The Ultimate Guide for An Online Portfolio Using WordPress

The Ultimate Guide for An Online Portfolio Using WordPress

Are you a designer, developer, an artist or even a photographer? If yes, then in these modern times, you have to start thinking about building an online portfolio. Or perhaps you already have one? As we all know, nowadays the Internet has been developed and grown far more rapidly than we imagined, including the purpose and the communication pattern from the Internet itself. Doesn’t matter whether you’re working for a company or as a freelancer, you will need an online portfolio to manage and archive your work and also to showcase them to your clients.

An Online Portfolio Using WordPress

Furthermore, an online portfolio can also bridge you to your job opportunities with no limitation. Everyone on the Internet can see all of your projects. Can you imagine if your next valuable client saw your online portfolio, and he/she becomes interested in hiring you to run a project that he/she handles? That must be a great opportunity for you! Besides, an online portfolio also gives you chances to make co-operations with many people all over the world on the web.

In this article we will discuss the issues concerning online portfolios and how a blogging platform such WordPress is able to create a fantastic online portfolio for you!

Why Do You Need an Online Portfolio?

I think that I don’t need to explain much more about online portfolios, because the phrase – online portfolio has been popular on our desks recently. This section will discuss why a designer, developer, artist or even photographer needs an online portfolio. Now let’s get straight to the points below.

Orange
Image credit: JenniPenni

Giving You a Professional Impression

One important basic point why do you need an online portfolio?, is it for the public to view what you have been doing? Who you are exactly? Which professional work you have done? It can be a point of view or a perspective insight for a client when he/she visits your online portfolio before making contact with you, leading to further conversation.

As opposed to behance, flickr and deviantart which are often used as image showcases or galleries of all the work, whether just for fun or a commercial work. They are very personal to you. An online portfolio doesn’t need an image gallery of your personal stuffs, though it’s still fine to include them, but make sure that these things won’t divert your client’s attention or waste their time while exploring your work.

It’s better if your personal work is not included and isn’t confused with your professional work, you might put the fun stuff on Flickr and just include a link, something like: “My Playground on Flickr” and use an image thumbnail if required on your portfolio page. It’s a good way to still have you looking professional from your client’s point of view.

Showcasing and Documenting Your Work

You’re not joking around obviously in showing your work to your clients, whatever they are, a logo, design/print ads, themes for CMS platforms or writing articles. You can choose them to be showcased below your portfolio menu section and you’re free to decide what things you would like to be displayed on this portfolio menu, perhaps your famous products/brands. Your good work will help to gain respect from your next client and it also shows that you’re well-respected enough by your previous clients.

Tell Them all About Yourself

Of course, through this online portfolio, clients will be able to get to know who you are, your work, your email contact and even your social network accounts for them to follow. Clients will also know right away specifically about your expertise, I mean if you are a designer you have to describe anything related to it, what design software you have mastered, or even certificates/awards related to your work that you’ve achieved. Remember, that your online portfolio is not only used as a great picture collection, but it’s all about you and what you do. It must make everything clear and convince clients to hire you.

Make it Easy for Clients to Contact You!

I think this is the most crucial aspect of an online portfolio. It’s a waste to have an awesome online portfolio showcasing your great work, displaying your resume, social network accounts, certificates and awards you’ve achieved but you forget to make it easy for clients to communicate with you, whether it’s a short tag such as: “more information: me@mysite.com” or a contact form. It doesn’t have to look great, as long as it’s clear enough for them to be able to apply for further information from you. If your clients have difficulty in contacting you, it’s likely that the client will walk away.

We’ve just discussed some points above about the reason why we need an online portfolio, now you can think about how you can present your online portfolio to your clients. Don’t forget to set the goals for your online portfolio and do reviews before and after you have an online portfolio, this is to make sure whether you have reached your purpose in having an online portfolio. Over time, when you have enhanced your portfolio content, it is quite possible for you to become well respected within your field.

