Tips and Tricks for a Successful Online Portfolio

This article is brought to you by Toptal.

Toptal screen a lot of designers, so over time they have learned what goes into making a captivating and coherent portfolio. Each designer’s portfolio is like an introduction to an individual designer’s skill set and strengths and represents them to future employers, clients and other designers. It shows both past work, but also future direction. There are several things to keep in mind when building a portfolio, so here is the Toptal Guide of tips and common mistakes for portfolio design.

1. Content Comes First

The main use of the portfolio is to present your design work. Thus, the content should inform the layout and composition of the document. Consider what kind of work you have, and how it might be best presented. A UX designer may require a series of animations to describe a set of actions, whereas the visual designer may prefer spreads of full images.

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The portfolio design itself is an opportunity to display your experiences and skills. However, excessive graphic flourishes shouldn’t impede the legibility of the content. Instead, consider how the backgrounds of your portfolio can augment or enhance your work. The use of similar colors as the content in the background will enhance the details of your project. Lighter content will stand out against dark backgrounds. Legibility is critical, so ensure that your portfolio can be experienced in any medium, and considers all accessibility issues such as color palettes and readability.

You should approach your portfolio in the same manner you would any project. What is the goal here? Present it in a way that makes sense to viewers who are not essentially visually savvy. Edit out projects that may be unnecessary. Your portfolio should essentially be a taster of what you can do, a preparation for the client of what to expect to see more of in the interview. The more efficiently that you can communicate who you are as a designer, the better.

2. Consider Your Target Audience

A portfolio for a client should likely be different than a portfolio shown to a blog editor, or an art director. Your professional portfolio should always cater to your target audience. Edit it accordingly. If your client needs branding, then focus on your branding work. If your client needs UX Strategy than make sure to showcase your process.

Even from client to client, or project to project your portfolio will need tweaking. If you often float between several design disciplines, as many designers do, it would be useful to curate a print designer portfolio separately from a UX or visual design portfolio.

3. Tell the Stories of Your Projects

As the design industry has evolved, so have our clients, and their appreciation for our expertise and what they hire us to do. Our process is often as interesting and important to share with them, as the final deliverables. Try to tell the story of your product backwards, from final end point through to the early stages of the design process. Share your sketches, your wireframes, your user journeys, user personas, and so on.

Showing your process allows the reader to understand how you think and work through problems. Consider this an additional opportunity to show that you have an efficient and scalable process…

 

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4. Be Professional in Your Presentation

Attention to detail, both in textual and design content are important aspects of any visual presentation, so keep an eye on alignment, image compression, embedded fonts and other elements, as you would any project. The careful treatment of your portfolio should reflect how you will handle your client’s work.

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With any presentation, your choice of typeface will impact the impression you give, so do research the meaning behind a font family, and when in doubt, ask your typography savvy friends for advice.

5. Words Are As Important As Work

Any designer should be able to discuss their projects as avidly as they can design them. Therefore your copywriting is essential. True, your work is the main draw of the portfolio – however the text, and how you write about your work can give viewers insight into your portfolio.

Not everyone who sees your work comes from a creative, or visual industry. Thus, the descriptive text that you provide for images is essential. At the earlier stages of a project, where UX is the main focus, often you will need to complement your process with clearly defined content, both visual diagrams, and textual explanation.

Text can also be important for providing the context of the project. Often much of your work is done in the background, so why not present it somehow? What was the brief, how did the project come about?

Avoid These Common Mistakes

The culture of the portfolio networks like Behance or Dribble have cultivated many bad habits and trends in portfolio design. A popular trend is the perspective view of a product on a device. However, these images often do little to effectively represent the project, and hide details and content. Clients need to see what you have worked on before, with the most logical visualisation possible. Showcasing your products in a frontal view, with an “above the fold” approach often makes more sense to the non-visual user. Usually, the best web pages and other digital content are presented with no scrolling required. Avoid sending your website portfolio as one long strip, as this is only appropriate for communicating with developers.

