Every photographer, artist, designer, and even contractors needs a portfolio website. A good digital portfolio online that you can use to advertise on social media, direct potential clients to view additional work, and promote Search Engine results for new clients to ses. When you’re product is based on how your finished product looks and examples of past visual work, cools websites with plenty of great examples is a must. This brings us to the infamous portfolio websites; many visual business owners treat what should be a portfolio site like an online picture book or photography gallery. The site is set up for visitors to aimlessly flip through photos, with little text to sell you on the project, and they often aren’t optimized for viewers experience or SEO. The work may be great but the lack luster way it’s displayed on a website can take away from attracting customers and the lack of text kills your search engine results so would be clients won’t find your amazing work.
Does this sound like your website?
In this post, I’m going to discuss a few key elements to a good portfolio website. No matter what you’re niche or your medium, if your business is based on showing what you do these portfolio tips will help you site live up to its best potential.
- Show your best pictures. This is a no brainer, right? Wrong I see this one messed up all of the time, even did it myself in the beginning. Many times artist put everything they’ve done online, the good, bad, and sometimes ugly. Just because you have unlimited disk space doesn’t mean you should use it. Take the time to edit your portfolio showing your best projects in various categories. For example a wedding photographer could show endless banquet fall weddings but a really cool website would show banquet, farm, and beach weddings; showing your depth of work in any setting.
- Professionally stage and display your work. If you have a physical product like sculpting, architecture, landscaping or contractor every 3-6 months (or after a big job) have a professional photographer come in and take quality photos of your work. If you’re work is digital take an extra minute to mock it up (i.e. cards look like stacks of cards, brochure in a brochure mock up, etc) make it look as realistic as possible. When items are professional displayed visitors will automatically perceive it as more valuable.
Here’s a TIP for graphic designers: You can find pre-made mockup templates on GraphicRiver.net, for less than $10 buy a digital pack and use them to quickly set up your work for display) Here’s an example of my work before and after I mocked it up
- Categorize your work. Showing all of your work lumped together can often be confusing and distracting to web site visitors. Most visitors are initially looking for a specific type of work (i.e. websites, logos, kitchens, etc) so use albums to separate pictures into categories so it’s easy to locate what they are looking for. This also helps the visitor compare your work if I’m look at pictures of all bathrooms I can tell that the contractor consistently does well with them, if I’m looking at a bathroom, kitchen, and dining room, it’s hard to tell if the good work is consistent or a lucky try.
- Write something at about the project. Pictures are nice but search engines and humans who can read 😉 look for text. Great portfolio websites provide caption or additional information to give you an idea of the type of project you’re viewing and the goal that was achieved. You can share interesting information about the client, what the goal of the project was, what materials or software was used, links to the client if they are another business. Keep the write up brief (fewer than 100 words) but share something to let visitors get more intimate with the project and how it met the customer’s goal. If the client gave you a testimonial it’s a good Idea to add right to the project page.
- Use Alt-tags on photos. This is another tip with Search Engines and SEO in mind. Search engines don’t see photos they only see text so to help them find your photos make sure you put an alt tag on all of them. Avoid generic descriptions give something a little more descriptive, like instead of “website” say “children’s room décor website” this give search engines a better idea of what the picture is and increases your chance in showing up in search of people looking for your specific kind of work.
These quick tips can easily take your portfolio from good to great; and help attract more visitors, clients, and engage them once they get there.