A portfolio website is no longer an option if you want to build a solid online presence. It’s mandatory. Not only does it give you an unmatched edge over the competition, but it’s also a great way of passively attracting potential clients or employers.
Of course, there are many ways to host your portfolio online. A website builder portfolio gives you a platform to showcase your skill sets and experience even without extensive coding experience.
In this guide, we’ll uncover how to choose a website builder for your portfolio, the best website portfolio builders, and how to design your website for the best user experience. You’ll also get to know the best hosting providers for designers and developers in 2023. Let’s go!
- A website builder portfolio is a website that highlights the skills, projects, and expertise of a business owner or professional
- Website builders provide the right tools for creating a professional and visually-appealing portfolio website
- There are many website builders available on the internet, with unique offerings and pricing plans. The best option is to pick the one that fits your budget and goals
- Visual appeal is a vital factor to consider when building a portfolio website. Choose the right color scheme, typography, and visual elements. Each component should complement the other and create a cohesive hierarchy that simulates engagement
- Always test your website after designing to determine how to improve user experience by conducting user surveys or using the A/B testing method
Why Website Builder Portfolios Are Important for Businesses and Individuals
A website builder portfolio is a digital representation of your skills, experience, and professional profile. It embodies who you are, what you do, past projects, and testimonials. Business owners and work professionals can use it to show their professional experience using storytelling techniques. Here are four reasons to have a website builder portfolio:
It gives you an indisputable advantage over your competitors
When applying for jobs, having a digital visual representation of your resume can help you stand out. A portfolio website serves as one and gives you a perfect opportunity to show clients what you do. This is helpful when actively or passively looking for a new role in your field.
It increases your visibility online
As a professional or agency owner, an online portfolio positions you for easy discoverability. Most website portfolio builders have in-built integrated SEO tools to help increase your visibility on search engines.
It provides a perfect way to showcase your skills
Another important reason for using a portfolio website builder, especially in the early stages of your career, is that it provides a platform to showcase your skills, experience, and previous works. Harness your creative skills by adding explainer videos for case studies, PowerPoint presentations, or infographics to sell your services.
It helps you to build and establish credibility online
Website builder portfolios allow you to showcase your previous work experience and add reviews from other clients as well. In the ‘About me’ section, for example, describe why you chose your career path and the achievements you’ve gotten. You can also add awards, nominations, or other achievements in your career. This communicates a sense of credibility and trustworthiness to potential clients and employees.
How Website Builder Portfolios Can Help Showcase Work, Skills, and Experience
A website builder portfolio allows you to display your work experience and skills in an enjoyable and visually-appealing manner. Clients get the opportunity to know more about your personality, expertise, and capabilities. Here’s how:
Displaying Previous Work
Website builder portfolios, as highlighted above, provide a perfect medium for businesses and individuals to showcase their works professionally. This is most important for business owners or professionals who want to build a solid online presence, no matter the industry.
Website builders give you access to pre-designed portfolio templates that are easily editable. You’ll find different design features, including stock images, custom color palettes, and an extensive font library. Utilize these tools to show your creative skills and showcase your best projects.
See this perfect example from Mike Kelley, a photographer based in Los Angeles. The home page features an uncluttered design, with one of his best works as a focal point. The ‘projects’ section is a synopsis of his previous works. Viewers can slide through to see other images in the same category:
Demonstrating Technical Skills
Most website builders discussed in this guide give access to advanced design tools like video animations, vector art, and transparent videos. Additionally, you can create custom sign-up or contact-me forms, add e-commerce carts, integrate your email marketing platform, and many more.
This creative example from Jey Austin, a brand designer, and Illustrator, shows how you can demonstrate your creative skills without being sale-sy. The gothic font and unique imagery add a sense of uniqueness to the portfolio website without sacrificing simplicity and user experience:
Highlighting Achievements And Awards
In addition to helping you showcase your technical and creative expertise, a website builder portfolio can include a section for showcasing your awards, certifications, and achievements regarding your industry. This way, you show dedication to providing relevant and consistent value to your industry, simultaneously positioning yourself as an expert.
If you’ve bagged several notable awards, why not show them off? I love how Patrick David, UI/UX designer and developer, flaunts his awards on his website:
Providing a Platform for Testimonials
Lastly, including testimonials and reviews from other clients in your portfolio can help to build trust with recruiters and clients. It demonstrates the quality of work delivered in the past and is a vote of confidence for other clients looking to hire you.
