Create portfolio sites. Complete Guide and Practical Examples
Published by Incomedia in Guides and Tips · 15 November 2022
Are you wondering if you should create a website with your online portfolio? If you're even asking yourself the question, the answer is: Yes.
Whether you are a young person looking for your first job, a freelancer looking for new clients or, a professional looking for a new opportunity, you need a website that functions as a business card, resume and showcase for your projects , all in one.
A site like this will give you online visibility and more chances of being found. It will also showcase your personality, which can set you apart from the crowd and give you an edge in the eyes of recruiters and potential clients.
Now that that's out of the way, let's get to work. Here is a guide for creating a portfolio site you will be proud of.
1. Find inspiration
If you are still just starting out, you might feel a little lost: where do you start to create a beautiful, complete and effective portfolio site? What you need is an idea to start from.
Don't sit there and struggle staring at a blank sheet of paper: you could get stuck for hours, only thinking about what to eat to fill the emotional hunger that has taken over your stomach!
Instead, start looking around: surf the web and look at the websites of people who are already more or less established in your sector. I am not suggesting you to copy: but to study your competition and, if possible, learn from those who already have experience in the same field. Although this browsing may seem aimless at first, it will help you find out what you like and what you don't; you will realize what you think can work and, little by little, you will begin to understand what you want to have on your site.
Remember: you are setting benchmarks , you are not wasting time. When the inspiration has blown you away, or - more realistically - you have found a core of ideas that you find interesting enough to be developed, then you will be ready to move on to the next step.
2. Choose your template
Now that your ideas are a little more clear, you can get to work: it's time to choose a template.
Be careful: this is a very important choice . A template doesn't just have to be aesthetically beautiful - it also has to work. A template works when:
- it has a clear architecture: only the right pages and all in the right place;
- it is easily navigable: users can find the information they are looking for in just a few clicks;
- communicates an emotion: in other words, it's all about the "feeling";
- it is highly customizable: you can adapt it to your needs without going crazy and wasting time.
Is that too much to ask? I don't think so. There are great templates that offer exactly these benefits. Check out these templates designed specifically for creating an online portfolio site.
Among other things, this kind of template is also a guideline you can trust with confidence: you could limit yourself to inserting your content without changing anything else and have the guarantee of having done a good job.
However, if you aim for maximum originality and working on the graphic design does not scare you, remember that you can always start from an empty template. In short, the choice is yours.
3. Start with the Home Page
It's time to start getting your hands dirty - you need to create your home page.
Take a breath and reflect: what is a home page for? By definition a website’s home page is the starting point from which your visitors begin to navigate your pages. Think of it as the cover of a book, a cover that must be used to:
- welcome your visitors;
- give a brief overview of who you are and what you do;
- give a quick hint and easy access to the various contents of the site.
This is your chance to make a good first impression and the moment in which your visitors decide to continue browsing your site rather than abandon it for other shores (read: “the competition”).
Use everything you have at your disposal wisely: curate the graphics, use the right words and find catchy phrases, arrange content by importance knowing that sometimes people don't scroll all the way down, persuade them with reviews and data (if you have them) .
You have to intrigue and stimulate visitors to read your content, so don't say everything on the home page: give a preview of the most important topics but remember that you will have specific pages to treat them in detail.
Think of the entire website as a 1-hour presentation and the home page as the 1-minute elevator pitch to convince your boss about something! Are you ready for the challenge?
4. Prepare the "About me" page
Don't get carried away by the title and spiral into existential doubts. You know who you are. You are a professional - or aspiring ex-student - confident in your skills, strong in your wealth of experience, rich in personal skills and interests, who aims to make yourself known and find new job opportunities.
Your task now is to create a page to introduce the prepared and brilliant professional that you are to the public.
Anything goes: photographs, illustrations, hand-drawn drawings, texts, videos. Use whatever you think can help make the reader understand who you are . You can enter a short bio, give essential information about yourself, your values and what you do. Don't forget to highlight your successes and maybe present your current employment status, or talk about the results you still want to achieve. An interactive timeline could also be striking.
Allow me, however, a few small suggestions:
- Choose the tone of voice based on the image you want to give of yourself as a professional: informal photos and a light-hearted tone are perfect for a creative person, but perhaps less so for a notary. ... one thing's for sure, this is not the place for your beautiful wedding photos!
- Find a good balance: only share what's important , not all people are avid readers and, above all, few are interested in knowing how you were doing in pre-school.
- Do not try to be funny if it doesn't come naturally: a more neutral tone is always the safer bet.
Need some hints? Introduce yourself with a photo and nice, concise bio. Then insert a link to your CV and offer it as a downloadable PDF. Attract with likability and strike with professionalism: it’s the best strategy!
5. Create your portfolio
It's time to show what you're worth: dig through your archive and create your portfolio.
