Web Portfolio 101 - The Basics

Are you looking to get started on a website or your web-portfolio? Learn about what goes in it and how to make a good virtual impression with our Best Practices for Websites guide.

Of all the things a web site may be, a web portfolio is a curated selection of work that provides an overview of your creative experience. It basically tells someone how you want to be understood. A web portfolio can also serve as your main communication hub where the rest of your online presence branches out from.

We encourage every student at Columbia to have a web portfolio (yes, that means you, too, ASL and education students!). You don’t have to know how to code, or know what a content management system (CMS) is to make a web portfolio.

To get started, you’ll want to get:

1. a website hosting system.
2. a custom domain name.

  • Web site hosting sites

    A web hosting site lets you organize your work into categories. You have more control, though, on the specific content you would like to include on a web hosting site. Visit “Web Site Hosting” on our Where to Get Stuff page for a list of common providers.

    Through some web site hosting sites, you can purchase your domain name. You can also purchase a domain name from a different provider (such as GoDaddy) and later connect it with your web hosting site (on Issuu, for instance).

  • Domain Name

    A custom domain name is your website’s address (for example, “yourname”.com). We strongly recommend purchasing “yourname”.com as early as possible and before you commit to any other business concepts (for example, joesphotography.com). Our reason behind this is simple: What happens if you choose to start working in a different capacity, say as a musician? Don’t limit yourself.

    You can purchase a domain name through a domain registration site. Visit “Domain Registration” on our Where to Get Stuff page for a list of common providers.

    What information should I include on my web site?

    Start with these three things:
    1. Your work
    2. About You
    3. A way to contact you

  • Your Work

    You’ll want to provide easy-to-understand examples of the things you’ve done. This can be pictures, or excerpts of documents, summaries of business plans, videos, writing samples — virtually anything that you can physically look at or touch, you can put on your web site.

    For help on what to include, visit your Creative Industry Liaison at the Career Center. Visit our one-on-one page to find out who that is and then schedule a meeting on Handshake (click Make Appointments).

  • About You

    This is your opportunity to tell someone how you want to be understood. Your biography should be short, but it should also tell the reader who you are and what you’re trying to do. Visit our “Bio Statements” guide on our Bios, Artist Statements and Pitches for more information on how to get started.

    You might want to also include your resume. If you need some help getting started, we’re here to help. Visit our resume guide for more information, or schedule an appointment with us on Handshake (click Make Appointments).

  • A way to contact you

    Do you want people to call you on the phone, or connect with you through email? Prefer an online form, so you don’t have to reveal your contact info? It’s up to you. Whatever you do, you should be mindful about what information you’re putting out there. In other words, you might not want to list your personal or pinpoint your physical address.

  • Still stuck?

    Use this information as a starting checklist. Look at a lot of examples (good and bad) to know how you would like to present yourself online. Finally, talk to us at any point: we are here to help you.

    Schedule an appointment for a web review, portfolio review, and your other career development needs through Handshake (click Make Appointments) or by calling the Career Center at 312-369-7280.