How to build a perfect portfolio for artists, models, photographers or designers. The easiest and most affordable way is to use portfolio website builders. Thanks to these online tools, you can independently create your online portfolio in a few hours and without any programming and web design skills.
Who Needs a Portfolio Website?
The brief answer first. Anyone who needs to show a past example of creative work done by them, such as artists and photographers, needs a portfolio site.
When meeting a client, a creative person would need to carry around a “portfolio” with them to showcase their previous work. This established the client’s confidence that they could deliver the exact type of work required.
Times have changed. At the turn of the millennium, one could hand out a storage disk such as a CD containing the material. This was followed by the ubiquitous USB drive.
Now it is quite easy to build and maintain a portfolio website. The ease of access to the internet and the ability to host and display rich media due to HTML5 has made it possible for a professional-looking website to do all the talking – and you could easily understand this by checking our previous post about the best free website builders.
What Opportunities Does the Portfolio Site Open for Creative People?
A portfolio website is not merely about showing a few pictures or videos. It does a lot more. It is your emissary on the internet.
- Introduce Yourself – The home page or the landing page is a short bio about you, your passion, and why you are better than your competitors. It is all about letting the world know all about your capabilities.
The more you express yourself, the higher the chance of landing a client. A portfolio website allows you to make a statement about yourself to a broad audience.
- Express Your Theme – Your work might have a particular theme. Such as – you could be specialized not only in wedding photography but candid wedding photography. It is possible to highlight your dominance in a certain sub-discipline through a website in a way that would be quite difficult through a curriculum vitae or spoken words alone.
In a world where granular specialization has become the pathway to more financial success, it is essential that you are able to point this distinction out to your clientele. A portfolio website allows you to do so with rare panache.
- Bring In Social Media – Visitors to your site will be able to interact with you easily using social media. Your portfolio website is also connected to your Facebook and LinkedIn pages. As a creative, you would also like to use Instagram due to its strong visual bias.
The integration of your website and social media allows certain flexibility that you cannot have with a presence on social media platforms alone.
- Present Yourself As A Thorough Professional – In this day and age, when portfolio websites are easy to create and very affordable to maintain, how do you explain not having a site? It appears utterly inappropriate in a world where we expect the neighborhood plumber to have a business site.
What Options and Pages Should a Portfolio Site Have?
We share with you the essential tips for building a portfolio website that would help you get more clients.
- Photo/Video Gallery – A gallery is a must-have section. It showcases your work and provides a brief explanation of the project. This is an exceptional tool to focus attention on your best work and lets you display the expertise that allowed you to pull it off.
- About Me Page – Who are you? Why do you do what you do? What is your credo? What motivates you to do better for your clients? It is important that clients get to understand about your background.
- Events and Exhibitions – Have you ever done exhibitions of your work? It is an eloquent proof that you must be very capable since an inexperienced person would not attempt to have an exhibition of his/her work.
- Testimonials – Your past clients are your best ambassadors. Allow them to write a few words of appreciation about the projects you have completed for them.
- Online Shop – Do you sell merchandise? Maybe you sell prints, paintings, and lithographs. An online shop is an excellent way for budding artists to show that they are confident about their work.
- Blog – Why not share the knowledge that you have with a wider audience? What better way to do it than a blog. And while at it, insert a few keywords here and there for all-important SEO.
- Contact – How to reach you by phone or email? A contact form is a concise way to state how you can be reached.
Best Website Builders for a Portfolio Sites
Building a portfolio website has never been easier since Wix was launched.
The main advantage of Wix is the ease of use that it offers to users who have a nil understanding of coding. The versatile platform, reputed as one of the best website builders for portfolio, has a drag and drop functionality. Choose elements such as text, images and drag them from the sidebar into the page design. Edit and fill them with the content of your choice, apply a suitable theme, and your website is ready for launch in a few short days.
Wix offers over 500 templates, out of which at least 20 are aimed squarely at those who want to host a portfolio site.
