What Makes a Good Portfolio Site:
Since I am an aspiring photographer, I am constantly looking through the portfolios of many photographers from many backgrounds. One of my favorite magazines has always been National Geographic and staff photographer Pete McBride has showcased numerous memorable photo galleries and videos throughout the years. Below is a screen shot of McBride’s home screen.
My first reaction to his website is that it is very clean, organized and easy to use. The large image in the middle rotates about every 4 seconds to reveal another recently added image. Having a slideshow right on your homepage allows viewers to quickly get a sense of your best and most recent work.
When you click on the ‘portfolios’ tab, the center image changes to display the first link under the portfolio section, which in this case is his most profound work of the Colorado River. When you hover a mouse over the main image, faint arrows appear that then allow the viewer to quickly and easily scroll through the album. There is also an option to view the entire gallery when you click in the middle if the viewer is in a rush or needs to quickly navigate to a certain photo. Under there is a ‘video’ tab that display McBride’s three most profound video pieces.
Under the video link, there is a ‘published’ link. I particularly found this link useful and a good example of what makes a good portfolio. All journalists feature their published work on their personal websites. However, most of the time they will include only the text or only the photo individually and say where and when it was published. McBride has full-size images of his published work, just as it appeared in National Geographic magazine. Not only does this look cleaner and more professional, but the viewer is getting to see the story just as it was intended to view. An example below:
Another aspect of his site that I liked was his logo. Although all portfolios display the author’s name, only some chose to include a name logo. I think having a logo is an important aspect to a portfolio because not only does it make you look more professional, but it can also play into the scheme of the website, as McBride did. His logo includes his initials in the same colors as the website giving it a very composed, polished look.
The main reason I chose McBride’s portfolio, however, was because it was mobile friendly. I went through a long list of journalists before I chose McBride, all of which had great portfolio sites, but either didn’t adjust properly or didn’t appear at all when I opened it on my iPhone. McBride’s site, pictured below, displayed his menu under his name/logo and then went into full screen mode when you click on an image. Next to the full size image is a small navigation tool that brings the viewer back to the menu when clicked. I think it is very important to make your portfolio website mobile-friendly since a lot of the time viewers will be looking at it on a phone for the first time.
What Makes a Good Project Site:
After spending a great deal of time looking for a good project website, I came across a News21 project put together by the 2011 “Powering a Nation” fellows at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The special report entitled, “Coal: A Love Story” took a deep look into what coal mining means for many Southerners.
The project site was arranged as an interactive film, something I have never really seen before. When you first arrive at the site, the first link to click is right below the title and says “start your experience.” When you click on this link, an introduction video appears opening up to the story. When the video is over, an arrow moves down the video pointing to the “next” button. The viewer keeps clicking the ‘next’ button after every video plays to navigate through each aspect of the video story. I thought this was an extremely interesting, engaging and easy way to lay out a video story.
Mixed in with the video story was additional links to useful and relevant information. For example, after a segment that provides the viewer with information on the rising price of coal mining, the segment that follows gives viewers a chance to calculate their coal use and to learn more about where it came from.
Each story that follows brings the viewer into a subsequent topic such as the story of a teen trying to speak out again pollution in Chicago. I feel that the way each story was placed played a role in telling the entire story. A lot of time must have went into placement of stories, graphics and interactives, and I think they did a great job since one leads to the other. The site is very easy to navigate and keeps the viewers involved and engaged, all of which are very important when putting together a project site.
Finally, I checked the website on my iPhone to see if the viewer would get the same experience from the interactive film while mobile. To my surprise the website appear exactly the same on my phone as it was on my computer screen. When the viewer clicks on the video it opens up directly on the page, then goes into video mode. When the video is over and the viewer clicks done, it brings the viewer right back to the video screen so they can click next to follow to the next segment. Essentially the site is equally as mobile-friendly and proves to be a great example of a project site.