you to create a stunning, modern site and allows you to arrange content via drag and drop. While you can use Wix for free, your site will have ads. However, by going with its starter plan at £5 per month you can remove these.
Creating your professional email
If you’re creating your own website, you might as well go the whole hog and create a professional email featuring your domain name, too. Therefore, instead of using firstname.lastname@example.org, you can have email@example.com. This is very professional and sure to solidify your personal brand.
You will need to purchase your custom email separately to your domain name, and you can do this via many providers, such as G Suite, which is owned by Google.
This guide should give you an idea of how easy it is to create a website. If you are thinking about going into web development, feel free to start out with the starter plans which will introduce you to website building. However, as you gain confidence, you may like to go up plans which enable you to customise more of your website and test out your skills.
About the author: Laura Slingo is Digital Copywriter for the UK’s leading job board, CV-Library. For more expert advice on job searches, careers and the workplace, visit their Career Advice pages.