Tips on Creating an Online Portfolio
September 21, 2011 2 Comments
A graphic designer or photographer fresh out of college will probably have to attend several interviews before landing a first job. Interviewing and presenting a portfolio face-to-face can be nerve wrecking and stressful because it is difficult to talk about one’s own work, but if you attend an interview and take your portfolio with you, you can make sure that your portfolio is reviewed by the potential employer. Having an e-portfolio, on the other hand, does not ensure that potential clients and employers will magically come across your portfolio and hire you. Advertising and marketing your e-portfolio is a very important task that should not be left aside. If you want your e-portfolio to land you a great job or a few freelance jobs, then you must advertise and market your e-portfolio. Lets look at some ideas to successfully advertise and market e-portfolios.
In order to create and keep a site fresh, the design must remain simple, and easy to read and to navigate. According to Steve Krug (I recommend his book), the first law of web usability, or the ease of using and navigating a website is to not make your audience think (2006). This means that a well designed website should be obvious, self-evident, and self-explanatory. This way the readers and viewers of the website don’t have to feel like they are solving a riddle just to check out your portfolio. Chances are that if the viewer of a website has to make more than three clicks to get where they want to get, they will not continue to view the website and most likely they will move on. Clogging website with a lot of text, animations and images will make a site look busy instead of fresh. Therefore instead of adding something to keep the site fresh, the key is to keep it simple, neat and organized.
When visitors enter a website there are several different ways they could interact with the website. In a good e-portfolio website there should be a good amount of interactivity with the reader. The e-portfolio should be designed in a way in which the viewer may chose to play a slideshow of all the pieces in the portfolio, and also skip images and go back and re-visit images that caught their attention. Therefore, a good interactive portfolio would have play buttons, pause buttons, stop buttons, forward and backward buttons, as well as a thumbnail for each piece in the portfolio. This way the user may navigate the portfolio in any order he or she wishes making the experience of viewing the portfolio almost the same as viewing a traditional printed portfolio.
Usually, people tend to think that in order to stand out one should include as much text, animation and images as possible. However, this would most likely make a website very difficult to read and navigate through. A great way to stand out would be to think about three characteristics that describe you as a designer, for example: Straightforward, Reliable, and Inspired. Then, your e-portfolio and website should attempt to express those characteristics and remain within the same theme of your resume, logo and promotional piece. For example, since one of the characteristics is straightforward, then the website should not have mystery passageways to get to the point, but all the main points and information should be clearly and legibly displayed.
Once the fresh, interactive and attention-grabbing website is in place, the next step would be to attract traffic to the website. The first step would be to include your domain name, like http://www.johndoe.com on your e-mail signature, your letterhead, business cards and even your resume. You should also include it both as text and as a link in your promotional materials, like a web banner. Nowadays, there are a wide variety of free ways to promote your web on the Internet. You can create a newsletter and advertise your newly launched web to all your contacts and ask for them to forward the information to their contacts. Just be sure not to spam your friends’ inboxes. You can create a professional account for your business on many social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, Google Plus, and MySpace. You may even create ads that circulate on those social networking sites promoting your business. When you design websites for other companies you can place your name and website as the web designer of that page at the very bottom, with their permission of course. In conclusion, there are plenty of ways to advertise one’s website on the web.
Search for other designers or photographers’ portfolios online and see what they are doing. Lissete Rodriguez’ portfolio retrieved from Dexigner.com (http://www.zetdesigns.com/) stood out from the rest because it was fresh and simple. She included interactivity on her web portfolio by adding rollover animations and a slideshow of her pieces. However, even though her web included slideshows and animations, it did not distract the viewer from her work.
Joe Nyaggah’s portfolio retrieved from Graphicdesignblog.com (http://danjoedesign.com/) was also very minimalistic and simple in its design, which kept the site fresh. He included some rollover effects for interactivity, however, it was lacking on that function. Perhaps his portfolio should have been presented in a slideshow manner with buttons for easier navigation.
Free Online Web Portfolios
There are some relatively new websites out there that have a designer network and free (for the most part) online portfolios. These are a great way to start if you don’t really know anything about web design and development, because mostly all you have to do is upload your images and input your information. So if you use Facebook, you can use these:
Krug, S. (2006). Don’t make me think! A common sense approach to web usability (2nd ed.). Berkeley, CA: New Riders.