5 tips for a killer WordPress portfolio

Show your best work

Let’s take a few minutes to talk about what makes a good WordPress portfolio. I started out with my own criteria for what makes a good portfolio website— which actually is getting easier to create and maintain with resources like WordPress Hosting from GoDaddy. However, I decided to also consult with some of my fellow designers and developers before finalizing the list.

What follows are (in our humble opinion) five essential tips for creating a killer WordPress portfolio.

1. Do show

Web designers and developers do a lot of back-end stuff with the code — the languages of the web — but many of our potential clients don’t usually “speak” HTML, CSS, JavaScript, jQuery and so on. We create content for visual consumption, so it only makes sense that our WordPress portfolio websites should contain content for consumption that way. Why tell a potential client what parallax does when you can create a short video and show them what it looks like?

Tell your 1,000-word stories through visuals.

 

Of course, there’s a place for text. But if you can say it with an image or video, then make that your first choice.

2. Don’t show off

In his post, How to make the most of your developer portfolio, Nathan Reimnitz advises us not to showcase everything we’ve ever done. Ariana Crisafulli echoed that same sentiment by advising, “Don’t overwhelm potential clients.”

High fives all around again. Now, let me give you my best advice.

 

Spotlight the projects you’ve completed that make you smile and think, that turned out really well (or better than I thought it would), when you look back at them. Or showcase projects that challenged you and now make you smile and think, I had no idea I was capable of this level of creativity (or expertise)!

If the concept of showcasing what makes you smile is too touchy-feely for your taste, then go with what makes you puff out and pound your chest. If you feel that way about every single project, then you have a difficult task ahead, my friend (unless you only have five or six completed projects to choose from).

WordPress Portfolio Standout
Use your portfolio website to call attention to the skills and successes that make you stand apart from your competition.
Photo: Ryan McGuire, Gratisography

3. Display competence

I’m going to assert there is a difference between showing off and showing competence. It’s OK to show potential clients you know what you’re doing. If you attended college or a university to get a degree in web design and development, your potential clients need to know.

Blog about what you know, and create a page to share your credentials.

If you’re not comfortable with the idea that you should make space to brag, as we’ve just read, then go with blogging. Conceal your competence in plain site by writing helpful and informative blog posts about web design and development, and sprinkle in little nuggets about the high-profile clients and companies you worked with in the past. You could also mention any certifications or awards you’ve garnered in your career.

Knowing you’re competent builds confidence with clients.

 

They want to know you know what you’re doing.

4. Share (and ask for) praise

This might seem to contradict Don’t show off, but posting testimonials is not showing off. Testimonials are praise you garner from clients who want others to know how great you are. It’s perfectly OK to accept and expect praise if you’re good enough to warrant it. Think about it — most people don’t offer accolades for mediocrity.

If you’re one of those absolutely fabulous designers or developers who doesn’t feel comfortable asking people for testimonials, I’d counter that you need to find a way to get comfortable with it! You don’t necessarily have to just come out and say, “Hey, give me a testimonial.” Here are some ideas:

  • Once the project is completed, send summary email and link a line in your signature to a page on your site and note that testimonials are welcome and appreciated.
  • Add a blurb to your final invoice letting clients know you’d appreciate their feedback about how well you brought their vision to life.
  • Hire a personal assistant who is willing to accept a fee for reaching out to your past clients on your behalf and asking for testimonials.

Proudly place those testimonials on your portfolio website and let potential clients see other people value you and your work.

5. Keep your WordPress portfolio up to date

You should check periodically to make sure sites you built for a clients are still live online and even look the way they did when you first designed them. Here are a few things, since starting in this industry in 1999, that I’ve run into:

  • Clients don’t understand hosting and domains, so they inadvertently allow them to expire.
  • Clients tinker around in the backend of their WordPress sites once you turn them over, and they’re too embarrassed to let you know they’ve done something they shouldn’t, or they don’t want to pay you to fix what they’ve messed up.
  • Clients aren’t honest about how they feel about your work, and might employ someone else shortly after you finish their site to redo it (ouch! but it happens).

No matter what caused the change, you don’t want screenshots and links to websites in your portfolio that don’t reflect favorably upon you. You also don’t want your WordPress portfolio website to eventually have an outdated appearance because you’ve been paying too much attention to your clients’ sites.

Check out what other developers are doing, which is a great way to find out what’s hot and what’s not. Also, do your due diligence and search the web for places where designers and developers hang out to weigh in on the latest trends.

What did we learn?

In this article, we talked about what makes a good WordPress portfolio, and I outlined five things you should do to make sure you have the best site you can muster:

  1. Make sure your WordPress portfolio is rich with images and video.
  2. Don’t clutter your design with examples of every project you’ve ever completed.
  3. Show potential clients you know what you’re doing by blogging or with a credentials page.
  4. Have a place for client testimonials on your site, and don’t be afraid to ask for testimonials.
  5. Keep the content and the design of your WordPress portfolio website up to date.

Some of you may have a little work to do to your WordPress portfolio websites after reading this article, so I encourage you to do it sooner rather than later. Goodness knows how much business you might be missing out on if you don’t have a top-notch portfolio website.

Need help with WordPress? Ask other GoDaddy users for help in the community.

Faydra Deon
Faydra Deon’s first computer was a Commodore 128, and she has been a web designer/developer since 1999. In addition to training others to create websites, Faydra has also taught social media, SEO and grammar classes since 2006. She has been using and training others to use WordPress since 2009. Faydra also teaches web design, graphic design and image editing at a local community college. Learn more at faydra.com and follow her on Twitter @faydra_deon.