Podcast Episode

339 – How to Build a Portfolio Website


Is there a plugin for that?

With more than 50,000 plugins in the WordPress repository, it’s hard to find the perfect one. Each week, I will highlight an interesting plugin form the repository.

For more great plugins, download my 50 Most Useful Plugins eBook.

Country Content Controller allows a website owner the ability to hide/show divs to specific countries. This is done through the use of shortcodes on the specific page you want the content hidden.

How to Build a Portfolio Website

There are four common goals for a portfolio website. Once you figure out which you’re trying to accomplish, the better your chances are of creating something that actually achieves it. These common goals include:

  • Trying to get a job
  • Sales/lead generation
  • Reputation/brand building
  • Networking/building a community

A portfolio website should:

  • Showcase your work.
  • Be focused.
  • Be targeted.
  • Have Straightforward navigation.
  • Include a request a quote area.

Some portfolio plugins:

Thank You!

Thank you to those who use my affiliate links. As you know I make a small commission when someone uses my link and I want to say thank you to the following people. For all my recommended resources, go to my Resources Page

Full Transcript

Business Transcription is provided by GMR Transcription.

On today’s episode, we are going to talk about how to build a portfolio website right here on Your Website Engineer podcast episode number 339.

Hello everybody. Welcome back to another episode of Your Website Engineer podcast. My name is Dustin Hartzler, and today we’re wrapping up the series on how to build certain types of websites, and we’re going to look at how to build a portfolio website. Before we do that, let’s dive into some announcements and look at a plugin for the week.

The first thing I want to talk about this week is WordPress is now 14 years old. It’s been 14 years since the very first release of WordPress, and it’s 14 years in, and Matt Mullenweg says he’s waking up every day excited and looking forward to seeing what’s coming next. The progress of the editor, WPCLI, this year has been awesome so far, and he’s looking forward to a lot of new improvements with customizations and the rest API. So, this journey started 14 years ago. It’s hard to believe even trying to think back what I was doing 14 years ago. I was just starting college and not knowing really a lot about computers, or even websites, to be precise, and it’s crazy this journey that we’re on and so much that we’re learning and so many cool new things, especially with the next announcement, which is WordPress 4.8 is now in release candidate state.

So, that means that Word Press 4.8 is done. There’s going to be no more enhancements or features added. But they’re looking through the code and making sure that there are no bugs and just trying to find out anything that may be going wrong. If you run – anyone in the betas, definitely update to the latest version of the release candidate. We may have one or two of these release candidate versions before WordPress 4.8 ships, and so, that should be next month, very, very soon. Thursday June 8th is the day that they’re looking to ship that, so, that’s just a week or so from the release of this podcast. So, that’s announcement number two.

Announcement number three is an article put together by the folks over at Automatic, and it’s called May The Bot Be With You: How algorithms are supporting happiness at WordPress.Com. It’s a really neat article on how they’re starting to use machine learning and natural language processing to try to help happiness engineers respond to support questions more quickly and more thoroughly. So, it’s a really great article if you’re interested in that and some of the technology that we’re using. This very well could be some of the things that they’re doing even on my team inside of Automatic. But since I’m still on paternity leave, I have no idea what’s going on over there. I’ve taken essentially 12 weeks off and spending time with my new baby and the rest of my family, so, I’ve just got a couple more weeks before I head back and am full-time back at work.

Another announcement that I want to share with you today is an article that I found that’s got ten advanced WCPLI tricks. So, if you are somebody that’s interested in using WPCLI and you want to know some advanced tips or tricks, then definitely check out this article. It talks about how you could update WCPLI, how you can test different plugins or you could test different things. So, there’s ten specific WCPLI tricks that you may not know of that you can definitely check out.

And the last thing that I want to share today is the software package Local by Flywheel. It is not a competitor but an alternative to Desktop Server, and it’s a way that you can run websites locally on your own computer. It got a brand-new fresh refresh in the UI. There’s new fonts, new colors, and the step-by-step process to create new sites is just much, much easier. And a lot of the features are in the same spots, they’re just redesigned. It gives a little bit more of the Flywheel flair, if you will. So, that’s been built in. And then they also have the preferred setup does the components of PHP 5.6 and MySQL 5.6. And so, it’s using a newer version. Then they’ve de-continued some of the older versions of PHP and older versions of MySQL just to make the package just a little bit smaller and a little bit better optimized for the web these days. That is something to update if you are using Local by Flywheel as well.

That’s all the announcements that are happening in the WordPress space this week.

