Essentials of a Designer Portfolio Website

Why Designers Should Have a Portfolio Website and How We Can Create One That Actually Converts

Portfolio website - to do or not to do? Probably owning a designer portfolio website is one challenging task – not even for designers. Aside from the budget constraints, putting up a website that actually CONVERTS is still an aspect many haven’t discovered. Web development is more than just a facade of visual creation, probably much to your dismay. While it is considered as your business card on the web where you could refer more eyeballs to see and know more about you and your works, a lot of opportunities are also missed when your website is not responding to queries through search engines, queries that can bring you potential clients. And you don’t want to miss that, for sure. There is that craving for the creative community to share their works, whether that be in a showcase platform, social media sites or portfolio websites. The real challenge is really getting seen by a wider audience, or more importantly you next client. What is a portfolio website? In a general perspective, Patrick J. Lyons, Ph.D. described a portfolio website as “a website that contains samples of a person’s work”. Specifically, “it contains a few summarizing webpages that provide easy navigation to the various works and concise descriptions of those works.” What I liked the most in Lyon’s explanation of a portfolio website is that the way he gave emphasis on the samples of a person’s work, and not essentially on the person itself. This gives us an overview of why we need to showcase our works, to give site visitors an overview of our capabilities as designers AND how our skills and talent could help them attain their specific goals. But of course, the Sagrada Familia wouldn’t be in its present famed stature without Antoni Gaudi. Your design works are equally important as the hands that crafted it into its being. Your portfolio website should also reflect the persona that is behind the art. It is, after all, your portfolio website; it should also speak about you.Why should I need one? There are a lot of reasons why you should consider having a designer portfolio website. Here are just some of them: 1. To showcase your best works. You need a portfolio website to serve its main purpose – display your best creative works online for potential clients. Consider the internet as a vast ocean of homeowners looking for their dream home design, corporations and business owners that are looking for someone who could create the logo for their branding. The web offers a huge opportunity for your creative works to be seen. 2. Display your competitive advantage. What is good about having to own your own platform, such as a portfolio website, is you could do everything about it to highlight your biggest advantage among other designers. You have the control over your website to highlight your strengths. What is in you that others don’t have? What are the specialized creative services do you offer? Do you have relevant certification signifying your competence in the creative field? Have you been featured in a recent exhibits or art shows? What are the awards that you have received from your creative works? Showing these information not only shows your competitive advantage but also brings us to the next aspect of why you should need a designer portfolio website.3. Cultivate trust. People need to see who they are dealing with. They need to have a first-hand experience that the person they intend to hire/work with could deliver what they want. Client testimonials, certifications and awards are only some of the things you can flaunt in your website to build trust from people who might want to avail of your services. They need also to see your where are you from and how they can contact you so they could communicate with you directly and let go of any apprehensions that they may have.4. Clients can easily communicate with you. One of the prime reasons why you should be seen on the web is to create this connection with people who are more likely to use your services. Designers are also sellers and in this digital age, our customers are already empowered to communicate directly with the sellers. Gone are the days when information is pushed to target audience via print or TV media. The internet has already provided a means for people to discover, decide and buy products on the web. In this regard, we need to set up a platform where they could easily find and communicate with you on the web.5. Grow your audience reach. Design firms may be open 9 – 6 Mondays to Fridays and you could only attend to your phone up to 11pm but websites are up 24/7 all year long! Others may not able to attend trade shows and exhibits to see your works so it’s better to have it showcased online. Imagine the number of people regardless of location who could possibly be interested in hiring your services, just by looking at your creative works in your portfolio website. It serves as your ‘reception desk’ on the web, and what’s great about it is it works even when you sleep. Grow your audience reach and get your portfolio website on the works.Essentials of a website that actually converts: Websites that rock are not just the websites that has the best palette combination or animation effects. There is more to website development than just its looks. To be found by more prospects and to convert them into paying clients, Hubspot suggests the following things to look into so we could