25 Oct Architecture Portfolio Website – the Ultimate Guide
Architecture Portfolio Website
If you are currently looking for work, how many resumes have you sent out to potential employers? How many times have you done a search & replace on your standard cover letter? Does your resume fit onto one letter sized page? None of this is helping you get a job and won’t help you like an architecture portfolio website will.
Your resume tells the employer the basics about you: Where you went to school, where you worked before, what roles you had. Career experts will tell you the standards of getting your resume seen, but I’m here to tell you that your resume is worthless. I have seen so many resumes I have to keep a piles on my desk in categories just to keep them straight. Short of the random, amazingly designed resume that makes me want to call you, they all look the same and tell me nothing of your abilities or personality.
Part I – Why
In the architecture field, we are visual people, and reading a resume is pretty boring. I will know more about you as a person by spending 5 minutes googling your name than I can by reading your resume. This is why in this new world of social media and virtual networking, you need a architecture portfolio website in order to stand out. A website will give you the leg-up on your career and help you land that next architecture job.
5 reasons you need a architecture portfolio website
1. It visually shows your work in an dynamic, interactive format. It is no longer a static piece of paper that will sit on the employers desk. It is something they can come back to and you can constantly update.
2. It is easily sharable. In many firms hiring decisions are not made by a single person, but rather are determined by a committee. It is much easier for one member of the committee to forward a link than to print and hand-deliver a resume and architecture portfolio, or even worse, figure out how to forward the 100MB email attachment.
3. It has no size limitations. Most firms will have a size limit of what can be emailed, which means you have to reduce the number of projects, number of pages, or quality of graphics in the pdf you email. With a website, there are no limits.
4. It shows you are capable of learning skills beyond just architectural design. There are no classes offered in architecture school that teach you how to make a website, so this is something you can show you learned on your own.
5. Most importantly, it can show your personality. As I stated before, there is an employee trifecta of personality, capability and experience. You use your resume to show your experience and your architecture portfolio to show your capability, but you need to make it to the interview stage to show your personality. A architecture portfolio website allows you to showcase your personality before you even get to the interview stage.
Convinced that a architecture portfolio website is the way go? Great! Here’s what we will go into below:
1. Free document hosting services (upload your pdf, simplest)
2. Free simple website services (wix, weebly, moonfruit)
3. Truly custom (but still simple) websites
Quick note: I will be highlighting various methods of making a architecture portfolio website, from free services, to paid services. I am also an affiliate for some of the paid services, but I recommend these services and became an affiliate for them because I truly believe in their product. There are other options out there, but I have found these to be the best.
Part II – Free document hosting – Issuu
If you have put a lot of time into the design of your resume and architecture portfolio, the easiest way to get a web presence is to upload them onto a free document hosting service. This will allow you to send a teaser resume and work sample, that will fit into the employers email box, along with a link to where they can find more.
Step 1. Design your resume and architecture portfolio using a software like Adobe Photoshop or GIMP. I also prefer to use InDesign and Illustrator as well as Photoshop to get some clean graphics and layouts, but it will depend on what program you are most comfortable with. Try not to use Microsoft Word as the graphics you can use are limited. In the end, you will want to have a pdf ready.
Tip: If you use illustrator to create your document, make sure you right-click on the text and select “Create Outlines”. This will ensure that the font you used will be shown when the employer opens the pdf.
Step 2. Once your architecture portfolio showing all of your most important work is complete, you will want to pare it down to a select group of “work samples”. These samples will be a teaser that will get the employer interested in your work and want to see more, and is what will be sent in the actual email.
Step 3. Choose a service. I have seen people uploading files to Dropbox, Carbonmade and Issuu. The one I like the best is Issuu, since they will host the architecture portfolio to look just like the book you created.
Step 4. Sign up for Issuu. You only need their free service for what you are doing, so go ahead and select the $0 offer.
Step 5. Upload your document. Get link. Include link in email.
This is by far the easiest way to get your architecture portfolio online. The only problem with this is that it doesn’t really tell any more about your personality than your resume and printed architecture portfolio do. It does allow you to put a lot more pages in your architecture portfolio without having a massive email attachment, so if that is what you are looking for, this is the way to go.
Part III – Free simple websites – Squarespace
If you want a little more than just a architecture portfolio online and want to build a presence without much work, the next option is to use a website service to make it. You can then include a link to the prospective employer to the website in general, or specific pages of your website.
Step 1. Choose a service. There are many services out there such as Wix, Moonfruit or SquareSpace, but the one I have seen the most is Weebly. They have a lot of professional templates to choose from and have been around for a while, so there is a lot of support out there, and they have a simple drag-and-drop interface.
Step 2. Sign up, and select the name you want to use for the website. You can use their subdomain option to create a yourname.weebly.com or sign up to get a custom web address through them which only costs a couple of bucks a month and looks real professional.
Step 3. Select a template and edit the homepage by modifying what they already have, or dragging elements in as needed.
Step 4. Click on the “Pages” tab to add more web pages. This example is to add a “Portfolio” page.
Step 5. On the newly added “Portfolio” page, click on “Build” tab and drag over a gallery. You can add images directly from here.
