Your portfolio is the central piece of your photography website. It’s the section that receives the most attention, because let’s face it, this is where a client looks to determine whether he/she hires you or keeps looking elsewhere. To break from the monotony there are many creative ways in which you can display your photographic artwork on a web page. The layout you choose depends entirely on your personal taste and style.
But in a strict design sense, the layout establishes a sense of order for the content on a page. It guides how the user interacts and responds to your imagery. However your work is structured and organized visually on a webpage will have an effect on the visitor. We’ll look at common practices and trends to look for when designing your portfolio layout.
The Column Layout
This is by far the most common portfolio layout for a good reason: it works. It shows a good number of images laid out in a symmetrical grid. You can have 2-6 columns span the width of a page. It has been used for ages and originated with the printed photo album. One of the advantages that it brings is that you can visualize a body of work at a glance since all the images are laid out in front of you. One disadvantage is that if the images are too small the user will have to click to enlarge for full visual detail. Nonetheless it’s a very effective layout to use in any portfolio. And to strike a good balance keep the maximum number of columns at three or four.
The Magazine or Blog Layout
A lot of people like the real time publishing quality of blogging. Photographers started using this to their advantage by setting up magazine-like portfolio sites on Tumblr and Blogspot. Some photographers prefer this instead of having a static portfolio page, and it’s no wonder why. This type of layout presents bold images in a one column linear fashion usually posted in chronological order. The down side of this layout is the necessity to scroll to see all the work. However this is not so bad since most people are used to scrolling anyways.
The Fullscreen Layout
Who doesn’t like vivid images displayed across the width of the screen? This layout provides high-visual impact by placing large imagery front and center. All the attention goes to the main image. It displays an image in it’s full splendor and gives any portfolio a cinematic feel. To navigate and view additional images thumbnails are required for better usability. It’s important to note that making an image take up most of the screen leaves little room for navigation and other website elements.
The Horizontal Layout
Most websites scroll up and down. The horizontal layout permits left and right scrolling by displaying images in a carousel-like format. It offers a different experience than most websites which makes it a bit refreshing. The linear format can also be used to tell a story with images.
The Masonry Layout
This is a spin off from the column layout. It adds a little variety to the flow of images by displaying varying sizes and positions of images in a asymmetrical grid. It’s a great way to strike visual interest by breaking out of the regular block grid. The advantages? You have a good number of images visible at a glance. The downside? Some images get overshadowed by larger images in the grid. But this may be a good thing if you would like to emphasize some images over others.
The Parallax Layout
This is not just a layout but more of a design method for controlling how elements on a page move when scrolling up or down. It’s still a new technique but it’s picking up a lot of attention because of it’s visual appeal. Having said that it’s a bit more complex to implement since you have more moving parts. It works by layering images and blocks of text that move in tandem at different rates as you scroll down the page. This creates a sense of depth and provides a pretty cool effect.
There are many options when selecting a layout for your portfolio. But there are certain standards that have worked time and again. Layouts give a sense of order to a visual presentation. The best layout for your portfolio website is one that presents your photographic work in an organized manner and makes it easy for visitors to get a feel for your work.
What about you? Have you seen any interesting web layouts lately?