Trends on The Web

You want to stand out from others when clients see your online portfolio, so make sure that you follow the latest online portfolio trends, and keep it up to date. Although not a definitive list, below are some points to consider.

Trends on The Web
Image credit: Ben Heine

Which Do You Prefer, The Professional or Creative Look?

A professional or a creative layout that you’ve designed will be a reflection of who you are in your client’s view. But don’t make this layout concept as a hard and fast rule, you can make a layout view that has a professional taste but also looks creative, or vice versa.

Therefore, before you decide which layout style is suitable for you, you need to know what type of clients you are aiming for, based on your expertise and interests, and which kind of visitors you will receive. If most of them are classy clients from a company or a corporation, then your choice should be the professional concept rather than the grunge or creative one.

Layout Type, Vertical or Horizontal

The development in the web design world recently makes it easier for us to decide which type of layout suits us best. Do we want our online portfolio to look similar to most others, using a vertical layout? Or do we want to be different by using a horizontal layout? Of course the clients will have their own preferences while exploring the online portfolio.

Typography

These days, while surfing on the Internet you can’t fail to notice the development of typography in web design. Is using big typography for the header just to catch the visitors’ attention about who you are? Or using an unusual to name the sections on your portfolio page? It’s your call, there are so many documentations and contributions out there that allow us to design our portfolio pages and make us look different from others.

Unusual Extension Effects

It can’t be denied, that in this case we need a deep knowledge of coding if we want to attract our website visitors’ attention creatively. When your next client experiences something new while he/she’s exploring your site, he/she might think that it’d be very interesting if your expertise could be used and developed in his/her project. For those who are not too familiar with coding, plugins might also help you to create unusual effects on your online portfolio.

What to Consider?

Apart from the main purpose of an online portfolio, there are some points that you need to consider before launching one yourself, you might find the points below useful, you can visit the links below for further review.

What to Consider?
Image credit: Mr. Moog

It’s All About Your Work and Make Sure You Have It Categorized

This is the most important and fundamental thing with an online portfolio. I won’t talk too much on this point, because it’s clear that your work samples will obviously sell you to your clients through all the expertise and talents you have. Your portfolio might contain anything that you consider it’s good to be displayed. If you’re a graphics/web designer, make sure you categorize the subjects, for instance: logo, website, brochure, flyer, poster, etc. And remember, don’t save the best of your work for last.

Use Simple Navigation

Don’t you link your online portfolio to any of your other sites, even though there is a correlation between them. Your online portfolio must stand-alone as a site. Make a static navigation bar on the top of your homepage that will cover each section of the site’s contents. It’s intended to be easy for visitors, so they can always go back to your site homepage. Of course you won’t let your prospective client get lost viewing your online portfolio content, will you? Yeah, of course not.

Therefore you have to make your site’s navigation as clear as possible. You might break it down like this – About, Portfolio, News, Contact, etc. And put them in reachable areas on your site that easily catch your visitors eyes. You can also make a link for the logo to go back to the site’s homepage, which not only helps with SEO, but makes navigation easier too.

Use Featured Content on Your Homepage

Nowadays, featured content has become a trend on the web which is of great importance to most sites on the WWW. Every online portfolio site has it’s own style in showing featured content on their site homepages. At this time, I see that the trend of online portfolios uses big headers more rarely, unlike in the past, but replacing the header portion with the logo, simple navigation and giving more space on the homepage for a featured content portion.

The use of this featured content is to attract more visitors’ attention when they view your site for the first time. Make sure your best work is seen at the beginning of this featured content. If you are a designer or illustrator, have your best piece clearly visible or easily accessible from the homepage. For more about featured content, you can check out Essential Guidelines for Featured Content in Web Design.

Use High Quality Images

This will make your site look professional so you won’t be embarrassed to show your work to clients on your portfolio page. Make sure the image has a precision in color balance, less blur and also consider to optimizing the image properties so it can be loaded easily even by a slow internet connection. You can use an image editing program such Adobe Photoshop to optimize the image.

