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Building a portfolio site

A portfolio site presents your work to the world, making it easy for people to see who you are and what you've done. In this guide, we'll cover how to select the right template for your portfolio and various methods for displaying your work. You can also expand your portfolio to include a bio or CV, organized drop-down menus, and secure client logins.

Note: This guide focuses on site design for artist, designer, and photographer portfolios. If you're photographer who works with clients, our Building a photographer site guide may be more relevant.

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Select a template

While all Squarespace templates feature built-in mobile design and artful galleries, the following were built by designers specifically for designers and visual artists. From tiled Index Pages to straightforward slideshows, these templates show off your work while keeping your site's design as unobtrusive as a picture frame.

Avenue

One of our most popular templates, Avenue's key feature is its adaptive grid-based Index Page. This lets you organize your content into thumbnails and titles, which when clicked reveal individual Gallery Pages and descriptions, making a vast body of work accessible from a single page.

For detailed instructions, visit Using the Avenue template

York

Specifically designed for portfolios, York is ideal for illustrators, photographers, creative agencies, and other visual content producers. York uses unique Project Pages to combine text and images and present your designs in attractive, attention-grabbing ways.

For detailed instructions, visit Using the York template.

Wells

Wells combines sidebar navigation, image captions, and versatile Gallery Pages into an image-friendly template. Wells' Gallery Pages lets visitors switch between a slideshow and thumbnail grid design, empowering your audience while keeping the images in focus.

For detailed instructions, visit Using the Wells template.

Ishimoto

Clean and elegant, Ishimoto features minimal navigation, directing the audience's attention to the sliding gallery of images. With editable footer space for contact information, Ishimoto is a great choice for visual artists who want to let their work speak for itself.

For detailed instructions, visit Using the Ishimoto template.

Flatiron

Flatiron also uses an inventive Index Page to display various projects in a single page. Rolling over a thumbnail displays the page title and clicking it reveals full gallery content and a description.

For detailed instructions, visit Using the Flatiron template.

Show your work

Every Squarespace template can display your photographs, illustrations, or designs in innovative ways. The three primary methods for displaying image sets are Index Pages, Gallery Pages, and Gallery Blocks. This section covers the key differences and how each method relates to portfolio design.

Index Page

Index Pages are available in specific templates and offer unique opportunities for displaying content. Both Avenue and Flatiron's Index Pages feature grids of thumbnails, allowing you to organize multiple Gallery Pages into a cohesive presentation. This is a great way to show off series of photos, paintings, or projects.

Other Index Page styles, like the single scrolling Index Page used by Pacific, Marquee, and similar templates, is less geared towards portfolios. When considering an Index Page, it's important to look at the Index Page itself and how its content is transformed when accessed through the Index Page.

For example, Gallery Pages viewed through Avenue's Index Page will feature a stacked column of images and a description, while Gallery Pages viewed alone use a slideshow design.

 

Since Index Pages offer layouts and features not available elsewhere, it's good to determine whether a specific Index Page style works for your portfolio and then build your site around that central feature.

Gallery Pages

Gallery Pages are available for every template, but many templates use distinct variations. Gallery Pages also behave differently when used within Index Pages, so it's worth exploring the various combinations available to determine how you'd like to structure your portfolio site.

When evaluating a Gallery Page design, it can help to consider the following questions:

  • Do you want to display captions or titles?
  • Will you be using clickthrough links?
  • Is there one particular design (such as a grid or slideshow) you know you'd like?

To learn more about Gallery Pages, visit Using the Gallery Page

Gallery Blocks

Gallery Blocks let you select from four standard designs — slideshow, carousel, grid, and stack — when creating galleries on any Regular Page, blog post, or other content area. If a certain template has one feature you love like an Index Page, but a Gallery Page style that doesn't match your vision, using Gallery Blocks on a Regular Page is a great alternative. Visit our guide on the differences between Gallery Pages and Gallery Blocks to learn more.

Add a bio or CV

You can add a Text Block to a Regular Page to provide further details about your work. Using headers helps organize your content into tidy sections like "Past Clients" or "Awards." Another option is to embed a .pdf using the third-party service Issuu. While this lets you utilize the vast layout options available in .pdfs, it does have the drawback of preventing search engines from crawling your bio or resume text. To learn more, visit Displaying your resume on your site.

Create a filtered drop-down menu

If your work encompasses multiple keywords, you can use tags and categories to organize your content then display it in a drop-down menu. To do so, add a folder then add navigation links for your separate categories. This will appear in your main navigation as a clickable drop-down menu.

Limit content to clients

To display work on your site while restricting who views it, you can create galleries that don't appear in your main navigation menu as well as password-protect pages. With customizable lock screens, this allows clients to log in through a branded portal, viewing sensitive or private materials without having to leave your site.

For more information, visit Creating a private page.

Optimize for search engines

If you'd like your images to appear in search results, adding image descriptions and captions allows Google to understand what your pictures are of. Image captions are also used as alt text, making your site more universally accessible.

Beyond adding image text, verifying your site with Google Search Console and following these best practices can help your portfolio's search ranking.

Next steps

This just the start of your portfolio's possibilities. You can use the following guides to build out your portfolio site and show the world what you're about.

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Building a portfolio site