Saturday 14 July 2012

Guidelines for learners' Carbonmade homepage and template choices.

Written for Visual Arts and Design learners using Carbonmade and their educators.

Carbonmade gives you varied design choices for creating three distinct pages types; a 'homepage', an 'about' page and 'project folder artwork' pages. In designing with Carbonmade's online portfolio template, you will make design choices that are specific to each page and those that apply to all. This post focuses on providing suggestions for the look-and-feel of your homepage, which covers all template choices and those specific to it. These are your 'portfolio title', 'website address',  'artwork thumbnail layout', 'artwork names', 'background color' and 'footer':

What is your portfolio for?
Before making choices, its important to reflect on your reasons for using an online portfolio. Creating a quality portfolio takes a good understanding of what you want to express, how to achieve it and how you would like your audience to interact.

As a learner, here are some important reasons to create yours:
  1. To impress your adjudicators by exhibiting it as an adjunct to your analog portfolio in your matric exhibition (on a tablet or laptop computer);
  2. To showcase extra-mural and co-curricular work, the extra-effort in which might otherwise be unnoticed by your educator;
  3. To help you in your application for further education;
  4. To showcase your visual creativity and media-savvy to future employers;
  5. To show your interests in an amateur, visually creative hobby.
I suggest you write down your goal(s) and use this to motivate yourself to create an online portfolio that truly helps you achieve your aims.

N.B. If you are unsure, take the time to look at the portfolio examples of the creative types (see the left hand side menu) that interest you, and learn from their example. If a portfolio is one you would like to have one day, simply think about what its creator's goals are, then think if they could match your own...

Your online portfolio's title (and web address')
Once you know the reason(s) you are creating an online portfolio,  you should have a sound basis for choosing a name and its website address. Your online portfolio title can be based on your; genuine identity (i.e. your real name), your nickname, a pseudonym, a fake name, a corporate identity or your particular interest (i.e. subject, theme or medium). Whatever your choice, make sure it is well-aligned to your online portfolio's aims, unless your aim is to confuse your audience :) ! As a free user of Carbonmade, your website address will be your portfolio's title inserted between http:// and (i.e.

Background color

Learner EG's homepage: white background example (May, 2012)
Learner MH's homepage: black background example (May, 2012)
Carbonmade offers just two choices for a background colour; either 'black' or 'white'. In making your choice, it is useful to think of the resonance that your colour choice creates. For example, a white background can suggest a sketchpad and is well-suited for portfolios that feature many drawings. A black background suggests a screen or film negatives and is often highly appropriate for mixed-media, photographic or film portfolios.

Homepage thumbnail layout

Carbonmade offers three design choices for the layout of your homepage's artwork folder covers; either one, two or three thumbnails per row.

Learner AK's homepage: horizontal thumbnails example (November, 2010)
If you want to create a cinematic effect, then the one thumbnail option works well. It is also well- suited for artworks in landscape format. If you prefer a look that is more similar to a gallery, then the two or three thumbnails option is more appropriate.

Artwork project folder names
Please visit my tips to name your online portfolios for advice on choosing folder names, if your educator hasn't given you specific instructions.

Artwork project folder images
Learner KP's homepage: artwork folder example (May, 2012)
Your artwork folder covers can either be the first artwork that is inside them, or show an image that does not feature in the folder itself. You can choose whether you there's merit in having artwork or designs that are especially chosen as folder covers, or whether your first folder image does the job.

Copyright your online portfolio's content using your footer.
Your Carbonmade online portfolio's 'header' section is at the top of every webpage and features your online portfolio's name and the 'Work' and 'About' buttons. You can also add a footer, which will appear at the bottom of every page. I recommend that you use this space to assert copyright for your website. To do this, insert the copyright symbol © in front of the year your online portfolio was first-published and then list the copyright owner. For example: © 2010 Travis Noakes. It is also a good idea to do the same for each artwork, when you label each newly uploaded one.

I hope this advice proves helpful. Should you need more, kindly review my online portfolio posts. Comments welcome in the box below, thanks.

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