You know you need an online portfolio, so what’s the next step? Find an online portfolio site, choose a template, and go?
No way! You’re too original for that. For your portfolio you need something unique–something that will look awesome, not cookie-cutter, and will showcase who you are and what you can do. You should design and code your own online portfolio, and here’s why:
1. Your portfolio is itself a portfolio piece. Meta, we know, but what your portfolio looks like and how it was made will communicate as much about you as its contents. Your portfolio, in other words, is the ultimate portfolio piece.
Think about it: a prospective employer or client is going to see the link to your portfolio on your resume or cover letter and immediately form an impression of you and your skill set by clicking on that link, even before they bother to read the content! Don’t you want that impression to be truly memorable?
2. Templates don’t show off your tech skills. Sure, you could use a content management system to create your portfolio–but how will an employer know whether you coded it or simply used the default template? If you’re applying for a job and have listed HTML/CSS as part of your skill set, avoid the possibility of misrepresenting yourself and submit a portfolio you have designed and built from scratch.
3. You know you’ve got grit, so prove it! If you’ve never touched code, building your own portfolio will be quite an accomplishment! You are going to learn a TON in the process, which will show your future employer that you’re ready and willing to challenge yourself to learn new skills.
4. Don’t bore Nina! Are you a Project Runway enthusiast like I am? Then you are no doubt familiar with Marie Claire’s fashion editor Nina Garcia, one of the design competition’s main judges. Nina admires unique aesthetics; designers often get low scores or even get sent home if they produce something she’s seen before. The contestants are reminded to not to play it safe. As Tim Gunn likes to say: “Don’t bore Nina!”
Think of templates in that way, at least for your portfolio site. Your portfolio is a chance to showcase your unique aesthetic or personality. You may have inspiration from elsewhere, but simply using a template is far too referential. Your portfolio is your calling card. Don’t make it boring.
5. You’re the best client you’ll ever have, so take advantage! As anyone who has worked for clients (or an annoying boss) knows, the feedback process can be difficult and sometimes painful. You often have to make compromises, whether they are based on client preferences or the limitations of the framework in which you are coding. Your portfolio is one of the only times where you can be your own client. The world is your oyster! Make sure you don’t have to compromise by hand-coding it yourself.
Want to learn HTML and CSS so you can build your own portfolio? Start from the beginning and enroll in our Career Blueprints!
Dee is a fun-loving instructor with diverse tech experience across Fortune 500 companies, early-stage start-ups, government agencies & non-profits. Dee works at mobile product design studio Funsize, in Austin Texas where she lives with her husband, 2 border collie mixes, & 2 cats.