Thursday, April 17, 2008

Building Your Portfolio Website: Six Things to Never Do

Great advice from

1. Don't think you're a web designer unless you actually are: This is the Achilles heel of many creative professionals: the belief that being competent in one creative capacity qualifies you for another. The problem with building a site from scratch, unless you're already skilled at web design, is the powerful desire to do too much, and do it poorly. Few situations better merit the guideline "Less is more" than building your first portfolio site. (Personal Story: I used to showcase my work, and that worked out great the past 2 years).

2. Don't think you're a Graphic designer unless you actually are: Some of you reading this are, in fact, graphic designers, and it's true that you'll be judged on the cleverness and innovation in your site's graphic layout. The rest aren't, so try designing one primary image at a time, accessed either through thumbnails or a slide show. "It's so direct, so can take in a lot of information and not feel overwhelmed."

3. Don't go nuts with the branding thing: If you have a personal logo, icon, catchphrase, or whatever, use it with restraint.It's a bit like seasoning a stew: a little spice can complement the ingredients, but too much will ruin them. (Personal story: I once interviewed a man who branded him self a little too much...he actually illustrated himself, and put that illustration on, portoflio, and resume. Enough is enough. Not to mention the illustration wasn't amazing, so it worked aganist him).

4. Don't write like a 12-year-old, or like a used car salesman: As ridiculous as it seems to repeat it: spell-check everything. Remember, too, that you're not creating an advertisement, so don't write advertising copy. You want to appeal to other designers most likely, and they're as wary of slick writing as you are. (Personal Story: Right out of school, I admit I had an old draft of my resume on my online portfolio. About 3 misspellings total. On my first interview EVER, they called me out on it. I was mortified).

5. Don't expect it to be perfect immediately: Websites are dynamic things, and viewers expect them to change. Moreover, if you're a working designer, you should be constantly posting new work, fine-tuning layouts, improving copy, adding links. (With this is mind, maybe keep the Flash animation to a minimal, unless you are an expert, for two reasons, #1 9 times out of 10, some action script element is not working, and then that's the only thing people will notice. #2 A lot of people do not have Flash plug ins downloaded, and nothings worse than a big ole error on the screen.)

6. Don't re-invent the wheel: The bright side of all of these warnings is that they're nothing new. Smart, talented people have been building websites for a long time now, and have figured out some elegant ways of making just the sort of site you want. (Actually, I am not sure if I agree with this point by Coroflot).

Read the complete article here.

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