I seem to becoming across an alarming amount of “Coming Soon” and “I’m working on it” landing pages when looking at web designers portfolios. Most seem to have a quirky message stating how their building something amazing and to check back. Check back? In most cases there isn’t even a time frame for me to check back. Why not update me when you’ve launched the site with a simple newsletter?
Occasionally I come across a statement like: “I’m too busy with client work and don’t have time to develop my own site”. To me this immediately tells me two main things:
- I’m too busy to take on your work, so don’t contact me.
- I’m not very good at managing my time, so don’t ask me about timescales.
How to fix this?
Easy. Stop constantly rebranding your personal site, instead build it in a maintainable way that can be easily kept up-to-date, changed and modernized. I also understand that there will be a time where a complete redesign of your site will be required. What I am suggesting is instead of ripping down your entire old site and throwing together a holding page why not post snippets of your new design, tell your users what you’re working on and engage them in the process.
Keeping your old site up will allow users to hopefully gather the information they need, and allow them to see that you’re working on your new design. To a prospective client, you as a web designer are often only as good as your portfolio. So even when working on your new design take 5-10 minutes and ensure your portfolio is up-to-date.
The same would apply if you have a blog running on your portfolio site. One of the first things I normally check when on a blog is the date of the most recent post. If you haven’t updated your blog in a year or so, this usually gives an instant impression and can make users assume that your blog has failed or you are no longer interested in web design or work in that field. A blog requires time, although a blog can be a great addition to any site or portfolio I would suggest that you carefully consider the time involved.
There is a happy medium to blogging you don’t have to post every day or week. Instead try to blog when you wish to express or explain something you feel would be interesting to your readers. Keeping that in mind I would still set a target to try and get something up at least once a month to keep people interested. When writing try to share knowledge, disseminate information, show case your work and keep things professional, so try to keep rants about football teams and weekend out for a personal blog or social media site.
How to improve your portfolio?
Below is my thoughts on what makes a good portfolio. Creating your portfolio should be an enjoyable experience as you have creative freedom you get to decided what goes where and how it’s going to look so enjoy that. Let your personality be seen through the design but remember most portfolios serve as a promotional medium to gain more exposure and business so keep it smart and professional.
Get the basics out of the way first, who you are, what you do, and where you’re based. Don’t fill it with fluff no need to tell me about what mouse you use or how you drink your coffee, because chances are clients don’t care. Keep your copy to the point, don’t use 20 words when 10 words would convey the same message.
Don’t be shy, why not consider adding a photograph of yourself. Add a headshot or quick snap is a great way to establish a small personal connection with the user. Just remember that first impressions count. If your picture is of you drunk and tied to a lamppost in your underwear at your stag party, chances are this could have negative impact. If your image is smart, friendly and professional and the user or still make negative assessment about you based on your appearance, race or gender you probably don’t want to be associated with them.
This should be the obvious one, and considered the heart of any portfolio. Showcases your skill set with images and links to your work. Avoid showcasing your skillset with wired graphs.
It’s perfectly normal to have strengths and weaknesses, everyone does. I just believe that pointing out your weaknesses and trying to dress them up in a graphic isn’t the best market strategy. Besides I would keep Jargon and technical terms to a minimum. And yes this also includes random software icons too!
When selecting items for your portfolio be sure to try and impress and interest a new prospective client. Pick some of your best work and items that you’re proud off and keep the lesser work samples off of your portfolio.
An important aspect of any portfolio is giving the users an easy way of getting in contact with you. This may be with the use or a contact form or simply by listing your email or telephone number, it’s also good to include links to social media sites. It’s also worth noting that listing social sites as your only form of communication isn’t such a good idea as potential clients will want to communicate directly with you rather that through a third party social networking application.
This article is meant as a guidance and a helping hand. The message of this article is to carefully consider every aspect of your portfolio. Remember to keep checking back on your portfolio keep it up-to-date and never revert back to a Coming soon page.