Describe Your Work

Describe each content in your portfolio and everything in it briefly and clearly. Give necessary information for representing your work. This kind of information should include a creative brief, short description about the work, company name, year made, contact for the person who carried out the project, or even a short testimony from the clients about what you’ve done. It can be a self pride/motivation/esteem for you and the clients that have ever worked together with you.

You need to know that there are many aspects to consider in promoting an online portfolio successfully. However, it would be a good idea to carry out further studies or research to find out what is best for you and your purpose when you start to build and online portfolio.

How to Market Your Online Portfolio

In this section I’ll quickly jump to the points – discuss the ways or efforts you might try to promote yourself and market your online portfolio.

How to Market Your Online Portfolio
Image credit: Farl

Become a Guest Author

It’s good to describe who you are exactly and promote your online portfolio to everyone on the web. It also probably increases the traffic to your site. What do you want to talk about? It’s all up to you, which subjects you think you’re good at, whether is it design, development, or other subjects? It is for you to decide. Nowadays we have many blog design magazines that provide and allow a guest author to publish their thoughts, tips, or tutorials through a contribution.

Onextrapixel and Smashing Magazine are two blog design magazines among many others out there that accept contribution from guest authors with pretty fair pay, depending on the writing value that you can provide for them. So you get double benefits from becoming a guest author, earnings and traffic too.

Be Active on The Forum

Having a routine activity in a forum (freelancer forum or another that’s related to your job field and skills) of course is good for you. Especially if later you gain enough respect from a forum and you include a link to your online portfolio on your profile signature, not impossible if later it’ll bring you more visiting traffic and then allow you to be recognized by your next client.

Provide links to Social Media

Providing links to your LinkedIn profile, Twitter and Facebook is also a good idea from many ways to market your online portfolio. It makes you become a real person to prospective clients, even though you have never actually met them. And remember not include posts that are too personal on your social media pages. If you want something personal, please keep it separate.

Provide a Blog Page

A blog is a good idea for your online portfolio. This may contain posts about your area of expertise, thoughts, on-going projects and more. Let clients and visitors know what you intend to show them in this section. Of course, it will help to promote you, know your visitors (clients and friends) who can provide referrals, and prevent your website from lying static and keep the content updated regularly. Also, a blog is good for SEO, if you want your website to rank high on search engines, then use popular keywords frequently, talk about trending topics and more. It will help you to deal with SEO.

For instance, we can see that Chris Spooner from SpoonGraphics – who runs his blog Blog.SpoonGraphics has been doing so well and is able to get high a PR rating for his web portfolio – note that subdomains don’t have PR, but gained PR are redirected to the main domain. In this case, SpoonGraphics has quite a high PR rating because it’s contributed by the blog which is linked to the subdomain of SpoonGraphics. It also can be a strategy to help you be in the top place on a search engine like Google. Once you’ve made it, you can see the benefits of your blog page when visitors find your site through search engines.

Online Portfolio Inspiration

There are thousands of web designers trying to show their creativity. I tried to list those portfolio web sites which are more creative and unique. This showcase will contain 20+ online portfolios on the net that look good for your inspiration.

Emotions Live
Emotions Live

Brad Colbow
Brad Colbow

Veboo Labs
Veboo Labs

OrmanClark
OrmanClark

Branded07
Branded07

Darrenhoyt
Darrenhoyt

Jeffrey Sarmiento
Jeffrey Sarmiento

Simple Art
Simple Art

Elliot Jay Stocks
Elliot Jay Stocks

Oliver James Gosling
Oliver James Gosling

Adhemas Batista
Adhemas Batista

55Eleven
55Eleven

Fredmaya
Fredmaya

Patrick Monkel
Patrick Monkel

Julian Wilson
Julian Wilson

Doug Menezes
Doug Menezes

Sprawsm
Sprawsm

Mediocore
Mediocore

Thuiven
Thuiven

Mcjdj
Mcjdj

31Three
31Three

WordPress Themes

The benefit that you get when you build a portfolio using WordPress is that you have the ability to use the powerful blog features along with your portfolio. A blog discussing your work or more about your processes and inspiration will add to the personality and allow potential clients to get to know you and increase the attractiveness of you as a web designer. WordPress can also act as a more than adequate CMS for displaying your portfolio work.

