A portfolio is a collection of documents, works, progresses and basically everything you’ve done and want to show off. The point of a portfolio is to assist you in the process of presenting your skills, knowledge and experience. A portfolio has the aim of showing who you are in a short but detailed form. It’s important to always have a portfolio as you never know what kind of job opportunities you may have in any unexpected moment. That doesn’t mean you have to create one and carry 5 copies of it with you — instead, you can always keep it online!
Anyone can create a portfolio but online portfolios are mostly used by IT workers, such as designers and developers. This group represents the biggest part of portfolio-owners on the internet. In this article we will try to explain the key points of any successful portfolio and analyze the mistakes made which really drive clients from your online portfolio.
Your Domain Name
This is the most basic mistake which can be made. If you consider yourself a professional, you must keep the domain name professional as well. The best idea would be using your name and surname as the domain name as it’s neither too personal nor crazy or strange. It will only say that it is your personal page, and that’s exactly what you want to achieve. The bad part may be the unavailability of the domain name.
In 2011, 300 million websites were created and each of them used a unique domain name. If finding suitable domain name is an issue then you should think about other possibilities as well. You may reduce your name or surname to one letter only, or, you may use a common word like “studio”. While no-one will judge you for using any extra word in your domain, it’s not a good practice to use a word like “studio” in your domain name if you actually don’t own a studio and work by yourself. It may make clients think that you are trying to portray yourself as bigger than you are. You may also use words which represent you or anything that may come to mind, but be sure not to let your imagination invent some strange and creepy names!
Bad Domain Pick
It is a very bad practice to use adjectives in your domain name, especially the ones which would describe yourself. It is the client’s job to decide whether your designs are really amazing and you are a “talented designer” or you aren’t. You shouldn’t think for your clients and impose your ideas to them.
Good Domain Pick
While we already said that using adjectives in domain names isn’t a good idea, I should admit that Visual Idiot has done an amazing job choosing a domain name. It’s actually his nickname which makes him popular in the design community. It would be strange using the word idiot in any domain name, but, you’ll immediately forget about it as the site loads. The stunning work VI has done will make you admire him and his skills. I can actually say that his domain pick is perfect and it doesn’t make him appear in a negative space at all.
Suggested Reading – 6 Must Read Tips Before Registering A Domain Name
Another key element which makes a big difference is the quality of your portfolio layout. The first impression matters much, that is why you should always try impressing your clients from their first moments being on the website. Your layout must be the one which will impress your potential clients. You can’t convince someone that your work is amazing and they should hire you if your own website lacks quality. A visitor won’t ask or seek for the prices you offer, or your portfolio if your website won’t have at least a decent look. Minimalism is totally accepted in your designs but you shouldn’t confuse minimalism and simplicity. You don’t want your site to look poorly designed and lack basic functionality. Your website’s quality should never be second rate to your work.
People like to know as much as they can about someone they may hire for a job. Before it goes deep into communication and several mails, it is very good to let your visitors know you from the beginning. This doesn’t mean you must post everything from your medical cart to parking fines.
You shouldn’t go too deep into personal life stories, but you should at least provide your name, and details about your professional studies and experience. Obviously this information shouldn’t be located in random places and the best location for it would be an “About” page. There have been several discussions on how to create great About pages so that your visitors won’t leave, at least not because of a poorly written About page.
Two More “Obvious” Mistakes
- Live-Chat – These services were invented with the purpose of helping customers on e-commerce websites where instant help is needed. In theory, live-chat widgets can be present on your website, it’s actually an unnecessary element, but it depends on the specifics of your website. A team, or a medium-large design studio could implement live chat if they have the right person and time to answer all the questions which may occur, however, if you are a lone freelancer there is no point implementing this time-consuming feature as all the questions could be asked by using the contact form and your job is not answering live chat questions.
- Inefficient Use – Another mistake you may be doing is using your portfolio inefficiently. I do not want to say that you should squeeze juice out of your portfolio — what I want to state is that you shouldn’t confuse it with a blog or other personal website. Everything has it’s aim and you shouldn’t mix two different things into one. Your thoughts about Joe’s shoes shouldn’t be near your work examples and your CV. You can always set up a blog on your website, but it should be a different page/category. While this is admissible, you shouldn’t talk about Joe’s shoes on it either. Why? Because most of your eventual clients are not interested why Joe has chosen sneakers instead of boat shoes. I can say that having a blog on your portfolio website won’t hurt you if the discussion and posts are work related.
To sum up, a great portfolio consists of 4 basic parts: domain name, layout, information about yourself and the structure of your page. Each part of it must be well thought out and planned. You don’t want to miss something which you may regret later. Every small detail should be taken into consideration because your portfolio is how you present yourself to strangers. These strangers may want to hire you, and the ultimate goal of a portfolio is to showcase your work, and get more work. In case you need someone to have a look at your design and give you some feedback, you can always ask for some on Dribbble, Forrst or ConceptFeedback!
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