Wix offers you an excellent degree of flexibility, and you can set up your site in precisely the way that you want. The technology used by the website builder produces sharply rendered websites across all types of devices.
Is there any disadvantage to Wix? Yes, but it is present in more or less all builders. You cannot change the template you have chosen. If you do, then you have to build the site again.
Also, an enormous amount of choice can be slightly overwhelming.
Weebly is quite like Wix in its drag and drop functionality. But Weebly is slightly simpler to set up and does not have so many choices.
However, make no mistake about its functionality, as it is an extremely robust platform capable of creating the best portfolio websites. If you are wondering how to build a portfolio with no coding experience, Weebly is ideal for you.
What is in Weebly’s favor is that it is highly affordable with premium plans starting from no more than $5.
Even on the least expensive plans, you get a whole host of features such as SSL certification as well as a unique email address.
In 2019 Weebly boasts of a new set of alluring templates for those who want website builder for photography portfolio. They are not as polished as Squarespace but they do score high in aesthetics.
The biggest advantage that Weebly has over Wix is that you can change the template to add to the appeal of your site.
Feature-rich and affordable, if you are looking for a clean and functional builder for your website, go with Weebly.
SITE123 is a fantastic stripped-down free website builder for portfolio. The best thing about it is that the set up is completely hassle-free.
If you compare SITE123 to Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace, it takes a little bit from each of them but keeps it simple.
Be it a modeling portfolio or portfolio for graphic design, SITE123 offers something to everyone.
The site uses an artificial intelligence based approach to figure out the type of site design you prefer and sets it up. The templates are classified by categories such as photography, art, etc. that make it easy for you to pick the one you want without much confusion.
The websites created using SITE123 are really responsive to mobile phones and are a pleasure to see on a screen of any resolution.
However, simplicity also means that there is not much creative control over what you can achieve. Also, it is not scalable and hence suited for those who merely wish to have a presence online but are not looking at turning it into a major revenue stream.
Jimdo is simple to set up website builder that is not perfectly tuned for use by those who want a portfolio site.
If you want to test the waters, then Jimdo is perfect for you. Creative people are not very technologically adept and might wish to try out their presence on the internet for a year. Jimdo is perfect for that purpose.
If you want to make a splash and go places with the site that you build using Jimdo, you would not be very happy with the result.
It is far too elementary for anything more than a simple perch on the internet.
However, since Jimdo has been built keeping the needs of both creatives and e-commerce in mind, it does help if you want to have a small online niche store selling your work.
There are not too many easy to use e-commerce site builders out there, and Jimdo is a rare example that really works well in this regard.
Webnode has over 25 million active users, so they have to be doing something right. The core strength of the site is that it supports several languages, 20 to be precise. If you want a multilingual website, there is no better way to do it.
It is attractive due to the easily affordable plans and the drag and drop function that makes it possible to launch a simple website in a matter of hours. The collection of themes is slightly limited, but you can host an unlimited number of pages.
There is free backup and restore, and customer care is responsive to queries by chat. Like most website builders, it offers a freemium model, and the paid version starts at about $4 per month.
The number of native apps and widgets is quite restricted, but with the help of HTML editor, you can impose a great many applications. Sadly this means many who do not know about web designing would need to hire a professional.
Duda is a stylish website builder for portfolio, no questions about it. If you want a beautiful portfolio website, then Duda can get the job done with aplomb.
Well, it is a little expensive, but that means you have access to almost 100 exquisite templates.
If you want an elegant site, Duda is the way forward, but you have to put in a little thought beforehand about the theme you would like to choose. Though exceptional, the themes are not terribly adaptive and don’t allow you to have much control over the position of the various page elements.
What else do you get –
- It is available with support for over 40 languages
- It is fully capable of e-commerce
- There is a blog feature
- Excellent display on mobile screens
Besides, Duda has plenty of widgets that can be used for adding contact forms, surveys, allow pop-ups. You can even design your own widgets and plug them in.
Though clutter-free and easy to use, it is quite expensive, with the basic plan priced at $14 per month.
