Are you a designer, developer, an artist or even a photographer? If yes, then in these modern times, you have to start thinking about building an online portfolio. Or perhaps you already have one? As we all know, nowadays the Internet has been developed and grown far more rapidly than we imagined, including the purpose and the communication pattern from the Internet itself. Doesn’t matter whether you’re working for a company or as a freelancer, you will need an online portfolio to manage and archive your work and also to showcase them to your clients.
Furthermore, an online portfolio can also bridge you to your job opportunities with no limitation. Everyone on the Internet can see all of your projects. Can you imagine if your next valuable client saw your online portfolio, and he/she becomes interested in hiring you to run a project that he/she handles? That must be a great opportunity for you! Besides, an online portfolio also gives you chances to make co-operations with many people all over the world on the web.
In this article we will discuss the issues concerning online portfolios and how a blogging platform such WordPress is able to create a fantastic online portfolio for you!
Why Do You Need an Online Portfolio?
I think that I don’t need to explain much more about online portfolios, because the phrase - online portfolio has been popular on our desks recently. This section will discuss why a designer, developer, artist or even photographer needs an online portfolio. Now let’s get straight to the points below.
Image credit: JenniPenni
Giving You a Professional Impression
One important basic point why do you need an online portfolio?, is it for the public to view what you have been doing? Who you are exactly? Which professional work you have done? It can be a point of view or a perspective insight for a client when he/she visits your online portfolio before making contact with you, leading to further conversation.
As opposed to behance, flickr and deviantart which are often used as image showcases or galleries of all the work, whether just for fun or a commercial work. They are very personal to you. An online portfolio doesn’t need an image gallery of your personal stuffs, though it’s still fine to include them, but make sure that these things won’t divert your client’s attention or waste their time while exploring your work.
It’s better if your personal work is not included and isn’t confused with your professional work, you might put the fun stuff on Flickr and just include a link, something like: “My Playground on Flickr” and use an image thumbnail if required on your portfolio page. It’s a good way to still have you looking professional from your client’s point of view.
Showcasing and Documenting Your Work
You’re not joking around obviously in showing your work to your clients, whatever they are, a logo, design/print ads, themes for CMS platforms or writing articles. You can choose them to be showcased below your portfolio menu section and you’re free to decide what things you would like to be displayed on this portfolio menu, perhaps your famous products/brands. Your good work will help to gain respect from your next client and it also shows that you’re well-respected enough by your previous clients.
Tell Them all About Yourself
Of course, through this online portfolio, clients will be able to get to know who you are, your work, your email contact and even your social network accounts for them to follow. Clients will also know right away specifically about your expertise, I mean if you are a designer you have to describe anything related to it, what design software you have mastered, or even certificates/awards related to your work that you’ve achieved. Remember, that your online portfolio is not only used as a great picture collection, but it’s all about you and what you do. It must make everything clear and convince clients to hire you.
Make it Easy for Clients to Contact You!
I think this is the most crucial aspect of an online portfolio. It's a waste to have an awesome online portfolio showcasing your great work, displaying your resume, social network accounts, certificates and awards you’ve achieved but you forget to make it easy for clients to communicate with you, whether it’s a short tag such as: “more information: email@example.com” or a contact form. It doesn’t have to look great, as long as it’s clear enough for them to be able to apply for further information from you. If your clients have difficulty in contacting you, it’s likely that the client will walk away.
We've just discussed some points above about the reason why we need an online portfolio, now you can think about how you can present your online portfolio to your clients. Don’t forget to set the goals for your online portfolio and do reviews before and after you have an online portfolio, this is to make sure whether you have reached your purpose in having an online portfolio. Over time, when you have enhanced your portfolio content, it is quite possible for you to become well respected within your field.
Trends on The Web
You want to stand out from others when clients see your online portfolio, so make sure that you follow the latest online portfolio trends, and keep it up to date. Although not a definitive list, below are some points to consider.
Image credit: Ben Heine
Which Do You Prefer, The Professional or Creative Look?
A professional or a creative layout that you’ve designed will be a reflection of who you are in your client’s view. But don’t make this layout concept as a hard and fast rule, you can make a layout view that has a professional taste but also looks creative, or vice versa.
Therefore, before you decide which layout style is suitable for you, you need to know what type of clients you are aiming for, based on your expertise and interests, and which kind of visitors you will receive. If most of them are classy clients from a company or a corporation, then your choice should be the professional concept rather than the grunge or creative one.
Layout Type, Vertical or Horizontal
The development in the web design world recently makes it easier for us to decide which type of layout suits us best. Do we want our online portfolio to look similar to most others, using a vertical layout? Or do we want to be different by using a horizontal layout? Of course the clients will have their own preferences while exploring the online portfolio.
