Whether you’re a photographer who’s been in the game for decades or you’re launching a new graphic design studio with your pals fresh out of university, in today’s creative industries there isn’t much that’s more important than your online portfolio. It’s often the first thing a potential client comes into contact with and when you’re just starting out, it’s vital you grab the attention of any potential employers or collaborators. As your career develops, your website can become a space for you to flex your creative muscles, telling the world who you are as a practitioner, and what corner of the visual landscape you’ve claimed.
But what makes a good online portfolio? What is it that makes someone hover their cursor a little longer, keeps them scrolling or clicking through an image gallery? What will they remember months down the line when scanning their brains for the perfect creative for that big job? In order to try and figure this out, we got in touch with several creatives who do it right. From utilising sound, subverting the usual interaction of a website, and creating a portal into their own world, each of these creatives uses coding to elevate their work – and make sure they’re not easily forgotten.
Photographer, Alexander Coggin
London-based photographer Alexander Coggin’s work is typified by its high octane, spontaneous and often comical energy. So, when working with designer and developer Andrew McCarthy to create his portfolio, he wanted something which would mirror these sensibilities. “My work is pretty playful and really varied so I wanted to make sure I had a website that expanded on those vibes,” he tells us, as “content dictates form.”
As someone who doesn’t typically shoot in series, allowing his content to dictate how users could digest his work meant breaking from the traditional photographic website where work is presented per project. Alexander’s site, instead, opens with an animated gallery of single images before landing on an “overview page”. Here, users can scroll through his work, which appears at different sizes. “I also wanted the ability to show as many works in as short of a time as possible, for the visitor,” he adds, “I think my work sits best as one big body, so I really wanted to saturate the viewer.”
Through incorporating quirks that include text which follows your cursor and an “x” to close which spins on hover, Alexander’s site truly mirrors the vitality in his work; “the proper stage for [his] work to stand on.”
Animators, Ultra Studio
“For a lot of our clients, our website is often the first contact that they have with Ultra Studio, therefore it’s important that the site makes a good and lasting impression,” Ultra Studio explains, “the first thing that people want to know is who we have previously worked with and then what work we have created for them.” As a result, the animation studio opted for a straightforward, but slick, client list as a landing page when commissioning designer and developer Jake Dow-Smith to create its site. A list which automatically scrolls as you move your mouse up and down it, hovering on each client not only highlights that text but plays a preview of the project in the centre of the screen.
This decision forces visitors to engage directly with Ultra Studio’s work, placing it in front of them in a style which mirrors the studio’s output. “It was important that our website represented the work we create in an interesting and interactive way, in keeping with the look and feel of what we do,” it continues, “the list of clients on the home page instantly gives the user what they are looking for and enables us to showcase our work in an engaging way.”
Illustrator, Mariano Pascual
When it came to designing his website, Barcelona-based illustrator Mariano Pascual took the opportunity to create a playground where visitors would want to “spend time, discover things and be amazed”. As someone who often uses Instagram to establish immediate contact, he wanted something that would make his work standout among the onslaught of image feeds.
“My website, in particular, is like entering my own computer, it is the experience of navigating in an operating system designed by me and with my own style,” Mariano explains of the interactive site he designed. Full of surprising effects, it wholly embodies Mariano’s work in a uniquely idiosyncratic way. Designed alongside Achos!, with development by Chanel Mepschen and animation by Tomas Picasso, working creatively with code allowed Mariano to make his site a “project in itself, not simply a platform”.
Designer and art director, Sandra Autukaite
For London-based designer and art director Sandra Autukaite, dictating how users interact with her work, as well as making sure her site represented her work visually, was of paramount importance. “I wanted to create a glimpse into who I am and what I do and encourage visitors to play around with the site, challenge them slightly,” she tells It’s Nice That, “as a creative I am excited about the endless possibilities of the web and I thought I should represent it with my own website.”
It was this latter idea which led to her creating a site that breaks free from the usual scroll or image carousel. Instead, visitors can choose the speed at which they see her work, placing images anywhere on the screen via a click, a decision which immediately prompts engagement. “Creating with code can bring the wildest ideas into life – there is no template to follow, you can create literarily anything. Starting from scratch can be daunting but the creative freedom it offers is close to limitless,” she adds.
Based on this belief, Sandra chose to take one of SuperHi’s coding courses, wanting to have full control over the look and feel of her portfolio. “There is nothing more fulfilling than being able to make something work exactly how you envision it,” she reflects, “learning to code and building a website from scratch always seemed to be a huge challenge. In coding, learning never stops but at the beginning, I think it’s crucial to have someone to put you back on track when you feel stuck. SuperHi’s team has definitely done this for me and continue to support me in this journey.”
SuperHi’s go-at-your-own-pace online courses are designed for creatives and made for everyone. Whether you want to make an online portfolio that stands out or delve deeper into using code creatively, you can. SuperHi provides everything you need to create well-designed digital projects that you have full control over. Learn how to make beautiful websites, coded by you.