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October 9, 2012 3:47 PM   Subscribe

Easy-to-use templates (or something?) for a visual arts portfolio site? I already have a domain name and hosting, so I'm not looking for DeviantArt/Tumblr/CargoCollective, etc.

I'm an illustration student. I have a portfolio website (purchased from and hosted on A Small Orange) that I made in a web design class, and am a little nervous about breaking it by updating/fiddling with it too much. I need to update the work in there, and I'm also not crazy about the design aspects of it so much anymore, so I want to just do an overhaul. As I said, I took a class, so I have some experience with HTML/CSS -- enough to make a fairly simple yet fully functional website, but I had help with troubleshooting with my professor, and felt like this a lot. I feel like I know enough to not want to hire someone else to do it, but not quite enough to feel OK starting from scratch without the backing of an experienced professor in case everything goes horribly wrong.

So! I'm looking for some sort of template that makes it really easy for me to upload images, add/edit text, link to downloads (of my resume and CV or higher-res images), such that I will not be overwhelmed by the prospect of changing things. Does such a thing exist that I can use with my existing domain name and hosting, or am I better off just trying to recode the damn thing? I can link to my website if it ends up being relevant in terms of what features I need.
posted by jorlyfish to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: (Forgot to mention -- willing to spend some, but not a lot of money. I am an art student, so cheap but effective is the name of the game. I saw LiveBooks as an option on another Ask, which is $99/yr for their basic plan. If I can do it for cheaper [esp. a one-time fee], I'd rather do that... and needless to say free would be awesome, though I know that is probably unlikely.)
posted by jorlyfish at 3:54 PM on October 9, 2012

Best answer: I use Other People's Pixels - it looks like my domain, my email is hosted there and they have a good variety of templates. It's a service specifically for artists. You will need to maintain your NIC for your domain but all the other hosting is with them. I had done my site from scratch for years but this is simpler which means I update it more often. More than $99/year but not horrendous - and discounted if you pay for a year at a time.
posted by leslies at 3:56 PM on October 9, 2012

Best answer: Squarespace.com is what you're looking for.
posted by lohmannn at 4:12 PM on October 9, 2012

I use a Wordpress theme for my portfolio site. There are some good ones out there that you can relatively easily modify. Very easy to update.
posted by nathancaswell at 4:29 PM on October 9, 2012

Although marketed towards photographers, you could easily use 500px to accomplish what you need. I use the most dead simple template, but they vary nicely and you can have full screen images if you choose those templates - very flexible.
posted by blaneyphoto at 4:50 PM on October 9, 2012

Best answer: I like Behance Pro Site.
posted by thirdletter at 5:13 PM on October 9, 2012

Response by poster: A lot of these are looking like great options. Aside from Wordpress, how would some of these things work in conjunction with the fact that I already have hosting (another 7 months of it) and a domain name? Maybe I'm totally missing something here, but I'd like to avoid paying for hosting in two places which is what seems like is going to be the case if I sign up for Squarespace or Behance, for example.
posted by jorlyfish at 7:29 PM on October 9, 2012

Best answer: If you're up for a little more coding, I've been staggeringly happy with Kirby, which is a file-based CMS similar to Indexhibit or Stacey but far less inscrutable. It's flexible, has great documentation, and is blessedly easy to manipulate once you've gotten the hang of it. Huge bonus: the creator's super involved with the community and happy to help with any questions or problems you might have; I've emailed him a couple of times with questions (some dumber than others) and he's always answered promptly and graciously.

You can see the portfolio site I made with Kirby here (hosted on NFS). It took me around a week of tinkering to adapt what I wanted from the available themes, but I went into it knowing no CSS and very little HTML. (I don't use any scripts but if Lightbox galleries are your thing the developer's written a very nice tutorial on how to integrate them into the existing code.) Once you've customized the templates to your satisfaction, adding content is just a matter of dragging the new .pngs and .txts to the relevant folders.

You can download the Kirby source and play around with it on your own computer for free, but if you decide to go live you'll need to pay a one-time fee for a license. (Normally it's US$40, but since you're a student you can email Bastian asking for a student discount and get the price knocked down to $20.)

If you're interested, let me know if you have any questions! I'm really happy to have stumbled upon a solution that works so well for me and it seems like you might be looking for some of the same requirements (cheap, flexible, easy to code, easy to update) I was.
posted by brieche at 9:24 PM on October 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Indexhibit might be what you are looking for. Although it requires PHP and a database, you already have that without caring about it. I just checked A Small Orange to confirm. Else I suggest this blog-post for further reading/ideas.

To answer your follow-up question: most services let you use the domain you already have (eg: Squarespace) in addition to the domain offered from the service. You would have at least two domains, which can be nice if you have sth like firstnamelastname.com and you can add firstname-lastname.com or lastname-portfolio.com. You might also need your first domain for emails as most services like Squarespace don't include an e-mail account.
posted by KMB at 11:35 AM on October 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

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