You do great work that deserves to be shared with the world. You want to showcase it, but you don't know how to make an online portfolio that matches your ambitions. A website gives you space to show what you can do, but how you organize your information can depend on so many different factors. Still, there are certain principles that apply to all types of online portfolios: your portfolio should highlight your ability, be easily accessible and present a clear next-step for the audience.
No matter what business you’re in, these actionable tips and bits of insider advice will help you create a breathtaking online portfolio.
Before we dive in, it's important to note that these tips are about creating an “online portfolio” in the broadest sense of the term. All types of businesses can benefit from an online portfolio, and they’ll all use different means of showcasing their work, including how and where they share image galleries, links to code libraries, product catalogs and any other groupings of words you use to describe your collections of works.
At the end of the day, your portfolio should support your business. When your portfolio is online, potential clients, hiring managers and customers have access to it 24/7. A portfolio on your website means you won't have to answer as many questions about your work, saving you valuable time. It also provides a means for setting up leads and processing financial transactions. As long as you’re clear about what you offer, important information is easily accessible and your customers can easily figure out what to do next, your online portfolio will help your business flourish.
Now that we’ve covered what an online portfolio is and what it can do for your business, let’s get cover the key points that can set your portfolio apart:
Portfolio Structure: Structuring your portfolio in an easily-navigable way is essential, especially if you serve several different types of customers. Your audience should be front-of-mind when you consider the structure of your portfolio. Rather than putting everything in one place, segment your portfolio according to your audiences.
Introduction: The introduction to your portfolio should support the structure of your portfolio and let your audience know what your business is all about.
Case Studies/Projects/Designs: Another way you can frame your portfolio is as a history of your business’s accomplishments. Interviewing customers for case studies similar to the ones we’ve made provides a unique opportunity to showcase your work from your customers’ perspectives.
Goals: Consider what your customers’ goals are and what they want from your portfolio. Generally speaking, they want to know that you are talented, capable and — at the very least — reliable.
Testimonials/Social Proof: Your portfolio shouldn’t leave any room for doubt regarding your ability or legitimacy. Link to customer testimonials on social media and other review sites for additional proof of your high-quality work.
Contact Information: Link to social media, contact forms and anything else you want your customers to engage with after reviewing your portfolio. Include a clear call-to-action that’s easy to see and understand.
Storytelling: Ideally, whoever views your portfolio will see a narrative emerge from the information it provides. After viewing it, they should know who you are, what you’re about, when and where you work, why you do what you do and how they can do business with you.
Regardless of how you assemble your portfolio, remember that you’re out to put your best foot forward. There’s no need to be shy when it comes to showing off what you can do.
As a company that serves small businesses of all types, we put a lot of thought and consideration into our online portfolios. For example, our website template gallery offers a preview of what you can expect when you sign up to use our website builder, and it does so by showcasing templates from over a dozen unique categories.
For more insight into how this portfolio was structured, we talked to Web.com Director of User Experience and Digital Design Mike Lynn about his approach to building this page. Mike has over 10 years of experience with Web, and over 15 years of experience in graphic design. In regards to our templates page, he explains, “We wanted to get a good number of templates on there because we need to appeal to as large of an audience as possible.”
When asked about his general approach to designing portfolios, Mike doesn’t mince words, saying, “You make a portfolio for one reason: to sell yourself. You want to make sure you show a range of skills, presenting all of your abilities on their own.”
On the topic of online marketing for photographers, he says, “A gallery of images from a photographer is going to be way more impressive than pictures from your phone. It may be subtle, but it makes you look more professional.”
In his final remarks about building a portfolio, Mike reminds us that our competitors will show us how they use their portfolios to generate leads, “A decision you have to make is where you house your portfolio. Look around the industry you’re in and see what other people are doing. You should still have your own website so you can link out to it, but there are all kinds of ways of generating leads.”
Building an online portfolio is easy with Web.com. With DIY and Professional Service options, you can get as much (or as little) help as you need to show prospective customers what you can do.