Thursday, March 6, 2008

The importance of a good web page

One of my assignments this semester is to make a web page for myself. I think that all graduate students should have to do this. When I was searching for prospective departments and advisors, I did most (if not all) of my research based on web pages. I found it frustrating when a professor had a lab full of students but no links to student web pages. Grad student web pages are extremely useful for prospective students to find out who is in the department, what they're doing, and who they're working with. From the grad student perspective, it's a great way to put your interests "out there" even before you get published in your field. I mean, think about how long it can take from the time you conceptualize and design your project to the time you present or publish it? Having a web page (especially linked to your advisor) is a great way to advertise your existence in the field.

I'm looking forward to making my own web page. I haven't really ever had one (blogs definitely don't count), but I did maintain a site for a student organization while I was at SFC. I learned quite a bit from that experience about the process of using templates and organizing material within pages, but this time I'm starting from scratch. It's fun. I'm keeping my eyes out for grad student web pages that I really like. Here's an example of one that I think is attractive, classy, well-organized, and informative.

One of the biggest pitfalls in personal web pages seems to be their maintenance. I hope that I won't ever let mine get years out of date because it looks so careless to see something that says "Coming in spring 2006" nowadays. I learned from the web page work I did in college that it's important to use dates rather than referring only to seasons to reduce maintenance and keep information up to date (i.e. say, "I began graduate school in fall 2007" rather than "I started grad school last fall"). I know how easy it can be to let something like updating your web page get put permanently on the back burner, but your web page makes an impression. Why not make it a good one?


EcoGeoFemme said...

I've been thinking about this for awhile, but not doing anything. I think my advisor's site has some limp page about each of his students as of fall 2003. My impression of my Uni is that it's a big pain to upload material (I have no web experience outside of my blog). I've thought about having a website elsewhere, but I like the credibility of the .edu. Thoughts?

Karina said...

I think it would be kind of weird for an academic (scientist at least) to have a web page about their research that wasn't .edu, unless they are also a popular author or something. I imagine your advisor would want to help you get a web page up because it would let people know what his students are doing. I think it makes them look better too.