Ready-made WordPress themes are great:

  • As they’re inexpensive or even free.
  • For designers who don’t know WordPress.
  • For developers who can’t design.
  • Don’t have enough time to build a WordPress theme? Now you have it.
  • Give you the opportunity to learn different techniques and the inner workings of complex themes.
  • You can make improvements.

This section contains 20+ WordPress free and paid themes for portfolio, so you don’t need to worry when you’re thinking about How do I create my online portfolio? because WordPress has many choices available. You may choose what themes look nice for your showcase.

Creative by Nature
Theme Details | View Demo

Creative by Nature

Grace
Theme Details | View Demo

Grace

Creativepress
Theme Details | View Demo

Creativepress

Fotofolio
Theme Details | View Demo

Fotofolio

Work-a-holic
Theme Details | View Demo

Work-a-holic

Infinity
Theme Details | View Demo

Infinity

Vivee WordPress Theme
Theme Details | View Demo

Vivee WordPress Theme

Portfolio WordPress Theme
Theme Details | View Demo

Portfolio WordPress Theme

Blue Bubble
Theme Details | View Demo

Blue Bubble

Sharpfolio: WordPress Portfolio Theme
Theme Details | View Demo

Sharpfolio: WordPress Portfolio Theme

Linquist
Theme Details | View Demo

Linquist

AutoFocus
Theme Details | View Demo

AutoFocus

Free Photo Gallery
Theme Details | View Demo

Free Photo Gallery

Viewport
Theme Details | View Demo

Viewport

Ascari
Theme Details | View Demo

Ascari

Snapshot
Theme Details | View Demo

Snapshot

Gallery 1.2
Theme Details | View Demo

Gallery 1.2

FotoLog
Theme Details | View Demo

FotoLog

Fhi-Zin
Theme Details | View Demo

Fhi-Zin

WordPress The Unstandard
Theme Details | View Demo

WordPress The Unstandard

Irresistable
Theme Details | View Demo

Irresistable

Varnish
Theme Details | View Demo

Varnish

Pandora
Theme Details | View Demo

Pandora

Picco
Theme Details | View Demo

Picco

Summary

As we’ve discuss a lot in this article, artists, photographers, graphic and web designers can use WordPress to create an online portfolio that perfectly suits their work. With support from WordPress Plugins which can be used to convert a plain, standard WordPress blog into an interesting and unique portfolio that end-users will be keen to explore.

Now we know what the purpose of an online portfolio is, what we should consider and also some examples, tips and WordPress themes that can help you to build. It’s time to get feedback from you about this post – Please feel free to leave your comment if you have experience with an online portfolio, or maybe share your portfolio link with us?

