Blog: Tutorials, Tips & Tools

Designing websites with scope in mind (or Why PROWEBDESIGN got its version #6)

What to consider, when you design a portfolio site for yourself? In one word – the SCOPE. The scope outlines the general aims and goals of any project. So, what is the scope of designer’s portfolio?

WHAT TO KEEP IN MIND WHEN DESIGNING YOUR PORTFOLIO WEBSITE

THE “HUMAN FACTOR”

How new are you to the design? How large is your portfolio?
If you are a fresh designer and have only several works to show off, make your portfolio as colorful, complex, artsy and fancy as you can. Your portfolio is the one site you always have full control over, so do your best to get the WOW effect. If you are old in business, have many work samples, can discriminate what to show off and what not, then why are you reading this? then “less is more” principle is for you. Your works and their quantity speak for themselves. You do not need your portfolio to make any statements anymore. Besides, too colorful portfolio with many works in it may result in unnecessary visual clutter.
What is your position and how do you “brand” yourself?
If you are web designer and you boast to be usability and technical guru, then probably it’s a good idea to have a website which will not totally break in IE6, and can be read by screen readers OK. Yes, the site should look good, but technical side should not be dictated by the looks. If you are an art director, or position yourself as Really Very Creative Designer TM, then show it! Go ahead and make a WOW site heavy with graphics. Noblesse oblige 🙂
Think about the future.
How easy is it to change the scope of your site slightly or strongly in the future? May be you’ve been just web designer, and then also seriously got into illustration? Or began editing video? Or worked on your programming skills, and now you are also a developer? Is it easy to add a new section to your site, which will reflect your new abilities and new type of projects? Is it easy to showcase different types of projects: web, graphics, branding, dev, video? Last, but not least, is it easy to add texts to your site? It is advisable to create sites with structure, which can be easily built up from or easily modified.

THE “TECHNICAL REASONS”

Flash vs. HTML/CSS
Flash is a good tool for designer’s portfolio, but… Actually, many “buts”. Flash is not SEO-friendly. Although Google develops algorythms to parse Flash content, Flash is still NOT SEO friendly. It is harder to alter Flash site, than HTML site. Any add/edit/delete task is more laborious in Flash. Flash portfolio is an excellent thing for full-screen image presentation. So, it is better for a photographer or illustrator, than for a web designer. Flash is great for so called “experience” sites. But experience sites are usually dedicated to a single product. Unless you want to showcase ONE project you worked on, you better don’t do “experience”. Lastly, with jQuery and new CSS3 transitions many things, which were done only in Flash, can now be done in plain HTML/CSS. Well, we hope that CSS3 transitions will be soon widely supported by all major browsers, including IE (in millennium 4 I’m sure IE will come along! We just got to be patient, that’s all).
Hardcoded vs. CMS
If you are a web designer, of course it’s easier and faster to hardcode, than to dig into a CMS, trying to make it work as you want to. But think about 2 things: 1. your digging will not be waste of time – you will learn some CMS’s structure and will be able to work with it on commercial projects in the future; 2. it is easier to build up and rescope CMS site, provided you’ve learned it well enough.

So, this being said, what about PROWEBDESIGN and its version #6.

I’ve been in web design business for over 10 years. And in those 10 years have redesigned my (and my company’s) portfolio website for above mentioned 6 times. Is it a lot? Or a little? I don’t know. I am thinking about making a poll :-). Anyhow, here’s a short history of the 6 versions:

  1. First site was quite nice, but I redesigned it, because I learned Flash, became a certified Flash designer and wanted to show off my skills
  2. Second, Flash site, turned out to be tedious in maintenance and updating. As all Flash sites are. Besides, I have learned SEO and wanted to show off my skills
  3. The third site was, again, nice. It survived my fits of “let’s make it even better” for 4 years!
  4. Then I began working as Creative director for Internet division of the largest media company in Romania. And decided that a Creative director needs a site, which looks much more artsy and fancy than #3
  5. So, I made site #4, which wasn’t good enough and lived for one short month 🙂
  6. Then I designed site #5, which really LOOKED GOOD

And still, I made a version 6. Why? Because the SCOPE has changed and version 5 didn’t fit it anymore. I have left my job to dedicate all my time to developing my own business. Version 5 was good for a Creative director, but too artsy for a company, offering wide range of services. It had rigid structure, dictated by it’s looks and was difficult to build on and expand. That’s why version 6 came along. It is built on WordPress and can be easily modified, updated, re-sectioned without me re-shoveling all the content manually. It has much cleaner design, which doesn’t clutter portfolio sections or distract human eye from reading text. It was yet another way to learn WordPress even better. And lastly, SEO and possibility to promote my business improved.

Because version 5 was so pretty, it is left to live in it’s own folder and can be accessed here: version 5. *It is not maintained since 01.01.2011*.