Squarespace is the builder of choice for those who want to showcase their creative work. The platform is sophisticated, and you can tell at a glance that the template designs are the product of hundreds of man-hours of work.
If you want your photography portfolio or stylist portfolio website to have looks that can kill, go for Squarespace without any hesitation.
The drawback is that there is a price for this exclusivity. Unlike the other builders, there is no freemium model.
You can choose from about 120 highly responsive templates that are optimized for every type of screen.
If you want a captivating blog to be one of the main attractions of your site Squarespace is perfect for your needs.
But the top feature has to be that you can switch between templates at will without fear of losing any of the content. This lets you change the looks of your website in a few hours and relaunch it with a new charisma.
Does it have any cons? Only one that we could discover. The menu is only one layer deep. Thus you have to put quite a lot of hard work into the website hierarchy design to get it to look and behave the way you want.
Elementor is a not a website builder per se but a WordPress plugin that is a page builder. So it is best to think of it as something that sits atop a WordPress site.
What is a page builder plugin? It is a tool so that those who are not used to HTML can quickly build a site using WP.
With close to a million downloads, this is a versatile and state of the art drag and drop editor. It allows you to modify the pages with little effort minutely and works with over 300 WP page templates.
Elementor also has a huge collection of apps from image carousels to buttons and contact forms.
It is an easy to use website builder that can be easily customized to create the most excellent website that you can imagine.
The platform has hundreds of fantastic templates to get you started. You can tweak them if you know HTML.
You have to configure the basic home page structure and then add content. There are plenty of new innovations that include a native app for analysis of metrics.
Other premium features include lead generation tools and mobile optimization.
Strikingly has a simple approach to portfolio websites. It offers a one-page layout that can be easily set up in an hour or two.
If you want advanced features such as email marketing and cart management, then Strikingly can’t provide it.
What it can deliver is a lightweight and competent website that displays your work effortlessly.
If you are phobic about technology, then Strikingly is ideal for you.
Best Online Portfolio Websites
You could also take the simpler route of using existing portfolio website that act as aggregators.
Behance is probably the most well-known portfolio website. It attracts thousands of creatives and artists who use it as a platform to show their work.
You can sign up for free and upload your work. It specializes in the display of UX/UI designs, and you can invite others to collaborate on your project.
Behance is a great source for finding new clients.
Adobe only builds top-notch products. Adobe Portfolio is no exception and using it, you get to create a free portfolio website in a matter of hours.
It can be used to make a gallery for any of the different creative fields – photography, UI design, architecture, artwork, etc.
You can sync photos from your Adobe Lightroom software at the click of a mouse. The drawback is you cannot integrate e-commerce into it.
Dribbble is almost identical to Behance. Just create a profile and share your best work in the field of UX design. There are numerous members, and you could carry out a conversation in virtual meeting rooms with several at a time.
There is also a very active blog community where you can share your ideas and be up to date with new developments.
Coroflot is gradually emerging as a third alternative to Dribbble and Behance. Though not as well known as its more famous siblings, it has attracted very talented people.
It is fascinating as it wants to become the place where most recruitment happens in the field of UI/UX design and is positioning itself as a type of job portal.
Portfoliobox is an online portfolio tool that allows a free or premium account for your graphic design portfolio. The free account will enable you to showcase 10 projects and up to 30 images for free.
It also allows you to browse superb templates that you can purchase and apply to your account.
What Will Be The Best Solution For Building Your Portfolio
There will be a unanimous agreement that Squarespace is the best possible builder for a portfolio website. The sole reason is that it has been designed, keeping in mind the specific need for creatives. It lays great emphasis on visual appeal. In one word, it is beautiful and efficient at what it does.
Our next choice is Wix. Wix is the next best alternative to WordPress and is continually improving. It is also priced very reasonably and offers a free site under the Wix domain. You could migrate this to a paid plan with all the bells and whistles like backup, 24×7 chat, tech support with a monthly plan that is priced as low as $8.