There’s a trend in having portfolio websites. It comes from web designers and has started to cover other areas, as well. A portfolio website successfully replaces a resume or a sales pitch, ending up as an online business card that speaks volumes about you as a professional.
Let’s see what’s in it for you.
Why Do I Need a Portfolio Website?
3 main reasons will let you take portfolio websites creation seriously:
- It shows your past work.
A portfolio website, necessarily including a gallery of past projects, takes visitors to a route back to where it all started. Past work stands for professional milestones, telling the story of an evolution with achievements that made every next step possible.
- It demonstrates your skills.
Presently, you have an expertise that confirms you as a specialist in your area. Prove it. A portfolio website is the best place to give exposure to your current work.
- It shows off your potential.
Let your professional talent shine. Give it the chance to cast light onto how future projects will succeed, due to your contribution. Portfolio websites do exactly that: it proves your skills and talent, knowledge and style in a way they sound like a promise for future clients/employers.
Here’s an example of an online portfolio that includes them all, awesomely:
Gary Le Masson – Web Analytics Consultant
Above all, portfolio websites do a great job at keeping your information up to date. They are flexible, and adaptable to a newer form, whenever you want to bring improvements to the presentation.
Other examples of great success:
Agnes Lloyd-Platt impresses by photographs capturing out of the ordinary postures. Colors and image arrangements are meant to shock through the unusual and leave a strong impression:
As projects fall into several categories, they are separated by types in a one-page list. Thumbnails representative of the different categories show off the variety of projects Tim has dealt with:
As a creative studio, this portfolio website has a cool look that breaks through the norms. With every click and scroll, there’s something that bursts to your eyes and it’s thus impossible to be forgotten:
Trionn Design knows what makes a real impact: its branding design speaks by itself, where clean work brings forth memorable shapes and colors. The result… is strong brand personality:
The play with clean backgrounds alternating with fancy typographies could not be more inspiring. Graham Donnell deserves his name of international creative director as a title which honours him.
Simplicity is beautiful. It’s a persuasive statement when it takes form as SocioDesign’s website. It’s a bunch of elegance, coolness, expressivity and power, all condensed in one single concept: simplicity.
Trendiness is pervasive of all photos making up the website. in the area of studio furniture, it’s a must-have Michaelis Boyd is using craftily.
Jova Construction invites you to get your ticket to a new project. Every project bearing the imprint of Jova Construction breathes modernism:
The website has a clean architecture, separating navigation within specific info from photos proving their craftsmanship:
The website has the look of an artistic patchwork. In the middle of the home page, a photo of the expert humanizes and gives an extra touch of creativity to the whole:
Authenticity resides in an inspired combination of text and images with blurred contours: Unspoken Agreement knows how to sell its unique value proposition as essential to every new design project:
The website overlays a resume-like display of information onto a simple, yet stylish background: this is the best way to define Marisa Passos as an independent graphic designer:
Amber Loren surprises the reader with a nice feel of the website: elements are turned into object of beauty, with a precision of details and a propensity for subtle effects:
As a musician, Frank Lead is inclined to present his story as a show: navigation in the website gives this very impression, and has a lasting effect on the visitor.
Strategy, design and a bit of magic (as she says herself) is all it takes to form a beautiful presentation website:
Interactive is his website itself. You have to choose your own way of navigating into its pages and find your path to discovering Jade Dalloul’s expertise. In this resides his power of demonstrating who he really is as an interactive designer:
The presentation offers a high stance of Xavier Cusso as a Senior Visual Designer & Art Director. His expertise is implied by every pixel in the website, and convinces of what digital experiences he delivers to clients.
Fazeta manages to throw you into unique online experiences: a modern, immersive design is all it takes to make the brand memorable:
Are Portfolio Websites Really Suited for Me?
Yes, definitely. No matter what area you specialize in, portfolio websites are more than welcome. In a digitalized world, people will google your name. They’ll search for results speaking about you. Take control of your online presence and make your portfolio rank on top.