Ensure that you cover the bases on all portfolio formats. Today it is expected for you to have an online presence, however some clients prefer that you send a classic A4 or US letterhead sized PDF. You need to have the content ready for any type of presentation.

Try to use a consistent presentation style and content throughout the projects in your portfolio. Differentiate each project with simple solutions like different coloured backgrounds, or textures, yet within the same language.

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What Clipchamp can do for you?

Clipchamp is a helpful tool not just for video editor and blogger like me. It lets users convert, compress and record videos in the browser. Worry not because it’s a free service that doesn’t require installing software or uploading files to an online converter or compressor.

Output format options are MP4, WebM, WMV, FLV or GIF. I find it convenient to use as  there are no input file size restrictions. As successfully tested by Clipchamp, videos of up to 20GB can be uploaded.

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According to Clipchamp Help Center,  Clipchamp has built technology that processes video files inside the browser on the user’s computer unlike other providers where files have to be uploaded to a server for processing. This makes the process much faster and provides much better privacy as processed video files never leave the user’s computer unless they decide to share them.

Finished videos can be shared directly to Google Drive, Vimeo, Facebook and YouTube or simply saved. Clipchamp also put some nifty features into the app, for instance you can upload your processed video to multiple video sharing platforms at once and it will even give you the link of your uploaded file for easier sharing.

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The webcam recording technology Clipchamp built also runs inside the browser without the need for any additional plugins or software downloads, which is why it works on any kind of device including Chromebooks. You can record videos at 360p, 480p or 720p resolution, either using your computer’s webcam and microphone or an external webcam and/or mic. When a recording is finished, the resulting video file can be compressed using Clipchamp to make it even smaller and easier to share.

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Since it was launched, millions of people have used Clipchamp, it’s available in the Chrome Web Store or by just going to clipchamp.com.

Clipchamp also have a version of the app available that enables webcam recording, video compression, video conversion and fast uploads on any website or web app – the Clipchamp API. It uses our patent-pending tech and allows any website owner to receive video files from their users in a way that hasn’t been possible before.

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For more information, try and visit clipchamp.com or like and follow them on Facebook.

 

*Photos and contents were used with kind permission from Clipchamp.

6 Tips You Should Consider in Finding The Right Computer For You

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2 weeks ago, I decided to sell my beloved partner in work at home, “Mac-mac”, my 4-year old MacBook Pro. It was still in good condition but some of the software I needed are not compatible anymore with the version of my OS. Wait, what’s OS? If you don’t have idea on what is it, don’t worry. Just read on. Upgrading my OS is a choice but I just decided to buy a new one.  I wanted to renew my system as I level up my work at home career.  So I was torn in buying which model is the right one for me. Then I learned basic ideas to consider.

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Having ideas on how to select the right computer for you is important because computers are the best tool for work, anytime and everywhere. Brands are one of the things to consider but it is also important to look on the computer specifications. Like most of the people, I honestly get confused and overwhelmed with computer specifications and technical stuff. So let’s try to make it easy for everyone to learn.

With the help of internet research and knowledgeable friends, here are some of the tips and thoughts that I had considered and learned in choosing my new computer:

 

1. Size: What’s the right size for you?

The key in finding the right computer for you is to know exactly what you want and how you plan to use it. Do you want a machine that you can travel with or you want the one that is home based? Do you want a Laptop, Notebook or a Desktop? How big or small computer will work the best for you?

The sizes being mentioned in computer specs pertains to how wide the screen size is. Usually, you can see the dimensions in inches (11”, 13”, 15” etc.). Of course, choose the size that best works for you and your need.

 

2. Processor: How high and fast should be your processing power and speed?

Processor or CPU is the most important feature when you are deciding which computer to buy. It is also called as “The Brain” of the computer. One of the known processor is Intel  (nearly every laptop has a CPU either from Intel  or AMD). In considering this, remember that the higher the processing power you have, the faster your computer will run. So if you are a video editor it is recommendable to have a higher processor. It will help you render your project files faster. If you will only be working for documents, email or research, it is okay to use a processor with a lower power.