A website portfolio builder lets you display testimonials in different formats – images, scrollable carousels, or videos. You can even include links to the case studies of each testimonial to give clients a holistic view of the project. Interested clients may further visit the linked website to ascertain authenticity.
Importance of Visual Appeal in a Portfolio Website
A visually appealing portfolio website doesn’t only capture your client’s attention but also communicates an undeniable sense of professionalism and attention to detail. Here are several other benefits of incorporating catchy visuals in your portfolio website:
It’s in our innate ability to be attracted to catchy visuals, whether online or offline. In the same way, a visually appealing portfolio website is fundamental to attracting quality clients and also, retaining them. This is helpful if you’re actively or passively looking for a new role in your industry.
A well-designed portfolio communicates a deep sense of professionalism and attention to detail. It shows your intentionality and commitment to delivering optimal results. This can compel potential clients/employees to choose you over other candidates.
A website portfolio is a visual representation of your resume. It is an effective way to highlight your past projects, achievements, and skill sets in a way that’s tailored to your target audience. For instance, using infographics or explainer videos to explain how you handled a project and the results generated. Recruiters can quickly glance over your website instead of reading the chunk of text on your resume.
Making a lasting impression
There’s a popular cliche that you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. When visitors land on your website, they can decide to stay, explore the sections or leave due to poor user experience.
A visually appealing portfolio gives a good perception of your personal brand and makes visitors feel relaxed when navigating your website. This is important if you’re looking to stand out from the competition in your industry.
Learn more on how to build a website portfolio for web developers.
Types of Website Builders Available for Creating a Portfolio Website
There are a plethora of website builders available with unique sets of features and benefits. Here are the most popular:
Are you looking for a website portfolio builder with complete flexibility and control over your designs? Lucky you! Wix offers a variety of customizable templates for showcasing your expertise in any field, whether as a developer or creative designer. You can easily create a professional and visually-appealing portfolio without breaking the bank or having extensive coding experience.
The drag-and-drop editor allows you to import graphics from the editor box into your website seamlessly. Add images or videos, customize your website layout, change the font to match your brand, and many more.
- Provides SEO and marketing tools to help boost online visibility
- Easy integration with social networks and other portfolio websites like Behance
- Free SSL certificate on all plans
- Provides built-in analytics tool to gain insights on web performance
- Free logo maker for creating custom brand logos
Pricing: Wix offers a free plan, which is excellent for newbies. The paid plans start at $4.50/mo.
Squarespace is one of the top five recommended website portfolio builders, and it’s not so hard to see why. It offers excellent options for developers, artisans, designers, and professionals from various fields to display their skills online, even without learning to code. You’ll find many stunning templates, high-quality graphics, animations, and other multimedia support for building a click-worthy portfolio.
One of the key features of Squarespace is that it’s really easy to use. It has a little learning curve, and setting up your account is almost instant. It has a drag-and-drop editor, so you can design your website however you want. Although it is fairly restrained by a grid system, you may consider other options if you’re looking for a builder with total flexibility.
- Affordable pricing plans
- Intuitive site editor
- Free SSL on all plans
- Fully integrated e-commerce features in all plans
- In-built analytics on your website performance and an all-in-one package of SEO tools
Pricing: Squarespace doesn’t offer a free plan as Wix does. However, new users get up to 14 days of free trial. The lowest plan starts at $16/mo.
This is a popular content management system. Here, you’ll find an astonishing variety of customizable portfolio themes. Each theme is fully responsive and can be viewed on any device. You can add images, select your preferred font and color, adjust layouts, and make other changes as necessary.
Like other website builders mentioned in this guide, WordPress has a drag-and-drop editor that makes adding functions to your portfolio pages easy. The WordPress Block Editor and Site Editor give you more flexibility to customize your designs to your preferences.
- It has an Intuitive interface
- Allows integration with social media platforms, email marketing tools, e-commerce tools, and other portfolio sites
- Has in-built SEO tools to snowball online visibility
- Access to over 50,000 plugins for better functionality
- Provides unmetered bandwidth on all plans
Pricing: WordPress has a free plan but with limited features. For better experience and flexibility, opt for higher tiers which start at $4/mo. The plans are scalable, and you can upgrade as required.
Shopify is one of the world’s largest eCommerce platforms. If you’re a Shopify merchant or web developer for eCommerce stores, take advantage of its in-built tools to create a professional and modern website. It has an amazingly intuitive editor, accounting for its clear user interface.
