Designing an Effective Web Portfolio

Your online portfolio is your chance to present yourself in the best possible light. It is the means by which you will display your body of work and resume to untold numbers of people. It is a crucial element in giving possible employers a real sense of your potential. Nowadays, it is virtually required that you have a site of your own to show.

Steps to take to create an effective portfolio

You are your client in this case, which is not a reason to slack off. It is your chance to craft a carefully considered and designed solution to the problem at hand.

1. Identify your audience.

Do you want to get hired or find an internship? Your audience will be potential employers and studio heads. Your site will need to appeal to people with highly developed aesthetics, probably more than capable of doing the job for which you are applying. They will be looking for someone who can fit into an existing team without missing a beat.

2. Plan your portfolio accordingly.

Keep it simple.
Get to the work as quickly and gracefully as possible. Keep your target audience in mind and make sure the user path you create facilitates that group’s needs first.

3. Explain your work and detail your role in each project.

Include some clearly written text for each piece shown. Show your process, include details. What was the problem solved? Who was the client? What was the context?

4. Curate (or choose) your work carefully.

Challenge yourself to winnow your entire portfolio down to the 10 best pieces. The people looking at your portfolio have to wade through dozens of sites, don’t make them wade through half-finished rough studies from your first year.

Ways to make sure your portfolio is effective

1. Keep it clear and focused on your objective at all times.

2. Pare the information you include down to the bare essentials.

Not that you have to be overly blunt, just make sure you are getting to the point quickly and effectively.

3. Dare to be minimal. Within reason.

You can have a discernible style, just do not ever sacrifice usability for a stylistic flourish. It is not worth losing the user in some complicated navigational scheme or some such mess.

4. Always include a resume that is built in HTML, NOT a downloadable PDF.

You want your resume to be fully indexable and searchable by Google and other such engines. PDFs and images are not useful for this reason.

5. Always include full contact information.

Either build in a full working contact form, or include your email address and phone number. Employers will not ferret out your contact information, they will simply move on to the next candidate.

6. Let your personality shine through in the design.

Sit down and think about yourself: what are some of your best characteristics? How can you convey that visually?


Articles used to write this lesson:

Creating A Successful Online Portfolio |  By Sean Hodge  |  March 4th, 2008

Creating The Perfect Portfolio |  By Collis Ta’eed  |  January 29, 2008

Five steps to a better design portfolio |  Jeffery Veen  |  9 November 2006

My Last Portfolio Sucked, Yours Might Too |   Kyle Meyer |  02 12 2008

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