deliver the objectives we have in developing our own portfolio website (and be warned as this may upset people of the creative type);Create more, better, optimized content. And there goes the saying, CONTENT is still king. Yes, and while our content as designers comes in a more visual form (e.g. design works), we need to optimized it so that not only our users can find it, but also the search engines. A compelling content geared to align with SEO standards, helps your potential client to easily find you on the web. Optimize landing pages. When people visit our site, we need to direct them to our products and services that help them address their needs. This brings the people from visitors to leads. We want them to realize that we offer the design works, thus we should tweak our website to appeal and increase our chances of making a point of contact, at the very least. Be very clear, though, on how you want to communicate your intentions and design the page accordingly to bring in more conversions.Create more, better offers and calls to action. You already have the content. All of your works are lined up beautifully in your website, but nothing is said about prompting people to act. As designers, we are sellers, remember? So we need to prompt our site visitors to act – contact us, ask for a quote, buy, etc. – to convert them from leads into customers.Creating a client-focused website In Paul Boag’s post, The Secret of Website Management, he presented the ever-changing digital landscape and the needs of our audience that keeps up the pace. The web and the users have changed over times and the way we develop our websites should also be put into the same perspective. This is one of the reasons why some websites do not perform as expected. We are slowly deviating from what our clients need and require. There is more to marketing through websites than just creating flashy designs and blinking text. In response to the change in website development, Boag has given an insightful point on how to start creating your own website – which is to focus on client users. Why site users? This is my portfolio website; shouldn’t I focus on what I offer as a designer? This is probably what you have in mind. But hey, who pays for your creative works? Your clients do. Isn’t but fitting to design our website with our clients in mind? After all, what we aim here is to bring in more sales by converting site visitors into paying clients. There I said it again. In my opinion, this marketing shift to a user-focused perspective is but a realization that turns designers strategically into putting their products and services into a more palatable state. Indeed, more palatable as it addresses people’s needs. It is what they want and they are willing to pay for it. I suppose this sweet spot of having to create what our clients wants is a great strategy to turn our design works into profits. Also, having to create a client-focused website reduces costs, as you tend to avoid creating a site functionality that is not needed by your clients. Often we are tempted to add more features into our website just to make it cool and groovy, yet we often overlook if this is what our client really wants. With the clients in mind, we will be able to create a website that is user-friendly and saves us money during the development process.A client-focused website also increases your portfolio website’s effectiveness and conversion. A website created with customers in mind will give us an advantage of having satisfied customers. Moreover, it also provides a criteria for what should be there and what should not. If it wouldn’t be of value to your customers, then discard it. It would be useless anyway. So how do we understand who our potential users and what are their needs so we can define our goals in creating our website? Who are our potential users? What are the things they might probably look into our website? What are their goals? Boag have used this test to define our target user, as such; ** As a (role), I want to (task), so that (goal). ** Putting it in our perspective, one of our potential users could say, we are a newly-wed couple planning to have a new home in California. * We are looking for someone who could design our home based on our requirements. * So that we could have our dream house built.Dead simple isn’t it? Now that you have an idea how your target clients look like. This user-focused approach creates a more tangible perspective on what functionality, design, layout and content would you have in your website, thereby increasing its effectiveness.The design market is changing and if we need to keep up with the change, we need to maximize our web presence through portfolio websites. Learn more on how you can have an effective designer portfolio website that actually converts clients. However, in the end, if you decide not to have a portfolio website as a designer, you can then apply design awards who could showcase your work for you.Exerpt:Portfolio website - to do or not to do? Probably owning a designer portfolio website is one challenging task – not even for designers. Aside from the budget constraints, putting up a website that actually CONVERTS is still an aspect many haven’t discovered. Web development is more than just a facade of visual creation, probably much to your dismay. While it is considered as your business card on the web where you could refer more eyeballs to see and know more about you and your works, a l..

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