Making a Good Impression with Your Online Portfolio

Earlier this week, Chanpory Rith at LifeClever, in his post 10 Reasons Why Your Portfolio Sucks, linked to a post by Kyle Meyer of Aestheria that complained about bad web portfolios. Kyle had seven points, so Chanpory added three more, bringing it to ten:

  1. Bad navigation
  2. Zoomed and cropped thumbnails
  3. “Mystery meat” squares
  4. No phone number
  5. No email
  6. No contact info of any kind
  7. Background music
  8. Flash animation
  9. No labels
  10. No resume

The first three items are really variations on the same idea: poor navigation. While I don’t necessarily think Flash is bad in itself, it can be abused and misused. Don’t go for “flash” to make up for a lack of substance. Background music may or may not be annoying, unless it’s done right. (More on that in a minute.) If you’re showing your design work, make sure it has context or at the very least some sort of explanation as to what it’s for. (Am I looking at a small ad or a billboard? or It’s a pretty design, but what is it for?) Last but definitely not least, make sure you can be contacted in some way and that people can see at least some kind of credentials whether it’s your resume/CV or testimonials.

Of course, there are exceptions to the rule. For example, the website of (high-end) wedding photographer Jesh de Rox is all Flash, has some great background music, and it actually fits with his work. But his site makes it easy to contact him, and also has a client area for his clients to log in and view the photos they’ve commissioned.

Finally, make sure your portfolio isn’t neglected. It’s all too easy to get busy and forget about your portfolio. Next thing you know, two years have gone by and your portfolio doesn’t reflect you at all. On top of that, make it easy to update later. You’re more likely to put off updating it if it’s going to be a pain to do so.