Testimonials Equal a Winning Portfolio Website
Thomas James | Escape from Illustration Island
In previous parts of this series, we’ve focused on how to make the most of your website design, image gallery, and About page. Now that you’ve impressed them with your work and told them about who you are, how do you prove that you’re not just fancy pictures and big talk?
As you probably know, working as a professional Illustrator is more than just drawing pretty pictures.
Nurturing a project from concept to completion requires listening, understanding, collaborating, conceptualizing, revising, communicating, re-revising, and long hours of hard work. A potential client needs some sort of sign that you’ve done this before. After all, you’re asking them to pay for a service that they’ve never seen in action and a product that doesn’t yet exist. A portfolio full of stunning work doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ve created work for anyone besides yourself, and sometimes an Art Director needs a little more proof before they decide that you’re worth their valuable time. As I mentioned in previous parts of this series, Art Directors look at a lot of portfolio websites everyday, and they need to have certain requirements met in their mind before taking things to the next level.
Two Forms of Proof
In order to instill confidence in your visitor that you’re the right person for the job, it can be extremely helpful to show them either a list of recent projects, client testimonials, or both. I’m grouping these two forms of proof into one article because they are both good ways to show a record of successful projects that you have completed for other clients.
Record of Success
The easiest way to prove some level of experience is to include a list of recent projects or clients. This shows that it’s not your first time around the block, and it’s also a good opportunity to brag about any well-known clients you may have worked for. It might even be a good idea to briefly describe the types of projects, such as book cover, logo design, T-shirt design, etc. If you’re just starting out with your Illustration career, it’s probably not a good idea to have a list of recent projects that is only two or three items long, unless of course you have worked with some big name clients. This only has the opposite effect of highlighting your inexperience, so it’s better to wait until you’ve got something to talk about. Until then, you can focus on making the most of the other areas of your site.
An even more impressive form of validation is a list of client testimonials. If multiple clients were pleased enough with your results to give positive testimonials, placing them on your site suggests that the next project will be equally successful. The power of “social proof” can help you to gain the trust of many future clients. You can say whatever you want about yourself, but having other people say it for you is much more effective because they have nothing to gain by recommending you. Have you ever been convinced to buy a product or service online by reading the positive reviews left by other people? You have no idea who those people are, but their words probably played a big part in nudging you past the tipping point. You can use this same concept to add some clout to your own services, and unlike the list of recent projects, it only takes one or two testimonials to have a positive effect.