Some expertise areas where portfolio websites are suited for include, but are not limited to:
- Web designers – what is more appropriate to show web design skills than creating your own personal website? Portfolio websites are largely used by web designers to showcase their work as creators.
In the example below, Irene Demetri innovates with color and navigation, only to the point of getting noticed (as a web designer based in Athens, Greece):
- Graphic designers – as they deal with visual communication, graphic designers are supposed to prove it visually. Indeed, graphic designers’ portfolios strongly demonstrate their propensity for aesthetics.
Mixd pushes the boundaries by playing with color nuances, giving extreme power of expression to simplicity:
- Writers – if web designers and graphic designers impress through visual forms, writers can also leave an input into what stunning portfolio websites are. Titles, taglines, presentation and writing samples match well into a portfolio website that leads a writer to their next career level.
Robin Catalano uses nice imagery only to enhance the power of words and a whole wording style:
- Journalists – they cannot experiment more with words/images than in their personal online space. A journalist’s online portfolio will help their name settle down in journalism or serve as reference for anyone interested.
Daniel Sato’s portfolio is a beautiful small collection of visual journalism pieces waiting for exploration:
- Freelancers – this category includes many expertise areas, and you can include in a portfolio website practically anything deemed useful for your professional journey.
Joe Coleman had a brilliant idea to range the information in his presentation on a slider, going from Less Hard Sell to More Hard Sell:
- Photographers – similarly to web designers, photographers have a great chance to visually impress, in portfolio websites. A short presentation and an online photos gallery are all that’s needed to show off your talent and skills at photography.
Sanz Lena beautifully combines shock and glamour, weird and natural, in a not-so-common photo gallery of his own:
- Career transitioners – for career transitioners, creating portfolio websites might sound a little bit trickier. They should present some past projects and emphasize in them a newly adopted direction they want to go towards. It’s a little harder to put in place, but it’s all the more rewarding.
Job shifters reinvent themselves throughout their professional course.
Here, it’s up to you how to present past work, link it to current concerns and carefully put a stress on what matters to your future professional direction.
Define Yourself through a Motto
By creating a portfolio website, personal branding and professional style should merge into a unique way of seeing your role in the industry you activate in. How useful do you consider your work for the community, what’s the level you’d like to achieve to really make a difference, these are questions whose answers should pervade a portfolio website presentation.
A motto might sum them up and explain your implication in that industry area.
Check the following list of mottos for inspiration to start with:
NSA – “Anything is possible, the impossible just takes longer”
Milton Glaser – “There are three responses to a piece of design – yes, no, and WOW! Wow is the one to aim for.”
Hunter S. Thompson – “Not a wasted word. This has been a main point to my literary thinking all my life.”
Voltaire – “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”
Mike Nichols – “The only safe thing is to take a chance”.
Anne Geddes – “The best images are the ones that retain their strength and impact over the years, regardless of the number of times they are viewed.”
Milton Berle – “If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.”
“Body” of Your Portfolio Website
You have just started defining yourself through a bespoke website, and a representative tagline. It’s time you think about what to put in the website, to impress readers and turn them into leads.
First, your projects
In portfolio websites, the star will be… the portfolio, of course. It will include your projects, and to get a sleek presentation, you should keep in mind:
- The projects gallery should be a curated list of past work. No matter how tempting, throwing in all past projects without selection will not show hard work, but rather indiscrimination and overdoing things. Select only the most impressive work.
- Projects should be at least 1 to 3, and at most No project will result in lack of credibility, while too many projects will result in lack of persuasiveness, lack of readers’ attention and a high exit rate.
- Projects should be no older than 2 years ago. You don’t want potential clients/employers look at work that’s become obsolete. Projects within a 2 years-span are enough to prove your professionalism as valid to current industry challenges.
