Branding Guide for Personal Websites
Ever since the word brand became the unavoidable topic of any serious business conversation, there has been much discussion about the necessity, and the value of personal branding.
Unfortunately, all of these discussions are based on the false assumptions that once we find ourselves a job in some large corporation, our personal brands cease to exist and became the small cog in the much larger branding machinery. That is simply not true, especially in the IT industry which was always driven by the extraordinary individuals. Since personal websites are the best tool for personal branding, we will take a look how we can improve them. In return, they will help us to become a highly-sought commodity in the IT labor market, and retain that status, even when we become a part of some organization.
Do not take the Easy Route
Since you are going to use a personal website as a branding tool that should represent your best self, it goes without a saying that it should not look sloppy and unprofessional. Still, those are the requirements that should be left for regular bloggers, and people who are not experienced in programming or developing. The fact that you are seeking a job in very tech-savvy industry imposes an extra effort you need to put in. So, forget the amateurish WordPress websites, and build your branding tool from the ground up, even if it takes some money and time.
Take the Proactive Stance
Meaning that your website should not emulate the look of a social media page, where you have all the info, but not really a purpose. If your end goal is to find a job, you should take the proactive stance and populate the website with the content which should help you in doing so. You may not have a logo, or a slogan (they are not out of the table, though), but you can use your personal traits to transmit one cohesive message throughout the site. Populate it with the best examples of your past works, and strongly consider starting a blog. It will drastically increase the visibility of your website, and it will serve as further proof of your expertise.
Figure out the Website Skeleton
As for the website itself, you will need a rock-solid, clear, and intuitive design, so you should spend some time with pen and paper sketching the layout. What will make that more difficult is that there are no general rules how all websites should be laid out. Still, you will have to make sure to have all the important things right there on the home page, so the visitors are spared of digging too much through the navigation menus. Your personal info must always be visible somewhere at the top of the website, no matter where the visitors are. As for the rest, the choice will you put more things on one page, or you will separate the content in well-rounded topics is up to you. Still, do not force the visitors to heavily rely on the back functionality.
Taking Care of the Visual Elements
Visual appeal is a matter of personal taste, and the trends change every now and then, but considering Google’s current material design, and the Microsoft’s striped down look present throughout the Windows 10, we can get a pretty good picture where the bandwagon is heading. Feel free to jump on it, and try to do more with less. Instead of overfilling the page with pictures and gimmicks, choose one large picture which speaks thousands of words, and a few simple statements which will accompany it. You will get more elegant solution, while decreasing the loading times (more on that soon). Calibri and Times New Roman are your worst enemies, while the white spacing will be your friend. Finally, do not be afraid to ask what you do not know. There are a lot of blogs where you can have a skills talk or obtain relevant business advice so you can learn more about the efficient web-design.
Ease of Access
Amongst the numerous sins your personal branding tool can have the worst of them is not being accessible. The staggering number of 40% of users will abandon the website after just 3 seconds of loading, while amongst the mobile users, which are even more vulnerable to loading difficulties, we can easily say that percentage is larger. To make things worse, once the mobile users load your website, if it is not optimized for the mobile access, you will greet them with menus which are not thumb-friendly and endless panning and zooming. Now you may think that your potential employers and clients will not check out your website from their smartphones, and that they have at least decent connection, so loading times will not be a problem, and you will probably be right. Still, do not be so sure that they will not take into consideration how well you have handled these important issues before employing you.
Your personal website is your most important branding tool. It will get you on the radar, and it will help you to stay relevant even if you become a part of some large, faceless corporation. Therefore, you should not take it lightly. Do your best to make it as good as possible, because every single flaw will make your efforts amount to nothing.
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