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Aug 24 2017
by Ciara Freeman

A Guide to Designing an Online Portfolio

By Ciara Freeman - Aug 24 2017
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Online portfolios have become the latest trend in the millennial career-building world. They are a one-stop shop for young professionals to showcase their job experience and work samples, and an ideal platform for recruiters to learn more about their potential job candidates. Think of an online portfolio as the more unique and fun version of a standard resume.

Through these websites, users are able to completely customize and provide more detail into their lives, which creates more of a personalized feel. Since there are numerous services and domain hosts to choose from, this article serves as a step-by-step guide to selecting the best resources for creating the perfect online portfolio.

1. Choosing a host site.

Squarespace

When I asked around about resources for designing my own online portfolio, the most popular recommendations were always one of these four: Weebly, Wix, Squarespace or WordPress. Each has their own plans, templates, prices and domains, but I found that Weebly worked best for my needs because of its ease of use and simplicity. Below is a quick rundown of aspects of each website.

Weebly - Offered free without a domain name (.weebly.com), many templates available, very user-friendly and features an easy drag and drop site builder. However, there are limited customization options.

Wix - Offered free without a domain name (.wix.com), features an easy drag and drop site builder, professional design and great online support. The only con is it offers fewer designs than other sites, and it can be difficult to switch templates.

Squarespace - Very easy to use, modern design templates, clean and simple layout and great support from site builders. However, it is not offered free (free trial only), and it is almost too simple of a site to include many written details and still be visually appealing (it is best for photography).

WordPress - Tons of flexibility and options with plugins, thousands of themes available and lots of user support, but it is not offered free and can be difficult to navigate (must have basic coding skills).

2. Select a template and begin designing.

Weebly

The remainder of this guide will be featuring aspects of Weebly's website features, although the process of selecting a template will be nearly the same for any portfolio building website. After choosing your site's host, the next step is to choose a template that works best for your vision of your portfolio. Although there are several to choose from, try to pick one you love and stay with it because switching templates can be a pain.

3. Add in your own information.

Weebly

This is the part where you can really let your creativity run wild. On the homepage of my portfolio, I have a quick summary of my career goals, a recent headshot and a running blog of my articles from Fresh U! The tools listed under Weebly's "basic" column allow users to add in titles, text, images, buttons and more. Users can alter the structure of the site by adding sections, dividers and spacers. Media such as videos and audio can also be used in your portfolio.

The tabs that I've added at the top of my website include: Home, My Story, Experience, Work Samples and Contact. Feel free to add your own tabs and edit what you wish to include under these headings. Don't forget to include links to your social media!

Weebly

4. Accumulate samples of your work.

Weebly

While you are working at a job or internship, make sure that you are able to garner samples of your work to add to your online portfolio. I interned for a PR firm and had samples of my written press releases, media alerts and flyers to display. If you don't have any of your work, ask your boss if they are able to send you a copy.

Weebly

I also listed the contents of my resume along with the logos of the companies that I've worked with. This adds a touch of credibility and authenticity.

5. Don't forget a contact page!

Weebly

Perhaps the most important page on your portfolio site is your contact page. This is necessary for companies to be able to reach out to you regarding opportunities. Adding a nice photo of yourself is a great way to make this page feel more inviting.

6. Consider purchasing your own domain name.

Weebly

In order to have a website without the Weebly tagline included at the end (e.g., ciarafreeman.com vs. ciarafreeman.weebly.com), you will need to purchase a year of free domain. On Weebly, the pro package seems to be the best value, as it includes features such as site search, video backgrounds and password protection with your free domain name. Valued at $12 per month for a total of $144.00, this is not a bad option for those with a bit of extra cash who want to take their site to the next level.

7. Publish and send off your finished site!

Weebly

No one will be able to search for your website if it isn't published yet! Once you've completed everything and have double-checked your online portfolio for any potential errors, be sure to click on "publish." The best places to feature the link to your online portfolio include your LinkedIn page, in the signature of your email and in Facebook/Instagram/Twitter bios.

And there you have it! Congratulations on taking the next step to ultimate professionalism and on the dedication to your career. Companies will admire a well-created online portfolio, and simply having one is almost a guaranteed stand-out. This website could get you an interview and help you land that next amazing job!

Feel free to check out my online portfolio as a reference: ciarafreeman.weebly.com.

Lead Image Credit: Weebly

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Ciara Freeman - Loyola Marymount University

Ciara Freeman is a Staff Writer/Campus News Correspondent and sophomore at Loyola Marymount University pursuing a major in Communication Studies and a minor in Journalism. She is a passionate student, world traveler, global citizen and foodie. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, acting and practicing yoga. Follow her on Instagram: @ciarafreeman_!

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