Building a group website

This is the first time I created a website. Let’s not count the joke websites we made as teenagers (although it did first expose me to html code) and helping my PhD mentor setting up his site using plug-and-play wordpress. So how did I do it? Just a quick note (that, if anything, will help as a reminder to myself).

Building the Website

Since I love programming in R, and especially doing so using RStudio, I looked into ways of using R to create websites using only open source ressources. Turns out, it’s possible and really simple. All you need is an R package called blogdown. There is a somewhat outdated, but useful guide online. Blogdown uses the static site generator hugo under the hood, and I found the ‘starter-hugo-academic’ template by wowchemy quite appealing, so that’s what the site is currently based on. I found a great source for free to use professional pictures in, any pictures you will find on this page will be from there.

It took me a while to understand the folder structures and what I had to edit in order to show up correctly, but eventually I had a decent basis. The most time was obviously spent on writing the actual content. Which was a strange process as well, with many questions to which I still don’t have a good answer: Should I write first person or third person? Should it all sound professional? Personal? Can I try to be funny? Is that doomed to only cause embarrassment? How much time do I spend? Is anyone actually going to read this? How much of the research projects do I reveal?

Hosting & Domain Name

If you google ‘domain name registration’, you’ll be swamped with offers. Without experience, it was impossible to tell if any of the hits were legit and/or good value for money. At least I found some blog posts describing some basic options, and I first checked out offers, but the company apparently has some issues, so I opted for 3-year starter options from, setting me back $31 for the first year (where the domain registration is free), $48 in year 2 & 3 ($17/year for the domain), and then will be $89 for the subsequent years (when first 3 year discount ends). At that point I might opt to migrate to the university’s own servers, especially if the group website should be used for providing scientific data to download.

Maximilian JLJ Fürst
Maximilian JLJ Fürst
Assistant Professor of Computational Protein Design

I research computational protein design and high-throughput protein engineering.