Step 6. Once you have your information and your projects added to a portfolio page, preview it to make sure everything has been changed. Once it is good, hit publish and you are good to go.
With this option you can get a professional looking website for free and relatively easy.
Part IV – DIY Custom website, the easy way – Themeforest
If you truly want control over your work and want to look professional, a personalized site is the way to go. This method will take a little more work, but anybody who is good at problem solving (like an Architect?), will find it pretty easy. This method will allow you to have a personalized website and email address and can easily be customized and updated.
Step 1. Sign up with a web hosting service and purchase a domain name. The company I recommend and use is Bluehost.com as they are inexpensive, have easy 1-click WordPress setup and good support. You can get a hosting package for as little as $5/month.
Step 2. Select a domain name. This is your personal website address and should be something that is professional. Most people select to have their name, or some version of it, as their domain name.
Tip: When selecting the domain name, think about your email address as well. It will be firstname.lastname@example.org, so it might look like email@example.com, which to me sounds kind of funny, maybe just firstname.lastname@example.org?
Tip: If your name is taken, try adding your middle initial, but don’t add numbers or dashes as that makes it hard to remember.
Tip: A .com address is best, but if you’re stuck, you can go with .net or .us.
Step 3. 1-Click WordPress install. Bluehost will automatically setup WordPress for you on your website, just click on the button and wait for them to do all of the work.
Up to this point, it should have taken somewhere between 5-10 minutes.
Step 4. Get a theme. Once WordPress installs, it uses their default theme. We can get started setting up our website now and it will show with the default theme, but before we do that, I think we should get the theme we want first because it might have additional features. There are places you can find free themes, just do a google search for them and you will be inundated with choices. The problem with these free themes is that there is very little support for them and you will probably need to know a bit of coding to customize them. That is why I think it is well worth your money to purchase a premium theme. The best place I found to get premium themes is through Themeforest by Envato. Go to the website and select “WordPress”. A few things you want to look for here are themes that have a gallery option, are fully customizable and are responsive (will change when viewed on phones or tablets). Look for themes with a lot of purchases and good reviews because that means there will be a lot of people who have probably already asked the questions you might have.
Step 5. Install theme. With your purchase, you will get a .zip file that has all of the elements in the theme you purchased. Login to your WordPress account (usually www.domainname.com/wp-admin), click on “Appearance”, then “Themes”. Go to the “Install Themes” tab and click on “Upload”. You will then choose your .zip file to upload.
Step 6. Update information. Once your theme is installed it will usually add another tab on the sidebar for the theme where you can change items such as the color, font, title, etc. Each theme is different, so I can’t really cover them all here, but since you purchased an awesome theme with a lot of support, if you get stuck, the answer is probably out there in the community.
Step 7. Setup “Permalink”. This is the address that WordPress will use when you add a page or post. By default, it will use something like www.domainname.com/?p=123 which doesn’t look that good. To change that, go to “Settings”, “Permalinks” and change it to Post name, so now it will say www.domainname.com/about.
Step 8. Add pages and posts. Pages are static documents that are typically your “About Me” or “Contact” page. Click on the sidebar under “Pages” and “Add New”. Add title, content and media, when ready, click “Publish”. Posts are separate from pages and generally will not show up in your menus, but under a “blog” category. The steps are the same as for Pages to add a new Post.
Step 9. Setup Menu. Once you have your pages created, go to “Appearance”, “Menus” to add them to your navigation bar. Select your primary menu and drag the pages you want on the menu to the “Menu Structure” section.
That’s it! Well, that’s the basics. You should now have a fully functional, professional looking website. You can now start playing with it to customize it even more with widgets and plugins. Just do a search and you will find a slew of options out there for exactly what you are looking for.
By utilizing this method you have setup a professional website with a custom domain name and email address. This is by far the most impressive option when you send it as a link in an email to the prospective employer. The best thing about this method is that it is easy to update as well. Have a new project you want to showcase? Just add another post. Have changes in your resume? Just update the page. Your customized WordPress website is now a dynamic architecture portfolio that you can personalize to your specific needs. And best of all, you did it by yourself, so go ahead and update your resume to include your new website skills.
Part V – Take Away
So there you have it, there are three methods to showcasing your work online, each with their own difficulties and advantages. Personally I feel that whatever route you take, you will already be a step above most of the other candidates, but if you do the last method, you will be a step above everyone. It is not as daunting as you may have thought, but I will warn you, you might get stuck at some point. When that happens, remember that there are forums with answers and Google is your friend. If you really get stuck, contact me and maybe I can help you.
Also, if you really want to go the custom route, but are still unsure about doing it yourself, I am available for consulting, or you can hire me directly to do all of the work for you, but honestly, I think you can do it yourself. Best of luck in getting your architecture portfolio website together and landing your next awesome architecture job!
If you have any questions, leave a comment below, contact me, or reach out on Twitter. I’d love to see you get your architecture portfolio online, so really, let me know if you are stuck. If you liked this guide, share it below and subscribe below to the insiders list to get even more tips and tricks for your architecture career.