Creating the Perfect Online Portfolio
Are you on the look out for a new job or trying to drum up new business? If so, then you’ll more than likely appreciate the hassle involved with putting together a physical portfolio to showcase your abilities and then lugging it around everywhere with you.
But don’t fear… the Internet has come to our rescue once again with the perfect solution – simply direct them to a website that showcases your best work is a more streamlined, user friendly and accessible way. A successful online portfolio with a thought out appearance will help sell who you are and what you do when you aren’t there to do so in person.
Step 1: Ask yourself a few questions
In order to have a good idea of what your online portfolio should look like, you need to ask yourself some questions. Portfolios need to be clear, concise and straight to the point. Cluttering up the site with multiple calls to action, unnecessary external links or unrelated text can deter a person from becoming a potential client.
- Who are you and what do you do?
- Does your site explain everything you want to get across?
- What exactly are you trying to say with your online portfolio?
- Who are you aiming your portfolio at?
- What does your target audience expect to see?
Step 2: Let the work take centerstage
The key here is to keep the website design simple. You do not want to deter from what it is that you actually do. It is a good idea to have an “About Me” section that clearly defines who you are and what you do. However, the website should make this fairly obvious to the user.
Give focus to everything and seperate content where necessary. Be very clear with the navigation menu and use easy to understand terminology. It is best to stick to terms everyone can understand.
Step 3: Use eye-catching images
You need to think about how best to present your work. Visitors like to know the story behind your finished work, so think about presenting your process — from the initial concept, to early sketches, to the finished product.
A good rule of thumb is to present a snapshot of the finalised piece first, followed by more detailed shots to show the precision of your craft. Give the visitor the option to read more about each project if they wish but do not force it upon them or clutter the design with unnecessary detail.
Step 4: Contact details are key
Since you never know which project or aspect of your site is going to speak most to your new potential client, contact information on every page is the best way to ensure you capture every possible lead.
It is important to note here that your details should be obvious BUT unobtrusive. The last thing you want is to frustrate the user with popups. The bottom of the page is a always a good way to organize the information in a subtle manner.
There should also be a dedicated “Contact Me” page on your site that is clearly visible in the primary navigation. Your email address should be professional, ideally with the name of your website and not a personal address you’ve been using since school. You can always go one step further and provide a contact form that allows visitors to email you directly without having to access their own email service.
Step 5: Promote yourself
After you have put together the best possible representation of who you are as a professional, you need to promote the site. Search Engine Optimization is the best way to go about it for free. If you are not sure about what SEO is then I highly recommend you seek advice from a professional.
Another useful way of promoting your website at very little expense is to get business cards printed with your website address taking prime position. This will help drive traffic to your site and get your message across.