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Creating a Great Portfolio Site

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If you’re a creative or technical professional, odds are you need a great portfolio website. What makes a good portfolio? What if you’re a writer, or a developer, and don’t have a lot of visual work …

If you’re a creative or technical professional, odds are you need a great portfolio website. What makes a good portfolio? What if you’re a writer, or a developer, and don’t have a lot of visual work to show? We’ll go over how to navigate the intimidating world of personal portfolio websites, using WordPress as our guide.


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  • 1. Creating a Great Portfolio Website
  • 2. I am Mel Choyce • Design Engineer at Automattic • WordPress core contributor • Live in Boston • Connecticut native • @melchoyce | choycedesign.com | melchoyce.com
  • 3. What kind of work do you do?
  • 4. Let’s start with some fun. (and by that I mean embarrassing screenshots)
  • 5. General principles
  • 6. Keep it simple.
  • 7. Let your personality shine through. :)
  • 8. Clever microcopy or intro statements
  • 9. Type and iconography
  • 10. Illustration and animation
  • 11. Self portraits
  • 12. Tailor your portfolio to a specific audience.
  • 13. http://www.shoeboxblog.com/?p=16820
  • 14. Don't showcase work you wouldn't want to do again.
  • 15. Don't do something cool just because you can.
  • 16. Less is more, as long as it's high quality.
  • 17. Explain your process. Your work doesn't speak for itself.
  • 18. Focus on the problem you solved, not the tools you used
  • 19. I used to just have thumbnails that opened into light boxed static mockups.
  • 20. Not that hot.
  • 21. Write a case study.
  • 22. Haraldur Thorleifsson http://haraldurthorleifsson.com/morethanamap/
  • 23. Haraldur Thorleifsson http://haraldurthorleifsson.com/morethanamap/
  • 24. Writing a longer case study • What was the overall goal of the project? • What problem was the project trying to solve? • What role did you play in the project? • What was the process you used to solve the problem? • What were the results? • Link to the final product.
  • 25. Sometimes shorter is okay.
  • 26. Sebastien Gabriel http://kounterb.dunked.com/chromeos-filesapp
  • 27. Writing a shorter case study • What was the project? • What was your role? • Relevant screenshots, mockups, code snippets • Link to the final product
  • 28. GitHub and Dribbble do not a portfolio make
  • 29. Make it easy for the right audience to get in touch with you
  • 30. What do employers look for in a portfolio?
  • 31. – Steve Hickey, Fresh Tilled Soil “Potential. It doesn't need to be perfect, but I need to be able to sense underlying logic and order behind the decision making. …You can't teach people how to think.”
  • 32. – Andrew Norcross, @norcross “attention to detail”
  • 33. – Roger Huang, @rogerh1991 “Drive. I want to see that somebody cares about their projects, and takes the time for a few related passion projects.”
  • 34. – Andrea Lee Bishop, @andrealee_b “attention to detail & versatility. Be wary of oversights that would indicate they'd forget it on projects for you too.”
  • 35. – Rachel Baker, @rachelbaker “It isn't what is in the portfolio but instead a potential hires responses to questions about "why?" a certain approach was taken.”
  • 36. Building a Portfolio
  • 37. • Open source project • Need to pay for hosting • Completely customizable • Total control • Great if you know some code or feel comfortable experimenting • Hosted WordPress service • Free hosting • Partially customizable • Paid upgrades • Great if you’re new to site building/blogging or want to make something fast
  • 38. To add your content, you can... • Use or make a portfolio CPT • Use category pages • Make each piece a page
  • 39. Finding (or making) a good theme
  • 40. What makes a good theme? • Keep it simple so you can customize • Aim for the general layout you want • Avoid themes with too many options • Avoid baked-in functionality
  • 41. Widely WordPress.com: http://theme.wordpress.com/themes/widely/ WordPress.org: http://public-api.wordpress.com/rest/v1/themes/download/widely.zip
  • 42. SemPress WordPress.com: http://wordpress.com/themes/sempress WordPress.org: http://wordpress.org/themes/sempress
  • 43. Mixfolio WordPress.com: http://wordpress.com/themes/mixfolio WordPress.org: http://wordpress.org/themes/mixfolio
  • 44. Hatch WordPress.com: http://wordpress.com/themes/hatch WordPress.org: http://public-api.wordpress.com/rest/v1/themes/download/hatch.zip
  • 45. Portfolio Press WordPress.org: http://wordpress.org/themes/portfolio-press
  • 46. Motif WordPress.com: http://wordpress.com/themes/motif WordPress.org: http://public-api.wordpress.com/rest/v1/themes/download/motif.zip
  • 47. Illustratr WordPress.com: http://wordpress.com/themes/illustratr
  • 48. Espied WordPress.com: http://wordpress.com/themes/illustratr
  • 49. Capsule Information: http://crowdfavorite.com/capsule/ Download for WordPress.org: http://sourceforge.net/projects/wp-capsule/files/1.1.1/capsule-server-1.1.1.zip/download
  • 50. Roll your own with _s _s (Underscores) Download at http://underscores.me/
  • 51. Enhance with plugins
  • 52. Jetpack Download at http://jetpack.me/
  • 53. What to use in Jetpack • Photon (load your images from WordPress.com’s CDN) • Widget Visibility (chose what widgets appear on each page) • Publicize (easily share your work with your social media accounts) • Carousel (shows your images with a nice lightbox effect) • Tiled Galleries (adds a bunch of different gallery layouts to chose from. I love the tiled mosaic one) • Contact Form (easily add a contact form to your site) • Custom CSS (lets you customize your css without overwriting your theme) • Portfolio custom post type (coming soon?)
  • 54. NextGen Gallery Download at http://wordpress.org/plugins/nextgen-gallery/
  • 55. Contact Form 7 Download at http://wordpress.org/plugins/contact-form-7/
  • 56. Portfolio Post Type Download at http://wordpress.org/plugins/portfolio-post-type/
  • 57. In general, worth looking at... • Security plugin (BruteProtect, iThemes Security) • Backup plugin (BackupToDropbox, BackUpWordPress)
  • 58. Demo?
  • 59. Thank you! @melchoyce | choycedesign.com | melchoyce.com