If you work in the creatives industry or you’re aspiring to break out into this space, you need to have a proper portfolio website. There simply is no way around it. Anyone can claim to be good at something but if you want to land that job, you need to prove you are actually a good fit for the task. The best portfolio websites have the ability to drive your career growth by connecting you to a wider network of employers and clients. When done well, your online portfolio can become a powerful marketing tool for promoting your personal brand online.
See more marketing portfolio examples that have helped our other clients to stand out in their separate niches.
The reality is that you’re probably not the only one who can do what you do. You are competing with thousands of other talented people and the challenge is for you to differentiate yourself. Portfolio sites not only present you, the creative, as a talent worth investing in. They should also emphasize your value add to a project, organization or company. Your portfolio website should clearly communicate why - out of all the other creatives or professionals in your industry who can do the same task - should they choose to work with you.
The average user spends about 7-10 seconds on a webpage before moving on to the next one. This means you have that much time to convince a potential client to stick around and learn more about your skills and services. Fortunately, you don’t have to build your website from scratch. Creating a website portfolio with Strikingly enables you to focus on developing content and experimenting with different portfolio website designs instead of worrying about backend coding and server management. On this platform, we guarantee that you can get a site up within minutes but we do recommend that you put a lot of careful thought into planning your portfolio website’s content for best results.
With that being said, here are a few essential tips to keep in mind when creating the best portfolio websites in your industry.
1. Plan for a user-centric portfolio website design
When building a portfolio website, your target audience should be on top of your priority list. A clear understanding of what your target user is looking for will help you create a website portfolio that will appeal to your visitor. Find out what clients are looking for and show them content that fits their needs. To start, you might want to check out job ads to find out how companies phrase job descriptions and identify the buzzwords that they use. You might want to use the same terms on your website so users will easily be able to determine your suitability for the job they require.
2. Introductions matter
While your work could probably suffice as testament to your expertise, many clients still find it interesting to read about the person or team behind the project. Personality counts for a lot when companies hire people. That is why we recommend that your portfolio website contains a brief introduction about you and your brand. Ideally, this should be located front and center - it should be one of the first things visitors see when they land on your website portfolio.
Passerby Photography’s website portfolio includes a section on the person behind the brand. Aside from providing a list of service packages that clients might want to check out, the website introduces the artist and talks about his interests, background and passions, thereby establishing a connection with its reader. By adding an About section to portfolio sites, you present yourself as the human behind the superb work. You inject a bit of humanity to an otherwise professional-looking yet sterile website.
3. Keep it simple
When you’re a creative trying to make a good first impression with a portfolio website, it can be quite tempting to pull out all the stops and get fancy with your design. Strikingly’s intuitive website builder is so easy to use that many users tend to get carried away with customizing their portfolio websites just to make it look appealing to their target audience. And then there are also those who are overwhelmed by the options that they don’t quite know where to start building their sites.
Strikingly tries to keep up with the times by introducing new features and app integrations but we also recommend that you keep things simple when it comes to online portfolios. The best portfolio websites do not always have the latest fancy effects to draw potential clients. The use of simple web design, lots of white space to make the portfolio gallery pop and simple fonts so the message is clearly communicated. You don’t need bells and whistles to make your services sell. The quality of your work itself along with your ability to convey your message should be able to do just that effectively.
4. Only the latest and the greatest should make it to the gallery
Your website portfolio should be what a greatest hits compilation album is to a musician. We strongly recommend that you add a curated list of your best projects to your site simply because visitors may not have all the time in the world to go through everything in your portfolio. In fact, they will probably only spend a maximum of 10 minutes reviewing your work samples before they decide whether or not to follow through with a call or shoot you a message.
The projects that make it to portfolio sites are typically those that define the scope of expertise that the individual has. How you arrange these samples on your portfolio website and how you present them is also indicative of the type of projects you’re willing to take on moving forward so it is also important that you plan out how these will be displayed on your page in order to maximize their value.
If you have a diverse collection of work samples from different niches or service types, you can also group projects into categories to make it easy for users to focus on the types of work that they are most interested in. You can add multiple gallery sections to house different project types. You would find that most of Strikingly’s portfolio website templates can accommodate several galleries with ease. Play around with different layouts to present your work effectively.
5. Navigation is key to a positive user experience
Readers should be able to find their way around your portfolio website with ease. Information should be readily available and it shouldn’t take so many clicks to get to the content that a user came for. Strikingly’s single-page portfolio templates are great for this purpose. All the information that a user needs is on one page. If you arrange your content hierarchy wisely, one-page layout allow readers to be able to consume information smoothly. Go for a streamlined menu that features the minimum number of options so as not to overwhelm the visitor.
Most importantly, you want to make sure that your portfolio website is mobile-responsive. Strikingly's templates are already designed to render well on various screen sizes so there’s no need to write additional code to implement this feature. However, we do recommend that you test your website on the most common devices and browsers to ensure that the user experience stays consistent.
6. Social proof sells
If there’s one thing that will effectively help you build trust, it has to be social proof. If you’ve had good relationships with previous clients, requesting for testimonials from them should be easy enough. This positive feedback will become a testament to your reliability and credibility as a professional and will greatly increase your chances of getting hired. Make it a practice to ask for testimonials from clients after a project has been completed so you will constantly have something to add to your website portfolio.
If you are receiving positive feedback through your social media pages, another way to display this on your portfolio site is to connect your other profiles to your portfolio websites. Strikingly has a social stream feature that lets you display your social media feed on your page.
7. Provide different channels for contact
You want to be able to attend to inquiries in a timely manner. Make sure to add in a section for your contact details in your portfolio website. People shouldn’t have to guess how to reach you. Make that information readily available.
Aside from the usual email and phone, Strikingly lets you add a chat button to your portfolio sites so web visitors can easily reach out to you for questions. We do recommend that you download the Strikingly app in your phone and enable notifications so that you can attend to messages in real time.
No matter what type of communication route you go for, it is important to ensure it is displayed prominently on your portfolio website.
8. Make your personality shine through
The best portfolio websites are able to tread the line between personal and professional successfully. You don’t want to make your site too stiff and business-like and lose its humanity. Add your own personal touch to your selected website template through your choice of color schemes. Many creatives go the extra mile and create a custom logo to make things look professional and yet still personalized. If you are an illustrator, make your site come alive with custom vector images or geometric shapes that will be visually appealing to your reader.