Note: The strategies I discuss today are shown in much greater detail my top-rated course How to Get a Job in Web Development. Now available as an ebook, Kindle, paperback, book + video bundle and Udemy course!
It’s easy to feel self-doubt over your web developer portfolio website, especially when you start getting deep into analyzing your work. Consider these self-doubting quips that may have popped into your head as a web developer seeking a job:
“Do companies even want to see my portfolio? All the ones I see online are so much better.”
“A million other people have online portfolios; I’m just another drop in the bucket.”
“I don’t even know where to start.”
These are common concerns with developers. Fortunately, they can be resolved using some creative thinking and problem-solving techniques. In today’s post, we’re going over five strategies to supercharge your web developer portfolio so you start overcoming your self-doubt while motivating companies to call you in for an interview.
First, let’s briefly explore the basic mechanics of the portfolio itself.
There’s no recommended or standardized platform for web developer portfolios – you can code something from scratch; use CSS frameworks like Bootstrap or Skeleton; customize (or create) a WordPress theme; you can even use something like a static site generator such as Jekyll or Gatsby.
The Five Strategies
Your portfolio site is a project in itself so if you choose a pre-built theme, give it some customization. This is also a learning experience so it’s fine if it takes you a few weeks to get it up and running. A good first step to creating your web developer portfolio is to assess the needs of your user.
1.Like all users, employers want the site to be fast. Select a reputable web hosting provider and choose a tech stack that isn’t tarnished with slow performance. Compress images. If you’re using WordPress, use the absolute bare essentials for plugins.
2. Employers are looking at many portfolios so remind them who created yours. You could arrange your name and title (frontend developer, etc.) somewhere on the header or have a hero image with some text. You’ll also want to include a contact form. Test this feature before going live to ensure messages are getting to you.
3. Make your navigation simple. Some developers use a one-page design that starts with an introduction, transitions into a skills section, then sails into their portfolio. This way, the developer efficiently controls the flow of information.
4. Themes save time and lead to better user experiences. A Google search will provide results for free options for whatever platform you choose. Themes, and especially WordPress themes, often have the benefit of being responsive and multiple-browser supported right out of the box. While you’ll still want to do some testing, you don’t have to worry about investing days of your time creating and troubleshooting separate experiences for users. Tweak the theme to match your style and contents of your portfolio. For example, do most of your projects consist of monochromatic color choices and minimalist layouts? Stick to that convention when implementing a theme. . .Consistency is key.
5. Your domain name should be easy to remember and spell. It’s OK to be creative, but it’s important that you make your site as accessible as possible for the many strangers who will be checking out your site. There are many situations where employers are typing your domain name into the URL bar rather than clicking on a link, and things are easy to get lost in translation. What’s worse that a “The Site Can’t Be Reached” error in this situation? Not much!
In other words:
There are dozens of elements that contribute to your success as a candidate. Fortunately, the vast majority of them all come down to getting organized, including organizing your web developer portfolio website.
As a self-taught developer who followed these steps to secure my first full-time enterprise job at a fast-moving data company, I can confidently say that employers notice when your portfolio is a cut above the rest. Make a good first impression (and second, and third) and follow these five methods for putting your web developer portfolio ahead of the pack. Don’t get lost in the shuffle!