I had two main objectives when creating my website/online portfolio. These included making the website look as clean and minimalist as possible in order to make the images the centre of attention. The second aim was to make the website accessible and easy to navigate.
I started creating the website by browsing and comparing different website builders as a platform for displaying my work. I considered different aspects of the options like degree of customisability, the amount of support available and pricing. In the end it was a close call between Smugmug and Squarespace but I chose Smugmug because it offered a relatively high degree of customisability, seemingly good support and it wasn’t necessary to host the website with a custom domain.
After I had chosen the website builder I was faced with the fairly daunting task of creating the website and populating it with images. Fortunately Smugmug made this quite easy. The next step once I’d accomplished this was tuning the look of the website to make it unique and stand out while still maintaining the clean, minimalist aesthetic I was after. I found this much harder, not because Smugmug made it difficult but because in tailoring the website to my needs, I had to learn a few of the intricacies of how the website builder worked. For example, the builder offered a very appealing fullscreen lightbox option initially and I was quite happy with this to start with. Then I became aware the images were displayed almost too large so after searching for some CSS code, I altered the lightbox slightly so that white borders were always present around the images. I did briefly experiment with a translucent background for the ligthbox for a while but found this distracted from the clean aesthetic even if it did appear cool!
Another example of how I modified the website to my requirements was creating a ‘Projects’ tab rather than just galleries. In this tab I tried to show off projects I had been most proud of in the past and of course my latest body of work, Reconstructing Deptford. Because images and poems relay off each other to form a diegesis in Reconstructing Deptford, it was paramount I made both image and poem prominent together on this page. Eventually I decided on a vertically scrolling webpage with an introduction framing the project. This then lead on to an image above the corresponding poem followed by another image and poem going down as the viewer scrolls. If the viewer clicks on the image of this webpage they are taken to a dedicated webpage for each image and relevant poem. Lastly, if they would like to view the image by itself and larger, they can click on the image where it will be opened in a lightbox.
The link to my project Reconstructing Deptford, presented on my online portfolio can be found at: https://johnathanhall.smugmug.com/Projects/Reconstructing-Deptford
And my entire online portfolio can be found at: https://johnathanhall.smugmug.com/
I did experiment with an alternative layout for Reconstructing Deptford where the images and their corresponding poems were displayed on a horizontal scroll in a kind of carousel. Although this looked quite impressive on some devices like computers, it didn’t render well on smartphones because of the portrait dimensions. In the end I decided this format for displaying the project didn’t add enough over the vertically scrolling format. Nevertheless, I have created a link to this layout of the project for my tutor to access so they can see how I’ve been experimenting.
Now I feel I have got my online portfolio and specifically the ‘Projects’ tab to a level which I am pleased with. I also like how the images display when opened in a lightbox, with no distractions. I think I have managed to maintain a clean and minimalist aesthetic throughout and the tabs make the website easy to navigate. Being critical, I would say maybe the ’Search’ tab is extraneous to the minimalist look of the website so I might remove that. Also on the ‘Info’ tab I wonder if the information about my practice might be modified to be more professional and read more like an Artist’s Statement. Overall though, I am satisfied with my online portfolio and feel it displays my work well.