Having an online portfolio is pretty much a must for a designer today, but if you consider updating your portfolio just one more item on the to-do list, you’re missing the point. Online portfolios allow you to control how clients view your work, putting you in the driver’s seat on everything from the flow of your work to what parts of your business you choose to emphasize. Need more incentive? Here are five ways an online portfolio can help you target and organize your job search.
While finding good jobs still requires leg work, follow up and networking, an online portfolio allows potential employers the chance to find you. Having — and maintaining — an online portfolio on one or more targeted websites helps you stay visible in the online design community and keeps your door open for the opportunity to bid on relevant projects.
If you want to join the online design conversation, we love Dribbble. Billed as “Show and tell for designers,” Dribbble allows designers and prospective employers to share work and comment on each other’s projects. Anyone can sign up, view designs and leave comments, but you have to be “drafted” by an existing member to be able to post your own work.
One of the best things about online portfolios is the opportunity they offer to customize your work to your desired audience. Do you excel at both soft, flowery designs and crisp, corporate communications? Keep your portfolios, and your job pitch, targeted by separating your work into distinct portfolios and even posting them on different sites. For example, Krop is great if you’re looking to snare a corporate gig, but DeviantArt may be a better bet if you want to showcase your creative flare.
A portfolio’s main goal is to get you a job, so why leave anything to chance? Creative navigation allows you to guide the viewer straight to your best work or use your portfolio to tell a story. Be selective with what you include and make sure to follow the golden rule of Web navigation: make it intuitive and easy to get around. Another bonus to simple navigation? The easier it is to build, the easier it is to update, and nothing turns potential clients away like a portfolio that smells stale, or worse, doesn’t work.
A creative portfolio is just one more example prospective clients have of your design abilities. Even if you don’t have formal training from graphic design programs or an educational background from various renowned computer schools, today’s technology makes creative display, interactive tools and slick design available to all. Make your user interface reflective of who you are as a designer. Give some context about each piece you feature, such as your role on the project or how you delivered what the client was looking for. Your portfolio should tell viewers about more than your work — it should tell them something about you.
For ease of use, try Carbonmade. Free portfolios are available, but for $12 a month, you can sign up for more space, video and flash projects, and the all-important tech support.
Don’t let someone fall in love with your work and then not be able to figure out how to get a quote. Maximize your portfolio by including contact information, testimonials from happy clients, information about your rates and a printable resume. Need some inspiration? Here’s one we love that has it all.
Jill Tyndale is an editor who specializes in career and education news. She's helped develop a degree finder tool for college students seeking online design schools to further their education, written about everything from anthropology to operations management, and recently signed up for her first online class
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