An online portfolio website is a critical piece of any designers business. It showcases your work, it provides references and testimonials for potential clients, and generates leads for your business. But what sets your portfolio apart from the next site in the search results? What makes one portfolio good, and another one great?
Clear, Concise, and Clean
A great portfolio site should be easy to understand, simple, and concise. Your visitors should immediately be able to understand exactly what you do, what services you provide, and why you’re the best at what you do. It’s important to never assume that people automatically know you, or what you do when they visit your site.
There are often many variations to design work. There are designers who specialize in content creation, writing, and SEO work – others may only handle web design. A visitor should get a clear, easy understanding of your specialty, and what you offer within just a few seconds upon visiting your site.
Creativity – Let it Shine
Your portfolio is about more than just expressing your credentials and what you have to offer. It’s about showing your artistic expression and giving visitors a taste of your personality. The website of a design professional is seen as a professional showroom of sorts. This is the one of the few times you can take creative control and have more expression – without a client curbing your design to suit their wants and needs.
In fact, most visitors and potential clients expect more personality on a designer’s portfolio site than as opposed to a traditional business website.
No one likes a showoff. In most cases, this is true. On a portfolio site, we don’t like a showoff – we love a showoff. Your portfolio needs to show what you are capable of, how amazing your work is, and make people want you to work for them.
This is the best time to put your best foot forward – but don’t clutter up your site either. Pick your top 3 to 5 client work you’ve done, and show it off. Large images, and testimonials give a great edition to your portfolio, and help you stand out from the competition.
Combine Simple with Easy
A simple site is great – but it needs to be user friendly and easy to use for it to be a great portfolio site. Think about why your visitors (or potential clients) are on your site in the first place. Are they there to see your past workto find out more about you, or to get a feel for your personality? Or are they there to figure out a quick way to contact you?
A good portfolio site will take one or two of these questions in mind, and create a site that caters to these types of visitors. A great portfolio site will accommodate all types of visitors, regardless of what their specific needs are. A great portfolio site will be easy to use and navigate, with clear ways of looking at your past work, contacting you, finding you on Facebook or Twitter, or reading about who you are. These are the elements that take a good portfolio and turn it into a great portfolio.
Wes McDowell is the Principal and Creative Director for The Deep End Web Design in West Hollywood. In addition to client work, he has authored several books for freelance designers and co-hosts a popular graphic design podcast called “The Deeply Graphic DesignCast.”Follow Wes on Google+