I recently completed some work rebranding Endis, the sister company of the web business I work for. As well as specific sales and support web sites, Endis wanted an umbrella site for their UK brand. Simple, direct branding, with links off to the other sites (if you get geo-coded off to the US site, that was nothing to do with me. Just talking UK here).
Endis are a fantastic company with pedigree in web site development. Their unique, versatile platform works for both small and large organisations; commercial and charitable, as an off-the-shelf CMS and for fully customised sites.
When I visited the site to take a screenshot and remind myself of what the project involved, I found that it has been redesigned already. Mostly just tweaking, but it has affected some of the content that was originally there.
I don’t mind one bean if people want to change their sites after they’ve paid me for content work. They own the sites. My work is done.
Except it does give me one small challenge: it affects my portfolio.
In creative industries, especially ones that people haven’t heard much about (content strategy, anyone?), potential customers want to see the difference made for previous clients. But when content is changed by a client – or is dynamic in nature – it can be hard to showcase the work that was originally done.
Even the smallest changes…
Even the smallest changes can have a big impact, especially on the coherence of the content as a whole.
It’s deeper than the choice of one word over another: it’s because taglines and headings and labels are manifestations of an overall content strategy. They are the visible fruit on a tree whose overall growth includes the marketing message, tone of voice, company brand, user experience, SEO and business objectives.
You can’t just stick apples on a pear tree.
The problem with portfolios
And therein lies the problem. Once clients have tweaked a few things, or the user-generated content starts appearing, or they change something about the design, it becomes harder to showcase the strategy behind the content.
Even when nothing changes, sometimes our contribution sits in with other elements that don’t look so hot. There are some other sites that I’ll never add to my portfolio because of the state of the rest of the web site.
I’d love to know what you do to overcome the difficulty. Here are five of my thoughts:
- Show an unlinked screenshot of when the site was looking good
- Explain what you did for each client rather than just pointing at the site
- Include a disclaimer for portfolio entries
- Offer another way to experience your work – in my case, the free sample
- Do as much as possible to support good content after release (such as style guides and training)
What else would you do? How do you beat the problem of portfolios? How can you show off your work without other people altering it?