The Importance of a Professional Portfolio / Personal Website

This entry was first published on wippp.com on August 31, 2019.

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What is a Professional Portfolio?

A professional portfolio is a collection of digital resources that showcase you and your achievements over time. In our digital age, virtually every aspect of our personal and professional work is online. A professional portfolio is a digital repository of your career.

Before developing an online portfolio—it is essential to designate the purpose its intended audience. The purpose of my site(jeffreytaekman.com) is to serve as a digital repository of my professional work, thoughts, lectures, and social media engagement.

Why are Professional Portfolios important?

Personal websites are bountiful resources for others to learn about your interests and accomplishments. Online portfolios open the door for employers, collaborators, and others to explore a curated collection of your goals and achievements. A traditional curriculum vitae often distills a complex project into a single line of text. An online portfolio, in contrast, offers a rich experience for the information seeker including background information, embedded multimedia, and links to other relevant materials.

Who needs an online Professional Portfolio?

In my opinion, everyone. A professional portfolio is a curated repository of your professional career, but if well done, it can also catch the interest of employers or sponsors interested in your work.

When should you develop your Portfolio?

One can never start early enough. Portfolios are increasingly common in undergraduate education as a platform for learning. Even if you've never had your own website, I would recommend starting your portfolio site as early in your career as possible. Soon, an online repository will be crucial component of your professional career in a digital world.

Developing an online professional portfolio is time-consuming, but well worth the investment. Set aside a chunk of time to establish your portfolio and then quarterly time blocks to keep it updated—no matter what stage you are in your professional career.

How to develop a Professional Portfolio

Choosing a domain

Although I've worked with Wordpress for many years, I decided to go with Squarespace for my portfolio because of its polished finish, its cross platform compatibility, and outstanding customer support. Squarespace is more expensive than Wordpress—the advantage of Squarespace is its professional look and its drop-dead ease of use. I've found the few times I've gotten stuck—their customer support has been outstanding.

The first step in developing your portfolio is to procure a domain. Claiming a domain is a simple process with Squarespace Domain Search as you merely type in your proposed domain name. If it's available, Squarespace tells you the annual cost to reserve the domain. If the domain you want is not available, it offers alternative suggestions.

Choosing a Template

Once you've reserved your domain, you can begin building your site right away using their 14-day free trial.

First, you must choose a template for the site. Squarespace has a broad range of templates to suit any need. Choose a template that looks professional, but also has a bit of personal flair. With Squarespace, you can try out multiple templates to see what you like. I recommend experimenting with quite a few and try to build a few pages. Often, although a template is attractive, you may find it will not serve your needs.

Developing Content

There is no accepted format for portfolio content. On jeffreytaekman.com, I chose to have a landing page with deeper links into the site as well as links to my social media profiles and blogs. Each person who finds your landing page will be looking for different information. Try and make it as easy as possible for the user to get to their point of interest in as few clicks as possible. I strongly recommend using a landing page that includes links to Twitter, LinkedIn, and your contact information.

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Using your Portfolio

I use my ePortfolio in a multitude of ways. A link to jeffreytaekman.com appears in my email, my vCard, and on Twitter and LinkedIn. Anyone who receives an email from me has the opportunity to explore my professional life with the click of a link. In addition, the site is indexed by search engines—thus driving traffic through search.

Squarespace has an analytics page on my Mac and an iOS app that offers insight into user behavior. From the app on my phone, I can see how many visitors are interested in each area of my site.

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