Further Reading and Some References

  • A Beginner’s Guide: Stepping Into Web Design Industry
    The web design industry is a big machine. Whatever dreams you may have of becoming an established designer might seem close to impossible. Especially since you run the risk of facing major problems like the lack of financial stability, lack of clients and jobs, and insecurity due to the lack of confidence in getting jobs etcetera. If you are a new designer hoping to make a name for yourself in this industry, here are a few useful tips to help you keep afloat.
  • 12 Tips for Creating a Great Portfolio Site
    Tips for creating a better portfolio site. These suggestions apply to all kinds of portfolios, no matter what your particular artistic field. Also included are examples and a gallery of excellent portfolio sites, with what they’re doing right and what could use some improvement.
  • Creating A Successful Online Portfolio
    In this article we’ll review 5 pitfalls that commonly plague portfolio design. Then we’ll cover Portfolio Tips that if carefully considered and well executed will deliver quality results for your portfolio.There are some common mistakes designers make in their portfolios. Let’s review these common pitfalls first to make sure you don’t fall into one of these traps.
  • Your Online Portfolio: The Rights and Wrongs
    Having knocked heads and discussed some ideas together, mainly with JC’s eye-opening input, we have compiled some of the main issues that add to as well as detract from great online portfolios. The post is split into rights and wrongs.
  • 10 Solutions to Easily Create Your Online Portfolio
    There’s a bunch of handy sites and communities out there that are allowing designers to showcase their work and flourish with with work requests. Here’s 10 solutions to easily create an online portfolio of your own, giving you the platform to showcase your work to the world.
  • Elements of a Successful Online Portfolio
    An online portfolio is a fast and far-reaching way to market oneself as a designer. It’s also cheaper, more versatile and more environmentally friendly than a print portfolio. But that doesn’t mean you can just whip out a website and call it a day – a designer will be judged not just for the pieces in the portfolio but also the site itself. Therefore, in order to market yourself to potential clients, be sure to consider these four elements.
He is a 22 year old creative and also freelance web designer and developer from Jakarta, Indonesia. Write about everything related to design, trending topics in web development and symbian phone. Loves color, design, blog, WordPress, and has an unhealthy addictions to smiles and laughs.

Comments

  1. / Reply

    Since the title is THE ULTIMATE GUIDE for creating an online portfolio using WordPress, how about writing about how to use wordpress to make a portfolio site (custom fields, etc?) and also maybe list out the plugins and snippets which are useful in creating a portfolio site. Just listing free themes is not enough for THE ULTIMATE GUIDE i guess? Just my 2 cents.

  2. / Reply

    I’m not sure that if you’re showing off your portfolio, ripping off a WordPress ready-made template is a particularly great idea.

    1. / Reply

      Yes but what Im saying is that telling people that ripping off a wp ready template is a good idea is not enough to make this the ultimate wordpress for portfolio guide. Putting in list of plugins, etc will make this a great article.

      • bima,
      • June 15, 2010
      / Reply

      @Stevensst:
      Yup Steven, I understand for what you’ve said above. But actually this one “guidance” for those people who wants to understand the process, instantly and quickly thay can build with wordpress without any deeper coding knowledge but focus on any goals for their online portfolio. Listing wordpress themes above, just bonus from me.

      • bima,
      • June 15, 2010
      / Reply

      @Stevensst:
      Sorry, I don’t mean to spam this comment. Just forgot to write this in my previous comments. So you want “how to use wordpress to make a portfolio site (custom fields, ajax your portfolio page, more related articles and plugin etc?)” tutorials..? You can read on my blog soon, i’ll prepare.

      @Devolute and @Stevensst — Thanks for your comment guys

      1. / Reply

        Yeah it will be good if you can prepare “how to use wordpress to make a portfolio site”. Also I am sorry for posting negative and rude comments. This is a good article honestly but it can be better!

        Maaf ya mas dan salam kenal!

      2. / Reply

        Btw komen aku yg pertama di delete aja deh, gak enak diliat…

          • bima,
          • June 15, 2010
          / Reply

          Jiaah ngk usah, itu gunanya komen. Ngk apa kali, kan kita obyektif

        • bima,
        • June 15, 2010
        / Reply

        Haha yes, soon. I’m currently working and prepare my portfolio site. I really appreciate your feedback here (positive or negative)

        Lho bisa Bahasa Indonesia juga..? tapi kok lokasinya Singapore ya di websitenya mas..Haha yaaa ngk apa, salam kenal juga :)

    • Mike,
    • June 15, 2010
    / Reply

    I really like those case studies. They’re so beautiful :)

    • bima,
    • June 15, 2010
    / Reply

    Thanks Mike for coming, I’m glad you like it.