In the Is There a Plugin For That section of the show this week, I wanted to share one called Country Content Controller, or CCC, and this is a plugin that will allow a website owner to hide or show specific areas of their website based on specific countries. This is done through a short code, and it’s using the API from IP-API.Com to find the user’s country. If you want to hide something, maybe it’s part of your store is only accessible to people from the United States, then you could definitely use this plugin to restrict that content to people only in that area. It works very similar to the premium plugin like Restrict Content Pro where that restricts content based on the access level that you’ve paid for, but this will restrict access based on the country that people are viewing this from. So, if you need some sort of feature like this on your website, definitely check out Country Content Controller, and you can find more over at the show notes for episode number 339.

Moving on to the main part of the show today, we’re going to talk about how to build a website. We’ve talked about in the past how to build a podcasting website, how to build an e-commerce website, how to do a business website, how to do an e-learning website, and today, to wrap up the month, we’re going to talk about how to build a portfolio website. And this is a topic because a lot of people have these websites that – they need a website to showcase their work, showcase some of the things that they’re capable of. Maybe they are looking to try to get a job or maybe they’re looking to generate some sales or have a lead generation mechanism or a tool. They want to look for reputation. Maybe they want to do a brand, they’re trying to build their own brand. Maybe they’re just trying to network or build a community. There’s lots of reasons why you’d want to have a portfolio.

But I think it’s crucial to set one of these up, especially – I see a lot of people doing a portfolio-type site on their name dot com. So, DustinHartzler.Com could be a perfect place for a portfolio. It could showcase some of my work. I know at one point when I was building my website DustinHartzler.Com, I put in the different podcasts that I was working on, different websites that I had started. At this point in my career, I’d already transitioned to Automatic, so, I wasn’t putting website content or websites that I’d created, but I created part of HartzlerDigitalMedia.Com. I took that website and I started to create, okay, here’s some of the websites that I’ve built, screenshots of them, and a little bit about the project to kind of highlight, here’s what we did. Here’s how we can make – it was trying to drum up business essentially.

So, that’s what portfolios are all about. They’re just trying to highlight and talk about and share, okay, this is what I’m capable of doing technically, or maybe if you are building widgets or something, you could show different widgets. These are the things I did. Or if you’re a homebuilder, you could show off different houses, or if you’re a remodeler, you can show off these bathrooms that you remodeled. The whole purpose of building a portfolio is essentially showcasing what you can do.

The first step is trying to define your portfolio’s purpose. The big thing is you want to figure out, okay, why am I building this? Do you want to – are you building it to try to get a job, or to get more clients? Is that the main thing? Are you trying to build this because you want more sales or generation – are you trying to build a business that people are coming to your website to buy things? Do you want to build this portfolio because you have all these books that you’ve written online, or are you trying to build your reputation so you can maybe get a job at a big company? That’s another thing you can do. Are you trying to build a community? Are you trying to be a thought leader? Are you trying to be somebody that people come to and have respect for you in the online community because of the fact that you can highlight whatever skills that you may have on your website. Your website, your portfolio website can actually have all of these as part of your goal to build this online brand online.

Portfolio websites can do a lot when it comes to landing new jobs or attracting attention for potential clients. And there’s a few key characteristics that each of these websites need to have. The first one that you want to think about is it showcases your work. It probably goes without saying, but the best portfolio websites actively show off your work in a way that builds interest in you and your services. You’ll be surprised with how many people build a portfolio that doesn’t – it fails to complete this step, not because people forget to upload the work, but it happens that the owner doesn’t choose the right layout or navigation or other details that distract it from being viewed. Your work should do the talking and should be fairly current for the most part. I know this was the hardest part for me. I’d finish a project, I’d move on to the next one, and I never add that to my portfolio. You want to just make sure that you’re always adding new content there to highlight and showcase what work you can do.

Another thing you want to think about is the website and the portfolio needs to be focused. You don’t need to include every piece of work, but you want to start with the best ones that you have. Be very selective about the space. It’s supposed to be the best representation of you and your work. Think about it. Maybe if you were getting ready for a graduation party – and this is something we do in the United States – when somebody graduates from high school or college, they do a lot of things to kind of showcase their schooling. I was just to one this weekend, and the girl had some of her recognitions, some of her trophies and some of the stats that she had broken at the school for basketball and some of her best work. You’re trying to find all of the best pieces that are going to highlight and showcase, okay, this is, in a nutshell, this is who I am. This is – these are all of the things that make up who I am. It’s very, very focused.

