These days, it seems that everything takes place online. We meet people online, fall in love, learn to cook, find fixes for problems, book airplane tickets and accommodation, buy and sell items, even large property. Banks and stock markets depend greatly on the online world, and pretty much every single industry out there is heavily reliant on online activity and presence. There is no denying that the Internet has changed the way we go about things, personally and professionally, as individuals and as a society and culture.
Education is one of the areas where this is particularly noticeable. In the dark days before the World Wide Web, students (of all levels, from middle school to university) only had their textbooks, notes and books from libraries to consult in their learning process. “Only” may not be the appropriate word, since those resources were, and still are, incredibly vast, but one thing that changed since then is the convenience and accessibility. Today, instead of traveling to the nearest large library to find some not so common book to take notes from, you can simply consult an online resource. Everything is digitalized and easy to access and use. Not just that – students can share their knowledge, expand it and build on it through various forums, groups, message boards and social media. We are definitely living in a brand new world when it comes to education and learning.
Being a student doesn’t necessarily require having a personal website. Still, you will find that more and more students actually do have at least a small, low-traffic blog or website of some kind. In the (not so distant) past, we had Geocities and we could put all kinds of content online. Later on, we had various web blogging platforms, but those quickly got lost in the wind with the advent of really cheap but fully functional personal websites. Today, everyone, including students, can have an affordable website with his or her own domain name, something that is completely theirs. Hosting service prices are constantly going down so it’s only logical that so many students maintain a steady online presence.
So what exactly do students need a website for? Well, that depends on their area of study, on their personal needs and interests, and also to some extent it depends on their status. A student may have a website for strictly casual purposes – for fun. A place to put some photos and publish some diary entries, maybe even throw in a poem or two. On the other hand, many students have to work to support their education, and often times their work can benefit from having a website. For example, an IT student may offer lessons or services (coding, design, etc) and he or she will need a website to advertise those services. An art student may use it to sell his or her own art, and so on.
Many students, individually or in groups, publish websites that serve as knowledge base or archive for their particular field of study, which is very useful and commendable because when it comes to knowledge, sharing truly is caring.
In any case, hosting companies are trying to meet the demands of this particular clientele by offering perhaps not straight out “student” plans, but plans that are tailored to meet students’ needs.
A perfect “student” plan usually involves the following:
- Affordable price – students are proverbially in a modest financial situation, and cannot afford expensive, advanced plans. They probably don’t need expensive plans either, since their needs are rarely high.
- Free domain name – many, if not most web hosting providers throw in free domain name in their plans. This is a great way to attract new customers, since domain names can be quite an expense. Students will be happy to learn that many companies offer free domain name even with the cheapest plans.
- Free website builder – again, a feature that is included in most plans. These site builders are easy to use and do not require any knowledge of manual coding, since most of them are Drag & Drop builders. It’s essential that a good student plan includes a builder because no student can afford to pay web design services on top of what he or she is already paying for hosting.
- Advanced design tools – on the other hand, many students will use their website for engineering or design purposes and will require these tools. This is not an essential part of the plan but it is certainly welcome. If the tools are included in the price of the plan, you don’t even have to use them, but it’s definitely good to have them.
- Great customer support – this is always important. Anyone who owns a website will at one point require help from the support team.
- Email hosting – students these days handle most of their communication through email. While they can always use popular web mail providers, it’s so much “cooler” to have an email with your own domain name in it. In addition to being cool, it also makes them look professional and serious in front of their peers and teachers, even potential employers.