Portfolio Platform Review – Part I: WordPress
This is a guest post by Tara Hornor, if you want to guest post on this blog, please contact us.
To kick off our series in which we will review various portfolio platforms, WordPress is the logical place to start. With millions of websites running WordPress, this platform has the most support, options, features, and just plain cool stuff for any designer looking to put a portfolio online. WordPress is completely free and you can use it for just about anything from a general website, blogs, or for portfolio management.
One of the many features that WordPress offers is that you can very easily upload content for client review as well as show off your work. Instead of sending clients a 200MB graphic, you can upload the same print-ready design you sent to your business card, brochure, or catalog printing company to your own WordPress site and send them the link – much more professional and faster than sending files through third party sites or mailing printed proofs.
If you are completely new to WordPress (WP), a little background may be in order. WP is far more than a portfolio management tool. It’s a full-featured content management system. It just so happens that WP is an ideal system for managing design portfolios, too.
If you’re wondering who uses WP, here are just a few massive design websites that rely on WP everyday:
So if you have any doubts about the capabilities of WP, hopefully those uber-users will settle your concerns.
Ease of Use
WP requires an above average level of skill when compared to other portfolio hosting systems. Because you have so many options available, you also have a great deal of complexity to manage. But the only really hard part of working with WordPress is setting up the system. Once in place, WP is just as easy to manage as any other system on the market – arguably easier.
Setting Up WordPress
You have two options if you want your own WordPress site.
Option #1 is to go over to WordPress.com and purchase your own domain name through them. This is a very affordable approach and gives you a stripped down version of WordPress you can work with. You get a great deal of options, but not the ability to add custom plugins – the heart of what makes WP so wonderful for portfolio management. If you want all the power and features of WP, then you’ll need to explore hosting your own WP site.
Option #2 is to host your own website and install WordPress. Most web hosts have a single-click installation of WordPress available. Then you simply login to your site and start setting it up. This process is a lot more involved as you will need to customize the site to meet your needs.
Using themes (in the Appearance menu), you can quickly get a basic design in place and then edit small parts, like the header image, to make the site your own. You’ll need to know a little HTML if you want to edit your own WP site, but you can manage most changes using the built-in interface.
Some designers choose to work with a WordPress developer to get their blog set up and then manage it on their own from there on. While pricier than doing it yourself, the time saved and frustration spared can be well worth it.
Using pluigns, you can make it more difficult to steal your images, if that is a priority for you. The only two tried and true methods of image protection are to use low-resolution images and/or watermark your images. Otherwise, here are a few tools you can use within WP to help.
- WP-CopyProtect is a free plugin that disables right-click features while also allowing your content to be readable by search engines. This prevents people from using the right-click -> “save image” feature.
Plugin Site | Download | WP Page
- WP-Protect is a little more robust than others as it adds the ability to prevent image dragging – another way of simply copying your images. Right-click disable is available as well.
Plugin Site | Download | WP Page
- Transparent-Image-Watermark-Plugin is, well, just what it says. When your readers click an image, it adds a watermark to it so they can’t use the image without crediting you. You can customize the watermark to look however you’d like.
Plugin Site | Download | WP Page
Professionalism/Quality of Presentation
WP gives you the tools to make your site look and feel exactly how you want. So the limitations on quality of presentation of your portfolio are limited only by your own efforts.
If you are using the Blogspot version of WP, you need to know that Blogspot keeps a toolbar along the top of the page that may direct users to other sites. When you upgrade to your own domain, this goes away. Otherwise, the only community you have to worry about is your own.
Other design portfolio websites have a certain crowd that spends time on the site and offers opinions (good, bad, and ugly) and generally create a certain kind of community that can be unique to that platform. With your own WordPress site, you don’t have to worry about this.
The Blogspot version of WordPress does not have all the customization options of the full-featured WP. If you are using the full-featured version on your own site, you can completely customize your portfolio in any way imagineable.
In either version of WordPress, you have complete control over the contact information you can display. You can put your email address, phone, home address, or use contact forms to communicate with potential clients. It’s completely up to you.
Promote your portfolio design with WordPress platform will give you lots of convenience than if you were to do with the offline marketing method like poster printing. WordPress in both of its versions is completely free and offers you plenty of options for your portfolio. For the ultimate in customization, host your own WP site so you can build your own portfolio to look and feel exactly how you want it. Hands down, WordPress gives you the easiest path to the most customization. The trade-off is that you will have a learning curve to overcome and you will have to pay for web hosting if you want your own site.
About the Author!
Tara Hornor has a degree in English and has found her niche writing about marketing, advertising, branding, graphic design, and desktop publishing. She writes for PrintPlace.com, an online printing company that offers business cards, posters, brochure printing, postcard printing, and more printed marketing media. In addition to her writing career, Tara also enjoys spending time with her husband and two children.