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Your portfolio will be a great advantage when you start looking for work in the web development industry and it is the best way to show an employer that you are a qualified person for a job.
However, if you do not know how to get the best out of your portfolio website, you will hardly be able to enjoy the benefits.
Here you will find 12 ways to optimize your entry-level web developer portfolio so that you can impact your clients and get work on good projects.
Basic Rules to Follow to Optimize Your Portfolio
Optimizing your portfolio is something very simple that you can achieve in a few steps. The important thing is that you take the time to carry out each recommendation.
Remember that all the effort you make will be rewarded and that you must also be patient to see the results.
Have Good Hosting and Domain
As a web developer, you will know that to have a functional website you not only need it to be responsive, easy to navigate, or other similar characteristics, but that the basis of everything is to have a good hosting that guarantees the proper functioning of your website.
In fact, many people decide to abandon a page immediately if it does not load quickly.
To give a good experience to those who visit your portfolio website, you can use Gatsby (a static site) this means that it is fast since it does not consult the database but it is also a site that is already rendered and ready for when the user needs it.
In other words, it is instantaneous.
You could also use WordPress since it is an open-source platform and offers many benefits for developers.
You could develop your own plugins or elements for your website, share them with the community, make yourself known, and spread your work. That would also help you gain experience and customers.
Another important aspect is having a professional domain. By having a domain with your own name or the name of your brand and ending in “.com”, it will give you much more credibility as a web developer and will make you look like a professional.
Probably few people will trust a web developer who does not have a web domain. To buy your domain you can use Namecheap, which offers you different options such as .com, .net, .org, and .biz.
Here are some recommendations for choosing your domain:
- Your name or brand should match the domain
- The domain name should be as short as possible
- Make sure that the name does not coincide with another previously registered trademark.
- Do not include any strange letters as well as hyphens or punctuation marks. Its reading should be as simple as possible.
Keep It Simple Yet Accurate
Before starting to create your portfolio, think about what style you want to give it. A good idea is to convey your style and identity as a web developer through the design of your website.
It is not necessary to recharge it with many things, just make sure to include what is necessary, what your clients should see: previous jobs, projects you have worked on, client testimonials, creative processes of the work you have done, among others.
It is also a good idea to include a short review of who you are, including studies you have done or degrees you have and of course your contact information.
If you wish you can also include your social networks. Avoid lengthy and unnecessary explanations. Get to the point and try to create a dynamic and visual portfolio, as recruiters will want to see your work in no time.
It is advisable that you divide your portfolio by areas and add a couple of examples of projects of each type, which will show that you are a versatile web developer capable of carrying out work in different professional areas.
Clients and companies look for quality rather than quantity of work, so do not overload your portfolio and choose the projects that convey the best professionalism.
Fast Loading Time
If there is something that Internet users value a lot, it is speed. It is not just the connection they have that matters. In many cases, if a website takes more or less time to load, it depends on external aspects.
If your page does not seem fast, your client will go to other options and instead of converting those visitors into potential clients, you will have delivered a bad customer experience.
When visiting your website, everyone will want to have a pleasant experience. If your page takes a long time to load, it will be a reason for visitors to give up exploring it.
If you guarantee that your website loads in less than 5 seconds, you will get 70% of visitors to spend more time on your page, which can translate into increasing the chances of customers hiring your services.
To guarantee a good loading speed you must take into account the hosting (have quality hosting).
But also the general optimization of the template that your website uses since a website that has a more optimized template will be lighter and will load faster, and use plugins to enable caching.
This means that if a visitor re-enters a site, the site will remember part of the content. This avoids having to download all the content again.
Build a Brand
A personal brand helps you establish yourself as a skilled professional in your field in a crowded market. It is a way to make sure your audience sees you the way you want them to see you and your business.
By building your personal brand and sharing it with your audience, your customer list will begin to grow. When you commit to your personal brand and start to expose yourself, you will discover that your ideal clients will start to find you.