These days, while surfing on the Internet you can’t fail to notice the development of typography in web design. Is using big typography for the header just to catch the visitors’ attention about who you are? Or using an unusual to name the sections on your portfolio page? It’s your call, there are so many documentations and contributions out there that allow us to design our portfolio pages and make us look different from others.
Unusual Extension Effects
It can’t be denied, that in this case we need a deep knowledge of coding if we want to attract our website visitors' attention creatively. When your next client experiences something new while he/she’s exploring your site, he/she might think that it’d be very interesting if your expertise could be used and developed in his/her project. For those who are not too familiar with coding, plugins might also help you to create unusual effects on your online portfolio.
What to Consider?
Apart from the main purpose of an online portfolio, there are some points that you need to consider before launching one yourself, you might find the points below useful, you can visit the links below for further review.
Image credit: Mr. Moog
It’s All About Your Work and Make Sure You Have It Categorized
This is the most important and fundamental thing with an online portfolio. I won’t talk too much on this point, because it’s clear that your work samples will obviously sell you to your clients through all the expertise and talents you have. Your portfolio might contain anything that you consider it’s good to be displayed. If you’re a graphics/web designer, make sure you categorize the subjects, for instance: logo, website, brochure, flyer, poster, etc. And remember, don’t save the best of your work for last.
Use Simple Navigation
Don’t you link your online portfolio to any of your other sites, even though there is a correlation between them. Your online portfolio must stand-alone as a site. Make a static navigation bar on the top of your homepage that will cover each section of the site’s contents. It’s intended to be easy for visitors, so they can always go back to your site homepage. Of course you won’t let your prospective client get lost viewing your online portfolio content, will you? Yeah, of course not.
Therefore you have to make your site’s navigation as clear as possible. You might break it down like this – About, Portfolio, News, Contact, etc. And put them in reachable areas on your site that easily catch your visitors eyes. You can also make a link for the logo to go back to the site’s homepage, which not only helps with SEO, but makes navigation easier too.
Use Featured Content on Your Homepage
Nowadays, featured content has become a trend on the web which is of great importance to most sites on the WWW. Every online portfolio site has it’s own style in showing featured content on their site homepages. At this time, I see that the trend of online portfolios uses big headers more rarely, unlike in the past, but replacing the header portion with the logo, simple navigation and giving more space on the homepage for a featured content portion.
The use of this featured content is to attract more visitors’ attention when they view your site for the first time. Make sure your best work is seen at the beginning of this featured content. If you are a designer or illustrator, have your best piece clearly visible or easily accessible from the homepage. For more about featured content, you can check out Essential Guidelines for Featured Content in Web Design.
Use High Quality Images
This will make your site look professional so you won’t be embarrassed to show your work to clients on your portfolio page. Make sure the image has a precision in color balance, less blur and also consider to optimizing the image properties so it can be loaded easily even by a slow internet connection. You can use an image editing program such Adobe Photoshop to optimize the image.
Describe Your Work
Describe each content in your portfolio and everything in it briefly and clearly. Give necessary information for representing your work. This kind of information should include a creative brief, short description about the work, company name, year made, contact for the person who carried out the project, or even a short testimony from the clients about what you’ve done. It can be a self pride/motivation/esteem for you and the clients that have ever worked together with you.
You need to know that there are many aspects to consider in promoting an online portfolio successfully. However, it would be a good idea to carry out further studies or research to find out what is best for you and your purpose when you start to build and online portfolio.
How to Market Your Online Portfolio
In this section I’ll quickly jump to the points – discuss the ways or efforts you might try to promote yourself and market your online portfolio.
Image credit: Farl
Become a Guest Author
It’s good to describe who you are exactly and promote your online portfolio to everyone on the web. It also probably increases the traffic to your site. What do you want to talk about? It’s all up to you, which subjects you think you’re good at, whether is it design, development, or other subjects? It is for you to decide. Nowadays we have many blog design magazines that provide and allow a guest author to publish their thoughts, tips, or tutorials through a contribution.
Onextrapixel and Smashing Magazine are two blog design magazines among many others out there that accept contribution from guest authors with pretty fair pay, depending on the writing value that you can provide for them. So you get double benefits from becoming a guest author, earnings and traffic too.
Be Active on The Forum
Having a routine activity in a forum (freelancer forum or another that’s related to your job field and skills) of course is good for you. Especially if later you gain enough respect from a forum and you include a link to your online portfolio on your profile signature, not impossible if later it’ll bring you more visiting traffic and then allow you to be recognized by your next client.
