All posts by Hugh

There are a number of reasons why you might have a portfolio website:

1. You’re a freelancer and you need to continuously showcase your work as evidence of your skills and expertise.

2. You’re a student and want to show potential employees your design concepts so they’ll hire you.

3. You work in a studio and want to profile and comment on your company work to build your online presence.

4. You’re a photographer and want to highlight the greatest photographs you ever took.

5. You’re an artist and you’re looking for a new way to showcase (or sell) your work.

Actually, if you’re a writer – you should go check out this post of the Top 5 Portfolio Sites for Writers, but take a peruse below anyway. A lot of these portfolio themes might fit your needs, especially if you’re looking to complement your words with images.

Also, if you’re job hunting and want to set yourself apart from the pack, go check out this post: Amazing Resume Websites.

These are all themes you can use for your own portfolio, and building and maintaining these sites is dead easy using WordPress. Learn more!

1. Square Grid

This is easily one of my favorites with great mouse-over effects and an awesome re-arranging grid format. Click here to Preview Square Grid.

 

2. Konzept

Konzept is a responsive and right-angle intensive portfolio site with really neat direction-sensitive mouse over effects and some downright wild large background splash pages. Click here to Preview Konzept.

3. Worktopia

Worktopia is easily one of the most creative and unusual portfolio themes, but as a result it’s one of the most eye-catching. It’s a mocked up workstation (or home office) with nifty animations and downward scrolling anchored links. Click here to Preview Worktopia.

4. King Size

This is one of the best photographer portfolio’s out there. It would also work well with large illustrations or graphics. It comes with tons of gallery and portfolio options, and it just looks darned good. Click here to Preview Kingsize.

5. Booster

If you’re a freelancer and want to look like a big agency, this is your kind of portfolio. This would also work perfectly for photographers or anyone with abstract creative assets. Click here to Preview Booster.

6. WowWay

This is my all-time favorite portfolio site – you have to see it in the Live Preview to believe it. Amazing  looking portfolio. Seriously, wow. Click here to Preview WowWay.

7. Volumes

This list wouldn’t be complete without a portfolio from Orman Clark. This is a solid piece of design and development work, and it’ll make anybody’s portfolio look outstanding. Click here to Preview Volumes.

8. Juxter

The animated side-scrolling gallery in this theme looks stunning, and I haven’t see anyone else use it. Check this one out in the Live Preview to believe it. This is another killer portfolio for anybody in the creative field. Click here to Preview Juxter.

Designers and photographers are typically the ones with nifty portfolio websites, but why aren’t there more affordable websites for writers?

I’m not talking about blogs, or Tumblr accounts, or Facebook posts. I mean formal, branded, official sites for copywriters, journalists, and technical writers.

I’m talking about branded web properties that reflect the writer’s style, personality, and work. A website with your name, and only your name, in the URL address. Why should Facebook or Blogger own your content?

And keep in mind a website doesn’t exclusively have to be about your writing work. It can also be a place where you promote your books, entice people to take your e-courses, post your speaking schedule, solicit job inquiries, or showcase your hobbies or personal interests.

Of course the most important thing you want to showcase is your words. Which is why building your website on a platform like WordPress is so important. Since writers typically produce huge amounts of content, they need a platform that’s easy to access and that makes writing, editing, and publishing content extremely easy. It’s hard enough putting words on a page, so getting them onto your website should be fast and simple.

WordPress has it’s roots in blogging, so it’s the platform of choice for writers. The editors of the New York Times, Macleans Magazine, and Mashable certainly support this statement, since these huge news organizations publish their online content using WordPress, along with thousands of other publishers.

Here are 5 awesome affordable websites for writers. All of these themes are super flexible, so we can change and tweak things as you see fit:

1. Scribe

This is a theme for the writing purist: clean and white, with elegant typographic touches.

If you have a Facebook or Twitter or Pintrest or Linkedin account or any, really, social media presence, we can add feeds to them inside all these themes. Preview it here.

 

 

 

 

 

2. Launch

An awesome Tumblr style site, where you can post different categories of content, if you like.

Or, you can just keep it simple and stick with the straight blog-style. Preview it here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Scope

This theme has an agency-like feel to it, but works perfectly as a professional writer’s space.

If you have existing images that accompany your writing work, or even company logos, you can use them in the portfolio to attract eyeballs to your articles. Preview it here.

 

 

 

 

 

4. Premium Pixels

This one’s similar to Launch, but without the Tumblr style categories for each post.

