It’s sad but true: These days, computer-bound professionals have minimal attention spans. Picture someone busily working their way through a mound of applicants and resumes. They’ll type in the URL of the candidates who pique their interest. At this point, you have only seconds to maintain that interest. No pressure, but don’t mess it up.
What are the three most important things to keep top of mind when you’re putting your portfolio websites together?
1. Make sure your best work is the easiest to find.
Separate yourself from all the personal associations you have with your work and make an effort to evaluate your samples objectively and then determine which examples stand out as particularly strong. Great portfolio websites give those pieces the prime real estate.
2. Create sections by work type.
If your portfolio contains work that falls into different categories — ad work versus editorial, for instance — separate it into sections. This way, a prospective client or employer can immediately sort out the experience that most appropriately matches their needs. (And don’t forget to keep rule #1 in mind within each category, too.)
3. Simple navigation rules portfolio websites.
Providing a direct link that’s relevant to a particular client need is great as long as it’s clean (myportfolio.com/headlines, not myportfolio.com/jahfgqur09324), but anticipate what will happen if someone winds up by accident on another page on your site. Will they be able to easily get back on track and find what they are looking for? If you can’t confidently say yes from any entry point, rethink your navigation functions.
The good news is that an excellent body of work will get recognized one way or the other (it doesn’t all come down to how your portfolio websites look), but time is money. Put the work in upfront to carefully consider the experience of navigating your portfolio; it could save you days, weeks, or even months waiting to be discovered.
Marjorie is a former Creative Circle candidate based in Portland who recently accepted a full-time offer for her dream job. She is a writer/editor and stylist/producer with an emphasis in the design world. If you are interested in working with someone like Marjorie, please contact your nearest Creative Circle office.
Great post, Marjorie. Do you have a recommendation on the number of categories or sections a portfolio should have? At some point, does it look like someone is a jack of all trades and master of none? For instance, should a photographer who does weddings, families, seniors, landscapes, commercial, and sports only show three of their best categories in the main nav and bury the others in a footer or somewhere else?
I find still photos far more effective in web pages than repeated motion graphics. They are really distracting when trying to read copy.
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