Building Your Online Portfolio / Web site
by Rachel Goldstein
In order to be successful these days, it is essential that you create an online presence for your freelance business. With the vast amount of potential clients surfing the Internet, not having an online portfolio could cost you a lucrative career. In this article, I will explain how to build a professional online portfolio.
MAP IT OUT
It is important that before you start designing and coding your site that you map out the structure first. Get a blank piece of paper and jot down all of the key ingredients to your site. All of these ingredients make up pages of your future website. You can then make a flow chart to map out how these pages can be linked. An example would be "Site Mapping".
It is important that you keep wording of your links to various pages on your site simple. As a web designer myself, I recommend keeping the wording down to only two words per link. For example, "contact us" and "about us" works, but not "take a look here" or "web design examples." Surfers on the web don't want to read details, they want to browse. It is much harder to browse thru three or four words compared to one or two. Also, use words they will make sense to other people. Designing a website that only you can understand isn't an effective way to sell your services.
Now it is time to write your site's content. On the main page of your site you should summarize the services that you offer. It is important to utilize visual techniques such as headers, bold type, highlighted type, and images to break up the copy. This will make it easier for visitors to just browse thru quickly.
Unless your profession is an editor or proofreader, I recommend that you have a friend or a professional editor review your copy. Having typos and grammar mistakes on your business website will no doubt cause potential clients to exit your site.
SAMPLE OF PAST WORK
An online portfolio is an excellent way to broadcast your talents. Portfolios aren't just for artists anymore, all freelancers in all fields can benefit from an online portfolio. Besides adding visual proof of your level of skill, portfolios act as a client list and as a virtual sample book for potential clients to see. If you have numerous examples to show, you want to break up your past projects into categories. This way you don't overwhelm the potential client with too much. If you are new, I recommend having all of your examples on one page to make it look like more.
Don't forget to place contact information on your site. You might want to include some or all of the following: your name, email address, phone number, and physical address.
Now that you are aware of the essential elements that make up a successful online portfolio, you have the building blocks to develop a successful site yourself. I recommend that you visit The Graphic Design Resource Center for a more details if you still have any questions.