Like the others, it’s clean and minimalistic so as not to attract attention away from your work. Preview it here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. reBrand

 If you’re looking to highlight your 4 best qualities, services, or abilities right on your homepage, this is the theme for you. (Think Writing, Editing, Research, and Reporting)

The portfolio here would also work perfectly, and those pop-up lightbox images can be disabled. That way, when people click on a portfolio item they get taken straight to your full-length article. Preview it here.

Check out the Cascade theme – perfect for your own personal digital brand.

Sure social media is huge, but do you really want to spend the rest of your life as a digital squatter on other people’s social networks?

Instead of making Mark Zuckerberg richer, why not build your own cozy spot on the interwebs?

Hey it’s not just me, the girls on HBO’s super-hip new show “Girls” feel the same way:

SHOSHANNA: Oh My God! You’re not serious? I mean — that’s like not being on Facebook.
JESSA: I’m not on Facebook.
SHOSHANNA: You are so [expletive] classy …

Classy is right – there’s nothing like having your own domain name, on your own website, with your own creativity and ideas, highlighting you and only you.

Plus if you’re looking for a job, there’s no better way of highlighting your digital savvy. Even if you’re not looking for a job, what better way to build your online brand?

And for goodness sake, take control of your name on search engines. Facebook and Twitter shouldn’t own your top Google rankings. When people Google you, they should get something personal and special, and not just another boring Twitter feed or Facebook profile or plain-text LinkedIn resume.

Webworks is another extremely awesome resume theme.

Take Cascade by the good people at Quantica Labs for example. It’s simple, to the point, and it looks darn good. No distracting ads, or annoying friends, or hard to remember URLs. Just you, your words, and your digital brand.

Webworks by CMS Squirrel is another great one – super creative, awesome javascript flare, and extremely impressive.

We’ve got loads of equally cool resume, portfolio, blog, and other kinds of personal websites, go check them out on the Themes page!

 

The world of search engine optimization irks me, mostly because the space is occupied by technical people who generate a lot of noise around the latest quick fix dream tool, or a new way to scam Google pagerank. They seem to forget that SEO is primarily about words and well structured writing.

If you care about content marketing (who doesn’t?) here’s another reason to consider WordPress as your content management system: the WordPress SEO plugin by Yoast.

With it you can do all your boring basic templates for titles and meta descriptions as well as your advanced permalink cleanups, RSS enhancements, and XML sitemaps.

But forget all the geeky stuff.

The most amazing thing Yoast’s plugin does is give you a live preview of how your page will show up in Google, and how well optimized the page is for a particular keyword focus. You don’t have to be a geek to understand how SEO works because Yoast does all the heavy lifting.

Even before you publish, it scores you on everything from the Flesch Reading Ease Test, to keyword density, to keyword variations and locations.

In other words it helps you better write and structure your content directly in your content editor box, which has always been the most important part of optimizing for search engines.

And better written and structured content not only helps your organic and paid search, but also improves your pay-per-click strategy, since your digital focus is now even more tuned to the keyword and/or audience you’re targetting.

No more using 5 tools and spending 4 hours trying to get a page published.

Just you, your words, and WordPress.

Go learn more about WordPress SEO by Yoast here!

Click to launch the preview and resize your browser window to see the website "respond."

Heralded as a next-generation web design philosophy and practice, responsive design has been adopted by many in the WordPress theme community, and you can see it in action with the Swagger theme created by Jason over at Themeblvd.

To see what “responsive design” means, open up the Swagger theme preview, and resize your browser window. You’ll notice the elements on the page dynamically change shape and position, depending on the size of your screen.

Check it out on an iPhone too – you’ll see the theme detect that it’s being viewed on a smaller smartphone screen and it re-arranges itself, so you don’t have to do a whole lot of pinching and zooming to see the site.

That’s essentially what “responsive design” means: the theme will respond to whatever device you’re on, and whatever orientation you’re viewing it in (landscape or profile, think iPads.)

The Responsive Design icon.

Look for the responsive design icon on Lampdogs – it indicates that the Theme you’re looking at is fully responsive.

question mark

The affordable website market is saturated by liars and cheats. Why? Because its purveyors don’t define the words “website” or “affordable.”

Let’s start with “website.” Websites are no longer static pages, and can be many things – a blog, a wiki, an e-commerce site, a social network page. So which one is it?

