Your personal website is the first place people will go when they want to learn more about you. As such, it can be a powerful tool in helping shape how others see you—but only if you know what you’re doing.
A well-designed website that effectively highlights your skills and achievements can help you get hired, attract new clients, and create a positive online reputation. However, a cluttered, outdated, or hard-to-navigate website will make you look unprofessional and untrustworthy.
To help your personal website stand out from the crowd, you can take inspiration from the following successful sites and what they are doing right.
1. Madalyn Sklar—Shows how she helps people
Most people look you up online to learn why they should hire you, work with you, or otherwise connect with you. In short, they want to know what you can do for them.
Putting this information front and center—as opposed to scattering it throughout the page or placing it at the end—can help you avoid frustrating readers, thereby making it easier to garner new clients, contacts, and opportunities.
Twitter marketing expert Madalyn Sklar’s website excels at explaining how she helps people. She communicates this message in the first sentence (right after her name) and highlights it by formatting the words in a larger font and a different color than the rest of the text.
2. Gary Le Masson—Distinguishes himself from his competition
One key purpose of a personal website is to show people what makes you special. Gary Le Masson’s unique website, which resembles Google’s homepage, sets him apart from his fellow web analytics professionals and positions him as a fun and creative individual.
Visitors can view his experience and samples of his work—all displayed as if they are Google search results—by clicking on the Web Analytics tab. This unusual approach to website design increases the odds of people remembering Gary when they need to hire someone with his skills.
3. Sean Halpin—Creates an inviting atmosphere
Websites that contain huge chunks of text or are cluttered with too many design elements tend to overwhelm visitors, which makes them less likely to spend much time on a site. One website that does the opposite is Sean Halpin’s website.
With its minimalist design, pastel color scheme, and friendly childlike artwork, Sean’s site invites the reader to relax and spend time exploring what Sean has to offer as a web designer.
4. Aja Frost—Provides easy navigation
Website visitors want to find the information they are looking for quickly and easily. If your navigation links are too hard to find or in any way confusing, then people will soon become frustrated and leave.
To help visitors get what they came for, you should make navigation as easy as possible by prominently displaying all the necessary navigation links—like Aja Frost does on her website. By placing her navigation links at the top of the page and highlighting them with a blue background, she ensures that the information on her subpages is easily accessible.
5. Frankie Ratford—Uses memorable images
Visitors rarely read every word on a website. However, because humans are visual creatures, people do pay attention to images. This is why it’s important to use images that make a strong impression, like the main image on graphic designer Frankie Ratford’s personal website does.
The first thing you notice about Frankie’s website is the shocking yellow color of her background picture. This bright image helps Frankie’s site, and Frankie herself, stay at the top of people’s minds.
6. Brian Fanzo—Displays authenticity
The most effective personal websites are the ones that make human connections. One way to do this is to make the content on your site as authentic as possible—like Brian Fanzo does on his website.
Brian, a digital futurist and keynote speaker, gains people’s trust by:
- Using an informal font for the website headlines
- Featuring multiple candid photographs of him
- Employing humorous phrases such as “Press the damn button” and “Pager-Wearing Millennial”
- Including his personal history and interests on his Story page
7. Roberto Blake—Offers a clear call to action
If you’ve done it right, you’ve created your personal website to accomplish one or more specific purposes—whether it’s to get people to hire you, to sell your product or service, or to get subscribers to your newsletter. To accomplish these goals, your website needs to include a clear call to action.
Roberto Blake’s personal website is a great example of a site that effectively invites visitors to take action. It features not just one, but three calls to action to subscribe to his newsletter—one at the top of the page, one in the middle, and one at the bottom.
His website also contains calls to action to get people to subscribe to his YouTube channel and to hire him as a speaker.
8. Anthony Wiktor—Showcases his work
Whether you are looking for a new job or trying to gain more clients for your business, it’s not enough to just tell people how good you are at what you do, you need to prove it by showing them examples of your best work. This is why the best personal websites include some kind of online portfolio.
Designer and branding professional Anthony Wiktor’s website puts his portfolio front and center. In fact, it takes up the majority of the landing page. Clicking on each client’s logo takes you to an explanation of the challenges of that particular project and how Anthony’s firm overcame them.
9. Beth Frates, MD—Establishes herself as an authority
One of the many purposes of creating a personal website is to give yourself more credibility. You can do this by prominently displaying the following on your landing page:
- Awards or honors you have received
- Special training you have completed
- Prominent clients you’ve worked with
- Books you have written
On her personal website, Beth Frates, MD, establishes herself as an authority in the lifestyle medicine field by positioning herself as a “pioneer” and an “expert.” Additionally, the first sentence on her landing page talks about her awards for her educational work at Harvard.
People who click on her About page see a much more detailed biography that further enhances her identity as an industry thought leader.
10. K. Sparks—Makes it easy for people to contact him
One of the main purposes of a personal website is to get people to connect with you to hire you or work with you. As such, you need to make sure your contact information is easy to find on the page.
A good example of a website that prioritizes contact information is K. Sparks’s personal website. Here, the Hip Hop artist showcases his social media links and his email address (under the Booking link) on a static sidebar, so that it is visible on every page.
What to avoid
Now that you have learned the essential ingredients involved in creating a successful personal website, you should also know what things to avoid.
- Vulgar or inappropriate words or images—Language, jokes, and images that seem perfectly fine to you may be offensive to the people you are trying to impress. As such, you need to err on the side of caution when creating your website. A good rule of thumb is to only include things that would be acceptable in an office environment.
- Copying verbatim from other people’s websites—Imitation is not always the sincerest form of flattery. In fact, most people just think of it as “plagiarism.” While it’s fine to take inspiration from other people’s websites, stealing someone else’s work makes you look like you’re incapable of coming up with your own ideas. It also makes you look like a liar.
If you have questions or need advice on the best ways to create a personal website that helps you make a stronger impression online, give us a call. We are happy to provide a free consultation.