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6 Best Website Builders for Personal Academic Sites in 2024

Dawn Prevete Dawn PreveteWebsite Development Expert March 04, 2024
March 04, 2024
Not every website builder offers professional-looking templates suited to a personal academic website. And some don’t provide important features such as calendars, appointment booking, and the ability to turn your research papers, course materials, or CV into downloadable files.

You might think a dedicated academic builder is the answer, but these platforms often come up short. They typically have a small selection of mundane templates, limited options for customizing your site, and no built-in tools for selling print/digital publications. They also don’t offer personalized SEO and analytics support that will help you get found online.

But here’s the good news: I’ve found six builders that offer all the essentials and more. They’re easy to use and have what it takes to create a website for any type of academic. You’ll find templates suitable for grad students, professors, independent researchers, or a project-focused laboratory site for a team of collaborators.

These website builders are also free (or free to try). You’ll only have to pay when you want to unlock premium features and even then, they’re surprisingly affordable.

If you’re pressed for time, I’ll cut to the chase. My top recommendation is Wix. It’s user-friendly, offers ample design flexibility, and has a big selection of academic-themed templates, so you’re sure to find one that fits your needs and goals.

Short on Time? These Are the Best Website Builders for Academic Sites in 2024

  1. Expert’s Choice
    wix-logo Wix
    Wix is a popular choice with our readers
    Great free plan and a wide range of academic templates with essential pages.
  2. sire123-logo SITE123 Fast and easy website design with useful tools for academics.
  3. squarespace-logo-1 Squarespace Striking templates and built-in integrations for education-focused sites.

What We Look For in the Best Website Builders for Personal Academic Websites

Your academic website will play an important role in your career, serving as anything from a CV for job hunting, a digital repository for your research and publications, or a portal where you connect with students and peers. The builders on my list all offer the features you need to create a professional academic site.
  • Attractive, customizable templates. A well-designed template that’s easy to personalize ensures your site stands out, presents your work in a visually appealing manner, and positions you as a serious professional. It can also make complex research and course information more accessible.
  • Intuitive and easy to use. You may be juggling multiple responsibilities and have limited time for figuring out complex software. These site builders make creating and managing your website easy, even if you’re a beginner with no prior experience or technical know-how.
  • Free plans or free trials. You should be able to explore different website builders to find the best fit for your needs without making a financial commitment. This is particularly important if your budget is tight or you need to demonstrate the value of a website for a research project to secure funding or resources.
  • Relevant features. Every builder on this list offers features tailored to the academic community, such as event calendars and appointment booking, embedded video/audio, publication/project details, downloadable files, and more. These tools help you present your work, collaborate with peers, and enhance your reputation.
  • Tools to increase visibility. For academic websites, visibility is key. These website builders offer SEO guides, social media integration, and marketing tools to help you build your brand, promote your expertise, and engage with the wider academic community and public.

Wix Researcher template
Wix templates come with essential built-in features for academic sites
Wix offers a wide range of templates for different academic needs, the most of any website builder I tested. If you’re a professor, researcher, or PhD looking to create a personal site or you’re building an online presence for a team of researchers, Wix has what you need.

These templates also come with essential pages (About, Contact, and Publications) and features like downloadable files (for course information, articles, and CVs), upcoming events, and online booking tools built in. Wix’s intuitive interface and drag-and-drop editor make it easy to add additional capabilities, like an online store or blog.

Unlike many builders, Wix allows you to access most features, including its extensive app marketplace, on a free plan. The downside is that you’ll be stuck with a subdomain and Wix branding on your site. I’d suggest you consider the entry-level Lite plan. It’s affordable and gets you an ad-free site, custom domain, extra storage, and enhanced customer support. If you’re a student, you’ll be eligible for discounted pricing.

wix logo alt 2

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Features

  • AI website design. If you’ve never built a website before, you’ll appreciate Wix’s intuitive AI site generator. Answer a few questions and Wix will design your website for you – free of charge.
  • Tons of useful apps. The Wix app market has hundreds of apps (many free) tailored to the needs of educators, researchers, and PhDs. You can add Wix Forms to create custom contact forms for students, peers, and press or Wix Events to highlight upcoming conferences you’ve organized.
  • Site management and promotion. Ascend by Wix is a suite of beneficial tools for academic websites. It can help you organize and prioritize work, manage your contacts, send promotional emails with links to your latest publications and upcoming events, and stay connected with students and peers.
  • Personalized SEO support. The SEO Wiz will create a tailored plan that guides you through the steps of optimizing your site’s online visibility. This can help you build your reputation and increase your professional opportunities.
Read our expert Wix review for more details.

