A few days ago I spoke to a group of Contractors and other Design Professionals at Wooden Windows in Oakland, CA about portfolios for websites. Having looked at scads of photo galleries and built quite a few, I have a well formed opinion on what makes for a great photo gallery. I think what works best is a large photo box on the right and some thumbnails on the left. The other options are words or numbers.
Why Thumbnails for Portfolios?
I think the thumbnails work best in a portfolio because many of your viewers can see what’s in the thumbnails. Another cool thing is that these days the visitor doesn’t even need to click on the thumbnail to see the image, they merely roll over it. That means with the thumbnails visitors can skate from image to image and see your images with ease.
Note that a portfolio is often a group of projects or photo galleries within galleries. Also, they can be organized by project name, kind of work ie. kitchens, additions etc. or both.
Portfolio is crucial to sales
If you are a contractor or design professional, your portfolio may be the most important part of your website. These days so often a prospect will look at your website before talking to you, so your website is actually the first step of your sales process. Ideally, a great photo gallery saves you time in the sales process because your prospect has already seen examples of your excellent work and read a few testimonials. Whey they call, the prospect is just confirming you are a good fit to work with them.
Portfolios Save Money Too
The photo galleries our firm builds have admin tools built in. That means you or your staff can upload photos at any time. This saves a lot of money in the long run on updates and enhances your sales process. It’s easier to be excited and sell when your most recent work is in the portfolio. You can say something like, “I want to show you the house we finished last month just over the hill from you.”
Finally, a portfolio can be added to a WordPress site or an .html site. While our firm builds most of our sites in WordPress these days, we haven’t found a photo gallery plug-in we like. The plug in from WordPress is fine for a page of thumbnails…but we don’t know of one with this kind of elegant gallery format. Let me know if you do. Try the portfolio at Leeza’s Designs (turn off your sound first.)
Karen Nierlich is co-owner of Full Orbit Web and Marketing near Berkeley, El Cerrito and Oakland, CA. The firm likes working with contractors, and other home designers. The photo galleries we build are clean and elegant and can help you make sales and save money on updates.