Real Estate

December 14, 2006 at 3:23 pm | Posted in Websites | 1 Comment

These days, having a good up-to-date personal website can be as important as having a good CV for an academic. If you are applying for a job, you can be sure that someone on the committee has googled you. Also, if you meet someone at a conference and got them interested in your work, your website is the first place they will look for further details.

Most postdocs know how annoying it can be to constantly have to change jobs, and there is an associated change the location of your website each time. This means that people have to update their links every time you move. Also, the URLs of personal homepages at academic institutions are often long and not very easy to remember, so it would be better to have a permanent catchy URL for your site. The solution to this is to buy your own domain name, as I did recently with mattleifer.info. Rob.rwspekkens.com and scottarronson.com are further examples from my colleagues. This has the added advantage of providing me with the email address matt{at}mattleifer.info, which also won’t change when I move. You can buy your own domain name from many companies. I used GoDaddy, which is one of the largest companies with a reputation for the cheapest prices (5.99USD per year in my case). Here are some points to bear in mind when buying your domain:

  • A lot of people want a .com domain because these are the most common and easiest to remember. Strictly speaking, .name and .info are the more appropriate for personal websites, even though your website may be about “selling yourself”. Although these are less common at the moment, their usage should be increasing in the next few years, so they are worth bearing in mind.
  • After purchasing your domain name you have two options. Either you can get the domain name to be forwarded to your existing website at your institution, or you can opt to have it hosted on a server elsewhere. If you do the former, you have to comply with any restrictions your institution has about what you can put on your site and you have to remember to update when you change institution. On the plus side, this option is usually free, and it is what I did. External hosting is usually only free if you are prepared to have obtrusive ads on your site, and it can be quite costly, but you do get a choice of different companies with different regulations, so you can find one that will let you put up whatever you want so long as it’s legal. This could be relevant if you want to write applications to run on your site, since your institution may not support the tools you need installed on the server side. If you don’t know what that last sentence is about then it probably doesn’t apply to you and you should just use forwarding.
  • Companies like GoDaddy are cheap, but they will try to extract money from you by upselling. This means they will try to convince you to buy hosting, security features, etc. when you buy your domain name. Work out if you need any of this stuff before you go to the site and investigate how much it costs from other companies. If in doubt, just buying the domain name is probably the best option.
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