On the last day of class, also the last day of Week 3 DHSI 2015, we worked on our individual projects. Many in the class created new websites on WordPress.com and especially Squarespace. WordPress.com websites are easy to setup, there are many free themes, and the blogging function is pretty straightforward. For those in the class that did not want a blog but did want a more stylish web presence, Squarespace was the favorite. There is no free tier for Squarespace, but the monthly cost is only around $8, or less with education pricing. Squarespace also has blogging features, but most of the students in the class that went with Squarespace chose to make a static website.
WordPress.com is free, however they also place ads on your site. These ads are seen by seen by a small percentage of visitors, and they help WordPress.com cover expenses. For academics entering the job market though, these ads can make the site look a little unprofessional. Since it’s difficult to tell who will see the ads and when (possibly a hiring committee, who might only visit the site once), it’s best to pay for an ad-free website, about $30 yearly.
Many of the Squarespace templates were clean and crisp. Students in the class really liked the clean modern design of Squarespace, but some found the customization options a little tricky. One of the students emailed Squarespace for help during class, and she received a reply within minutes. Such great customer service is another compelling reason to go with Squarespace.
Later in the afternoon we worked on grants and other types of project proposals. Some of us wrote proposals on the spot, while others refined documents they had already been working on. We used Dr. Karen’s Foolproof Grant Template, focusing on the transition between the initial “large general topic of wide interest” and the “gap in knowledge” section. This transition can make or break a grant proposal — it’s in the beginning of the document and it must be compelling and informative in order to catch the eye of the funding committee.