How to make your portfolio site stand out

It the past decade, it’s become crucial for designers and artists to establish their online presence; both though a website and social media. A portfolio website is the quickest and easiest way to showcase what you can do. And it can attract the attention of potential clients and collaborators who will search you out online.

Now, if you’re not super web savvy and feel overwhelmed with the task of building their own website from scratch, there are plenty of useful tools and tips to simplify the process. Websites like Squarespace, Dunked or Behance will allow you to build a portfolio website to showcase your work.

But is it enough to simply drag and drop your work on a website? What can you do to make sure that your work stands out from the countless portfolios online? Creating a successful portfolio website is not that difficult. There is no need for complexity. Your portfolio’s main job is to hit your objectives so make sure your portfolio is simple and easy to use. So to help, here are some tips to get your portfolio noticed in a competitive market–or read up on 10 tips to improve your design portfolio.

Capture audiences with an elegant landing page or a striking logo

Introduce yourself and your brand to new visitors with a beautiful landing page. From providing a quick glimpse at your newest photographs or previewing your latest video, a landing page is your chance to grab the attention of your visitors before pointing them to other areas of your website.

Creating a brand starts with the logo. It is the first thing users see, and it will be the image associated with you and your work. Logos should be placed in the top left corner of your portfolio, because in the Western world, people’s eyes are trained to read that area first. When creating a logo, consider that it will be one of the first things a visitor will see on your portfolio website and will be an ambassador, representing your brand.

Choose quality over quantity

Don’t crowd your portfolio website by including every piece of work you have ever done (this goes for your physical portfolio as well). Instead, focus on choosing your best work. This should be the projects that illustrate your full set of skills and abilities. Hide all the second fiddle work, because only the best work will do. It has to be the most impressive and representative work you have to offer to instantly impress and draw in the interest of potential clients. Some of the best design portfolios only display one creation at a time, then going deeper into the project. With the trend moving towards image heavy websites, you should choose to pair your content with relevant and distinctive high quality images.

You should always include a short description of each projects and the skills you had to use to do them. Your portfolio website needs to answer these questions like: Who was the client? What was the design? What was the purpose of the website? Did the design compliment the purpose? You need to give information about a portfolio piece to fill prospective clients in on the details. These details will allow the employer to appreciate it on an aesthetic level and on a practical client project level.

Humanize your website

Work is great, but a prospective client will also want to know more about the person that they’re hiring. Put them at ease by adding some info about yourself. An About page is a great solution to tell people about yourself. The page should have a description of you as a person. Include your likes and dislikes. You can add your social network links if they are a great representation of you as a person and will not compromise getting clients–because once it’s online, it’s there forever and for everyone to find.

Don’t be camera shy. A good picture of yourself will give clients piece of mind by allowing them to see who they’re dealing with, and it adds trust.

You need to be mobile

With more people consuming online content on the go, it is simply not enough to have a website that’s only optimized for computers with bigger screens. It is essential to use a responsive website that is functional for mobile devices to ensure that your visitors are guaranteed a pleasant experience on your website, wherever they may be accessing it on.

Keep your portfolio updated

Once you have created a stunning portfolio website, it is essential to regularly put up new work. This will make it easy for your visitors to keep up with your progress. You could have the fanciest site in the world, but if it was last updated five years ago it looks a bit lazy. However, for many designers, their busy work schedules prevent them from doing this. As difficult as this may be, it’s important to try to find the time.

Promote your portfolio

There’s no point in having a great portfolio site if no one is visiting. Be active on Facebook, Twitter and Google+; and deploy portfolio pieces to Behance, Flickr, Dribbble and deviantART. Film yourself working and put the video on YouTube. Aggregate artwork into a slideshow and share it on Slideshare or Visme. Put together a PDF brochure and upload it to Scribd. The more places you share your content, the more you’ll drive people towards you and your portfolio website.

Add a blog

A regularly updated blog keeps people coming back. Set yourself a goal, like updating your blog every day for 100 days. It may seem a pain to have to find something new to post every day, but in the long run you’ll thank yourself. Google loves a well-structured, regularly updated website that’s stuffed with great content–and the easiest way to provide fresh content is to keep your blog updated. You can write about the projects you’ve worked on, share your thoughts about art and design trends, reveal your favourite tools or write tips to make your portfolio website stand out from the crowd.

In general, the things that make visitors happy are the things that make Google happy. However, striking a balance is always important when creating your portfolio website.

Daniel is an Art Director and Graphic Designer with over a decade of experience in advertising and marketing in the Greater Toronto Area.

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