Also, the people you want to work with will connect with your personality.
You will differentiate yourself from your competition by showing your aesthetics, your skills, and your business approach, and perhaps most importantly, you will begin to forge real connections with clients and other professionals.
By exposing your personal brand you will attract like-minded people, and that is an impulse for growth.
Tips for creating a brand
- Define your brand: Always keep in mind that your brand has a reason for being and is to contribute something to your audience. Define who you are, what you do, and what you offer.
- Choose a good name: It is the word with which you will be known. Avoid bad associations and be strategic with the name.
- Create a logo: The logo will be the synthesis of your whole brand. Therefore, try to make it attractive and precise with what you want to make your brand known.
- Set the difference: Identify the characteristics and benefits that make your brand different from the rest.
- Define your audience: It is vitally important to define a target audience because this will be the one to whom you will direct all your brand communication.
UX (User Experience) design focuses on improving the user experience. It is the user-oriented and focused design based on the emotions or feelings you have when visiting a website, intending to have a pleasant user experience.
The UI (User Interface) design is the interface that the user will see when accessing the web.
It focuses on adapting the UX design to the corporate identity of the brand. It is what allows the user to interact with the web page.
If the UX is focused on making the page useful and friendly, the UI is about making it attractive and visual.
It is useless to have the most visual page in the world if it does not satisfy the user’s needs. For this reason, UX design and UI design must always go hand in hand and making good use of UX and UI can positively benefit your website and the impact it causes on your customers.
This aspect is also important for when your website is visited from a mobile device. In fact, 40% of users may decide to leave the website they are visiting if it does not work well on their phones.
You must ensure that your portfolio website is responsive so that visitors have a good experience when visiting your page from their phone or tablet.
Tips to have a great UX/UI
- Keep things simple and familiar: Users are used to finding certain elements in the same place on each website. If you rearrange them, the user experience will be chaotic and uncomfortable for them.
- Ask for as little information as possible: There are websites that decide that to look at their content, users have to register. Filling in data or giving information such as email is something that worsens the experience because it involves dedicating time and effort. The fewer forms and data a person has to fill, the more enjoyable their user experience will be.
- Use nice colors: Your website should have colors that make it easy to read. A website with a black background and garish yellow letters is not the same as that same page with a white background and black letters.
- Check that your links work: If you have links to other sections of your website or to other pages, we must make sure from time to time that they work properly.
The design of your website must also have very well cared details. As a web developer, people will expect to see a nice website, that works perfectly or even sets a certain trend.
However, to have a good design it is not necessary to reload it with elements but to make sure that it fulfills its function: that people can navigate through it without problems, to see your work, and obtain information.
So, to have a good web page design you should take care of the following elements:
- Design: It is the way the graphics and text are organized. The goal is to help your visitors find the information they are looking for at a glance. This includes maintaining balance, consistency, and integrity of the design.
- Color: The choice of colors depends on the purpose of your web design and your visitors; it can be a simple black and white design or a multi-color web design. Your website should convey the personality of your brand but be easy on the eye.
- Typography: Using multiple fonts can improve the design of a website. Most web browsers can only read a specific number of fonts, known as “web-safe fonts”, that is, they are fonts that are displayed correctly in all browsers regardless of the version of Windows or Mac you are using. Make sure you choose a safe and legible font.
Users love to see high-resolution images, but many times that can affect the loading of your website.
The best thing you can do to avoid this problem is to optimize your images, which means reducing weight but maintaining a balance with the quality so that users can visit a website that works without problems but also has images with good resolution.
The problem is that when you reduce the size of the images, they usually lose quality. To avoid this, you can export your images in JPG format, using a program like Photoshop or a page like ImageResize.org.
If possible, do everything you can to improve the performance of your page but at the same time preserve the quality of the elements that are in it.
There are many people who are strictly visual and who only stop to read when there is an image that catches their attention.
Use this to your advantage and use high-resolution images to show the projects you have worked on, so you will attract the attention of the people who visit you.