Or “affordable” – does that mean cheap and crappy? Where does the concept of value factor in? A Toyota is affordable, but it also looks great and lasts forever.

In the meantime, if you’re shopping around for an affordable website, here are some questions to think about:

By website do you mean just the coding of the site’s structure?

Websites are code. Technically, I could build you a website that’s just one page, with basic lines, some fancy text treatment and a big old harvest moon logo floating in the top left corner of the page. But that’s not really a website. It’s more of a web page.

So how many pages am I getting?

Which bring us to the next question – how many pages is an affordable website? Two? Three? Eight?

Before buying into any potential scams, be sure to define the structure and depth of your website. What’s it going to roughly look like, and how many pages will it be? Drawing a wireframe diagram (basic lines and boxes) sometimes helps.

Choosing an existing theme framework is even better.

Does it include design and things like CSS, colours, logos, fonts?

Prettying it up is a huge step and usually takes the most amount of time. Even if you’re building a personal blog, you’ll still need some kind of brand, or logo, or text treatment, or color theme. How will that theme be carried throughout the site?

Who’s providing content – words, images, and videos?

Content is what makes the internet go ’round. It’s the web’s most valuable currency, and the primary reason for why your visitors are coming to check out your website in the first place. It’s also what search engines like Google favour when they rank you, and it pays to look into even the most basic keyword strategy if you want to attract traffic.

Affordable websites usually require the purchaser to provide the content. After all, you are the subject matter expert. So…do you provide the content and they upload it for you? How will you manage your website’s content moving forward?

Will it come with a content management systems (CMS) so I can access and control how the site looks?

The next logical question is connected to the concept of online “currency.” The more frequently your website is updated, the more likely visitors will return to it, and the more likely search engines will favour you website in their rankings.

This is one of the main reasons for why people and businesses maintain blogs. Gone are the days of the static website.

A content management system can make updating your website hilariously easy even if you have zero technical knowledge – and there are many of them (like WordPress) that don’t cost a thing and that are more powerful than many enterprise-class CMSs.

How much work do I have to put into this website?

Affordable websites usually require you to invest time and energy into your project since you’re not paying for a dedicated full time resource. That means you’ll need to be open to learning new things which can be a bit scary.

But if you’re working with someone who’s receptive to your needs, using an easy to use CMS, and have clear and accessible information and support, building and maintaining your affordable website can be quick and easy.

The WordPress community is huge and famous for being non-intimidating – check out the Codex and Forums to see what I mean.

Does it include the cost of registering a domain name and setting up a hosting account?

This is always the first step in any website project. What domain name are you going to use? (eg: www.llamashoes.com).

Once you have a name you like, check if it’s available on Instant Domain Search. The vast majority of words and combination of words are taken, so try to be original.

Once you’re happy with a domain name that hasn’t already been taken, it’s time to purchase that name so you can claim your space on the internet.

It’s also time to buy hosting – hosting is basically just space on a web server where all your website’s files will live.

The idea is when someone types in your domain name URL (www.llamashoes.com), your website which sits on your hosting server is called up and displayed.

It’s easiest to purchase your domain name and your hosting with the same company (like HostGator, BlueHost, or LaughingSquid), to keep everything under one account.

But don’t worry,  if you have a domain name with company A, and a hosting account with company B, it’s easy to connect the two.

So – who is going to do all this?

What about extras like Analytics, SEO, email subscriptions, and contact forms?

If I want to make changes and need help in the future, where do I go and how much will it cost?

We talked about how a CMS can help you manage your website’s content. It can also help you with add-ons that you may want installed now, or in the future.

The word “extensibility” in relation to a CMS refers to how much you can change and add functionality to your site.

Extra functionality could be analytics so you can see who is visiting your site, or search engine optimization (SEO) so your pages can rank higher in Google search results, or email subscriptions so visitors can sign up and get notified when you write a new blog post or update your site with a new product.

WordPress is hugely extensible thanks to all the plugins available for it (19,000 at last count!). These plugins can be installed and up and running in seconds. They’re like the apps on your phone, except for your website. And the vast majority are free!

Also, WordPress integrates these plugins with existing third party services you may be already be signed up for, like Constant Contact, or SalesForce.com or Campaign Monitor.

So when purchasing an affordable website, be sure to ask if these types of extras are included, and if not, how to add and install them yourself.

 

save your money

Affordable web design is something we have strong opinions on, since we’ve been in the web development and design business for a long time.

