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If you have a website and you’re in any kind of creative industry—be it a photographer or a kitchen designer/fitter—a good portfolio is crucial. This article provides six bits of advice on making a good online portfolio.

Restrict the main points to one page

A good CV should never be more than two pages in length; similarly, a good portfolio should be clear and concise and if possible kept to a single web page. Include a selection of your work, contact details (see point 5) and a brief summary of you. Include your name, email, top-level qualifications such as Degrees, Masters and PhDs and a short summary of yourself. This should be two to three sentences that summerise your background, experience and ethos.

Use your own domain name

Having your own domain has several advantages; potential clients will always take someone more seriously if they have their own domain name rather than a subdomain of a free hosting company. Furthermore, having your own domain name allows you to have which again looks more professional. If you don’t trade under a business name register a domain based on your name. Hosting and domain registration is so cheap nowadays that it’s worth a bit of money a year to have that professional edge.

Don’t assume the visitor has knowledge of your trade

Don’t be overly technical and avoid jargon associated with your industry. Potential clients may not be technically minded, they may know what end product they want but not know (or care) what was used to create them. For example, (in my own industry) a potential client may not be familiar with PHP and MySQL but they’ll know the terms eCommerce and Content Management Systems if that’s what they’re after. Advertising your experience in services and techniques opens you up to a much wider market.

Give them something to take away

If you follow point 1 you’ll only have given your portfolio visitor a teaser of the work you can do. Create a PDF that details the services you offer and make it downloadable from the main site. Such a document is useful to mail to anyone that shows interest in your work.

Make it easy to get in touch

Include as many channels of contact as you can. Ideally, email, online form, telephone, mobile phone and address. You don’t want to put off the less-technically minded who prefer to use phones over the computers to contact people.

Have a portfolio-only/portfolio-centric website

Don’t dilute or confuse your messaging by mixing your portfolio into an existing website. If you already have a site and want to incorporate a standalone portfolio into it consider setting up a subdomain.

If you need a website with a good portfolio, call me on 07843 484 078 or get a free quote online.

Tim Bennett is a freelance web designer from Leeds. He has a First Class Honours degree in Computing from Leeds Metropolitan University and currently runs his own one-man web design company, Texelate.