Writing

Sketching your Portfolio’s Menu & Site Map

We all know what a menu is: that thing across the top or down the side of a website.

As I’ve mentioned to a few of you, I hate menus that say:

  • Portfolio
  • Works
  • Projects

To me this says

I’m not gonna tell you what I do yet. You have to click this button first, and then when you get there I’ll finally tell you what I do.

You know from your own web surfing how quickly you will leave a site that isn’t what you want or is too confusing. A web project that’s a puzzle box for a viewer to solve can be a cool virtual artwork – if it can find an audience willing to explore it – but it’s not a portfolio. Our mission is to provide a Clear, Concise, and Compelling view of what we have to offer. Instead of a non-informative menu like “Projects” or “Works” or “Portfolio”, let your menu be an outline of your portfolio.

A Graphic Designer’s menu could be something like:

  • Branding • Packaging • Typography • About • Contact

Painter:

  • Figurative Works • Abstraction • Sketches • About • Contact

Documentary Photographer:

  • Identity Projects • Social Groups • Longform Documentary • About • Contact

Your Portfolio Home Page

Here’s the top of a Home Page that I don’t like:

ARTISTIC JOURNEYS

HOME – WORK – ABOUT – CONTACT

I don’t like it because, as described above, “Work” doesn’t tell me anything. It makes me click before you’re willing to tell me what you do. Also, a surprising number of artists don’t have their name at the top of their website!!! That’s crazy!!! “Artistic Journeys” tells me nothing. Let’s not make our viewers do so much work.

Here’s a top of Home Page that I like better:

VICKY MEURENT
graphic design

HOME – BRANDING – PACKAGING – TYPOGRAPHY – ABOUT – CONTACT

  • My name is Vicky Meurent – bam!
  • I am a Graphic Designer – bam!
  • An outline of my Graphic Design focus is: Branding, Packaging & Typography – bam!

No secrets, no forever clicking, just BAM! This is me. Here’s what I do! BAM!

If that’s not what you need, you’re free to go. But, most importantly, if I am what you’re looking for, it’s immediately clear!

Here’s another home page:

VICKY MEURENT
performance art

HOME – PERFORMANCE – INSTALLATION – PUBLIC ART – SITE-SPECIFIC WORK – ABOUT – CONTACT

Again, Who I am, What I do, and an outline of my focus are all immediately there for my audience.

Site Map

The menu you just created is a lot of your Site Map. A Site Map is what it sounds like, a map of what’s in your Portfolio and how viewers can get from place to place.

Your Site Map is a chance to look through all the work you have to show and plan what goes on what page. You might also find that the pieces you have, while good, don’t entirely cover the work you’d like to be doing as you move from the Art Student Chapter of your life, to the Emerging Artist/Career Building Chapter of your life. This is an invitation to create a few pieces that show you working in the areas and styles you’d like to be working in.

  • You don’t have to wait for a class to assign a piece to you!
  • You don’t even have to wait for a Client, Collector, Design Shop, Curator, Boss, or anyone else to ask you to create something!

If your Site Map of what you want to show in your portfolio reveals that there’s a hole in the work you have to show…

  • Make it!!!

Etherpad

Post your Menu & Site Map on your Etherpad page! 😀

Screen capture of Glenn Zucman's portfolio home page and menu.
Oopsy! Even though my own Portfolio Menu features the word I just spent an entire post telling you never to use, “Projects”, in my case I have more than 3-or-so Categories and they wouldn’t fit across the top. You still get the “outline” of my work since the menu has a Drop-Down that shows you the full outline of my work. So, I’m only half a hypocrite! 😛

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