Provide links to Social Media
Providing links to your LinkedIn profile, Twitter and Facebook is also a good idea from many ways to market your online portfolio. It makes you become a real person to prospective clients, even though you have never actually met them. And remember not include posts that are too personal on your social media pages. If you want something personal, please keep it separate.
Provide a Blog Page
A blog is a good idea for your online portfolio. This may contain posts about your area of expertise, thoughts, on-going projects and more. Let clients and visitors know what you intend to show them in this section. Of course, it will help to promote you, know your visitors (clients and friends) who can provide referrals, and prevent your website from lying static and keep the content updated regularly. Also, a blog is good for SEO, if you want your website to rank high on search engines, then use popular keywords frequently, talk about trending topics and more. It will help you to deal with SEO.
For instance, we can see that Chris Spooner from SpoonGraphics – who runs his blog Blog.SpoonGraphics has been doing so well and is able to get high a PR rating for his web portfolio – note that subdomains don’t have PR, but gained PR are redirected to the main domain. In this case, SpoonGraphics has quite a high PR rating because it’s contributed by the blog which is linked to the subdomain of SpoonGraphics. It also can be a strategy to help you be in the top place on a search engine like Google. Once you’ve made it, you can see the benefits of your blog page when visitors find your site through search engines.
Online Portfolio Inspiration
There are thousands of web designers trying to show their creativity. I tried to list those portfolio web sites which are more creative and unique. This showcase will contain 20+ online portfolios on the net that look good for your inspiration.
The benefit that you get when you build a portfolio using WordPress is that you have the ability to use the powerful blog features along with your portfolio. A blog discussing your work or more about your processes and inspiration will add to the personality and allow potential clients to get to know you and increase the attractiveness of you as a web designer. WordPress can also act as a more than adequate CMS for displaying your portfolio work.
Ready-made WordPress themes are great:
- As they’re inexpensive or even free.
- For designers who don’t know WordPress.
- For developers who can’t design.
- Don’t have enough time to build a WordPress theme? Now you have it.
- Give you the opportunity to learn different techniques and the inner workings of complex themes.
- You can make improvements.
This section contains 20+ WordPress free and paid themes for portfolio, so you don’t need to worry when you’re thinking about How do I create my online portfolio? because WordPress has many choices available. You may choose what themes look nice for your showcase.
As we’ve discuss a lot in this article, artists, photographers, graphic and web designers can use WordPress to create an online portfolio that perfectly suits their work. With support from WordPress Plugins which can be used to convert a plain, standard WordPress blog into an interesting and unique portfolio that end-users will be keen to explore.
Now we know what the purpose of an online portfolio is, what we should consider and also some examples, tips and WordPress themes that can help you to build. It’s time to get feedback from you about this post – Please feel free to leave your comment if you have experience with an online portfolio, or maybe share your portfolio link with us?
Further Reading and Some References
- A Beginner's Guide: Stepping Into Web Design Industry
The web design industry is a big machine. Whatever dreams you may have of becoming an established designer might seem close to impossible. Especially since you run the risk of facing major problems like the lack of financial stability, lack of clients and jobs, and insecurity due to the lack of confidence in getting jobs etcetera. If you are a new designer hoping to make a name for yourself in this industry, here are a few useful tips to help you keep afloat.
- 12 Tips for Creating a Great Portfolio Site
Tips for creating a better portfolio site. These suggestions apply to all kinds of portfolios, no matter what your particular artistic field. Also included are examples and a gallery of excellent portfolio sites, with what they're doing right and what could use some improvement.
- Creating A Successful Online Portfolio
In this article we'll review 5 pitfalls that commonly plague portfolio design. Then we'll cover Portfolio Tips that if carefully considered and well executed will deliver quality results for your portfolio.There are some common mistakes designers make in their portfolios. Let's review these common pitfalls first to make sure you don't fall into one of these traps.
- Your Online Portfolio: The Rights and Wrongs
Having knocked heads and discussed some ideas together, mainly with JC's eye-opening input, we have compiled some of the main issues that add to as well as detract from great online portfolios. The post is split into rights and wrongs.
- 10 Solutions to Easily Create Your Online Portfolio
There’s a bunch of handy sites and communities out there that are allowing designers to showcase their work and flourish with with work requests. Here’s 10 solutions to easily create an online portfolio of your own, giving you the platform to showcase your work to the world.
- Elements of a Successful Online Portfolio
An online portfolio is a fast and far-reaching way to market oneself as a designer. It’s also cheaper, more versatile and more environmentally friendly than a print portfolio. But that doesn’t mean you can just whip out a website and call it a day – a designer will be judged not just for the pieces in the portfolio but also the site itself. Therefore, in order to market yourself to potential clients, be sure to consider these four elements.