10 Steps to the Perfect Portfolio Website

On February 19th, 2009, Smashing Magazine posted an article titled “10 Steps to the Perfect Portfolio Website.”  I know this may seem slightly dated, but this article has served me well over the past year when it comes to selling both myself and my clients.  Its breakdown of the 10 most important items in a portfolio website simplifies the design process, and adds a sort of “checklist” of ways to improve your image.

These steps can prove to be useful not only for personal portfolio websites, but for any website where the end goal is to sell yourself or your company.  I am currently applying these steps to www.orlandolegalcopies.com (expected to launch in just over a week!) and will continue to use them on nearly every project I have.  If you are thinking about having a website built, use this list as a way to start gathering content.  Know what needs to go into your site and let your designer do the rest.

Step 1: Logo
The logo is one of the most important parts of a website. It is the first thing the user sees, and therefore delivers the first impression.  Your logo does not necessarily have to be your name, but should be something that visually represents yourself or your company.

Step 2: Tagline
The tagline is a short, “snappy” phrase that describes what it is you do.  The logo gives the user their first impression, and the tagline is there to explain the logo.

Step 3: Portfolio
The entire point of a portfolio website is to showcase your portfolio.  This is where you get to show your users what you can do.  Images should be large and high-quality.  It is a good idea to include links to the live versions of your work as well.

Step 4: Services
The tagline explains what you do, but your services list will go into more detail about exactly what your capabilities are.  Don’t leave anything out – you want your users to know everything that you can provide them!

Step 5: About Me
It is important to be real with your audience, and your About Me page is a great place to do that.  Let them know who you are, where you come from, and why you do what you do.  If you are a company, explain your company values as well as introduce key people who make everything possible.  Feel free to showcase any recognitions that you may have received.  It’s all about you, so use your space wisely!

Step 6: Contact
You need a way for potential clients to get a hold of you.  Always have a contact form, and display any extra contact information in this section.  This can include phone number, fax number, email address, mailing address, etc.

Step 7: Blog
A blog is a place where you can regularly update and add content.  It’s your place to discuss happenings in your life or in the life of the company.  It’s also a place to discuss topics that you know a lot about.  Let your audience feel like you know what you’re talking about by blogging about subjects related to your website.

Step 8: Call to Action
The call to action is described as the “Next Step.”  It is for users who have dug deep into your site and want to know or do more.  A call to action can be a different colored button that links them to your contact form, or an icon on the home page urging them to check out your recent work.

Step 9: Social Networking
Linking to places like Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and other social networking sites can quickly boost the number of people who find your site.  These sites can be used almost like free advertising; if used correctly, a lot of people will find your site who normally wouldn’t.

Step 10: Language/Communication
The overall goal is to be clear and clean.  Your wording should appeal to your audience, and you need to go out of your way to avoid offending anyone.  Always check your spelling and grammar.  Poorly worded sentences and misspellings can make a good website look unprofessional.

I have condensed the descriptions of these 10 steps as they appear here. For more detailed descriptions and quality examples, be sure to check out the actual article at www.smashingmagazine.com.

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