If you’ve ever thought, “I should build a personal website, but there’s no way I could make a great one,” then read on, because we’ve got 16 reasons why that’s absolutely not true.
The sites below were submitted for our “Best Personal Websites of 2016” contest by readers just like you, most of whom had no prior design experience but used Squarespace to make a sleek online presence. We couldn’t have been more impressed—and from the sound of it, these professionals couldn’t be more pleased with the results they’ve seen from polishing up their personal brands.
Check out this list for a mega dose of inspiration (and a little kick in the butt!), then start working on your site today. Who knows? You could be next year’s winner (and reap plenty of rewards in the meantime)!
Winner: Tym Andrews
Andrews proves that you don’t need a lot of text to convey a lot of information. Using “six word stories” on his homepage, he gives a great snapshot of himself in a super digestible format. Not only did his website wow us, but his story warmed our hearts: He shared that the experience of building it has left him “refreshed, renewed, and ready to find my dream job!”
Second Place: Lexi Cotcamp
Cotcamp takes the cake for creative copywriting. Her quirky website text—e.g., “Think Leonardo da Vinci, but with more Dad jokes” to describe her personality and “Send a carrier pigeon” to direct people to her contact page—shows that you don’t have to be buttoned up to be professional, and that you really can let your personality shine with the words you choose.
Third Place: Leandro Martínez
Martínez smartly uses Squarespace’s landing pages to give readers a quick snapshot of who he is, then offers plenty of other avenues for those who want to learn more. And his portfolio is a great example of how you can make one visually interesting even if you aren’t an artist or designer.
For anyone who isn’t sure how to turn themselves into a brand, or who just wants to get a little more creative, consider the approach of Cath Pascual, who created a new brand—The Social Whatnot—to represent her work. We also loved how she layers black and white photos to make the site visually interesting without feeling busy.
5. Pinky Chan
Chan has worked on a variety of inspiring projects, and she uses that to her advantage here. Instead of writing long descriptions, Chan has created short, digestible bits with visually engaging images and then linked off to the project sites for people who want to explore more.
The lesson from Murdock’s site for all the artists, designers, and photographers out there: If you have beautiful work to show off, leave the rest of your site simple to really let it shine.
7. Danya Shults
Anyone can be inspired by Shults’ approach to create a simple one-page site, and fast! Just pick your favorite professional photo (or get a friend to take one), write a short and sweet bio, and link to your social sites where people can learn more. Done and done!
This is proof positive that even if you work in a more traditional industry—in Masterson’s case, education—you can still create an engaging website. We love that he doesn’t just outline his background and experience but also his philosophy, meaning we not only get a clear picture of what he does, but also how he approaches his work.
9. Abby Wolfe
Our favorite part of Wolfe’s online presence is her URL. When she found herself stuck with a common name and unable to buy abbywolfe.com, she went with thebestabbywolfe.com instead. Talk about one-upping the competition—and making sure your brand stands out online.
10. Shawn Waldron
Waldron’s site is a sleek representation of his professional life, but our favorite part is the personal gains he saw from the experience. “Building a personal site helped me focus after leaving a lengthy and beloved corporate position,” he shared. “The process forced me to honestly evaluate my skills (and identify areas for improvement) and catalog past accomplishments (great for an ego boost!) in order to create a solid personal brand as I began the next phase in my career.”
11. Olivia Lehmann
Multi-lingual or looking for opportunities in more than one country? Take a page out of Lehmann’s book and make versions of your site in both languages! It won’t be much more work (you can duplicate pages on Squarespace and drop in the translation) and will be super impressive in showing off your skills.
We’ve highlighted Watson on The Muse before for her creative job search strategy, and this website is just further proof that she’s using the web to go beyond the traditional resume. “Having a site makes applying for jobs and showing my portfolio off way easier,” she shares.
13. Taylor Engbrecht
Engbrecht’s site is clean and easy to digest. We especially like how she has a “Taylor at Work” and “Taylor at Home” section on her “About” page to show off both her professional aspirations and her personality.
14. Sarah Ong
If you have many different specialties, this site is a great model for you. Ong has created a portfolio page for each of her skills, meaning readers can easily go straight to the ones they’re interested and browse her amazing work.
15. Steve Kozel
Kozel has a lot of information to share, and he smartly organizes his site by the different skills he’s acquired over the years, with experiences, accomplishments, and examples under each. The continuous scroll makes it easy to keep on exploring all he has to offer.
16. Amy Thacker
While Thacker does include some of her photography in a traditional portfolio, she goes one step further and uses all her own shots within the site design, showing off her multiple passions and allowing her creativity to elevate her marketing experiences.