Finding poor quality or pixelated images is something that will deduct professionalism and can ruin the user experience on your website.
What to Include as an Entry-level Web Developer’s Portfolio
If you want to make a good impression, especially in the professional aspect, you have to avoid leaving profile photos unfilled or adding avatars and cartoons.
In your portfolio website, the image of your profile will be part of your brand. For this reason, a good professional profile photo will be key.
You should not feel uncomfortable showing your face but you should see it as an improvement for your portfolio and brand. It is good to show what is the face that is behind all the incredible work that you do as a web developer and it is for several reasons.
Your personality is part of your brand and humanizing it will make customers understand that there is a person who does all the work, that you are not a robot.
Also, hiring people online can be a bit strange depending on the client, some may be very used to doing it but others not. Showing your face will make them feel confident and give you more credibility.
For your profile picture, you should keep in mind that it must be a photo that looks good. Look for a professional look or one that shows your personality but is still done with quality.
Wear appropriate clothing, do not include distracting elements in the image, try to use a white background, a single color background or even your workplace, as long as it looks neat and professional.
The important thing about this image is that your face is visible, so it is advisable to use a close-up instead of a photo instead of one where your full body is seen.
It may sound obvious to mention this, but the contact information section is a must. The objective of your entire portfolio website is that clients see your work so that they are interested in it and contact you.
If you forget to include this section, you will lose a great opportunity. Display your contact information in a place that is visible, that customers have no problem finding.
Evaluate very well the theme that you will use for your website and make sure it shows your information in a prominent part of the page.
You can also establish a link so that by clicking, people can contact you immediately through your email or an application such as WhatsApp or other social networks.
Personal Mission Statement
Your personal mission statement is something that will help you have a direction in your career as a web developer. This is to describe who you are and what motivates you.
It is a statement about the kind of web developer you want to become. The mission has to do with your values and everything that you consider important.
For example, here you will describe what your goal is when working as a web developer, why your clients should choose you, and what you want to offer them. To define your personal mission statement you can answer the following questions:
- What do you do?
- What is your business?
- What is your job?
- Who is your target audience?
- What is your geographical scope of action?
- What is your competitive advantage?
- What sets you apart from your competitors?
Up to Date Resume
Another area that cannot be missing from your portfolio website is to describe the relevant experiences you have had and the studies you have carried out.
As you start taking courses or studies on types of web development and programming languages, you can add that experience to your portfolio.
Although your projects are very important to convince employers, many place importance on academic and work experience. Here you can also include courses that you have taken (and consider taking courses constantly to stay relevant in the market).
However, you should be precise and clear. Remember that it is essential that you summarize your work and academic life in a simple, simple, and clear way.
Of course, you should also mention clients with whom you have worked or jobs that you have had and that are related to web development. Make sure that this area of your portfolio is always kept up to date since any study you do or experience you gain can help you get new jobs.
Showcase Your Best Projects
A beginner’s mistake is cluttering your portfolio website with all the projects you have done in your life. You should not do this because if you analyze it, you will realize that perhaps not all those jobs represent you as a web developer or that you are not satisfied with all the results.
Apart from showing your best work, you can also include case studies of your process, so your potential clients will notice how capable you are. Another idea is that if you specialize in a type of web development, Back-End, Front-End, or Full Stack, you can specify it but you can also add projects that you have done using another type of web development in which you are not an expert but you do have experience.
You can also include metrics that show how well the web pages you have developed work and links to web pages that customers can access immediately. Also, contributing to an open-source will make customers realize that you are an active person in the web developer community and that you are building a reputation.
Do Not Neglect The Details Because They Are Important
A well-done portfolio website can be what opens the doors for you to get more clients and generate an income using your skills. That is why it is important that you take the time to optimize it, that you take care of details such as having a good hosting and domain, a good design, and that you also build your own personal brand to look more professional and generate confidence, which will make you stand out among many other web developers.