A portfolio is a collection of an individual or a company’s best pieces of work. It is simply a collection of works that a possible customer will go through, and a design portfolio can make or break a business deal. The portfolio tells the customers of the design skills and expertise of the designer, and is a clear indicator of the possible outcome of a project with that particular designer.
So why do you need an online portfolio at all? Well, an online folio has more of a reach than anything else, for one thing. Further, it can be tailor made to showcase an individual’s skill sets. It could showcase all of your previous works, or a handful of them (maybe the most successful ones). With online portfolios, a designer is able to get clients from as far as other continents! We’ve put down a few tips to help you create an online portfolio. Well, they are more than just tips, they are more of steps that will ensure you see a boom in your work!
1. Know the Target Audience
Without knowing the target audience, it is impossible to please the audience, be it a web design task for your own self or for a client’s needs! If you are a true master of your trade, you will take all pains to get to understand the target audience before you go out and make a design. Why not become a part of social forums or groups to start following a sector of your target audience, so as to understand them better? This is probably more crucial than it already sounds, and we cannot stress on this enough. get to UNDERSTAND the target audience, their likes and dislikes will define the design, and the eventual success or failure of your online portfolio! Once you understand the target audience, you will have a good idea on what you need to display to them through your portfolio. It is a great idea to also update the content on your folio at regular intervals, to keep fresh audiences interested in your portfolio. Once you have the initial attention of a group of people, you need to then work towards converting that interest into cold, hard cash for yourself!
2. The Right Environment
A design fresher may not always be sure of the technology he may want to employ, to build and present the online portfolio. Before actually starting on the building process, you need to evaluate your own needs and accordingly select the right platform to host your folio. A platform such as wordpress could work well, as for joomla, Drupal or the classic CSS/HTML variety. You need to keep the site as light as possible, and also browser friendly. The site needs to start up with the minimal load time, and it needs to be as hassle free to the user as it possibly can. Try and keep the site as simple as you can. Learn the latest trends in site building from magazines, web sites and other designers.
3. Simplicity and Approach
If today’s audience is lacking in one aspect, it is patience! Nobody is going to sit around and learn to use the functionality of your web site. In other words, navigating through the pages of your folio should be extremely user friendly and hassle free. Keep it as simple as you can. It is harder for the user to get to vital pieces of information, if the site has too much information all over it! One aspect you may want to keep in mind is not to try and show off all your creativity under one roof – you may end up boring the audience with too much information! Keep navigation aspects familiar and simple. These could include the classic HOME, NEW, ABOUT US/ME, CONTACT and so on. People are already used to seeing these tabs on the higher or lower end of the page, so it is good to have them where they are most expected to be.
4. Style and Design
A designer no doubt needs to put up work samples on his portfolio site, maybe use slide shows to categories and genres that he specializes in. Now what if this photographer chooses to put up thumbnail images alone, and have tons of text explaining how he plans his shoots? That wouldn’t work now, would it? In other words, display what you are capable of, and don’t just write down on it. It is crucial to have a well defined strategy as far as design elements go, and use the strategies in a structured and methodical manner. Use a grid or column technique when you want to put in a whole lot of information on a single web page. Update the information on your portfolio at regular intervals, so the pages truly depict the best of your work experience at any given time. Using out of the box designs may not always work – keep it the design as simple and predictable as you can, so your work can speak for itself. Minimum attention to the templates from the user, and maximum attention to what the templates display – thats the key!
5. Effective Presentation
That brings us to the presentation stage. If you try and put a number to the design specialists who work in your area of expertise, it is safe to assume not all of them are going to become well known champions! So what is it about an online portfolio that could give you the edge? For one thing, you need to be approachable 24/7. Have a clear and well-defined CONTACT tab on your site. The primary goal of your portfolio is to convert the interest that a user displays, into hard cash in your bank account! You could give away freebies such as basic templates, to keep them coming back for more. In other words, create the right impression at first, following which you need to be available to your potential clients through all means possible – email, telephone, instant messengers and post! You could offer a free download of a PDF of your portfolio, so the user could save your samples and even view them offline, maybe while on a flight.
An online portfolio loses its meaning if you are going to end up paying more to keep it alive, than what earnings you end up with as a result of that folio! At the same time you want a hosting service that never crashes, don’t you? Getting the right hosting service is a crucial step in the right direction. Large corporations can end up spending millions on their own hosting , but a design fresher needs to keep cost efficiency in mind when putting up a personal folio. We strongly suggest a free hosting service to start with. Some of these, say for example webs.com, are more than adequate to serve as online portfolios.
7. Show Relevant Samples
Do NOT put up so many samples that the suer has to sort through dozens from each category. Usually, 3 or 4 samples from each genre are more than enough to impress, and keep the suer wanting more. So don’t clutter up the site, but use only handpicked design samples, maybe even have a ‘recent work’ category. In other words, you need to make it as easy an experience for your potential clients as you possibly can. If it is tiresome just to see your work, chances are the ‘client’ is going to close the browser window and look elsewhere! Coming back to the nature of the samples themselves, put up only the kind of work your are expecting to get. No point showing a dance club client the samples you made for the kinder garden school when you were a teenager, right?
8. So Why Not Have Multiple Folios?
The previous paragraph brings us to this question. How do you showcase relevant talents to relevant customers, and not bore them with unnecessary information. Well, you need to make different portfolios for different audiences, simple! Put down specific target audiences and target markets, and select different work samples for each category. Think about what markets are most likely to give you quick and meaningful and monetary returns; prioritize these markets of course, and make these folios FIRST!
So how does your folio end up in the top ten search results, giving you maximum credibility and visibility and confidence? Search Engine Optimized content is the answer. You need relevant tag words coming in to the title bar, for your site to effectively show up in search engines.
10. Give Your Text a Personal Touch
People are emotional beings, and they love to hear a story here and an anecdote there about who you are as a person. Anything interesting you have said or done to make the work processes less tiresome for a client? Put it up there on the ABOUT ME page on your site! Many potential clients may not understand design jargon, but everybody understands human relations and how important they can be in the work place.