Building a Website

Journalists use the internet more than any other resource to find experts. As a result, it’s important for all researchers to maintain updated professional looking websites that will pop up early in search results.

Your personal or lab website is a critical part of your communications toolkit – a place to house your biography, CV, information about your research and scholarship, content you produce and media outlets you’ve been featured in.

While your college or department may offer a page for your basic contact information and CV, a personal website allows more flexibility regarding what content you include. No matter which website you choose to use, including relevant and current information is key.

Websites at MSU

Cascade Server Framework

The Cascade Framework used by MSU has been redesigned from the ground up to be responsive (looks optimal on various devices), brand and accessibility compliant, and supported by University Communications. There is no charge for using the Cascade CMS or for storing content on the Cascade server. A Framework demonstration website provides samples of its style, layout and features.

Advantages:

  • Quick to set up and create a web presence
  • Content is entered on pre-built pages
  • Brand-compliant
  • Supported by University Communications
  • Training is provided as a series of free online self-paced modules via the D2L application
  • Includes flexible page styles, layouts, functionality and flexibility and style of a custom website without the time or designer/developer expense

Alternative option

The Digital Presence and Public Scholarship Initiative in the College of Arts and Letters provides individuals across MSU with server space and website capabilities so they can take charge of their online presence.

With a Reclaim Hosting account, you can create a professional portfolio site using WordPress, a free, open-source content management system. We provide you with the space and human support via training, an optional fellowship program, and on-demand appointments, giving you the freedom to create and share your work with the world.

Web Hosting – Arrange for web hosting a few weeks prior to launching the website. Your website must reside on a web server before web browsers can retrieve the pages. IT Services provides web hosting at a nominal fee, and some colleges have space available on their web servers for hosting websites within their departments.

Visit the Tech Website Services web hosting page and use the Service Request Option link in the callout box on the right to request that a web hosting account be set up for your website.

Domain Name – The domain name is the “user-friendly” internet address of your web server. Request a domain name a few weeks prior to launching the website. This may take several days to approve. When your web hosting is in place, your domain will point to the web server where your site is hosted. The Technology at MSU website has more information about domain names. Use the first link under the Contact section in the right callout box to request a new domain name for your website.

MSU A-Z Index (optional) – Consider what you may want to add to the MSU A-Z Index page. Note: A valid domain name is required. When your site is launched, use this online form to add your site and contact info.

Website Content

Content– Plan what information you would like to present. Arrange content logically into categories or "buckets" that will become your main navigation. Think about what information you’d like the homepage to contain – who you are and what your site will offer. Write new content or update existing content for the pages. Gather info for staff, news and other pages. Think about images to display with your content. Still not sure where to start? Here are some options:

  • Homepage (current highlights)
  • Projects/research/lab
  • News and/or publications (Articles or papers about your research, stories you’ve been quoted in, etc.)
  • Biography (Include both a conversational description and link to your CV)
  • Contact information

Images– Gather images and graphics, including staff photos and bios, news articles, events, publications, resources/links, etc. Make sure you own the images or have proper authorization to use them.

Social Media Accounts– Include links on your website to any relevant social media accounts you maintain.

Reciprocal Links– If you would like to provide links to other websites and have them in turn display a link to your website, make arrangements with the site owners.