Preparing a (Professional) Personal Website

Every member of the MSCS Department with an account on the server "" has space for a website at the URL

where "username" is the name you use to log into your math account (not your NetID.) This provides you with a great opportunity to develop a personal website as a key part of your job search. Consider your website as a "dynamic curriculum vitae" which gets updated with additional information as it seems pertinent.

For example, on your web site you can feature a list of seminars you have given, or a complete list of the courses you have taught, and include as much as you care to about your duties in these courses. You can also include links to any preprints you have written.

Here is a listing of the current graduate student personal web pages in the MSCS department. Take a look at some (or all) of them to see what other students decided to put on their web pages, and for ideas about design. Recall, you can always view the source code for any web page to see how they did it!

Note that for future consideration, when applying for jobs, your web site gets listed on your application and any application form, like the online service for academic jobs, so that prospective employers are essentially encouraged to check it out.

This means that if you do maintain a personal web site, it must convey a professional appearance. If a member of the Search Committee considering your application sees that your web page is" All Goth, All the Time", well, they just might develop some hesitations to hire you to teach their innocent students. Whatever. Even if you don't list your web site on an application, the hiring committee members are likely to find it with a quick google search.


The Mechanics of Creating a Website

Well, it is easy, and it is hard. The easy part is that all you need is an ascii (text) editor to write the webpages in html language, and a secure FTP client to move the text files up to the directory "~/public_html/" in your account main directory "" The hard part is that you have to know something about writing html documents to do it this simply.

Much easier is to use a "WYSIWYG" web editor - where you just type and the editor writes the appropriate code. The Cadillac such program is Dreamweaver for Mac and Windows. But this cost money - though students can buy it at steep discount via the AAAC - the price is around $100. If you plan to do a lot of web development, this is the recommended tool of choice - at least for some of us.

There are also other web editors, which are free. Try googling "web editor mac" or "web editor windows".

For Mac: try this link to HTML Editors
For windows: try this link to HTML Editors.

But these are just two of many such sites. Ask around to find out what others use.

These HTML Editors usually have a secure FTP feature built into them. Otherwise, download an FTP client as well. For the Mac, there are several, including a personal favorite "Transmit". For Windows, the free software "PuTTY" serves this purpose.

After you have your HTML Editor and FTP client, you then can start working on your web page. The old adage was to find a page you copy, then download the source file using the "View Source" option on web browsers, which shows the underlying HTML code. This is still a good idea if the web page you like is designed using "standard code" - but many web sites these days use various server scripts to generate them, and may have enormous amounts of specialized JavaScripts embedded in them, which makes copying almost impossible.

Always a good strategy: Study the "designs" of other web sites, to develop a sense of what a good web page looks like, and what information you might want to include on yours; and what NOT to include. The design of a truly effective web site is still an art form. And my personal philosophy is: Less Is More.

Also, try a web search for one of the zillions of web tutorials, and work through it; or buy a book on it, and work through it; or persuade through various devices a fellow grad student (or even perhaps a younger sibling still in High School or University) to show you how to do it.

Whatever - Just Do It.


October 4, 2011 - Return to home