Learning how to effectively market your unique competitive advantage is what will put your name out there, ultimately leading to more opportunities. Instead of our usual post format, I’m going to offer some advice on how to create a brand to land that dream job. This first issue will highlight the elements of a portfolio.
The Perfect Portfolio
The recruitment process has changed thanks to social media. Working in almost every industry now commands some type of positive online presence, especially in digital media. Having a website that showcases your talent is essential to leverage your creative advantage over the other professionals. Fortunately for everyone who isn’t a design ninja, there are marketplaces like Themeforest that sell high quality designs in multiple formats. Also be sure to check out also some sites created by digital media students at Cogswell.
Leaving a lasting first impression is important, preferably that impression is positive, less you may end up looking like these guys. Homepage designs now usually contain specific elements (featured projects, notable clientele) to give that WOW factor. The general trend is to use bold typography and graphics similar to what WorryFreeLabs did with their site.
9 out of 10 times a visitor will hire you based just on the content and design of your website, so why leave out what makes you unique? Can you image any car commercial that isn’t listing off enticing features and how it’s the best in its class? Probably not. Although there are extremes, due to information being accessible online, it’s safe to assume that any information posted will be checked to legitimacy.
There are several options in how to list out what you do, Abstract and Concrete. Abstract would be listing out tech jargon like HTML5/CSS3, W3C compliant code, AJAX. Concrete tends to tell a story; “We hand code our sites using code that looks awesome in all current browsers. We make things look good, naturally.” usually fits the overall brand’s image. The latter tends to be used by agencies and designers where the majority of projects involve startups. In the example of WorryFreeLabs, they used a more abstract approach:
WORRY FREE LABS IS A USER INTERFACE DESIGN FIRM, ESTABLISHED IN 2005 & BASED IN AUSTIN,TX.
WE PROVIDE THE FOLLOWING SERVICES:
- Information architecture
- User interface design
Try to keep your portfolio current, a stale portfolio can turn away a potential employer. This does not mean to dump out your good pieces if they are outside the 6 month window, just make sure you add what you’ve been working on. Even if they’re [high quality] personal projects, this shows your viewer that you are keeping active in the community.
Have a gallery of some sort on a project page that highlights key aspects of the project. In a web design project, some images may draw attention to styling or coding that stands out. If you received one, any testimonials that the client gave can be highlighted along with a project brief and what processes were used to complete the project.
Showcasing clients isn’t a must. Generally recent graduates haven’t collaborated with clients yet, which make the client section optional. As you mature in your field, it is recommended to show off whom you’ve worked with.
How websites utilize this element varies. Some prefer to have a form to allow visitors to easily send an inquiry, while others like to keep that for the contact page.
Social media isn’t just for talking to friends. A quick Google search of your name can quickly so how importing it is to keep up a positive social media presence. This can happen by watching out for what you post, but if you still want to upload pictures from last nights party that’s also fine. Sites like Facebook allow for strict privacy settings that hide your profile to non-friends. A simple way to check how your social media image looks is by logging out then view your profile.
Arguably one of the most standard sections on a page, the footer holds important information; Copyright info, where to get in contact, and now things like twitter updates. Even Cogswell’s site has a functional footer.
There are tons of resources to gather information on how-to’s, inspiration and design showcases, even free code snippets. Here’s an image of the site with the elements numbered, and we encourage anyone who’s created their site to share a their experiences in designing it.
What do you think?
The standards for designing a portfolio has changed in the last 3 years. It wasn’t that long ago that every designer’s site was built on flash. What trends have you seen gain popularity since HTML5?
Look out for the next post in this series, How to market yourself.