Choosing the right portfolio site for you

Photo by The City College First-Year Writing Program
By Maria Davison

So you want to build a personal portfolio site, but you're not sure where to begin? Picking the right platform to best showcase your work can seem like a daunting task, if only slightly less daunting than coding it yourself. But an outstanding online portfolio will help you out when it comes to applying for everything from your first internship to your dream job. The key is picking one that showcases your work at its best and makes it shine.

I asked a few ONA Mizzou Exec members and some other friends of ONA Mizzou to share the pros and cons of several common portfolio sites. Here's what they had to say:

By Emerald O’Brien

I decided to use instead of WordPress for my portfolio because WordPress didn't give me the freedom I needed to customize. You can customize most stuff on, HOWEVER, it's not very easy. The website is sort of sticky, so it might take you 20 minutes to figure out how to move a line. Also, the widgets aren't super easy. For example, I wanted a running list of my work samples on one of my pages, but rather than being able to just paste in a link and it would automatically add it to the page, I had to custom format the link, photo, headline and description of the piece. Maybe this is something you have to do on every site, but it seems to me there should be a better way.

By Ryan Levi

I like WordPress because it allows me to build something that looks clean and professional while knowing absolutely no code whatsoever. There are different templates that allow me to create a photo blog, a movie blog or a professional portfolio site all on the same platform, which is really nice. Those templates can also be limiting, though, because they don't always have what you picture your site to be in your mind.

The ease of use and the flexibility are the biggest things for me. It's relatively intuitive and it works for all different kinds of sites. And when I need to make a new site, it's super easy. There's no dread of having to start from scratch because the templates make it pretty easy.

Journo Portfolio
By Katy Mersmann

I chose Journo Portfolio at the recommendation of one of my professors (shoutout Judd Slivka). He'd found a few different portfolio sites that are built specifically for reporters and he told me to try them out and see what I liked. I eventually chose Journo Portfolio for a few reasons.

First of all, it seemed pretty easy to use. As a multimedia reporter, I also really liked the option of breaking up my portfolio by type of content. The site automatically generates the little boxes for each story, which you can add to or change, and they look totally natural with or without an image or intro text. The downside to breaking up the content is that if you're like me and work in one medium a lot more than the other, you end up with somewhat lopsided pages. However there are some limits on customization, like you can't shift your background picture up or down or crop it, but the tradeoff is that you can upload your own profile and background pictures, or use preloaded ones from the site.

Finally, I liked that Journo Portfolio was pretty cheap and let me pay for a year up front. I'd never owned my own domain before and my professor told me I needed to buy my name if I wanted to be taken seriously; Journo Portfolio made it really easy. You buy your domain through the site and you're ready to go.

By Berkeley Lovelace

Squarespace is perfect for visual storytellers. The website formats all the uploaded materials but still allows for coding and customization. If you’re not into customization, the website has several templates to choose from with multimedia elements you can insert your projects into. If you want the most beautiful portfolio around, choose Squarespace. 

But Squarespace is NOT user friendly. It took me a few days to navigate and figure out how to do things. Depending on what computer I’m on it will freeze and sometimes run slowly. The money thing can also be an issue. Squarespace requires you to pay a monthly fee to keep your website up, and you have the option to purchase a domain too.

Let us know what you like about your portfolio site in the comments!

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