Tuesday, 29 January 2008

How to make a portfolio website?

From now and on I will make less posts but more long, just between an entrance and an article (you can see Mercado de trabajo Actionscript) I´ve been searching information about this and to tell the truth, there´s no much. I saw something in Alzado but it comes from year 2004.

The main aim of this post is both:
- Help whoever wants to make a portfolio for his first time
- Give my opinion about the different web options for portfolios

Who is visiting your portfolio?
Besides your friends, family and partners, possibly someone who is thinking about recruitment, as a freelance or for a company. Have these things in mind:
- The language should be visual, you don´t need any explanation
- User does not like waitting
- Probably they won´t wee the 100% of your work. I dare say not even the 50%. Actually they´re looking for something very specific.

Three points:
1- Portfolio structure
2- Caracteristiques
3- Platform, References and examples


1- PORTFOLIO STRUCTURE
First you should organize your content, "content is king", this means content is the most important thing, although the form is also, at least for me and designers.

First question: How are you gonna show your work?
You have to choose. Are you making more relevant the format or the customer? It depends a lot on the number of works you have. Another option is to separate your portfolio in sections, usually you will see Graphic and Visual sections.

So, now you open a psd and prepare all your works, if possible with the same dimensions. You can think about a little explanation also, although works don´t need to talk too much.

You have the works ready and possibly an explanation of each, you could even prepare some miniatures so the user has an idea. With all these, you could make an XML (file, miniature, description, link) in order to make the loadings later. I made my portfolio this way two years ago or so (I hope I can update one day!), making some versions of it with all the works organised shouldn´t be hard.

Next question is about the way you present your work: Are you making in any special way such as a theme? This could make your portfolio more attractive but you could have also slow transitions and unneccessary preloads. If your content is well organized you should waste a lot of time changing the way you present your portfolio. What will be the bacground colour of the website? Which tipography? How is the content gonna be loaded? Any tween or easing? You shall think about the time you have to update your work in the future...


2- CARACTERISTICS
Some recommendations:

Very important: Theory of the 3 Clicks: With three clicks every user should be able to go to any place of your website. Just three, no more. If it is not like that the user will go to another url. Remember: Fast, simple, ready!

Some say you shouldn´t make portfolio in Flash, I am not gonna lose neither a second of my time about this. I just wanna tell these people to read down the post where I give some good alternatives besides Flash.

About files, each one shall not be bigger than 200Kb. The preload kills the user. If your works
are bigger, the better, but sometimes it is better to have an intermediate size with a link.

Your website portfolio should be at least at 1024x768. I think every work should have same size. I hate pop-ups to see the works (you make the user work). I don´t like full-screen (because I am a clever user and I can have ten urls opened at the same time and navigate with them, and the user, my friend, is clever also). I don´t like transitions larger than one second.

Remember this:
One second/one work + one second/preload = user gives up -> you lost the job!


3 - PLATFORM, REFERENCES AND EXAMPLES
Where to place your porfolio?

You can make a flip portfolio, is not cool right now, but it works. Check it out in Page Flip, or in Flipping Book, I made some experiment about it.

You can place a pdf with all your work, there are people who do not like surfing on the web, they want to spend a while studying you. In fact, there are plenty of Design Magazines where you can download a pdf.

You can make a blog and put there your work, Wordpress or Blogger are good alternatives. Take a look at Elmyra Duff.

You can make a Fotolog or use Google Picassa, or better Flickr, slideshow are quite good. I made some trials in Picassa but I did not like the white background. Better Flickr, moreover if you´re a photographer, see it here or Slideshow.

You can use free space websites as Behance, Carbonmade, Creative Binge, Coroflot, Design:Realted, Devianart, Portfolios.com and the one I like more: Muse.

You can make it in Flex, I haven´t seen many of them. For example Clickbooq although you have to pay. I have also some failed trials algunas pruebas (no time, no time!).

The best option is making a personalized website, better in Flash with Actionscript (there is no discussion about it) than in timeline. I have to do one MVC OOP Actionscript Portfolio. Once you have the structure, changing the view shouldn´t be difficult. Here some good examples, also in Javier Ferrer Vidal or in FlashDen, there are millions. I have some links about it on your right, Studios and Porfolios ->

Another option: HTML: Simple, photos + text + links, exampleMisiva. The user just has to use the scroll. You can also combien HTML + Flash in two versions, but this used to be done before Flash had its implantation.

I also recommend to make a walk to Taschen or to IndexBook, just for having more ideas. Some good titles are:
Taschen
Web Design Flash Sites

Portfolios, Web Design Studios
Web Design Studios 2,

IndexBook
Cómo crear portafolios de Diseño
100% Proyectos personales
100% Design Portfolio
Sin briefing: Proyectos personales de diseñadores gráficos
.

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