After years of listening to lecturers expressing how important portfolios are, and classes explaining how to make an effective website portfolios, it finally sunk in that surprise, surprise you do actually need to have a good portfolio if you want to get a job as a games developer. (A wee bit late, but better late than never! 😛 )
So now that I’ve finished my degree, and realise how important it is to have a GOOD website portfolio, I thought its about time to get the finger out, and get down to some work. And with me being a poor/ cheap-ass programmer who has just graduated, what better way to save some money and clear the dust off my old HTML and CSS skills in one go, than by putting them to use in creating a new professional looking portfolio from scratch.
Now I’m not claiming to be an expert or even that I know exactly what employers are looking for, but I thought that it may be useful to share what I found from my experience in designing and building my portfolio. So after a bit of googling, asking advice and some common sense, I found that the following pages should be covered in some form when creating an e-portfolio:
The ‘Home’ Page – The home page is in my view the second most important aspect of any portfolio website, where the only thing more important is the portfolio work itself. This is because it is the first page anyone sees when they visit your site, and lets face it, first impressions still matter!
Because of this I thought that the home page should have a clean and clear look, so that the user will not be overwhelmed by large amounts of text and images when they first visit. So for my home page I decided to only included a brief statement about me and also a small list covering my general programming skills. But in my view the most important aspect for any home page, is the image slide-show, which cycles through images from a portfolio. I think this is important, as the images that are shown will be the key to make the people who look at your site think “Wow, I want to see more of this!” making them want to look at your work and site in more detail.
The ‘About’ Page – At first I thought that the about page should explain who I was as a person such as my hopes and interests etc. However I later found out that I was wrong, employers do not care who you are as a person, well that’s not completely true, however from what I have been told by some working developers is that, employers only want to read about your skills and abilities through your website and only if they like the look of you and your work will they then invite you for an interview, so that they can find out what your like as a person and if you would make a valuable contribution to their team.
So the main point here is: talk a little about yourself, not your whole life story but explain why you want to be a games programmer, highlight all your skills saying what your good at and what your not so good at. But whatever you actually do write, just make sure that it conveys the fact that you are enthusiastic and eager to learn!
The ‘Education’ Page – Pretty self explanatory, like on your C.V this should ONLY contain details about your educational achievements and awards (such as the title, grade and date awarded) including where you studied. Just make sure that this part is formatted nicely so that it is easy to read and search through.
The ‘Work’ Page – Again this is the same as the Education page but about all your work experience if you have any. (Both programming and non-programming jobs should be included!) Any job that’s listed should state the company, dates you worked there, your job title and details about the role. (descriptions should be succinct!)
The ‘Portfolio’ Page – As mentioned earlier this is the most important aspect of any portfolio as this is the corner stone in which you build your career on. Because of this, you should only show off your best work! I can’t stress this point enough, you should only have a few of your best pieces that show your skills, rather than having lots of mediocre pieces of work. There is one simple reason for this, if an employer only looks at your best work, then they will only see your skills at your best, however if you put up your best work with all your other work (some may be good but lets face it, most will be mediocre!) Then the mediocre projects will drown out the great ones leaving the employer thinking your only an average programmer.
On any piece you decide to add to your portfolio make sure that you cover the following points: Include the projects title, have images and/ or videos of the project working (use the correct aspect ratio on any images, don’t squash them!), explain what the project does or how it works, explain what YOU personally done in the project (in clear detail, but also keep in mind that not everyone reading may understand programming stuff, so try not to use too much techo babble!) And finally you should have a link to any project files that you want to show off, like source code files or an installation file etc.
The ‘Contact’ Page – Seeing how it is pointless in creating a great website, that makes people want to hire you, if they can’t contacting you through it. Your contact page should contain any information that can be used to contact you, such as your e-mail address or links to your social networks (Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn etc.) Contact forms can be useful as a viewer can fill out the form on your site and the message can be sent directly to you. Some people include photos of themselves on this page while others don’t, it is just a matter of preference.
General points – When designing the web pages, it is good idea to have a link on every page that can be used to contact you. Also your site should have a copy of your C.V. In .doc format so a viewer can save it and looked over it at a more convenient time. Also pay attention to the layout and colour scheme of your website, because having a poor layout or using the wrong colour scheme can make your site to look uninviting, cause viewers problems when reading text and generally making the site look unprofessional. If you decide to add a blog onto your site make sure that you only use it to discuss relevant topics like your progress on a project, not a personal rant about why the Xbox One is better than a PS4 etc. Lastly remember to keep your portfolio up to date!
As I previously stated I am not an expert, I just thought that it may be helpful to share what I found/ learned through my experience in creating my e-portfolio. I only hope that someone actually finds some use from this post so feel free to share if you find it helpful.
Here’s a link to my site as an example: www.mpypeters.co.uk
Feedback, comments and suggestions are always welcome 😉