As a creative person whether you’re a photographer, art director, writer, painter, you want your digital portfolio to stand out. No offence to those who use generic cookie-cutter services like Square Space or Cargo Collective to do it, this is more for the artist who wants to build something unique and have control over how their site looks, how people view and navigate their work and want a custom solution.
But before you get too excited and start drooling over portfolio website examples online you first need to gather your content, write descriptions and your bio, experience, CV, case studies, upload your videos…as you can see it all gets a bit overwhelming and suddenly you’re an archivist! But it doesn’t have to be.
Here are 5 rules to help keep you on track to building good portfolio websites that leave your audience with the best impression of your work by focusing on your strengths and simplifying the whole dang process:
1. Pick your 10 best pieces
Not your 50 best pieces, not 20 best pieces, 10 best pieces. The quickest way to lose momentum and never finish your site is to overwhelm yourself with choices. And if you aren’t objective enough to edit, ask someone else to. You can always add something in later.
2. Start strong and end strong
When clients view your site, let them see your best work first, and if you are following rule #1 you’ll have 8 great pieces in the middle and end with your second best piece.
3. Upload your videos to Vimeo
The last thing you want is a web server that hosts video, it’s the quickest way to turn off a prospective client away, waiting for your video to load. When it’s hosted on someone else’s server like Vimeo they can watch it right away.
4. Don’t pay for cheap hosting
Your hosting, which is the is the foundation that your portfolio rests on, it’s what speeds up page-load times and reduce bounce rate. Or it can be like watching paint dry. Especially when it comes to portfolios that have full screen images, where you want to impress the audience, at times like this, unless you have images the size of postage stamps you need good hosting. By hosting I mean, not Godaddy. Not Hostpapa. Not even SiteGround. 5$ hosting doesn’t cut it if you’re serious about your work. Ask your web developer to provide recommendations for a more premium hosting package if you care about your work.
5. Keep your descriptions short
As much as you want to tell the world about how much time you spent at the photoshoot and how you couldn’t stop eating the nachos and how cute the photographer’s assistant was, don’t. Keep descriptions of your work simple and to the point. Put some added value in about why the work was successful for the client, make it professional and make it to-the-point.
Before you even think about building a website to showcase your work consider these suggestions I promise you that you will be much further ahead and prepared for the fun stuff, like how people navigation and the impact of the website experience itself. Your portfolio needs to be all about the work, and the way the site is built should support that in a unique and easily digestible way.