I always admired many impressive academic lab websites, such as those from my colleagues Karpowicz , Marquardt, and Porter, who are sharing the lab space with me. I finally got my website to work on an independent domain name https://tonglab.ca. Here is a short description of the journey of setting it up with the cost-effectiveness in mind. I hope it will be useful to non-tech savvy young PIs.
1. Choose an easy-to-use, professional website builder.
Although I like to play with Linux a lot, I found building a website using one's server is not worth the time. Many free website builders are available to choose from. Here is a review of the top 10 choices. Wix and Weebly seem to be the two that stand out for overall performance in multiple reviews. I tried both and chose Weebly because the Weebly banner is less intrusive on the final website.
2. Build the contents.
Weebly has many templates for choosing. Select one and change from there. The process is relatively straight-forward and immediately gives the website a professional look.
3. Purchase a domain name.
4. Connect the Weebly site to the new domain name.
In the Settings of the Weebly dashboard, change "Site Address" to the newly registered domain. Choose "connect or transfer it now" then "Connect your domain." Next, choose "Make the DNS changes your self."
Here is the trick, somehow, the IP address provided by the Weebly does not work and I had to set the connection in NameSilo by choosing the Weebly DNS template for the "Website" option in the "Manage DNS" page.
5. Enable SSL in Weebly Settings.
This makes sure https protocol will work, which is becoming standard for websites.
6. Log out and log in the Weebly account again.
7. Wait for about 15 minutes and for the DNS to be updated and spread throughout the Internet. Everything should be ready by now.
Note: A useful tip for adding a copyright footer.
Choose the "Embed Code" widget in the Build section of Weebly, place it in a web-page, and insert the following code to display the copyright footer. Replace the font name "Montserrat" to the font of your choice.
<p style="font-family:Montserrat"> Copyright © 2019<script>new Date().getFullYear()>2019&&document.write("-"+new Date().getFullYear());</script> Yufeng Tong. All rights reserved. </p>