Should Designers Have Behance OR Portfolios Made From Scratch?

Feb 2, 2012 by Shaun Smylski

I’ve given up on having my own hosted portfolio with a personal domain name because of the hassle of updating. I’m even considering that my personal blog I run would be sufficient as Wordpress, but alas, the contribution that it gives to SEO is wonderful, so I’ll keep it. Otherwise, having my own domain on a Wordpress would have just been as good for SEO—if, that is where I went to from the start. If this is all true, then I must ask myself:

“What are the benefits of having your own hand tailored Portfolio anyways?”

Especially when there are so many services that will host your work without the hassle of building/commissioning your own.

Designers have argued loudly that portfolio sites, such as Behance, do not allow personal touches that make your portfolio unique. This argument can now be invalid as Behance offers ‘Pro’ services for $11 monthly, allowing great creative freedom.

That being said, I don’t have an account. I also don’t know if you can add your own code and knick-knacks to make this boat really fly and function like a multi-purpose Gundam. Much like you could if you were a developing whiz kid. Perhaps Pro offers enough without that ability?

Behance ProSite created by Liquit

Is it better to have your own portfolio for SEO?

Basic indexing still requires Meta and Alt tags, but a lot of services don’t add them to your images and projects. Good SEO practice is evident in a handful hosting services, but not all. For example:

Images without alt tags:
Carbonmade, Viewboook (Uses flash that is useless for SEO), Behance, Behance Pro, DeviantArt and Cargo Collective.

Images with alt tags:
flickr, Dribbble, photoshelter, Krop*, Coroflot.

*Depends on the layout you’re choosing. Some use Flash and others I can’t be sure of.

Alt tags are just the tip of the SEO iceberg. Challenge yourself to find what good SEO practices each service provides. Otherwise it really does help to have a domain name registered. Not to mention your own hand build site can be SEO’d like a SOB.

Dribbble's Upload Form

Built from scratch portfolios NEVER update as often

This is a problem addressed by portfolio hosting websites. To update, just upload and describe; whereas complex CMS’s are more comprehensive and customizable. Uploading a single project is time consuming on heavier custom CMS’s. Is it worth it to be so customized? YES, but not if the regular consistency of updates is affected.

The good and bad of being in a community that hosts portfolios

You are your own unique brand, but hosting your work under Dribbble or flickr comes with their brand presence. How people associate flickr is how they will associate you if your account is with them. As soon as flickr lost its trend, so did the people using it and their own unique brand suffered as well. However, if the community you are associated to is on the up, so are you!. That is why everyone wants Dribbble; because of its good trending mojo. 

The lesson

Keep more than one portfolio. A professional one that is both optimized & comprehensive and at least another hosted by a service like Behance or flickr(my first choice) to stay regularly updated. I also take to Dribbble as it never hurts to go for more.

Shaun Smylski - Design Lead

Shaun Smylski is a UI/UX Designer, Brander, & Typographer. He also meditates on the way design affects thoughts, emotions, and behaviours.

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