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.
1. Functional Layout
As a designer, you may be tempted to show off all your website skills on the homepage however too many flashes and flurries can result in a chaotic mess. Design isn’t always about fancy techniques. Companies looking for a web designer will be examining your homepage for easy navigation and an attractive layout – that often calls for clean lines and a good use of white space.
Thinking of using Flash? You may want to think twice. Don’t forget that the iPad is being swooped up in huge numbers, and Flash isn’t enabled on the iPad or on a surprising number of computers. Imagine a potential client trying to check out your website and being faced with the blue lego brick directing him or her to download the plug-in.
2. Simple Navigation
Your online portfolio should be just one part of your website, among a handful of categories. Your site should include a static navigation bar toward the top of the homepage that includes each section of the site. These could include:
• About Me
• Testimonials (if you have them)
• Clients (get permission to include them)
The purpose of the static navigation bar is that no matter how deep a visitor gets into your site, he or she can always find their way back to Home. Ensure your logo links back to the Home Page as this not only helps with SEO but also with navigation.
3. A Blog
It seems everyone has a blog these days but they don’t have to be vanity projects or time-sucks. Rather, a blog provides a chance for you to stand out among your peers; it permits you an opportunity to instill personality into your website. You can blog about designs you’re working on or the new software you’re trying out. This shows potential clients that you’re a working professional.
A blog is also good for search engine optimization – if you want your website to pop up high on search engines, then using popular keywords frequently, really helps. For example, blogging that you’re exploring the new features of Adobe CS5 might attract the attention of Google, thus placing your blog among high search results for Adobe.
Finally, a blog is also a useful networking tool. You could write a post about when you popped in for some coffee at your neighborhood café and include a link. It’s a combination of utilizing SEO and networking at the same time. Plus, you get to know your neighbors, who can provide referrals.
4. Your work
The three aspects mentioned above (layout, navigation & blog) are there to market yourself as a designer, but your actual work samples are what sells your skills. An online portfolio allows you to post as many pieces as you’d like without giving up any precious – and sometimes expensive – hard copies. Be sure to showcase a variety of your work targeted to your goals, this could include: logos, websites, brochures, flyers, letterhead, CD covers, etc.
Keep in mind there are a number of ways to create an online portfolio so it is up to you to do the research to find out what is going to work best for you and your goals.
Do you have any favourite portfolios or further tips? Please leave them in the comments below.
Further Portfolio Resources
- 10 Steps to the Perfect Portfolio Website
- Online Portfolio Rights & Wrongs
- Creating a Successful Online Portfolio
- 25 Impressive Design Portfolio Websites
- 9 Ways to Get Your Design Portfolio Seen
- The Art of Branding Yourself & Your Freelancing Business
- My bookmarks tagged with ‘portfolio’
Graffiti photo by Paul Peracchia.