How to Create Your Web Portfolio in a Digital Age
What do most people think of when they hear the word portfolio? Most people see a portfolio as a big folder that art students carry around with samples of their work. This was the standard method of showing off your work in the not-so-distant past, before web design was an actual profession. If you work in web design now, how do you display your work to potential clients or employers?
If you are a web designer or any other type of online developer you need to have your content on the web at all times. You also need to present your work to new people in an innovative and refreshing way. After all, you are a web designer and you want to be on the cutting edge. Several components go into a successful web portfolio and we will take a look at each of them and show you examples.
The first thing that you will need to decide on is your site’s theme. You can choose something outrageous or something safe. Keep to your theme while designing your portfolio website. Your site should represent you as a designer and a person. If you design in Flash your site should be in Flash. If you are a web developer then your site should reflect that. Once you have some ideas in our head, choose your platform. The platform is how you will display your website online. Some people like to use WordPress and others like to build the site from scratch themselves. If you are a developer as well as a designer, of course building your own site is a better idea as it shows that you are a competent developer.
After deciding on the platform you will use to showcase your work, you will need to pick a logo or design a header for your website. This logo or header will be at the very top of your page. This will be the first thing that your visitors will see. Use every last bit of creative talent you have in creating your logo. You can see two good examples below:
Each of the above designs convey something to the reader. They are confident and they help sell the designers’ work. You want the first impression of your site to encourage the reader to continue browsing. Think about how you can tell this potential customer not to look any further. You want your website to scream “I am the web designer for you!”
This is your portfolio. Everything else is just a fancy wrapper. Your site is a good representation of yourself but your prior work will be what sells you as a good designer. Choose your very best work to include in your portfolio. Do not include websites that you did not create and just helped fix. You should also not include every web page that you have created during and since your college career; if you have created three web sites as a professional web designer then that is all you should include.
You should list a picture of the website, the responsibility you had in creating the website, and a link to the live site on the web (whenever possible). You can use a tabled approach like Leigh Taylor did below:
Here is something a little more modern. Jason Reed showcases his portfolio using a rotator that allows you to navigate through some of his best designs.
This web design portfolio was created using flash and is phenomenal. This is the portfolio site of Nick Jones’s company called Narrow Designs:
We need to tell our readers what it is that we do. We need to be clear and concise about what services we offer. The best way to do this is to have a services tab or section on your website. For example if you do web design, flash design and physical print work you could break these up into two sections – one for web work and one for print work. Clearly outlining what you do will also prevent people from needing to contact you directly to find out what services you offer.
The first example is from Jason Reed’s site again. It has three tabs under his services page: Design, Development and Marketing/SEO. Under each sub-heading there is a brief description of the specific services he offers.
Here is the services page from EmesStyle:
In the above example, the designer explains that front end programming and flash animations need to be bundled with other services. This is important for them not to be flooded with flash design jobs. They also list a method to “get in touch” at the bottom of the services page. This can be called a call to action. Calls to action are important to have throughout your site linking to ways to contact you.
Chris Morris’s services tab is called “What I Do” and it lists all the services that he can provide. He includes print design and WordPress services as well as website and blog design. Be broad in your thinking, provided you can actually deliver the work; it can pay off when you are seeing new referrals from your web portfolio.
Next to your content your contact information is the most important piece of information. If you do not provide a method for prospective clients to contact you how do you expect to land jobs? Tell your readers what you are available for and where you will work. You should list an e-mail address, a phone number, and a physical address or location. There have been times where I was searching for a person to contract only to disappointed when you find out that they reside on the other side of the world.
Let’s look at a few contact pages as examples:
Above you see the contact form from web designer Phil Thompson in Manchester. He offers a phone number, e-mail address, physical address, what he is available for and a form that can be easily filled out to request more information.
Chris added a little humor to his contact page as well as including a FAQ page that he hopes will quell some questions.
With each of the above components addressed you will have a well-rounded web design portfolio. Remember it is important to showcase your work and also important to sell yourself. Show off your best designs and applications that will leave potential clients wanting more; cover anything that will set you apart from the crowd. When someone is finished looking at your website they should feel compelled to call or contact you. Remember above all else – be creative!
Do you have a great online portfolio to share? Leave us a link in the comments, we’d love to check it out.