In response to a few comments on ‘My Last Portfolio Sucked, Yours Might Too’ I’ve done some more digging and have come up with a short list of portfolios that I feel cover the right bases. They may not be completely perfect, but if you’re looking for an example of the right direction, hopefully you’ll find it here.
Designed By Anderson
Up first we have shining example of excellent navigation. None. Anderson’s single page portfolio is great at making an initial visual impact, being concise about background and contact information, and even offers up PDF of his curriculum vitae.
The only problem with this site is that it still has some lightboxed thumbnails. However, the logos are plenty big even in thumbnail form to be visually appropriate. I would perhaps simply link the website thumbnails to their respective sites rather than launch huge lightbox images that take over my screen. Even still, the fault is rather minimal in comparison to how well the rest of the portfolio works.
While not a personal portfolio, but a business one, Sofa does a great job of saying their piece and getting out of the way. They create software applications, and the three items of most visual interest on the page are the icons for each application. Each links to its respective website.
My problems here are mainly aesthetic, the badge in the upper left is insanely distracting because the heart contains more red than anything on the page and the contrast makes it hard to pull my eye away from. The other being the size of the header graphic. Sofas, I know, I get the reference, but that’s not why I’m visiting your site.
Feed the Creature
Invisible Creature is a firm that does some great illustrative work, just check out the posters on their site. While they may use thumbnails, they are plenty large enough that you can get a sense of detail prior to taking a closer look. Unfortunately, that closer look isn’t quite as close as I’d like to see, given that people would simply print them off rather than purchasing a poster it’s an understandable compromise.
The real issue here is the horizontal scrolling, while it remains intuitive here, I really want to be able to use my scroll wheel rather than having to click and drag on my browser’s scroll bar. But for some reason I can overlook this shortcoming because of how awesome their work is. I wouldn’t have been able to make that judgement if it weren’t for decent size thumbnails.
Mark Dormand’s Sreski is a prime example of how to abolish the need for annoying thumbnails — at least on the home page. Unfortunately, upon navigating into ‘my work,’ I was treated to the same old cropped thumbnails, moderately sized, but not large enough to be representative of the work.
Figure 4: Why must you change on internal pages when you’ve hit it out of the park on the home page?
Clicking on one restores the enjoyment of large images with a left hand navigation, but why the thumbnails at all? This is an example of where the portfolio could use some trimming to just his best work. There are a few items that seem to be under his current abilities, and people remember you for your best and worst work. Removing these would reduce the number of pages making the textual navigation acceptable since there would be a slimmer amount of pages to click through, and the my work section’s home page could make better use of screen real estate and use some larger images.
Last, but not least, Proud Creative. They’re damn proud of their work, how do I know? Because the rest of the portfolio is as minimal as possible. The fixed position left column is great for keeping contact and other information in view while browsing the portfolio.
Not much to complain about here, just get rid of that blinding yellow circle that keeps distracting me from all the awesome work.
It certainly didn’t help that Smashing Magazine’s article stole a few of my favorite portfolio sites, and rather than retread old ground I’ve done my best to illustrate what I feel is solid portfolio design direction. Agree? Disagree? Make your opinion known.