Free plan
Templates
  • 800+ mobile-friendly templates
  • 34+ suited to personal academic and research sites
  • Free AI designed websites
Built-in features for academics
Starting price $16.00

SITE123 Chronicles & Heritage template
All SITE123 templates are responsive and easy to customize
No builder makes it quite as easy as SITE123 to create a professional website for your academic work and research. A variety of templates are suited to resumes/CVs, personal sites, and education centers, so you’re likely to find a good fit. You can use preset pages and content blocks for networking, publishing course content, and more.

If you want to build a site for a joint research project that’s separate from your personal website, SITE123 gives you that flexibility. You can create an unlimited number of free websites (including landing pages for events and announcements), which is ideal if you’re managing multiple projects and want a dedicated website for each.

SITE123 offers plenty of features for academics, including event calendars, appointment booking, team pages for research partners/co-authors, and online agendas for conferences/department meetings. While the free plan offers a lot, there are benefits to upgrading to a paid plan, like access to its app market, removal of SITE123 branding, and a custom domain.

site123 logo alt 2

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Features

  • Multilanguage websites. SITE123 lets you display your website in more than one language. This feature is especially beneficial if you want to share your research and findings with peers, collaborators, and the public worldwide.
  • Handy AI tools. You can now generate content for headers, bios, research summaries, blogs, and more using SITE123’s integrated AI tool. This can speed up the creative process and make updating your site more efficient.
  • Manage communications. For more efficient communication with site visitors, a new tagging feature allows you to assign form messages to specific members of your research team or prioritize queries in order of importance.
  • Digital card feature. This tool allows professors, researchers, academic departments, and research labs to easily create and share a “virtual business card.” You can add your academic achievements, research interests, and contact information to enhance your online visibility and boost networking opportunities.
Learn more about SITE123’s features in our expert review.

Free plan
Templates
  • 180+ mobile responsive templates
  • Around 24 for CVs, portfolios, universities, and other academic needs
Built-in features for academics
Starting price $12.80
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3. Squarespace: Striking Templates and Seamless Integrations for Academic Needs

Squarespace Lusaka template
Squarespace offers visually engaging templates for academic sites and portfolios
Of all the website builders on this list, Squarespace has the most design-forward templates, and they’re all mobile responsive. Although there aren’t any templates specifically designed for academic websites, those in the Personal/CV and nonprofit categories work well. And its portfolio templates are ideal for creative academics who want a visually appealing site that brings their work into sharp focus.

Another reason Squarespace earned a place at the top of my list is that it continually offers new capabilities that make managing and promoting your academic site easier. These include design, marketing, social media, and e-commerce tools. Best of all, these features are native integrations – you don’t have to invest time searching for apps.

While Squarespace doesn’t offer a free plan, there is a 14-day free trial (with a one-time 7-day extension) and its paid plans offer excellent value. They all include a custom domain, 30 minutes of video storage for your presentations, and access to most of its advanced tools such as Squarespace AI, a range of third-party integrations, and additional site contributors for research teams.

squarespace logo alt 2 1 1

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Features

  • Discounted student pricing. If you’re a PhD candidate, graduate, or undergraduate student, you’ll enjoy a 50% discount on every Squarespace plan. This allows you to take advantage of Squarespace’s premium features, even if funds are tight.
  • Academic bio page. Easily create a unique, personalized URL for your academic profile and link it to any platform where you’re featured, such as social media, university website, or Google Scholar. This is a great way to enhance your visibility, share your professional accomplishments, and connect with your peers.
  • Unlimited storage and bandwidth. Squarespace offers academics the advantage of unlimited storage and bandwidth, ensuring you can host a wealth of research materials, multimedia content, and academic resources without worrying about data limitations.
  • SEO and analytics. Built-in SEO tools and analytics help you optimize your website for search engines, enhance your online visibility, and gain valuable insights into visitor behavior. Using this data, you can tailor your content to your target audience and improve your site’s performance.
Our in-depth Squarespace review has more details.

Free plan (14-day free trial, no credit card required)
Templates
  • 165 responsive templates
  • 17 for personal & CVs, 35 for portfolios, and 7 for nonprofit educational projects
  • Blueprint tool for custom academic templates
Built-in features for academics
Starting price $16.00

Webador template with AI generated blog content
Pick a template and have Webador fill it with relevant features and content
Webador doesn’t have templates designed for academics, but you can choose any template that appeals to you and customize it as you like. All Webador templates are mobile-responsive and unlike other builders, you can change your template at any time without losing your content.