The point here is not how to put your portfolio on a page on your website - that's easy. The Portfolio object will take care of that part for you. You can add an image, a title and a description for each job; customize the style of the wall, set categories and search filters; provide links for further information, etc. In short, you have everything you need to create an impactful, beautiful and functional portfolio.
The complicated part, rather, is upstream: how to pick the work that deserves to be included in a portfolio?
- First: don't get caught up in performance anxiety.
- Second: don't think that quantity is worth more than quality.
- Third: don't overlook the power of storytelling.
Now let me explain. Regarding the first and second point, you DON'T need to insert ALL the projects you have developed. Doing so could even be counter-productive. Use a critical eye and only select the best, those which really say something about you and which highlight your strengths. A few great works are better than many poor quality ones: viewers will appreciate your work and the fact that you are not wasting their time.
Finally, when it comes to the power of storytelling, don't overlook the importance of the descriptions that accompany your works. Make sure you provide concise descriptions and always explain the role you played. Remember that when viewing works in a portfolio, visitors are often more interested in understanding how the author arrived at a result, rather than the result itself.
You may be asking, "What if I'm just starting out and don't have a list of projects to show visitors?"
Use your imagination and show your dedication . Everyone has to start somewhere: state your situation and present your study projects or personal work. Resourcefulness and initiative are qualities that are always appreciated!
One last thing. Don't forget to update your portfolio: by presenting and sharing your most recent creations, you will demonstrate that you are active, that you get work, and that you have experience. It's important.
6. Add contact information
You are doing all this to find new clients, new collaborations, new job opportunities: so allow those who fall in love with your work to contact you easily .
Your online portfolio site must include one or more of the following elements: a contact form, your e-mail address, your telephone number, links to your social media. Where and how to insert them is up to you: you can make a dedicated "Contact" page, you can add this information to the "About me" page, you can insert a toolbar on the side of the page, etc.
Whichever solution you choose, I recommend that you include your contact details in the footer of your website as well, so they will always be available to anyone.
By the way: if there is any content on your social media profiles that is not relevant to the type of job you are looking for, consider changing your privacy settings and restricting who can see it. You probably don't want your future employer to see the photos from Saturday night at the club.
7. Enter customers and reviews
No false modesty: you're working on building your brand , your image, and you should do everything you can to convince visitors that you are the right person to bet on.
Have you won any prizes? Mention them.
Have you written articles or are there articles that talk about you? Link them.
But most importantly, do you have testimonies from satisfied customers, previous employers, or colleagues who speak highly of you? These are invaluable, so be sure to add them! In fact, genuine feedback that doesn't sound exaggerated has a magical effect for increasing the credibility of your portfolio. It's like getting a boost and going twice as fast to the finish line.
Getting reviews takes a bit of work: when you complete a project, don't hesitate to ask your client to write a testimonial. If the client is reticent, you can always offer to supply a draft to review or ideas to start from.
Inserting a roundup of the logos of the companies you have collaborated with or the reviews you have collected is an easy way to enrich your page. All you have to do is use the two specific Objects: Slider logo and Testimonial & Rating.
What if you're just starting out and you have no customers to mention or reviews to share? In this case, positive comments from teachers, friends or people with whom you have collaborated, perhaps for volunteer projects, can also work. As long as they're not from your mother.
8. Make your website mobile-friendly
Now that you can see the light at the end of the tunnel, your doubts have been resolved and you've added your content, your online portfolio site has taken shape and is almost ready to go online.
That's right: almost. Because there is one more very important thing to take care of: making sure your site is compatible with mobile web browsers.
Everything works on desktop, but what about on smartphones? Considering how many people now browse the web from their mobiles, you can't afford to overlook anything. This is not about creating a "scaled down" version to work on small spaces: instead, you should rethink content, layouts and interactions to makes sure the visitors' user experience remains unchanged .
Don't worry: the Portfolio Object you used - like the templates and other WebSite X5 Objects - are already meant to be mobile friendly. You can manage the responsive view in a very simple way: so that even if your future employer looks at your portfolio on a smartphone while on the subway, everything will look just the same as it does on a desktop in the office.
It took a lot of effort, but it was worth it: now your site is ready to go online.
WebSite X5 includes 12 months of webspace and an automatic domain: all it takes is one click. Your site is online, finally navigable, and ready to work for you.
Take a moment to gloat in front of the monitor as you look at your website in all its glory, pat yourself on the back, and then… get back to work.
That's right! Because now you have to start promoting it and making it grow. In the meantime, let everyone know that you have a portfolio site: share it online, insert it in the signature of the emails you send, quote it in the bio of your social profiles, print it on your business cards and in any other place - physical or virtual - that comes to mind. Then keep updating it: whenever you have new content or a new project to include, a new feature to implement, or an aspect to be improved.
Your portfolio site is your best ally: pamper it a little and it will give you great satisfaction.