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Designing your online portfolio


Active Member
Hi everyone,

I've been considering my new online portfolio very carefully with my new site design, but with the wide range of choices in how to display work online, I was interested to hear what you prefer yourself? is that matched with your own portfolio (if applicable)?

Some of the common options;
- Thumbnail clicks to larger image in javascript/pop-up window
- Just larger images
- Scrolling images
- Flash/interactive

Also an interesting post to read on this subject at Astheria - My Last Portfolio Sucked, YoursMightToo
and another on Smashing Mag - http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/03/04/creating-a-successful-online-portfolio/

Hi Greg

Problem with me is that I'm building portfolio too long (current -still in under construction - have taken me 3 months) becouse so much ideas.Big fonts, small fonts, blue, green etc.I changed it many times.
I think we must be an artist with that. We can use some ideas but generally it has to be something diffrent then a millions sites. It's not corporate site so we don't need use templates or something, but also we cannot forget about usability. I like clear and simple sites so prefer big font and white spaces, simple lightboxes and minimum JS. No flash.

Sorry for language mistakes
Also an interesting post to read on this subject at Astheria - My Last Portfolio Sucked, YoursMightToo
That's a really interesting read. LOVE the 'Background Music Graph" haha so true!

But in regards to your portfolio design, it's cliche but you're not going to please everyone. I think it's definitely important to consider your target audience when it comes to the look, navigation and actual portfolio images.

Other than that there are pros and cons to all the ways to showcase your work you mentioned.

I really like the Lightbox style of showing a larger view of your work. Personally I don't have the time just now to add any fancy JS etc. to my site, I just needed something up quick that looked nice. So I just went with large images in the meantime, potential clients can see work straight away without any extra clicking which is always good.

I think if I was heavily promoting myself as a web designer I would take time to add some nice JS techniques (jQuery animations etc.) just to show the potential client/viewer what they can expect of me.


Senior Member
I had already read both articles, and I'm not sure if it was in either of those two (I didn't re-read them) but in one of a portfolio related article the author said that while he was browsing through portfolios to hire someone, he hated the fact that he couldn't see the design at first glance due to small thumbnails. I think he said portfolios with small thumbnails were more likely to get overlooked for this reason alone.


Senior Member
Some of the common options;
- Thumbnail clicks to larger image in javascript/pop-up window
- Just larger images
- Scrolling images
- Flash/interactive
TBH I don't like anything that doesn't let you have a preview of the next one. Scrollers are a no-no for me personally. I like work to be carefully spread out.

I don't particularly like pop-up windows using JavaScript, they annoy me.

I'm trying to introduce something like Lightbox, but a more designer-y look of it... can't remember them at this moment, but something like facebox, stuff like that.
I agree with tim...those popup windows, like the lightboxes or whatever they're called (name has slipped my mind) really bug me, especially on a portfolio. It is cool that they fade in and dim the background but I just want it to show up quick.

I'm thinking about on my new portfolio just having like little thumbnails on the left hand side of the page and then have a larger version with a title and description popup on the right hand side...but no fancy fade in effects just open up quick and easy. Either that or just scrolling images probably.
I think the main thing to bear in mind is time, if your using your folio to try and reach potential agency employers they will want to see what your capable of doing as quickly as poss. Someone looking to commission you on a specific job will spend more time flicking through to get a grasp of your style. Many agency Creative Directors will be receiving 30 plus enquiries a week and inevitably see looking through most folio sites as a bit of a chore. Show them something worth seeing in the first few seconds otherwise they will just move on.

Simple sites with clear navigation and big images seem to be the order of the day. Personally if your work is print based I like to see photos as much as possible to help show A] that you actually got it produced, and it's not just a concept/ folio piece B] Print is tactile so this helps to get across 'the feel' of your work in a 2D enviroment. Obviously if you are pushing web design and coding in your skill set you will want show some of your capabilities but keep it relevant, don't add fancy effects for the sake of it.
I agree with onartis on that one...it looks like you should be extending that orange at the base of the header down the page to make it consistent. And on my 1680x1050 resolution the background image doesn't span the whole page...but that's a nitpicking issue :)


Active Member
Mat said:
We've gone through several types of Portfolio, and our conclusion is that simple is better! Have a look at ours and see what you think:

DP | Worcestershire Web Design | Portfolio

I have to agree with what the others said, the header to content just looks really odd and out of place. Why not have kept the same layout / styling as on the homepage?
Durham Productions | Worcestershire Web Design Agency

also I don't know if validation is your thing, but you have 45+ errors in your code for your portfolio page which i quite a lot for a relaxed doc type such as xhtml 1.0 transitional. and multiple errors in your css documents.