Friday, 27 February 2009

7 Things To Consider When Designing Your Online Portfolio

One of the most important marketing tools you can have under your belt as makeup artist is a website. It always amazes me how many artists I see with profiles on networking sites that haven’t taken the time to set up their own web page. I think a website can give the impression you are serious, committed and professional so its important to develop your web presence and branding early on even if you haven’t got much work to show.

If you have a website or you’re getting ready to launch an online portfolio what can you do to improve the design and make it more user-friendly? Here are some key areas you should think about when designing your website.

Portfolio
In the same way you carefully select pictures for you book keep the images on your website well edited. Clients will usually judge your capabilities after seeing just a few pieces of your work so push the best pieces to the front keeping portfolios small, slick and focused. It is also important to make sure images are optimised for the web as no one wants to waste time waiting for pages to load.

Layout
In the western world we read left to right, top to bottom so it makes sense to have your name and tag line (a short, snappy summary of what you do)in the top left corner so straight away the client knows who you are and what you offer.

Cutesy names are all well and good but in my opinion its better to go by your full name. If at some point down the line you get agency representation or see your name in the credits of a film it will be your full name printed not a kooky company name that you will see in print. Get that name out there as early as possible so people start to associate your name with your work straight away.

Navigation
Your site should be easily accessible, efficient and fast. Those with little time on there hands will not hang around to figure out how to get around your complex website so keep it simple and organised to make it user friendly. Try adding ‘call to action’ buttons or links that are clearly visible to keep viewers moving around the site and to guide them to the pages you want them to see. Check out Kyle Meyer’s post ‘My Last Portfolio Sucked Yours Might Too’ to see see the pitfalls you should avoid when designing your online portfolio. Poor navigation is a top pet peeve!

Target Audience
Consider your target audience and what they want to find when visiting your website. As a makeup artist you may find you work in several different areas that are all looking for something different from you. If this is the case consider creating separate sites particularly if you have a large body of quality work. What one client loves may turn another off completely so think carefully about the work you display and if it is of interest to your target market. Alternatively you could display work targeted at different markets such as film and fashion in separate portfolios on the same site but make sure the overall design is appealing to all clients that may come across you site.

About Page
This is where you get the chance to connect with those viewing your web page by telling them about yourself. Try to keep it focused and to the point whilst still being personable. The most important thing is not to ramble, why use 30 words when 10 will do! Testimonials can also help prospective clients get a feel for the artist behind the portfolio and what you are like to work with. Adding a few choice testimonials can give clients confidence in you as the opinions of a third party count for more that your opinion of yourself. Be sure to include you location in this section too.

Contact Info
Probably one of, if not the most important page on your website so make it clear, concise and easy to find. You can also provide links to social networking sites such a face book or twitter so people know where to find you else where on the web.

Your Service
Clearly state what jobs you are available for and the skills you possess. Don’t leave a potential client wondering if you can help with their project.

Finally, check your site thoroughly for spelling errors and links that don’t work. It also helps to have another eye look over the site to see if there are any navigation problems. Make sure the site looks professional and is polished.

I know this has given me some food for thought as my own site could use some tweaking so let me know if this post has got you thinking about improvements too!

If you have an opinion on any of the points raised or tips you would like to share for successful portfolio building leave me a comment.

Yesterday Lee Munroe posted '10 Steps To The Perfect Portfolio Website' on Smashing Magazine which, having caught my eye, sparked the idea for this post so be sure to check out Lees post too. He goes into even more detail on the points raised and gives some really inspiring examples of websites that uses these ideas to create innovative, well designed user friendly sites.

Sean Hodge of AiBurn has an excellent post, ‘Creating a Successful Online Portfolio’ which also helped me when putting together this post so follow the link and take a look at Sean's post too.

Related Posts
Top 5 Tips for Portfolio Building

8 comments:

  1. Hey Alex

    First of all, I love your blog. Always nice to hear your tips and advice. :)

    Second, I went to your website just to check it out. On the contact page you list your number and email address, but the email address almost seemed like it read "e.mail@alexcollinsonline.com"

    I realized later it was just "mail," rather than "e.mail", and I'm aware there's a space in between but I thought I should let you know because, while it does seem fairly obvious after, it could potentially fool some people (like this fool here x] )

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  2. I agree with the person above.
    But your portfolio is gorgeous :). Definitely visually appealing.

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  3. Thanks Cris and Janett!

    I have added more space between the e. and t. so hopefully there will be no more confussion but let me know what you think. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. I'm definitely gonna work on this page to make it easier for people to contact me...maybe i'll add a form?

    Your comments also prove why its such a good idea to get others to look over your work ;)

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  4. Hi Alex,

    The site is wonderful, in my opinion. It's very clean, simple, and the colors are really nice so it feels very professional. I doubt there will be any confusion now that you've made a bit more space.

    However, since you did bring up adding a form, I think it would be a great idea. It would certainly eliminate the possibility of people misspelling your email address when contacting you.

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  5. No problem Lee, credit where credits due! ;)

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  6. i like ur website. thanks for this comment posting...
    Add

    ReplyDelete
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    ReplyDelete