Along with being focused, it needs to be targeted. And it needs to target your current audience or the audience that you’re trying to attract. Since you know the goal of what you want to attract with your portfolio, whether it be new jobs, you want to get a new job, or as an outside company, you know you want to be hired by this company, or you want to take on more clients or whatever your goal is, you are going to target it specific to that. You’re going to use that to kind of build the framework of building this portfolio.
You want to make it easy to navigate. The ones that I found that work best are very intuitive and they’re easy to use navigation. And I’ve seen them that are targeted by – they’re targeted and easily to be filtered. I’m thinking of a website, maybe you’re a website person – website person. Maybe you like to write code or you’re building websites for people, and you’ve got a section on your website for a portfolio, and maybe some of them are tagged like, brand new website, and some of them are tagged remodel, or some are tagged built a plugin, themes, whatever. So, people can filter and see, okay, he’s built these six custom themes. Maybe these three plugins were custom made. Things like that. Just to allow people to navigate and see the types of work and kind of highlight and filter by what they’re actually looking for. So, that’s another thing.

And then the last piece of this website, you need to be able to have potential visitors or potential customers request a quote. They need to have some sort of contact information. How else do you expect to land a new client if nobody can contact you? If somebody has to poke around on your site for a long time to find an email address or a contact form, then you’re not doing any favors. So, you create a dedicated contact page that displays all of your relevant details, including your social media links. That is kind of the last piece of the puzzle when it comes to the website.

Now, you may be thinking, okay, how can I add this portfolio section? And there’s dozens upon dozens of plugins out there. I’ll mention a few here, but you can find a lot in just a quick search on the Word Press repository. But you’ll need a plugin or you’ll need a theme. But if you’re already using a theme, then the best option is to just go ahead and pick up a plugin to do this. So, there’s one out there called Portfolio, and it is an option for putting your work on display. You can create a dedicated page for your portfolio. It adds a custom post type to do this, and each project allows you to add details along with a short description or a long description, URL, screenshots, and a date of completion. You can change the number of images that are displayed, and each row will also enable or disable the display of additional fields.

There’s one called WP Portfolio. It stands for Word Press Portfolio plugin, and this one’s useful because you just insert short code wherever you want it to appear, and it’s perfect for web designers as you can create thumbnails of the websites you worked on, and you have full customization through HTML and CSS to use a custom image rather than a thumbnail, which is nice.
There’s one called Nimble Portfolio, and it is highly versatile and it can be used to display images, videos, and other media on a webpage. It can easily be customized to display photography, logos, screenshots, videos, or anything else related to your work. It has those J-query sort filters, so, you can easily group and categorize each portfolio item. And it also comes with a pretty photo light box that’s responsive, and it builds right into your theme. So, that’s another one.

Again, there’s dozens and dozens of these out there. The other route or the other option if you’re starting from scratch and you’re trying to build a portfolio website then is just to pick a WordPress theme that’s all dedicated to building a portfolio. And they come in a wide variety of styles, and some are free, some are premium, and you can look at lots of options. And this is another thing – I’m not going to mention a whole lot of them here – the Divi theme is one by Elegant Themes. There are just tons of them. If you just search for portfolio WordPress theme, you’re going to find a lot. And essentially there are a lot of pictures. They’re a lot of grid gallery type layouts. And they’re just built for highlighting and showcasing your work.

Those are a couple of things to think about when building this portfolio website. I think it is highly encouraged, especially if you are trying to build that brand, if you are an online entrepreneur, if you’re just trying to make a name for yourself online, then definitely showcasing and highlighting some of your work is a great way to go. Like I said, there’s tons of plugins that you can use. There are lots of different themes if you’re starting from scratch. And it’s just a great way to just highlight and emphasize all the work that you can do.

And you can even use this if you don’t have any need for it right now. Like, if you have plenty of business and you don’t have time for new clients, maybe you just start building this on the side so someday, if your plans change, you can go ahead and you can quickly move or adapt. I’m thinking maybe two years down the road, maybe you want to quit your company or quit your business or quit whatever you’re doing, and you want to move on to another phase of life. And if you’ve been doing this over the years, you know, keeping samples and pictures of what you’ve worked on, then it’s going to be much easier to build that kind of an online resume to send out to potential customers or clients, or even companies that you may be looking into hiring out.

That’s what I want to share with you this week on how to create an online portfolio website using Word Press. Again, you can start with either a plugin add to your current site, or you can start fresh, start brand new, and then find a theme that’s got a portfolio section built right in. If you depend to go that route, just know in the future, if you move away from that theme and all of the portfolio stuff is built into the theme, then there’s a good chance that it’s going to be a big pain to move themes in the future, because you’d have to – if the portfolio section is built into the theme, then when you change themes, then all of that is gone and hidden, and then you’ll have to do some customizations to get it all back. So, think about that as well. If you know it’s always going to be a portfolio website, then you can go ahead that route. Head down and find a great portfolio theme. Again, a quick Google search will yield you hundreds and hundreds of free and premium plugins.

That’s what I wanted to share with you this week. And next week, we’re going to talk about – we’re going to go into some advanced WordPress things, and that’s what we’re going to talk about in the month of June. And until then, take care, and we’ll talk again soon. Bye-bye.

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