Your site is a frame
A frame exists to hold its art. It should compliment your work, but never overshadow it. Think of your portfolio site as a frame for your work. Keep it clean and easy to navigate. Don’t let your site get in the way of letting me see what I really came for.
Make every project a link (AKA: Don’t use Flash)
Make sure I can link directly to a project. The best thing about using the web to promote yourself is the ease of how a link can be shared with people. If I want to show someone some cool piece you did, I should be able to copy the URL and send it. “Go to thiscoolsite.com and click on project number four” doesn’t cut it, yet this is exactly what I need to do with most Flash based portfolio.
This is mainly a problem with flash sites, but it can also happen with some php sites.
Make it simple
Don’t be clever
Don’t make me learn a new system just to use your site. Use web navigation standards like putting your navigation on the left of the page to make me feel in control. Mystery meat (link) navigation is for entertainment sites, not your portfolio. Don’t make me think, just show me your work.
Make it easy for us to contact you
This is a no brainer, but some sites overlook it. Make your email address easy to find. Especially if you’re a freelancer or looking for a job. Think about adding a “hire me for freelance” button.
Make it easy to update
A simple design also makes it easy to manage and update on your end. Many people I talk to have a portfolio, but they say “I really need to update it.” They are ashamed to show it because it’s not current. You’re too busy making more cool stuff to worry about making thumbnails, adding new html, and changing that complicated navigation system to include your new project. Make it simple and you can update with ease.
It’s the bottom line. Your site only exists to show your work. Your portfolio is a frame used to feature your best work. That’s it. It’s not fun, it’s not fancy, it’s not clever. It is a tool to show off work. It’s your work that should be the fun part. Don’t over think it. Put your best work in a frame and hang it on a wall for everyone to see.