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Questions about creating a modern web/graphic design portfolio
August 29, 2010 6:43 PM   Subscribe

Some questions about creating a modern (online) web/graphic design portfolio...

I have been working full time for the government for the past few years, and have sort of fallen out of the loop, as it were. I decided it's about time that I create an online portfolio of my work and offer my services, but what I am wondering is what do the designers of Metafilter think is the best way to present your online portfolio?

When I say 'best way to present', what I mean is:

Do you think a client wants to see a clear and simple portfolio site, or do you think it's important to show off your creative flair and just go to town on it?

Do you think that a blog and social media links are crucial these days? What other little extras are important and expected in 2010?

How important is Flash now? Will I score more points if my site is made in Flash?


I've read this cool article, but I'd like some more opinions.

One other thing that I can't seem to find much information about is the hand over of a website to your client...

Do you continue to maintain their site for an ongoing fee?

If not how do you give it to them to maintain themselves?

Does your client need Adobe Contribute?
posted by foxy to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
 
Hi foxy:

> Do you think a client wants to see a clear and simple portfolio site?

Depends on the type of client you are after. If it's freelance work, then you cannot, by and large, predict their needs, browser, etc, so simple and straightforward is good.

On the other hand, if you're looking to work for a design company, you can start to make the assumption that they are using the latest browser, have high connection speed, and will want to see an overall design capability and something that is "tied together", and cutting edge, if that makes sense.

Do you think that a blog and social media links are crucial these days?

Yes. (And so you should make sure your Facebook, Twitter, etc, are "employer-ready".)

> What other little extras are important and expected in 2010?

Not so much technical issues as passion for work - if you make a portfolio, it shouldn't be frozen in time, but continuously updated, until you get your dream job: ongoing projects of any kind, doodles, experiments, drawings, etc. Show employers that you do this because you love to, not because of renumeration.

> How important is Flash now? Will I score more points if my site is made in Flash?

Still important, in the sense that you should at least show some ability in it. Less important, in the sense that many things that it was used for in the past are slowly being overtaken by HTML 5 and JavaScript libraries. Ideally, show that you can work in all three.

Do you continue to maintain their site for an ongoing fee?

Personally, yes - it offers excellent ongoing income opportunities. Apologies for the self-links, but I think you might find these useful: lies clients tell, and a typical web development contract, with explanations.

>Does your client need Adobe Contribute?

No. That's not to say that the program can't be used, but increasingly if the client does want to maintain their own cite they'll want a web-based CMS, such as Joomla, Wordpress, or something custom-built.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 7:11 PM on August 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


How important is Flash now? Will I score more points if my site is made in Flash?

The gratuitous* use of Flash says "I'm a tool that doesn't know anything about accessibility and proper web design" to anyone that knows anything about web design. It says "Oooh, shiny things" to people that don't. Whether or not the person hiring your falls into the former or the latter category determines whether it's a good idea.

* Using something that degrades gracefully like SIFR or using Flash to show video or audio clips (when video or audio is called for) is not gratuitous. Using Flash for stupid splash pages, any kind of photo album, or any kind of animated menu/navigation element definitely is.
posted by Rhomboid at 7:12 PM on August 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


Just popping in to say that Flash is as important as you want it to be.

What would you rather focus on? Is being someone who works in flash regularly the kind of person you want to be? Then you should definitely use it. An entire portfolio done artfully in flash will still impress employers.

But if you just want to make logos or website layouts.. flash is probably not where you want to put much focus.
posted by royalsong at 8:10 PM on August 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Flash is good as in presenting interactive usefulness, calculators, configurators, advanced product viewers and the like - it is poor when the entire site relies on it.
posted by the noob at 8:49 PM on August 29, 2010


Most of the people who you want to look at your portfolio look at a lot of them all the time.

(I also look at a lot of online portfolios.)

Make it quick, make it to the point. Of the examples you linked the simple one is vastly superior to the complex one, which I honestly found horrendous and couldn't click away from fast enough. It also didn't display correctly on my computer. (Or maybe it was supposed to look that way. Hard to tell with some portfolios.)

Do NOT waste my time with Flash. I'd prefer screenshots of Flickr to a heavy Flash site with load times and unique 'clever' navigation. Even if you're trying to sell your Flash skills do the site in HTML and link of popout windows with your examples.

Make it so I can browse your content quickly and efficiently. (Name sections, have your contact info and bio right there.) Don't waste lots of time on the writing unless you're a trained writer. Your design will sell its self or it won't. Words will at best be ignored, at worst hurt you.

Make it so I can link to individual pieces in your portfolio. If a particular piece strikes my eye I want to bookmark it for later and/or share it with a colleague. I do not want to say "go to this page and then scroll down about 2/3 of the page, its the red one. (See also: No Flash. "Hover over the mushroom until the map appears. Click on Explore and "Blue Continent" and then drag NW until you see the photo of the bridge.... Ugh. Nope, not going to bother.)

If you use pixel fonts or 6 pt type I won't bother with your site. Creative professionals tend to have high end, high pixel density displays. People hiring you tend to also be older than 22 and may not have perfect eyes any more from squinting at the miniscule print on our monitors. If you make me squint to read your mission statement or your site navigation, I'll just move on.

And yes, I'm cranky. But its mostly from being jerked around by portfolios that waste my time.

The more portfolios I see the more that I think a simple Wordpress site (With a good template) would be best. Simple, I know how to navigate it, I can see your work and (this is super important for you) you can update it easily, so it's always up to date. Something that kills elaborate portfolios is that they are so complex they're impossible to update. And as soon as your portfolio is no longer representative of your work you are once again wasting my time. (And yours.)
| Do you continue to maintain their site for an ongoing fee?
You can. Or not. It's up to you and your client, but decide before you start work.

Research the term "retainer".
| If not how do you give it to them to maintain themselves?
This also needs to be worked out in advance and depends on the nature of the site, the client and their technical knowledge. You can be completely hands on configuring and uploading the info to the live site, or maybe you'll provide and archive or a CMS update or some other aspect to the client. Find out what their capabilities are and fill in what they don't have or are uncomfortable doing.
| Does your client need Adobe Contribute?
Oh. no. Simply no.

Given these last few questions you may want to come back in a week and ask more specifically about these type of questions. It sounds like you're right on the verge of getting in over your head.
posted by Ookseer at 11:36 PM on August 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


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