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 There is a somewhat outdated, but useful guide online.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 unsplash.com, 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 godaddy.com offers, but the company apparently has some issues, so I opted for 3-year starter options from dreamhost.com, 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.