  3. / Reply

    Not sure what this post had to do with WordPress? Isn’t this more of an in-general portfolio type post? An Ultimate Guide Using WordPress should contain more than a few mentions of WordPress and a ton more code samples…

    1. / Reply

      My thoughts exactly.

      • bima,
      • June 15, 2010
      / Reply

      @Amber and @Jae:
      Yaa, I know and I realize that the “title” phrase looks like out of context. I just want to drive the way of thinking about an online portfolio starting from concept – and at the end, using wordpress as a machine for proof of your concept. Thanks for your comments guys, really appreciate it..nice for future.

  4. / Reply

    I totally agree, as this is how I went about creating my portfolio site. I did not know any php or MySQL, but I needed a functional portfolio site with a working contact form, so I turned to WordPress. The plugins available took care of the job, and styling it was easy using WP’s built-in plugin code editor.

    Through the process of putting WP into my portfolio site, I now know how to integrate a CMS, blog, and theme.

    WordPress has been one of the greatest experiences to me as a web designer.

    Great article, Bima.

  5. / Reply

    Nice articles..
    where the heck are the plugins?

    ooh mann,,

  6. / Reply

    Thanks, it’s a nice guide. A lot of good points to keep in mind about advertising yourself online.

    It is an interesting challenge for a designer to create a portfolio site that itself is a stunning example of their work, but doesn’t steal attention away from the actual work samples featured on the site. I often think portfolios as picture frames that support the works, but they require something that makes it stand out and represent your style and values.

    I like it when people manage to show off their web design skills and still keep the site simple. I also like it when people refrain from too much self-love in the introductions and let the work speak to itself.

    • John Foster,
    • June 16, 2010
    / Reply

    A cool and minimalistic Portfolio is http://www.maxliebscher.com

  7. / Reply

    I totally agree that WordPress is perfect for portfolio websites. It makes it so easy to add/edit work and blogging functionality is already built-in.

    I use WordPress for my portfolio: http://robert-chambers.com

    If you’re a web designer/developer, I do think you should create your own custom theme to prove your ability. It’s also a great way to learn more about WordPress.

    1. / Reply

      nice porttfolio.. i like its featured contents

  8. / Reply

    I agree that WordPress is a great platform to create any website in, let alone just your online portfolio. But I also agree with the likes of Amber above – this is a misleading article. It’s fair enough that you want to display WordPress as a machine for creating portfolios, but it would be much more suitable as “The Ultimate Guide for an Online Portfolio”. If this was truly the ultimate guide to creating a portfolio with wordpress (something I’m actually wanting to complete myself) I would have expected details on creating your own themes, plugins and the likes and much more about WordPress on the whole, rather than some ready-made themes…as a web and graphic designer I don’t want to just adapt templates – I want to create my own from scratch.

  9. / Reply

    hi, I have seen many articles on word press, but unfortunately unable to find a proper starting point. I am a web designer and comfortable working on css & photoshop. I am designing imageinnproductions.com for my client and I want to convert that into word press theme. can you take a look at this design and just give me few tips how to implement this design into wordpress. I also want to know which plugins are best for galleries

  10. / Reply

    I am agree that word press is a great tool to create portfolios.

  11. / Reply

    Much prefer the Carolina Jesus one shown in the picture here than the current one!

  12. / Reply

    I agree that wordpress is a pretty flexible way to get your portfolio online – especially if you have the HTML/CSS knowledge and time to whip up a design which reflects your overall aesthetic values.

    However, for all the creatives out there who are daunted by learning WordPress and HTML etc to get their work online, hosted solutions can really step in to save the day. One such alternative to WordPress is introduction.io – a new way to get your creative portfolio online in a snap; you can try it out for free and then upgrade whenever your portfolio has outgrown the limitations of the free account: http://www.introduction.io

    Cheers,

    Qasim

    PS – If you are set on using Wordpres, I recommend checking out the NexGen Gallery plugin, its pretty easily customizable…

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