The anatomy of a perfect portfolio website
Time to roll up your sleeves! Today we’re going to look at portfolio websites and what industry professionals should be using. Learn how to create a great looking website that uniquely showcases your work and its importance. You want visitors and potential clients to remember you for their next project .
What is a portfolio website?
A portfolio website is a unique way to showcase your work and let others know about you. It is like an evergreen platform for your projects, case studies and information about you. Moreover, it is one of the best ways to express your personality, experience and skills.
If you have your own website, customers can always find you and contact you if they are interested. These days, if you don’t have an online presence, you’re behind the times. A portfolio is a great way for photographers, designers, developers, and a variety of artists to showcase their work online. You can reflect your identity through your work – photos, graphic design, sketches, etc.
Why you need a portfolio website
In short, you need a portfolio website to showcase your work. Whether you’re an individual, a small team of two, or a company with ten employees, it’s critical that you have a unique online approach. A website portfolio helps you stand out from the crowd, show your uniqueness, build trust, and ensure that others can actually find you .
There are certain areas where a website portfolio is more important than others. If you are in one of the following situations, you can assume that you need a portfolio like a book needs words:
- Web design
- Web development (outsourcing, online store)
- Graphic design (logo design, corporate ID, flyers, catalogs, packaging)
- Marketing (digital marketing, print design, SEO-optimization, PPC advertising)
- Art design (illustration, video, audio, photography)
But it doesn’t stop here, it also stops with interior designers, artists, models, writers, etc. The main idea is that you are a creator and you need to present your work. With the portfolio website you can do this in high quality.
Example why you need a portfolio
What happens when someone needs a logo for a new product, service or business? Most start a search via simple Google (or they get suggestions from friends or business partners). So first you want to be searchable . To demonstrate this from your customer’s point of view, here’s a little experiment.
Keeping in mind the majority approach, I used Google. I simply start typing “logo designer portfolio” into the search bar, hoping to find a real person who can create my logo. And there it is, a lot of potential logo designers. I browse their websites and they all seem pretty good. To make a choice, it’s just a matter of preference, taste and budget.
As you can see, the choice is in front of me. I can choose a person or an agency. I can learn about each one’s service, see their portfolios, read about them, and study their project flow. Basically, their websites give me a sense of who they are, what they do, and what to expect if I choose to work with them.
After you know at least one reason why you need a portfolio, it’s time to understand the most important things that should be included on your website.
Essential elements for your portfolio website
Every project needs a formula – a purpose. Without it, it will be very difficult to impress.
The basic formula of a portfolio website would include a logo, tagline, your best work, and contact information. Sometimes this works, but in many cases it’s a poor implementation. To make your portfolio stand out in a different light, include other key elements that enhance your portfolio’s user experience: Case studies, testimonials, blogs, and even a project you are currently working on. These are important elements.
When working on your portfolio site design, think about the elements that your future clients should find. Ask yourself – what is the purpose of your portfolio? Are you looking to sell your services, are you looking for a job and want to get hired, or is it a website about you? The main focus of your portfolio site should be to attract visitors’ attention. The following elements will help you do that.
- A showcase of your work
- Your about page
- Case studies
- Call to Action (CTA)
- A blog and syndication
Ein Schaufenster Ihrer Arbeit
It only takes a few seconds to lose a visitor’s attention. So use those seconds intelligently. Your potential customers will see the images first and if they like what they see, they will keep looking for more details. In other words, you need a great and appealing presentation of your works.
This can be done in many ways – photo slideshows, video presentations, miniature galleries, etc. For example, if you are a logo designer, make sure you display a high-quality image of a logo in different variations. Put the logo on products and business cards and show it in different colors – this will expand your expertise.
Take a look at this portfolio website . It was created by London-based designer and writer Tim Smith. In it he shows his work through a miniature gallery.
Your about page
On your About page, your potential clients can see who’s behind the work, get a glimpse of who you are and if they’d like to work with you. They might ask, where do I start? Start with the most important thing – yourself. To make it easier, here is the checklist with the most important information about page elements:
It sounds obvious, but so many portfolios don’t have it. What if your potential client wants to research about you, for example LinkedIn ? Hi, I’m Matt … Is a great start to continue a story about you.
Bild von Dir:
Ein Bild gibt eine persönlichere Note. Ein Porträt von Ihnen oder eine schöne Aufnahme von Ihnen bei der Arbeit an einem neuen Design. Dies ist die originellste Art, den Besuchern ein Gefühl dafür zu vermitteln, wer Sie sind. Machen Sie es einfach, aber einladend.
Information about yourself:
Show your personality by telling a story about your professional and personal experience. Your education, what you learned, projects you enjoyed working with, awards and recognition. Use this page to show your skills, mindset and passions. Make it short, enjoyable and memorable.
