Your personal academic website is your online identity. And you get to choose what it looks like! A good rule of thumb for design is to keep things simple (a nice neutral color palette works best) and consistent (i.e. don't use different colored text for each page). Avoid long walls of text in which the reader can get lost; pictures or block quotes are a great way to break up paragraphs. Above all, keep the design professional-looking and non-cluttered.
Professionalism must apply to your content as well. Potential employers as well as your teachers and students will be looking at your site on a regular basis. You want it to make a good impression! A link to your Twitter feed or blog is admissible only if the contents is appropriate for a professional environment.
Now that you know how to make your site look good and what not to put on it, let's talk about what you should put on it. Most important is keeping your personal academic website up-to-date; as this great Chronicle article puts it, "Nothing says apathy like a website that hasn't been updated since 2004." Any time you do something new, add it to your site.
Content you might post includes but is certainly not limited to:
- a short biographical piece, introducing yourself to site visitors
- your resume/CV
- your teaching philosophy and any courses you are teaching (or have taught), plus teaching-related media like photos/videos and evaluations
- your research interests and information on your dissertation/thesis - maybe even an excerpt or two
- links to your publications (if any) and your favorite academic resources
- information about related professional experience
- social media feeds or links - if appropriate!
- a blog for self-assessment and developmental content, to chronicle your triumphs and struggles as a grad student