Common portfolio mistakes you might be overlooking
By Tobias van Schneider Published February 22, 2019
Thanks to Semplice, I see new portfolios every day that inspire me. I also see lots of portfolios with great potential that could be improved with a bit more attention to detail.
I’ve already written about the main traps to avoid when building your portfolio. Now we’re getting into the details, the tiny things that could make a big difference.
And yes, I know this might sound nitpicky. Some of this is just a matter of personal opinion and style, so keep that in mind and just do what feels right to you.
If something moves or changes every time we interact with your site, it’s possible you need to tone your it down a little. Your animations should make your portfolio feel elegant and alive, but it should not distract from your actual work. I notice over-animation the most with hover effects. If I’m just trying to scroll through your projects and images disappear or move drastically every time I mouse over them, it is more a distraction from your work than anything else.
Of course, this all depends on your goals and your personal style, but I lean on the side of subtle animation over anything flashy. Exercise restraint. Let your work be the focus.
At this point, most of us know that we can find your contact information in the footer or on your About page. If you have an About page AND a contact page, you’re forcing me to stop and think to choose between the two. Consider how you would design a client’s website to convert. Make it as easy as possible for your viewer to navigate your portfolio and reach out to you.
Images & videos too large for web
Sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how many times I’ve seen poorly optimized websites made by skilled designers. They want pixel-perfect images and upload files at insanely high sizes. This affects more than just your loading time. It can mess with your animations, transitions, basically everything. But people won’t even get that far because they’ll exit a site that takes more than two seconds to load.
Resize and save out your images for web. Plenty of plugins exist that allow you to do this in batches. You can still share perfectly crisp images while keeping the file size low.
Missing social share images & SEO titles
It’s always a bit of a bummer to find a great portfolio and go to share it only to realize there’s no share image. Even worse, some standard placeholder image and text appears. Almost every social platform revolves around imagery. Tweets with images receive 150% more retweets than tweets without images. If you want people to share your site and you want people to click it, add unique share images for each of your main pages. Update the title and description of your pages as well. This is not only good for SEO, but ensures your portfolio doesn’t look like some unfinished template site.
In Semplice, you can update the share image and title/description in-line. You don’t have to mess around with code or dig into WordPress. Just click the title and type. This makes it super easy to optimize your pages for search and add images that best represent your work.
Forgetting your favicon
Yes, that tiny little image at the top of our browser when we visit your page. Upload one. Make it cute. It’s these tiny little things that say a lot about your work ethic and attention to detail when a potential client is viewing your portfolio. Show that you care about doing excellent work for your clients by doing excellent work for yourself.
Neglecting your mobile view
Again: Sounds simple, often overlooked. We all know about designing for mobile, but it’s the easiest thing to skip when you’re working on desktop and just ready to launch the damn thing – especially when you’re working on your own site. I know. I’ve done it myself.
With Semplice 4, we tried to make it as easy and fun as possible to test your mobile breakpoints in real time. That way you’re not jumping between devices to test every page, you’re just testing it all from your desktop using the content editor.
Your portfolio is what speaks for you when you're not in the room. You never know what opportunities you might be missing because someone got fed up with using it your site or couldn't load it in the first place.
I'm all for shipping early, but I also believe a portfolio should be continually updated and optimized after launch. Pay attention to the small details and make an effort to keep your site tuned-up. After all, your portfolio could get you that next great project you'll feature in your portfolio.