Which online portfolio is right for you?

So you want to show off your work but don’t know where to begin? Here’s our pick of online portfolio services for designers and photographers…

There are so many sites that offer an online portfolio out there it’s hard to know which ones to choose. They fall into two main categories—sites where your portfolio is part of a creative network (where it’s easy for clients to discover new talent) and sites which offer an easy to build portfolio to serve as your primary website. With every site offering something slightly different it can be a minefield so we’re here to give you our overview of our favourites…

Portfolio communities

Behance

Who is it for? Graphic designers, illustrators, photographers, animators, UI/UX Designers.

When it comes to portfolio communities for creative industries, Behance is the big cheese, there’s no avoiding it. It sets a standard of showcasing beautiful large format images and it’s a great place to be found by companies seeking artists and designers. If you’re a full Affinity convert, you may also be interested to check out alternative communities like…

Dribbble

Who is it for? Graphic designers, illustrators, UI/UX Designers.

Dribbble is an independent community and portfolio platform, primarily for designers, illustrators, UI and UX designers. You can join to view, like and commission artists but you need to be invited to upload your work. You get your own portfolio page where you can upload your projects or ‘shots’ and all your contact info and ‘about me’ stuff. It’s also a hugely active online community and it encourages real life interaction too through Hangtime and meet-up events which are held worldwide.

Art Station

Who is it for? Digital artists, concept artists, character designers, 3D artists.

The go-to showcase site for digital artists, concept artists, 3D artists and people working in the game, TV and film concept industries. The standard here is really high and aspirational—if your work fits then you’ll be in good company. There is also a fantastic jobs page and regular art challenges to help you hone your skills. They’ve now introduced a marketplace where you can sell assets like brushes and a prints section where you can create high quality reproductions of your work. They also offer the ability to host your own site and custom domain with them.

Deviant Art

Who is it for? Illustrators, photographers, digital artists.

Deviant Art has been a vibrant community of artists, illustrators and photographers for years, but as time went by the site stayed the same and started to feel a little old fashioned. Change is afoot with it’s new ‘Eclipse’ look, and the site redesign might just make it a more serious portfolio contender again. Maybe it’s time to spruce up your old DA portfolio?

500px

Who is it for? Photographers.

15 million photographers can’t be wrong…500px has a sleek look and a great community of photographers. It has both free and paid for options which allow you to monetize your work through licensing images, as well as promoting your real-world photography workshops. The Editors Choice page is a great place to start to discover other photographers and see the amazing talent on this site.

Flickr

Who is it for? Photographers.

Flickr is a well-known site for managing and sharing photography online. There is a paid for professional option which offers a more commercial appearance and options to promote your business. There are lots of partner perks in the form of product discounts when you sign up to a pro-account.

Home-page portfolios

Where the above examples are community based and browsing, following, commenting and interaction are part of participation, some portfolio sites are designed to be your primary web presence, a standalone home-page for your work with your unique style and branding. Many of these are template based and offer free and paid for options, with domains, web hosting, ecommerce or other more specialist add-ons. Everyone offers something slightly different and costs vary. Here are a few of our favourites…

Smugmug

Who is it for? Photographers.

Smugmug really promotes the security and robust-ness of it’s storage. The biggest selling point is it’s secure servers for storing your images is included even the basic package. It’s focus is wholesome. Unlimited. Full resolution. Private. You can’t argue with that! It also has options for monetizing your work by creating products.

Format.com

Who is it for? Photographers, artists, illustrators, design, fashion.

Format is a paid website portfolio solution, primarily aimed at photographers but with a slick, design and image-led look that is appealing to anyone looking for a creative online presence. One great feature is an online proofing option which allows you to create custom, private links for clients to view the gallery of images you’ve created for them. There are also options to set up an online shop.

Semplice

Who is it for? Photographers, studios/agencies, UI/UX designers, illustrators, animators, filmographers.

Semplice is a bit different in that it works off the back of WordPress and is a full screen, design-led portfolio building system. It has a one-off fee, no subscription (we like that phrase!). With a list of impressive clients like Disney and Spotify, alongside loads of independent designers, photographers and UI/UX Designers. It boasts high-end typography integration and fully drag and drop customisable layout with no restrictive templates.

Zenfolio

Who’s it for? Photographers, wedding photographers, commercial photographers and those who sell individual prints.

Zenfolio pitches itself firmly at commercial photographers, with it’s offering rooted in the wedding photography industry. It provides selling integration to allow your clients to view private galleries to purchase individual prints, photobooks and other products, featuring the photos you have created for them, direct from your site. Products are supplied direct to client by leading print labs. We like that they have special options for school and sports photographers too.

Squarespace

Who is it for? Photographers, artists, bloggers and podcasters.

Squarespace offers a very slick portfolio and storefront solution and different ways to monetize your work. It has options to sell digital downloads, allows you to take subscription based payments, donations and boasts a booking system for service based businesses, which could be a great time saver for photographers and artists who run their own workshops and events.

Portfoliobox

Who is it for? Photographers, illustrators, artists, film-makers.

Portfoliobox is a very slick and professional looking template based site with good-looking mobile versions of your portfolio as a big selling point. It has both free and paid for options and offers an integrated ecommerce solution, plus a fully integrated image-led blog to help keep your followers up to date.

Fotomat

Who’s it for? Photographers, designers, visual-led companies.

Fotomat is a modular website builder which is very much focussed on presenting a portfolio of images in an engaging and beautiful way. We love the way it looks but it keeps things simple and doesn’t have the ecommerce options that other sites provide, so seems less pitched at those who need to set up an online store.

Weebly

Who’s it for? Designers, illustrators and photographers with a product based sales focus.

Weebly has long been known in the art community for offering free basic sites but it also offers pay monthly options with secure shopping carts, inventory management and other more advanced ecommerce options. Great if you’re a creative who also sells products.

Some final thoughts…

When you’re choosing which sites to use, think about what you truly need now and what you might need in the future. Research carefully and consider how much you want to spend or whether you want to try free options first. Many offer free trials of premium services so shop around.


Artist relations
Charlotte is an illustrator and arts lecturer who is passionate about the creative industries and is now part of our artist relations team. Her interests include mid 20th century inspired design, comic books, board games, movie memorabilia, baking cakes, feminism and yoga. She shares her 1960’s home with her graphic designer husband and her toddler son who likes to hide her iPad. Get in touch with Charlotte if you have work you have made in Affinity apps to share with us, or tag your work with #madeinaffinity in the usual places.
Credits & Footnotes

Images used for demonstration purposes only. We are not affiliated with any of the websites listed in this article, information is a guide only and accurate at time of publishing.