Illustration by Arlene G.
I was looking for articles about online portfolios on Tuesday, and I came across “Creating an Online Graphic Design Portfolio” by David Airey. In this article, he discusses common online portfolio mistakes graphic designers make and shares mistake checklists made by other designers.
I think pointing out these common mistakes is helpful, but you have to consider these errors in light of your own personal situation. For example, I agree that having a portfolio with nothing but thumbnails is a mistake, but I have to keep in mind that I have space limitations on the amount of photos I can post on my online portfolio. Right now my online portfolio has a limit of 3 GB for media items (photos, video, etc.) unless I pay for more file storage space. I would like to make all of the images on my portfolio large, but I am concerned that will take up too much memory. In order to save space, I tend to compromise and use a combination of thumbnails, medium size images, and a few large images.
I decided to correct the mistake of not having a contact form on my portfolio site, but I did it mainly out of curiosity. I have mixed feelings about working with people online. While telecommuting has some advantages, it also has some serious drawbacks. It requires placing a lot of trust in someone you do not know very well and will most likely never meet, and collecting payment from clients in another state or country is difficult if they are unwilling to pay. Although I have not completely ruled out working with people in a telecommuting relationship, I think I am more comfortable working with people in my local area. I like the possibility of meeting a client in person. However, I am not really worrying about attracting national and international clients. Hardly anyone visits my online portfolio except for prospective employers that I contact in response to job ads.
I am not so sure that the absence of a resume/CV is a mistake for everyone. What if you have little or no experience doing graphic design work for others? Won’t the resume/CV emphasize your lack of experience? Perhaps it is better to describe your graphic design experience briefly in the “bio” or “about” section of your website. I think Seth Godin has some good ideas about what to do in place of a resume, but they require a lot of work and time to accomplish.
I am glad I read this article because it contains advice from people who are also graphic designers. This article also reminds me that my online portfolio is definitely a work in progress, especially as I transition from doing student work to doing professional work. Getting advice is great, but you really have to experiment and see what works for you.