So I’d like to share a secret that many people in the business conspire to keep hush-hush: thanks to huge advances in open source web publishing technologies, you can get affordable, quickly executed, and high quality websites.

Here’s how.

Typically when you go to an agency or freelancer for a professionally created web site, they’ll raise their noses at you and tell you to pick two of the following:

1. Price
2. Speed
3. Quality

So if you want a high Quality website created with Speed, they’ll tell you it will cost you a lot of money. If you want a low Cost website that’s high Quality, it will not be done slowly.

To this I say phonus balonus!

That business plan is based on just that: business. It’s a strategy for maximizing profit. And it really doesn’t take the best interests of the customer at heart. Or the best advances in technology.

The fact is today it’s just as easy to create content as it is to consume it. My 8 year old nephew knows how to make a basic website. My mom is 70 and can upload videos to her YouTube channel. So why are agencies still charging $25k for a simple corporate site?

It’s because they have senior people in high positions that need to pay off their giant mortgages and car payments. And there are senior customers in high positions that don’t have the foggiest idea how a website should be used to improve their business sales.

So they throw some rubes around. That is to say, they’re hayburners. Simolean sinkers. They ain’t hep with the voot.

What they’re completely missing is access to information, openness to new technologies, and plain old keeping up with the changing times.

Granted, the execs will argue they contribute experience, high value relationships, and connections to an organization – and they do. It’s just that they get so tied up in confusing words, politics, self-interest, budgets, different departments, and clashing personalities that they lose sight of a simple fact: web design and development has changed massively in the last 5 years.

And so have businesses. Small companies are now more agile. They can compete in different spaces. The enterprise is getting blown back by the many niches. And that’s where we come in.

Here’s how we keep our price down:

1.  Build on a flexible, extensible, and powerful open-source platform – license fees are a thing of the past.
2.  Take advantage of massive communities of freelance designers and developers who love what they do.
3.  Customize high quality themes, plugins, and widgets that are either free, or priced to sell to the masses.
4.  Encourage empowerment through education by teaching customers how to better use and improve their website.
5.  Loving what we do – ain’t no politics, self-interest, or clashing personalities here.

what is wordpress

WordPress is the world’s best content management system (CMS). The New York Times and Mashable use it. So do lots of other Fortune 500 companies. So do websites about cats.

A content management system is the technology platform on top of which you build your website. Behind the scenes, it makes it easy for you to create content (words, images, menus, video etc.), edit content, and manage it under one roof.

Content is really the most important part of your website, and it’s what makes the internet so great. The beauty of WordPress lies in its approach to content: it makes creating, editing, and managing it super easy.

It doesn’t matter if you want a site for your e-commerce business, or your real estate listings, or your small business, or your design portfolio, or blog, wiki, social network, or awesome private Twitter clone that’s actually better than Twitter.

What matters most is that you can create words and art and business and life online easily and quickly.

Oh yeah, also WordPress is free. No licenses. No hidden fees. No kidding!

The second greatest thing about WordPress is its extensibility. That means Matt Mullenweg and the team at WordPress considered the future growth of the platform and made sure that it was powerful and flexible enough to change with the times. They also made sure that everyone in the WordPress community could contribute to code and design ideas.

Two features that demonstrate this extensibility are Plugins and Widgets.

Plugins are like apps – they are little programs that people and companies write to make your website better. You can install them with the click of a button.

Examples of plugins include contact forms, PayPal integration, Google Analytics integration, search engine optimization (Yoast’s WordPress SEO Plugin is, arguably, the single greatest all-purpose SEO tool on the web in my humble opinion), spam filters, SalesForce.com integration, database backups, popup ads, social media sharing tools, Constant Contact form integration, Campaign Monitor integration…

There are over 19,000 plugins to choose from.

Widgets are another example of extensibility. Widgets are little interactive web parts that you can drag and drop into your website, that further enhance its functionality. Whereas plugins generally work in the backend of your site, widgets can be seen plainly on your homepage in a sidebar, or header, or footer, or wherever you want them. They can be an events calendar, or a tag cloud, or a list of your blog categories, or an ad banner, or a contact form. You name it!

As you can see, extensibility means your website will never become dated. You can always upgrade and update it and improve it as new technologies become available.

Whereas most proprietary systems out there are costly and entrenching, WordPress is free and flexible.

That’s why we love it, and why it’s the most popular content management system on the planet! (Check out the stats in this awesome WordPress infographic.)