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Best options for a basic portfolio website platform


#1
I've had a portfolio website (plus the associated email address) that I built from scratch years ago chugging away in the background for ages and frankly, it's rubbish. I pay the hosts, Easyspace, about £36/year to keep it going and all I ever get from it is junk mail. It's dead weight.

The site is something I cobbled together using my own ultra basic grasp of HTML and a few bits of stolen Javascript to get a Lightroom showreel to work. I haven't updated it in years because every time I do - I need to manually change the individual HTML pages in Dreamweaver, save them and upload them via an FTP programme like Filezilla. I feel like the whole thing is very clumsy.

What I really want is something with a user friendly backend that I can log into (like you get with something like blogger), that I can update as regularly and often as I do with my social media (Instagram, Facebook etc...).

I want it to look professional, so the domain name needs to be my own (not www.mywebsitename.hostnamehere.com) and if at all possible I would like to avoid any powered by Wordpress branding invading the look of what I hope will be a reasonably minimal site.

Lastly, the site needs to be generally as mobile device friendly as possible.

While I would like to one day develop a good enough grasp of web design to be able to knock together something bespoke for me - I need something for the meantime that will be genuinely functional, not just a token url that sits at the bottom of my business cards.

It would be cool to have a 'contact me' field on there whereby people type their email along with a query into a box on the actual page - I would probably be happy to have something like this in lieu of a personalised email address - but I would rather have both.

I have no complaints about using templates, as long as they can be customised to a reasonable degree.

What would be the best platform for me to use? What are your experiences/opinions?
 

scotty

Well-Known Member
#4
I'm going to update my site for something simpler but...

For hosting, you could do worse than use TheLittleChimpSociety.
Uk based and made for creatives.
£30 a year (including your name) which doesn't suddenly go up after your first year.
Used them for years and very reliable and helpful.

Get a Wordpress them, paid for or free.
There are literally tons of portfolio themes out there and even the really good paid ones are are around $50.

Wordpress is pretty easy to use and install.
My host did it for me for free but it's not hard at all.
Even I managed it and I know sh@t!

Pretty much all the themes are responsive now and have a built in blog, about, contact, portfolio and stuff and you can download and bolt on lots of other stuff super easily.
 
#5
It's looking like grafting my existing domain name onto a more robust WordPress site, I suppose that would prevent a couple of potential broken links that I've no doubt generated over the years.

You've confirmed my suspicions, thanks guys.
 
#6
I've had a look at WordPress and it seems that basically, the more you pay, the more you can customise.

The increasing levels of customisation (and other associated benefits) are itemised at here.

Price wise, the WordPress plan that is equivalent to what I am currently paying (their £3/month 'Personal' plan) allows 'Basic Design Customisation'. Is anyone able to explain what this means/had any experience with it?
 

scotty

Well-Known Member
#7
It looks like you've been looking at Wordpress hosting through them.

You can get your own hosting of your choice and install WP for free very easily for free so you're not restricted to them by any means.

You just install WP to your hosting which then allows you to use a WP theme or site.

Then...Look for a theme that suits you.
If you want a portfolio theme for free then just search "best Wordpress free portfolio themes".
There are lots of compilations out there on other design sites/blogs.
There are literarily sh@t loads and you can usually preview them online.
These usually come with all the usual stuff like an about, blog, contact and stuff pages pre installed.
You can always add more as well and in most cases they're very customisable.

Or...
You can get a paid for one (premium).
Paid for doesn't necessarily mean they're better than a good free one but you pay your money...

There are also WP site builders out there but I've not had any experience of those.

Even if you've installed a theme you can add others and replace the one you have with a few clicks if you don't like it and all your themes are stored away in a kind of library.

The hardest thing is choosing a good theme that suits you as there is almost too much choice.

I am FAR from an expert on WP but it is easy to use.
 
#8
Yeah, I came across the 'WordPress.org' downloadable version shortly after my last post and have been looking into it since. It seems like the more viable option and the only drawback I can see is that it needs regular security updates - which is no biggy.

With yours, does the downloaded version of WordPress give you a 'back end' that you can sign in to to make edits to your site, or is it still like a regular home grown website where you have to take it down, tweak it, then reupload it to the server each time you want to make a change or add new content?
 

scotty

Well-Known Member
#9
Don't take what I'm saying as gospel as there are quite a few WP pro's on here but it's just what I've found with mine.

Your WP site is always up there and I 'think' you need a certain software to work on it just locally (on your desktop) although you can get a free plug-in which drops a holding page on there while you do your thing without it being live.
It's all on your hosting and you install it to there.
Think of it like Behance or similar but you have infinitely more control and options for other pages for whatever you want.

Take a look here.
Go to the demos and take a look at at anything you like the look of.
You download the theme and upload it to your Wordpress or go to the Wordpress on your your domain which you've pre-installed and browse and install it from there.

You just go to your site (whateversite.co.uk/admin) and log in and you're into it.
It's then just a very simple UI to add content and images and it's pretty much the same across all WP sites.
It's made to be simple for anyone to use without any back end skills and there is loads of info, tuts and stuff out there.

Honestly. I don't know my arse from my elbow when it comes to code, web, dev stuff and I found it pretty easy.
You can preview and save stuff before you publish anything you do.
 

scotty

Well-Known Member
#10
The hardest thing I've found is choosing/finding the right theme that you don't have to go into the code to change but as I say, there are tons to choose from so it's best to choose something that suits you from the off.

I've found that I've downloaded a theme and I drop a logo in there and it's say too small for my liking and on some it's hard to change or there's a "built by" in the footer that's hard to get red of on a free theme but not the same for all of them but it's dead easy just to swap the whole thing to another theme if you don't like it.

I think you need to look at theme and think "what do I need/want" and get an idea of that and make notes.
Do I want a one page site that contains everything?
Can I upload my own logo?
Do I want a slideshow as a header?
They're very customisable though and you can choose what you want or don't want.

I think you'd be surprised how easy it actually is.
 
#11
Sounds good.

I'm more than happy tweaking things and going into a bit more depth to change layouts etc... I just hate the content update process of my website; making individual changes in DreamWeaver, going through the Filezilla FTP palaver to get the old version taken down and the new one uploaded. It's very faffy.

The main thing is that I want a user friendly content management system - if I can upload and edit without using loads of sloppy FTP interfaces, I'll be a happy bunny.

I've seen the millions of themes, they seem to cater for the creative industries heavily with lots of visual/image friendly portfolio templates.

I'll give it a go and report back, my current site is a dead duck anyway so I won't be doing any damage.
 

scotty

Well-Known Member
#12
LOL! Looking back over this I sound like a WP salesman. ;)

There's none of that Jri.
It's all held on your server so you just make any updates and changes there.

I have a feeling that you're going to be pretty chuffed with WP.