Shopify also allows integrations from over 6000 third-party apps. Another enticing benefit is its secure payment processing. The payment system is built with a unique hashing algorithm and two-factor authentication that secures transactions between the seller and buyer. This is a vital feature for artisans and creatives looking to sell their works online.
- Access to a wide range of customizable templates and product management tools
- Each template is designed to be mobile-responsive
- Allows integration with social media platforms
- Has in-built analytics tools for tracking website performance
- Provides SEO tools for improving visibility on search engine results pages
Pricing: Shopify doesn’t have a free plan but allows you to test the features for 14 days. Afterward, opt for any paid options starting at $24/mo.
Weebly isn’t one of the biggest names in the industry. But it has incredible features that set it among the best website portfolio builders. First, you’ll find various modern and clean-looking templates to choose from. The drag-and-drop editor tool also makes editing any part of your website easy, from the headings to adding visual elements. It offers a simple, easy-to-use interface for new and mid-level developers.
Weebly allows you to integrate third-party apps to extend functionality. However, some of these apps may attract extra charges.
- Access to modern, full-customizable responsive design themes
- Allows you to easily swap themes without building from scratch
- Provides an image editing shop to adjust image themes accordingly
- Free website analytics for all plans, including free users
- Allows you to migrate your website to another hosting provider easily
Pricing: Weebly offers both free and paid plans. The latter starts at $10/mo for the plan and $26/mo for the performance plan.
Tips for Choosing the Right Color Scheme, Typography, and Images
In this section, we’ll explore some practical steps in choosing the right color scheme, typography, and visual elements for a portfolio website:
Colors play a vital role in how we receive information. They convey different emotions and messages. Understanding color psychology and how it appeals to your target audience can help you communicate effectively and compel them to take action on your website.
How to choose the right color scheme:
- What message are you trying to communicate? Remember, different colors convey different emotions. Red, for instance, is often associated with excitement, anger, power, and passion. Blue, however, depicts sophistication, competence, and high quality
- Understand the color theory and how to modify colors to suit your scheme. Use palette generators or color picker tools like Colors to generate palettes based on your brand message
- Minimalism is key. Remember to keep it simple by using fewer colors in your design. Often, so many colors can seem overwhelming and may consume your visitor. For best practices, stick to three color combinations using the 60-30-10 rule
- Another option is using a monochromatic design – using different shades of the same color and making it visually appealing. But test the contrast ratio (using tools like Color Review) to know how the colors overlay against each other
As Oliver Reichenstein shared in this article, “Optimizing Topography is optimizing readability, usability, and overall graphic balance.” It covers the font, typeface, color, styling, and how texts are displayed on the web. As most of the content on the website is text, you want to ensure your visitors can comfortably comprehend what you’re trying to communicate.
How to select the right font:
- Choose a font that is legible and easy to read:
- Don’t use too many font types as it can wreck the layout and overall appeal of your website. One, most times, is sufficient. If you’d use two, ensure the font families complement each other. For example, Georgia and Verdana
- Use bold or italics to draw attention to important information. Also, avoid capitalizing all texts in a paragraph
- Don’t use the same color for the texts and background. It’s better to use colors with a significant contrast ratio so that they can stand out. As Nick Babich, freelance product designer, shared in his article on uxplanet, “Small texts should have a contrast ratio of at least 4.5:1 against its background. The large text should have a contrast ratio of at least 3:1 against its background.” Ideally, you can never go wrong with black and white
Imagery plays a huge role in the success of your portfolio website design. High-quality images create a relaxing ambiance for visitors when they land on your site. This presents a perfect opportunity to showcase your best work to attract potential clients/ recruiters.
Here are some rules that work:
- Avoid using low-quality images. For portfolio websites, it’s most advisable to create unique photos (using your own pictures) to establish a personal connection with your audience
- The images should be visible enough to fit all screen types
- Ensure the images are not overlapping with your texts, as this can make your portfolio website look cluttered (especially if you’re using a background image on your site)
Without consistency, users may find it difficult to know what to focus on when they visit your site. Here, we’ll explore how to combine each design component to achieve a cohesive appeal across the whole website.