Below you can find an example of an info page of an art director, Marcin Dmoch. He presents himself with bright color design and small stories telling about his professional experience and best projects. He has also attached a downloadable resume for easy printing or resending the file to others. It’s a clean design that includes all the key elements needed for an effective about page.
Case studies or presentations are the best way to demonstrate the full scope of your projects. Each project should have its own story that shows the progress of the entire process from start to finish. Break down this creative process with lots of photos and notes that show what’s behind each project.
This way, your visitors can get a sense of what your projects look like and how you moved from the initial planning phase to completion. Here are the components you should include in your case study:
- Purpose of the project: Why did you start the project?
- Objective: What you have achieved?
- Approach: How you did it.
- Project duration: How long did it take you?
- Your role: How you contributed to the team or project.
- Final product overview: Pictures, videos, links, etc.
Here’s a good example of case study presentation from Darian Rosebrook, a web designer and branding consultant. He uses his portfolio to showcase previous work in an article that reveals the essence of each project.
Another example is new-protec. They don’t have a portfolio website, but their case study page is a good example of thoughtful design to show potential clients the work they are proud of.
Does it take some time to build your section with case studies? Of course, but it is a must for any portfolio website.
Having some positive words from your customers can be very meaningful to those who have just landed on your site. You can list your skills and say how great you are, but have others say that can have a big impact . Reach out to your past clients and request quotes that you can use on your website. People who enjoyed working with you will be happy to praise your good work with a testimonial.
Check out this example below from graphic designer Francesca McWhirter. To make her testimonial page really popular, she starts with a dynamic hero image and then continues with the customer testimonials below.
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Call to Action (CTA)
A call to action complements the purpose of your portfolio. Remember the purpose of your website to get a call to action for your website. What actions do you want visitors to take? Your website should offer several ways for customers to contact you. Be sure to include your business email address, even if you use a contact form, as some customers prefer it over forms.
In the following example, the creative agency Lounge Lizard offers clients several ways to get in touch with them . You can use an email address or fill out the “Request a Quote” form to receive a quote directly in your inbox.
Blogging is a fantastic way to share your opinion and provide value to those who want to collaborate. Creating regular blog content gives visitors a reason to revisit your site. It’s also great for SEO – Google loves quality content!
Blogs aren’t the only approach, however. Social media is also a great way to get your work noticed. For example, Instagram, with its 1 billion active users, is a great way to showcase your work, style and unique personality. It helps build trust and attract a relevant audience. Content marketing can also include your own YouTube channel, a podcast or webinars. Choose your favorite way and express yourself. Creative artist Elsa Muse is a good example, she writes her own blog and posts on Instagram.
Don’t forget to syndicate your work! Just like content syndication, you can upload your best work to places like Behance and Dribbble . Even though you may have an amazing portfolio website, you should use these other networks for additional free traffic.
Your portfolio website can contain anything. Besides the basic key elements, there are other elements that can make your website stand out even more. A working prototype demo, free icon set examples, free software, themes and even plugins.
If you have guest appearances on blogs, podcasts, press and entertainment channels, be sure to mention them. Interviews are great to read when clients want to learn more about your personality and work. Also, be proud of your accomplishments and don’t be afraid to share details about your awards.
What you need to create a portfolio website
When you create a website, it is important to make sure that it is effective, functional and easy to maintain. Choosing the right tools is important to create a professional looking portfolio site. One of the best and most popular websites for creating websites – WordPress is a perfect solution for freelancers. WordPress offers you out-of-the-box features with countless themes and plugins available .
The WordPress theme controls the visual aspect of your website: the design, the colors and the layout. Conversely, plugins are extensions of WordPress that use the core WordPress software and edit or remove its functionality.
Page elements like contact forms, image slideshows, and marketing popup bars are parts of your website that are usually created and added with a WordPress plugin. You should not overdose your website with too many plugins, as this can (not always) make your website heavy and slow. Instead, you can create your WordPress site with a website builder and some other must-have plugins . This can save you time and help you launch your portfolio faster (artists usually don’t have much time to create their own websites, do they?).
After selecting the platform, the next thing you need is a domain name and hosting. If you are a freelance designer, it can be helpful for personal branding to include your name in the domain name.
A high-quality WordPress host like new-protec will make sure that your website stays online, navigates quickly and is always available for your potential customers. Using the included hosting features like a CDN can help ensure that all those beautiful showcase images around the globe load at lightning speed. And don’t forget to optimize them!
Use your portfolio as an opportunity to surprise and impress your potential clients. A portfolio website allows you to showcase all of your work in one place. This not only looks good for a client, but can also inspire you for your next projects.
Tell others about your skills and personality. Express your uniqueness through case studies. Be searchable and keep up with your competitors. There are no rules and everything goes as long as you can make the visitor smile and remember you.
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