Time to roll up your sleeves and grab the scalpel; we’re dissecting portfolio anatomies of why and what. You can create a good-looking portfolio that uniquely showcases your work and the importance of doing so.
A portfolio will help you stand out from the crowd and show your uniqueness. You are a creator, and you need to showcase your work. There are certain areas where a portfolio is more important than others. If you find yourself in one of the following, it’s safe to assume that you need a portfolio like a book needs words:
- Design — Graphic (branding, marketing collateral, packaging), UI/UX, etc.
- Copywriters — websites, blogs, white papers, marketing collateral, ads, long-form, short-form, etc.
- Developers — Front end and back end
- Marketing — Digital, Traditional, Strategy
- Art design — Illustration, Video, Audio, Photography
A portfolio is an evergreen platform for your projects, case studies, and information about you. In addition, it’s one of the best ways to express your personality, experience, and capabilities.
The main focus of your portfolio should be catching viewers’ attention, and the following elements will help you do that.
- A Showcase of Your Work. It only takes a few seconds to lose a visitor’s attention, so use these seconds wisely. Visitors will see the visuals first, and if they like what they see, they will continue looking for more details. In other words, you need a fantastic and appealing presentation of your works.
- Your About Page. Your about page presents a way to tell a story about yourself. Start with the essentials — your name, a little about yourself, social links, and résumé. Show your personality by telling a story about your professional and personal experiences. Include your education, what you have learned, projects you have worked on and created, and any awards or recognition. Use this page to show off your skills, how you think, and your passions. Make it brief, exciting, and memorable.
- Case Studies/Presentations. Demonstrate the full scope of your projects through case studies or presentations, where each project should have its own story that shows the progress of the whole process, from the beginning to the outcome. Break down this creative process with lots of photos and notes revealing what’s behind each project. Include the purpose, objective, approach, role, and outcome. As a bonus, have sketches, pictures, feedback, and the process of how you came to your conclusions.
- Call to Action. A call to action complements the purpose of your portfolio. To help you come up with a call to action, remind yourself of the intention of your portfolio. What are the steps you want visitors to take? Your portfolio should provide various ways clients can contact you. Be sure to include your email address even if you use a contact form, as some clients prefer it over forms.
Think about the format — when you open a book or website, what is the first thing people see? Usually, it’s a picture or anything big and bold. If it’s text, be sure it is appropriate to the position or company you are applying to. To make it real easy, this could be your mission/vision statement; it could be a favorite quote or even a simple, “Hi.” As a general rule, if you don’t want your Grandmother to see it or she would disapprove, don’t post it.
- Passwords. Unless your current work is under an NDA, DO NOT have your portfolio password protected. You can include copyright statements or add watermarks, but hiring managers, HR, and recruiters do not have time to wait on a password to see your work. FUN FACT: Most hiring managers/recruiters only look at portfolios for 30 seconds to review your work and see if you have what it takes. Waiting on a password will almost guarantee that you will move to the bottom of the pile.
- 3-Click Rule. While somewhat debunked, the 3-click rule is a persistent, unofficial heuristic that says that no page should take more than three clicks (or taps on a touchscreen) to access. As a general rule, a variation pronounces that the most critical information should take no more than three clicks to get to.
- The Platform. Social media sites are not portfolio sites. Let me repeat that for those in the back, social media sites are not portfolio sites! Please do not make Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest your portfolio site. Use sites like Squarespace, Wix, GoDaddy, Weebly, Adobe Portfolio, Medium, or Clippings.me. You can even create a PowerPoint, Keynote, or PDF of your work.
- Extras. Your portfolio can include anything. Apart from the primary key elements, the more you highlight, the better. It may be a working prototype demo, free samples of icon sets, free software, themes, and even plugins. If you have special guest appearances on blogs, podcasts, press, or entertainment channels, mention them. Interviews are great for further reading if clients want to learn more about your personality and work. Also, be proud of your achievements, and don’t be afraid to share details about your awards.
Take your portfolio as an opportunity to surprise and impress your viewers, whether it is potential employers or clients. A portfolio lets you show off all of your work in one place. Tell others about your skills and personality. Express your uniqueness through case studies. Be searchable (if on the web) and keep pace with your competitors. There are no rules, and everything goes as long as you can make the visitor smile and remember you.