How to achieve consistency in design:
- Use a consistent color palette throughout your website to create a coherent and professional feel. Use hues from your logo or colors that align with your brand identity. Another rule of thumb is to pick a light color for backgrounds, a lighter color for texts, and an accent for pop-ups. See Apple website:
- Avoid long blocks of text with inconsistent spacing. Use sizes, weights, colors, and contrast to create a typography hierarchy so visitors can quickly identify what you want them to focus on. Headings should be more prominent than subheadings and paragraphs.
- Ensure your website is mobile-friendly and can adjust effortlessly to different screen sizes without affecting the design or overlapping text.
Learn more on how to create a consistent layout for your portfolio website.
As highlighted earlier, using contrasting colors help to create a visual hierarchy in your design. It can also be used to emphasize important information in a design.
To use contrasting colors and font weights in your design:
- Use large bold texts to create emphasis or draw attention to important information. Usually, this is done for the headlines. A smaller/lighter font will be a perfect fit for the body copy
- Use the same color and font-weight throughout your design
- Use contrasting colors to draw attention to vital details on your page
White or negative space is one of the essential design tools. It is the space on a web page, usually between the design elements. It enhances readability and creates a clean, uncluttered look. To use white space in your design, follow these simple steps:
- White space is categorized into micro and macro space
- Macro space is between design elements, like lines and paragraphs. Macro space, however, is the ample space between major components, like website content and blocks
- Follow a spacing system (default ~ 10 – 15 points) between lines. Use spacing patterns when you have lots of elements
- Allow enough space between elements to give room for breathing
- Maintain a consistent margin and padding throughout the design
Learn more on how to use white space effectively.
This covers how to make your website usable for all users. As Tim Berners-lee, W3C Director of World Wide Web, says, “The power of the web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect.” Here’s how to achieve this with your design:
- Some people are visually impaired, so choose colors with a high contrast level. Read the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines to know the right contrast for your website portfolio
- Use alt text to images to describe the content and function of your images and captions in your video or audio content
- Use labels to describe the form fields
How to Organize Content on a Portfolio Website for Maximum Impact
Lastly, it’s essential to structure your website architecture to create a clear and engaging user experience for visitors while checking through your portfolio. Here are some proven tips:
Create a Clear and Concise Navigation
First, you must create a clear user flow for your content. Identify the important elements to help you understand how to create an organized and user-friendly website. Then, organize your content to align with your goals.
Use clear and descriptive labels for navigation links for easy identifiability. Instead of having so many sections, you can organize them into subsections using a drop-down menu. This makes it easy for visitors to find what they want.
Prioritize Important Information
The most important information should be conspicuous on the home page to capture attention and compel them to explore other parts of the website. Use this opportunity to sell your best strengths. Or, use high-quality visuals to show how you proffer solutions to their problems. Either way, answer your audience’s fundamental questions immediately as they visit your site.
Use Headings and Subheadings
Headings and subheadings are crucial in segmenting content in order of priority. It helps to create a consistent hierarchy and makes the web content easy to read. Usually, the main heading (H1) should be the page’s title. This can be your name or unique value proposition. Remember to use a coherent formatting system to establish a clear hierarchy and make visitors quickly find the information they want.
Incorporate Visual Elements
If you intend to use a lot of text on your page, incorporating visual elements can help increase readability. They also help to convey your message engagingly. Take advantage of this to showcase your best projects, for example, showing results generated for a particular client. Or, you can add infographics to give clients an overview of your work process.
Use Calls to Action
A well-designed CTA can make a huge difference, especially when you want your web visitors to become clients. Typically, a CTA should be short and catchy. Typical examples are ‘Contact me,’ ‘Learn more,’ ‘Check my resume,’ etc.
Test and Iterate
Remember, you’re designing for a specific audience. Don’t assume their preferences. Instead, use surveys, polls, or feedback forms to collect information on your audience. You can even create two versions of your portfolio and test which perform better. Also, use website analytics tools like Google Analytics to get actionable and real-time information on your web performance.
Remember, keep your visitors in mind when creating your portfolio website. Keep clutter to the barest minimum and convey the intended message immediately without sounding salesy. Also, be patient. Nobody becomes successful overnight. Constantly update your portfolio with your best works to position you for long-term success.
Next Steps: What Now?
- Didn’t find the best fit for you? Check our extensive list of best website builders and their features
- Use a reliable web hosting provider for your portfolio website
- Follow the best website practices to keep your portfolio engaging, SEO optimized, and user-friendly
- Share your website with your network on social media to increase visibility
- Keep updating, testing, and making iterations when possible