How to add some Flavors to your online portfolio
Up until recently, I have advocated WordPress.org as the best platform for building your own, easy portfolio site. I talked about it at length in last year’s Blogging for Journalists series, and in this article for journalism.co.uk.
But all is not well.
Over the Christmas break I started reworking my portfolio website. Up until now I’d been using a WordPress install with a decent free theme. I’ve been updating it through 2010, but its message was confusing, and crucially, it wasn’t bringing in any new work. I decided I needed something new: something simple and eye-catching.
So, I started the hunt through hundreds of WordPress themes, free and paid for…and after three frustrating days – I found nothing.
Hundreds if not thousands of developers create new WordPress themes all the time, but many of them focus on using all the features, creating themes packed with text, widgets, columns and menus. There was no room for simple, elegant theme (incidentally, if you’re a WordPress theme designer reading this: gap in the market!)
I almost gave up…and then I discovered Flavors.
Why use flavors?
Flavors.me‘s tag-line is “make a homepage in minutes” – and that’s what it is about. It is a platform for you to create a one-page destination for your digital world, detailing who you are, and bringing all your different feeds into one place.
For me, Flavors offers three really significant things for someone trying to make a quick, distinctive website:
.01 simplicity: there are no pages, posts, comments or widgets to worry about. You can actually create the whole site in about 30 minutes, which for a website is pretty remarkable
.02 versatility: despite this, no two flavors.me sites I have seen look the same. And it gives you the chance to use the whole browser window and create a really attention grabbing theme.
.03 curation: flavors.me was designed to provide a one-stop shop for all our different digital outlets. So you connect your Twitter feed, your blog output, your Tumblr, Flickr and Vimeo feeds – and they can all be viewed from one page.
How to use flavors
- You start with flavors.me by registering with the service for free and creating your own url – at first http://www.flavors.me/yourname.
- Then you’re taken to your page, and a floating ‘design’ panel lets you add all your news feeds, edit the name of your site, and mess around with the shape and size.
- Flavors lets you adjust the positioning of your content to about six or so templates, for example, to the left of the screen, right in the centre etc. You can also adjust the font, size and colour of your text.
- Finally, you can decide on the background for your site. People use photographs, their own graphic designs or just plain colours. They all appear full screen, right across the browser, which instantly makes your own website stand out from the crowd.
What about your portfolio?
So, how do you create a portfolio of work inside Flavors.me? This is where the site’s curation tools are most useful, because you can connect them to the third-party sites holding your portfolio work and it does the rest of the work.
For example, as a video journalist, I want my films available to view on the site. But I don’t need to worry about creating a new post for each film, and embedding it: I simply connect Flavors to my Vimeo page and it does the rest.
It works the same with Flickr and Picasa (and others) for photojournalists, Soundcloud for audio journalists; Behance for designers and all the major blogging platforms for writers.
Best of all: clicking on each feed, opens it up in an adjoining panel: so people can watch your content without leaving your website.
How to match it to your domain name.
Flavors.me is free to access most of the features. However, to get all the fonts and full range of design options, SEO metadata and domain matching you’ll need to pay an annual fee of $20 (£12).
The paid version also lets you add a nifty ‘contact’ page and a few other things too.
If you really like your Flavors site, you might want to make it your official homepage. Obviously, you’ll need to own a domain name (try services like Bluehost (affiliate link) if you don’t have one already); but once you do, redirecting is pretty simple.
You need to log into your domain name’s Control Panel, find the options to change DNS records, and add a new A-record, changing the IP address to the Flavors.me server.
Flavors offer quick guide to doing this, so it’s pretty straightforward.
Examples of great journalists portfolios
Loads of journalists are already experimenting with Flavors. Here are some examples of it being used to great effect. If you want more inspiration, the site’s directory is a great place to start.
There are some design downsides: the site’s full-screen nature means it looks different on each computer. I am also not sure how it looks on mobile devices or an iPad.
NOTE: Lovely readers, including Philip John and David Berman have pointed out my site looks less impressive on an iPad. Clearly something to test with your own background designs.
What you compromise is the flexibility of WordPress: there are no plugins, no widgets, no CSS; but what you gain is the chance to design a website that really stands out. And with the number of websites in the billions and growing daily, that’s what matters.