But the biggest advantage to using Webador is how quickly you can create your website. Once you pick your template you can drag-and-drop widgets to customize the design. You can also ask Webador to add pertinent pages for academics with sample content and insert features like contact forms and booking tools to get you started.

While Webador doesn’t offer e-commerce functionality on its free plan, you can set up an online store to sell your publications and upgrade to a paid plan when you‘re ready. Webador typically has special offers that make its affordable paid plans even less expensive.

Features

  • Support for multiple collaborators. On the Pro plan, members of your research team can easily share their findings, data, papers, and insight on a single website. This ensures all project information is up to date and accessible. It also increases efficiency and improves project management.
  • Upload files and media. You can add files, videos, and audio content to your website to highlight a project or presentation, share information, and engage with your audience. Uploading a downloadable CV can help you connect with event organizers or secure a new job offer.
  • Share research news. Webador’s blogging tool comes with essential features. As with your other site pages, you can fill your blog with text, images, photo albums, and more.
  • Helpful third-party tools. You can use embeds to add calendars, appointment booking, live chat, and other features to your website to increase its functionality. The Webador help center has a list of recommended integrations, such as Google Calendar and Mailchimp.
Get more tips in our expert Webador review.

Free plan
Templates
  • 50+ responsive templates, several for resumes/CVs and education
  • Additional AI designs for custom academic templates
Built-in features for academics
Starting price $4.00

5. IONOS: Budget-Friendly Builder for Academics

IONOS business template
IONOS offers responsive pre-built templates and AI designs
IONOS offers a cost-effective solution for academics looking to establish a professional online presence. With plans priced at just a few dollars per month, it’s an excellent choice for those on a budget. But what sets IONOS apart are the features it includes with its low-cost plans: an ad-free site, custom domain, and free professional email.

Building your website with IONOS is also easy, thanks to its user-friendly platform. Ready-made design elements (sections, color schemes, and layouts) allow you to create a visually appealing site without any prior design experience. Furthermore, it provides a range of built-in tools that cater to academic needs, making it easy to showcase your research, publications, and educational content effectively.

IONOS stands behind its service with a 30-day money-back guarantee, giving you the confidence to try its platform risk-free. If you encounter any challenges or have questions, your dedicated support consultant will assist you in creating and maintaining your website, ensuring that establishing your online presence is as easy as signing up.

Features

  • Suite of AI tools. Free AI-powered customizable websites, content creation, and brand-aligned visuals can help you quickly build a website. Other AI tools generate page titles and descriptions for improved SEO results.
  • Appointment booking. This feature gives your students, colleagues, and collaborators a straightforward way to schedule appointments directly from your website so you can focus on your work.
  • Multimedia website content. You can add photo galleries, presentation slideshows, and videos to make your site more engaging and share your event presentations.
  • Built-in privacy page. If you collaborate with peers who share data or collect information about your site visitors, you’ll appreciate IONOS’ built-in privacy page, GDPR compliance, and cookie settings disclosure.
Find out more in our expert IONOS review.

Free plan (30-day money back guarantee)
Templates
  • 28 responsive templates, several suitable for academic sites
  • Additional AI designs for custom academic templates
Built-in features for academics
Starting price $6.00

6. WordPress.com: Best Features for Sharing Academic Research & News

WordPress.com personal/CV website theme
WordPress.com is the go-to builder for content-heavy websites
WordPress.com offers 180+ themes on its free plan (and tons more premium, partner, community, and third-party themes with a paid plan) but there are only about a dozen themes specifically designed for educational purposes.

That said, its design flexibility and ample features let you choose any resume, personal site, blog, portfolio, or even business theme (if you’re building a site for a laboratory research or other team project) and make it your own. If you’re up to the task you can even access your theme’s code for advanced personalization.

While WordPress can be user-friendly, it’s not quite as intuitive as the other builders on this list, especially for academics without prior design experience or technical knowledge. You’ll also have to upgrade to a paid plan to access many of its powerful features like plugins, premium and community themes, and advanced SEO and analytics tools.

Features

  • Advanced blogging tools. WordPress.com offers a comprehensive blogging system for sharing news, updating course content, and posting your latest research. Customizable blog layouts, rich multimedia content, built-in RSS feeds, and multi-author support allow you to create engaging content, even for complex research findings.
  • Tons of free plugins. From calendars for courses, conferences, and other key events to custom contact forms for students, press, and colleagues, there’s a WordPress block (or plugin) for that. You can even embed a Google Translate button to make your site multilingual.
  • Social media integration. Many WordPress themes include a social media menu. If not, you can use the Social Icons Block to link dozens of social media platforms, from LinkedIn to Medium and YouTube. It’s also easy to display​​ feeds from platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and X (formerly Twitter) on your site.
  • Custom theme design. If you can’t find a theme that fits your vision, needs, and goals, you can use pre-built patterns for headers, portfolio galleries, and content sections to build a one-of-a-kind website.
Read our expert WordPress.com review for more details.

