You're starting a personal website to better market and brand yourself to future employers? That's fantastic! We should all have a website that best represents our work and our passions.
However, there's certainly a few things that SHOULDN'T be on that personal website, and I've compiled a list of the most important. I hope these help as you begin the design and concept of your site! You're about to kick some serious butt.
We start with the biggest no-no of all. I can't begin to explain how bad it hurts to see fellow creatives using copyrighted material that belongs to ANOTHER creative! In this large community, we need to foster support and acknowledgement of each other--both financially and emotionally.
If you like a piece of art made by a fellow creative, please pay them! Or, request a specific design if they are a custom designer. I've often noticed people that I personally know using copyrighted material on their websites. This is not okay in any circumstance and will most likely be frowned upon by any employer who is considering hiring you--especially if you work in the Communications/PR field. This is what we do best - they don't want to hire someone who could potentially get them sued.
In a creative or digital field, it's necessary that you appear on top of your stuff! Having broken links (especially to main content - main navigation and most obvious links) is a definite no-no. This might be the make it or break it as to whether or not you are hired or sent an inquiry.
Specifically in my field of digital marketing, I highly doubt that any of my potential clients would want to hire someone who has a site full of broken links.
More often these days, a patterned background is considered outdated and messy. Most professionals (and professional websites) do not use background images on their website and I've heard this echoed often in webinars by the best and brightest in the biz.
Not only do I not want my own website to look cluttered and messy, I don't want to hire someone to work for me if they designed a less-than-standard site that showcases their less-than-clean approach.
In addition to the patterned background, make sure that you stay on top of industry standards in design as best as you can. I still see websites that look like they were legit designed in the early 2000s, late 1990s and I can't help but cringe.
Ditch those old web servers and opt for something modern such as WordPress or Squarespace (and always be sure to invest in a quality template if your coding skills aren't "up to speed with the times"). This is your one, big chance to make a lasting first impression.
A LESS-THAN-INVITING PHOTO
Psychology has proven that employers (and people in general) are more likely to be drawn to those with photos of themselves smiling on their digital portfolios, social media pages and resumes. If you're scowling or attempting to pose with "serious face", think twice before adding this photo to your site or LinkedIn profile.
Also, make sure that there's no major shadows or lighting issues in the photo and ensure that the photo accurately represents you. Filters are fine, but don't go overboard!
GENERAL APPARENT MISSPELLINGS
Of course, we're all human and we all make mistakes! There's no need to beat yourself up if you miss one word here and there on a webpage or in a blog post (I do it allllll the time). However, if it's apparent that you have many, many misspellings on your site, that can often give off a bad reputation to your potential employers.
Have a friend or fellow professional vet your website for any major, glaring grammatical errors and spelling mishaps prior to publishing. You'll thank me later.
A LACK OF BRANDING
Girl, it's always necessary to show your spirit through your brand! If you haven't invested in a branding package (or made your own) yet, I highly suggest it. Yes, it's going to cost you financially, but it's so, SO worth it for the pay off.
I enlisted a dear calligraphy artist friend, Riana Nelson to create both my blog and business branding. I couldn't be happier! Riana is a great person to utilize when it comes to logo and watermark, letterhead and business card branding packages. Go check her out!
Having the bare bones of at least a logo and one-two watermarks, along with a few brand colors (HEX codes) is key. If you want to go crazy, by all means craft matching business cards, invoice template and letterhead, but just keep in mind your budget. I'm starting small as my business grows - with time I'll be able to invest in more intricate pieces.
IMPROPERLY ADDED EXTERNAL LINKS
Of course this might be an obvious eighth item, but often times it isn't to many. When you add an external link to your site (that is, a link from someone else's website - not an internal link which would be found from your own site), always be sure you prompt it to "open in a new tab".
You don't want to send people away from your website once you've already converted them to visiting it. Adding this new tab feature allows people to visit that fellow website without leaving yours. If you don't select this new tab option, when people click on the link, they will be directed to that new website and will inevitably leave yours.
Did these tips help? Have any to add? Leave your comments below!