Student shares tips on how to create Interactive CV
Want to wow your future employers or admissions at university? The creator of this outstanding website portfolio Yellow Coat Studios, alumnus Yasmin Lee, shares the secrets of how you can build your own.
Yellow Coat Studios looks so slick! Where did you start?
With my online portfolio website, I started with collecting, selecting and organising my work in a folder that I wanted to show on my portfolio website. Remember your portfolio website should showcase your best work and the work that you are proud of.
Planning comes after that, and there are two ways of going about it. If you have a certain specific area you would like to go into, then it’s best to tailor your portfolio to that particular topic. For example, if you would like to study 2D animation, show just that. You can still include other areas, but place more emphasis on the area you’d like to study or work in. If you’re not sure what you want to do next, try to include an equal amount of each different type of work you’ve done. I consider my portfolio website more generalist, by the way.
During the planning stage, you should think about the navigation or website toolbar as your portfolio website should be easy for users to go through. Starting points for your tabs might be: home, show reel, work, about and contact. Don’t forget you can have sub-tabs to categorise your ‘work’ too.
The moving elements are amazing. What did you use to do it?
I used website creator Wix.com because I found it easy to use. Other website builders may be more text heavy and have adverts running alongside them, whereas Wix is very visual, perfect for people who absorb information in this way and extremely user friendly. Best of all, it’s free.
I’d recommend using the ‘complex’ version Wix Editor over the default editor, because it has more options and provides more flexibility when you’re creating your online portfolio. The default editor seems to restrict your choices a lot.
The main interactive elements on my site are actually buttons out of the pages, videos and blog on my online portfolio. There are a lot of defaults and templates within Wix to use. Most of my work involved messing around with where pages link to and importing the work in. It was fairly straight forward to use.
You’ve done so many fantastic pieces of work! How did you choose what to put in it?
I had a difficult time selecting work for my website. The key is really to try and pick out the essential. My starting point was going through all the units I did during my BTEC in Digital Creative Media, although put in my personal projects too. Universities are interested in what you do in your spare time.
If you struggle, I would suggest you try to think about it from the perspective of a university, employer or prospective client. What type of impression would you like to give people when they see your portfolio website? It's also worth to ask a friend/classmate/family/teacher for their opinion to get some feedback. This may help you to select the work for your website.
What are you most proud of on your online CV?
I am most proud of the show reel that I edited for my portfolio using Adobe Premier Pro software (this does cost money, but you can get a free seven day trial). I exported my work in MP4 then embedded the videos as a YouTube link on my website. The reason I didn’t publish videos directly onto my online portfolio website is because it would have taken too long to load up and, by embedding a link to my YouTube channel, people would be more likely to check it out.
Putting my show reel together was another big topic, which I started in the same way as I did my online portfolio, by showing off my best work within the first one or two minutes.
How did being at College help?
While I did a lot of my online portfolio myself, it was useful for my tutors at College set aside two hours a week during our course to do this. Because everyone was in the same boat and fairly new to it, there was a conversation going on in the room, everyone was helping each other and giving feedback on each other's website. And if you were unsure how to do something, you could ask your classmate and your teacher.
My College tutor Mike McGinley had a very sharp eye for layout and consistency, and would often advise me on my layouts and colour choices to stay consistent. Try to keep to a house style, by using the same typeface and font size. I think the use of a modern font helps. I went for a white portfolio website background to keep the site looking clean and draw more attention to your work. In terms of layout, make sure all your photos are aligned (in a grid, for example). Little changes like this really make a difference to how professional your online portfolio looks, and helps it stand out from everyone else’s.
What are your tips for anyone thinking of doing what you do?
There are a few! Please consider loading speed. For videos I would embed YouTube links rather than have a long loading time for video and I would reduce image sizes so they do not take forever to load and cause people to leave your website. Here’s a video from my Trafford College tutor Mike McGinley about how to reduce image size without losing quality, and there are plenty more tutorials on YouTube.
Secondly, try to scan your sketches of concepts or storyboards as they can come out poorly as photographs. Also, you wouldn’t want an inappropriate background in a photograph, such as your living room or bedroom, on a professional portfolio. If you have to take a photo, do it in a bright environment with the camera face-on. You can edit photos afterwards in terms of brightness, contrast or sharpness, but take care editing over them unless it’s for a particular project, for a more professional look.
Universities, clients and employers are interested in rough work showing how you got to the finished product, so be sure to include these too. This could be in the form of sketches, storyboards or anything else capturing the process. During my interviews for university, if I had to point out one thing, it would be that most of them are very interested in sketchbooks and rough work.
Finally, good luck to all of you giving an online portfolio website a go! It's hard work, but I can ensure you that it will pay off. I’m studying a one-year Fine Art course after finishing my BTEC with triple distinctions and I’m convinced that my online portfolio was one of the reasons I won outstanding student of the year at Trafford College’s Student Awards.