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09.09.2015Decisions! Decisions! What to put into a designer portfolio
The portfolio - your edited collection of work that is meant to showcase your skills and style for the world to see. In best case it contains work that you think is awesome or important. The keyword that is often neglected when putting together a portfolio is "edited". I have spent many hours with fellow visual creators discussing portfolio sizes and formats.
Personally I think the editing bit is just as important as the work itself. Why? Just take an honest look at your own attention span. Say you stumble upon a photography portfolio online. How many viewed pictures does it take for you to:a. think "Not my cuppa tea.", move on and never think about the photographer again
b. fall in love and bookmark the site in your "awesome photography" folder25 pictures? 10? 5? For me it's around 10. After that I get clumsy and might flick trough a few more pictures while thinking about where I'll be heading for lunch. What gets me really excited however, is when I am viewing a portfolio, arrive at the end of the picture stream and am disappointed that it's over so soon. The magic number that does this for me is around 10 (+/- 2). And when showcasing your work online isn't this exactly what you want to achieve? To exciting people but keep them interested enough that they are willing to come back or invite you in to get to know you?
Keep them guessingBefore ending up working as an online art director and a UX designer I studied what was my true passion: film. During my studies I worked on two feature-length documentaries that I did nearly everything on from writing to post-pro and which's productions I approached in a very dogma way. While photographing the film it is easy to fall in love with every little detail in the pictures such as visual coincidences and light reflections. However when viewing the raw footage this love starts to die off after about 37 hours of staring at a screen and transcribing. This is not because the job is tiresome or boring but because you start to realize that the time frame you have to:- lure in the viewer and get him interested
- get the story told that the writer of the movie (in this case: also you) wants to get toldis very limited and endless loops of pretty waves reflecting in the sunset shot on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday because "The light was different EVERY SINGLE DAY & the world MUST see this beauty!" aren't really helping your story. This is why film editors are so important. During the editing process you try to identify the essence of what the scene is supposed to express, the essence of what you want your viewers to understand and know about. If done well you can happily enjoy the finalized scene even though you know that there are many more pretty pictures and interview bits lying around on the cutting room floor. It's a painful process at first but when you see what can become visible after the edit you know you are on the right path.This experience has actually helped me with many decisions and one was how to design my portfolio. My current site has a tag menu. I chose this type of menu with three different client types and user stories in mind.
Advertisement agenciesoften book me for projects based on previous work in similar fields that I have done and that are now part of my portfolio. Creatives working in large advertisement companies often specialize and work solely for a single client, their products and therefor specialize in an area of business. These clients will take a closer look at the business area tags provided in the portfolio.
Small and mid-sizes businessesare on the lookout for freelancers or small businesses that can create whatever they need for an affordable price. These businesses are looking for someone who can make "websites" or a "mobile app" or whatever it is they need and those are the words they will be looking for.
Developer companies, new-media agenciesand other businesses that basically work in the same area I work in, are on the lookout for freelancers or small businesses that can get certain tasks of a process done that they know a lot about. They will be the users that can distinguish between tags such as "ui design" and "user experience". The menu lets all three user groups sort the whole portfolio in a way that only shows content relevant to them. This has nothing to do with film editing. This is interactive media editing also known as user experience design but it allows me to show more than 10 pieces of work. I knew I needed to do this because I am lucky to have a very diverse client base. The film editing bit comes in when I have finalized a project and now must decide if it should go into my portfolio or if it will end up on the cutting room floor.
Brewing the essence punch
As Miss Moss and as a Geekette I work on many more project throughout the year then the ones that can be seen on my portfolio site. This is simply because not every project makes it into the portfolio. There are several reasons for that.