- Past projects should be listed in a narrative, not an archive. Avoid mechanical juxtaposition of projects and try instead adding charm to a story told by your work. You can do this by carefully organizing past projects in your portfolio website:
Organize projects in a thumbnail gallery and add captions to each thumbnail. It’s common practice to put a link on thumbnail pictures, for users to see more. In the expanded website section dedicated to a project, you can include a detailed description of it, and even a case study that adds context to your work. If possible, mention quantifiable results, both results and incremental progress within a project timeframe. Quantifiable results may be something like, for instance, “my project increased sales by 15%…”, etc.
Organize projects by categories. If there’s more to say than by showing a maximum of 12 projects, go for it. But consider organizing your projects by categories, so it be easy for readers to sort them out in search of what especially interests them. Each category will have its distinct section within the website.
Organize projects by filters. If categories do not support the samples volume, it might be a good idea to introduce some filters, letting readers select exactly the types of projects they want to look closer at.
Second, skills and credentials
Keep in mind your current skills are what matters most to potential clients/partners/employers.
All projects you’ve just put on the portfolio website speak of your skills. But there’s more to say about your skills.
For instance, you might consider attaching a link with your personal results to some skills tests.
Skills are supported, besides projects and tests, by ancillary information such as:
- Prizes, rewards, certificates, anything officially confirming your skills in a certain activity area
- Testimonials for past projects. Choose a few testimonials from former partners/clients attesting to your ability to make things happen, the right way.
- Current, ongoing projects. There’s no better chance to prove your skills validity than by including some reference to your current projects, in the portfolio website.
- An invitation to peek into a lead’s business and let them in on what the possible new project should start with. You could formulate an enticing message that accompanies the contact form and contact details.
Below is an example of an online portfolio including current work:
Third comes your bio
It’s nice to add humanity to your work, skills and rewards. Here’s where a bio comes into play. Make a short presentation of yourself, work-side and outside of work; this adds a special signature to your projects.
You will want potential business partners/employers/clients to have YOUR signature on THEIR own projects, so make your bio informative enough to convince them continue the research, and intriguing enough to make them want to know your professionalism in a distinct project of their own.
Example of a bio:
A nice, professional & friendly photo of you might boost that short presentation of yourself and build trust. So, consider adding a photo to the bio. It’ll double the words’ value.
If photos are worth double than words, videos are worth triple than those words. Why not add a video with you at work, as you’re making things happen?
Fourth, contact details
One of the most important things to include in portfolio websites is contact information. Place it in a prominent part of the website, and ease readers’ way to contact you.
You can insert a contact form, but don’t forget to also add your email address.
It’s recommended that you have links to your professional social media accounts, also. A link to your LinkedIn profile should come first in the list of social media icons on the website.
If appropriate, you can specify the geographic location where potential clients will find you.
To maximize the chances of being contacted, consider adding a call-to-action that invites users to get in touch with you. Formulate it as if you spoke in-person with the website user.
The following website has a clear, visible call-to-action that leads directly to the phone number for quick contact:
Should I Include…
For job seekers, yes, this is valid. For freelancers and specialists seeking for collaborations, it’s not that necessary. Projects, bio, case studies and working manner should speak for themselves, louder than chronological achievements.
It is OK to clearly state your activity areas. They might go from a simple tagline to a bulleted list of services.
Definitely. In a crowded market, you should firmly state what makes you different from the rest. From a professional motto to a working style to personal stamp in your projects, there’s something that should powerfully define you as unique. Find that uniqueness, and then let others search for your uniqueness, in a sense they’ll not be able to do without.
A blog? If you have regular information & opinions about your industry, make a blog. It will set you as an expert in your field. Otherwise, do not let a blog section stale for months or worse, for years.
Besides the elements above, all you need for your own portfolio website is:
- A reliable hosting service (i.e. SiteGround)
- A platform for your website (WordPress recommended)
- A template to start creating your own presentation (we suggest Mesmerize theme).
A closing Word
All the above-mentioned elements should be wrapped up in nice, easily-made portfolio websites. This portfolio website should be serving for personal and professional branding, with a customized logo unifying work and person under the same umbrella.
Let’s not postpone the work, and start creating your own, exceptional portfolio website!