Free plan
Templates
  • 180+ free themes, additional premium and third-party themes with paid plan
  • Dozens of suitable personal, CV, and blog themes
Built-in features for academics
Starting price $4.00

How to Build an Academic Website

Whether you want a personal site to share academic achievements, an online portfolio to display creative work, or an information hub for students, the builders in this review have you covered. If you’re ready to get started, follow this simple guide to get your website up and running:

1. Pick a website builder. Every builder on this list has something great to offer, so take some time to find the one that’s best for you. I recommend taking advantage of their free plans and free trials before you commit to a paid plan.

2. Select a template. While you can always customize a template, it’s much easier to build your site with a template designed for your niche. This is one of the main reasons I recommend Wix – it offers dozens of fully featured academic templates that make setting up your website a breeze.

3. Add extra features. Event calendars are ideal if you frequently give lectures and conference presentations, while comprehensive scheduling tools allow you to automatically sync appointments with your calendar. You might want to add a blog to share information and research with your students and fellow scholars. You can easily add these features with apps, plugins, or integrations if they aren’t already included in the builder’s template or editor.

4. Connect a custom domain name. While a subdomain is fine if you’re testing a builder’s free plan or just starting out, it can make your site seem less professional. You can either get one from your website builder (some offer plans with a free domain) or purchase one separately.

The Best Website Builder for Your Personal Academic Site Will Highlight Your Achievements

Each of the builder’s on this list suits different academic website needs. Here are my top recommendations to help you decide which one is right for you.

If you’re looking for the best all-in-one solution for promoting your work and expertise, Wix is my top recommendation. It gives you the templates, features, and design flexibility to create an effective academic website – and does this for free.

On the other hand, if you want an easy way to build your site without sacrificing features, consider SITE123. It has plenty of tools for academics like online agendas, multilanguage translation, and a booking scheduler.

Or, if you’re looking for the most stylish templates or want to build a portfolio website to showcase your creative work, go with Squarespace. While it doesn’t have a free plan, its paid plans are affordable and you’ll get great integrations and unlimited storage.

To help you make an informed choice, take a moment to review the table below.

Free Plan Best Feature Best For Starting Price
Wix Best templates, features, and design flexibility for different academic needs Educators and researchers looking for a user-friendly, all-in-one solution and great free plan $16.00
SITE123 Super-easy builder with plenty of useful features Academics that want a user-friendly builder with essential features $12.80
Squarespace Stylish templates and excellent tools for personal academic/portfolio sites Academics that want comprehensive features and a site with exceptional visual appeal $16.00
Webador Fast and simple website creation with the flexibility to change templates Educators that need to get online as quickly as possible $4.00
IONOS Professional academic sites at minimal cost Students, teachers, and other academic on tight budgets $6.00
WordPress.com Content-heavy sites for individual academics, group projects, and research laboratories Academics that want to share news, research, and course details $4.00

FAQ

Does Wix have good templates and features for academic websites?

Wix has 30+ templates designed for academic sites suited to university professionals, independent researchers, PhDs, laboratories/research centers, and students. You’ll also have full creative control over your website’s look and feel, as Wix templates look great right out-of-the-box and come with essential built-in features.

Which website builder has the best free plan?

Wix stands out for its generous free plan, which allows you to choose any of its 800+ templates and access most of its great features, including tons of free apps that will enhance your site’s functionality. SITE123 is also an appealing option – it’s one of the easiest website builders out there and lets you build an unlimited number of free sites.

What makes a good personal academic website?

An effective academic website should look professional and have relevant features, such as event calendars, downloadable files for extracts/CVs, and appointment booking tools for students, peers, press, and prospective employers. You’ll also want to be able to share your conference presentation videos/audios, research and publications, and awards and achievements.

Do I need a personal academic website?

While university or institutional pages are valuable, a personal academic website allows you to control your brand and share your achievements with a wider audience. Social profiles can serve as supplements but lack the flexibility and customization a personal website provides, which can limit your ability to convey your unique academic identity and expertise effectively.

While all the website builders on this list cater to the needs of academics, for additional options, check out our list of the 10 best website builders for 2023.

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Alexa Miller Quinn
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Thanks for the article! I appreciated the academic-specific advice. I'm struggling to get the Wix discount to work after clicking your link - is there a promo code?
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Thanks for the feedback Alexa. Please check our coupons page to see the deals.
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