Another thing to consider in processing is Graphics Card or Video Card. This helps in processing heavy graphics display faster. This is important to consider for those works are related to photo, video or even for those who want to use their laptops for gaming.

3. Operating System: What system you’d like to handle your applications?

If the Processor is the “brain”, the Operating System (OS) is the conscience of the computer. To name a few, here is where Microsoft Windows, Apple Mac OS X and Linux comes in. Which is the most compatible with you?

OS is responsible for managing both of computer hardwares and other softwares. Whatever OS it is, it’s recommendable to choose its updated version for better performance and application compatibilities. Choosing the right OS depends on which works well with you and your work. Like for example, I like Mac OS X because it works well with me for graphics or video editing and I find it easy to manage my files though the most common operating system is Windows.

 

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4. Hard Drive and RAM: How big should be your storage?

Hard drive is the storage of your computer. Everything you have chosen to keep on your computer saves on it – your apps even your operating system. Unlike the Hard Drive, RAM or Random-Access Memory is just a short-term storage. It will just temporarily save running programs on your computer.

To easily understand this, imagine a study table or a work table. Where does the files that you are currently working at? It is usually placed at the top of your table, right? Where are the files that you do not need anymore or already finished with? Most usually keep it at the table’s drawer, isn’t? Understanding the difference between Hard Drive and RAM are just like this. RAM is like the top of the table and Hard drive is like the drawer.

In considering the memory for your computer, remember that the smaller the storage or memory, the bigger the chances for your system to slow down. Hard Disk Drive (HDD) and Solid State Drive (SSD) are types of hard drive. HDD is the traditional and SSD is the new and faster technology. This both works well with computers but of course, having the SSD is most recommendable. It is just pricey but will give you the  best performance.

5. Price and Lifespan: How much will you spend and how long does it will work?

If you already found the computer that meets your specific needs, you should also think about the years you can use and enjoy it. Remember that computer is a good investment especially if you will use it for your business or work in a long run. Usually, computers works in good performance in the span of 3 to 5 years. After that, you will need to upgrade or change to a new one.

Buy a computer that fits to your need, to the computer lifespan and budget. If you really think you need the one that is pricey, It’s okay. Save and take your time. It will be worth it.

6. Extras: Can it perform the special applications you need?

Consider the other things that you need for your computer. On the hardware part, check if the ports/slots/connectors that you need are available. Do you need to connect to a printer or maybe a projector? Do you need an SD slot? How about a CD drive? It is good to note that if your machine lacks support for these peripherals, you can consider buying external devices or maybe some converters/adaptors. On the software side, can you easily install your graphics editing, data entry or software creator application on it? Check if your OS supports the softwares that you will be using.

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Having considered these tips, I got myself with a new MacBook Pro! The size is just 13 inches and is lighter than my old MacBook. I got an updated version of MAC OS X for my Operating System. Its processor and memory is big enough with what I needed. As I weigh the cost, my work and its lifespan, buying it will be worth it for me. For considering the extras, I bought the model that is with Retina display and installed the applications that I needed. It is just perfect for my article writing, graphic designing and video editing work at home.

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In conclusion, everything just falls down in knowing what you want and how you plan to use your computer. Believe me, It will surely save you, your work and your time when you think about what you really need.

Whether you are a work at home professional looking for the right computer or a not-so-techie person who just want to explore, you are free to choose. Don’t give yourself a headache or miss your deadlines just because of a computer who runs so slow. Free yourself and decide well. May you get the right computer for you and may you live a life and work in freedom! 🙂

Got the right computer for you? Like, comment and share below! 🙂

WordPress: A site and blog creation tool

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So you want to create a website and start a blog? No need to worry if you don’t have any coding or design skills! WordPress, one of the most popular site and blog creation and management tool, will help you with this.

It’s easy to build your website without writing a single line of code or knowing anything about HTML with WordPress. There are also free site designs or themes to choose from and all you have to do is to select and customize the way you want your site be presented. With WordPress you are also free to choose to have a free site or have a hosted website. I can say that WordPress  is easy to use and is a helpful tool for beginners and aspiring bloggers.

Let’s explore, connect and share ideas with WordPress!