All designers need to share their work with the public. It’s not doing anyone else any good if it’s sitting in your head, in your notebook, or on your desktop.
Maybe you’re freelance and trying to pick up gigs or maybe you’re happy where you are but want to have a portfolio ready in case you do start looking around. We’re going to talk about the easiest portfolio websites you can use to get all your work out there.
It’s becoming easier and easier to build a website. The only difficulty these days is wading through all the portfolio sites available. We’re going to focus on the ones that have been around the longest and are the easiest to use. We don’t think it’s worth it to weigh you down with too many options. We want to see your design work today. So, read this quickly and spend more time making your portfolio site look amazing—it’s not as hard as it sounds.
The Best Design Portfolio Website Builders
About one third of all the websites out there are built with WordPress. There probably isn’t another option that’s both as flexible and as user-friendly. You don’t have to be an HTML CSS wizard to start out and you don’t really even need to know what those acronyms stand for. But if you do, you can get pretty technical with WordPress too.
There is one important distinction to make with WordPress, though. WordPress.com and WordPress.org are two entirely different things. WordPress.com is a website hosting platform (especially focused on producing blogs) that will allow you to build your website on the spot with really cheap monthly plans. You have a decent amount of flexibility, but definitely not as much as the open-source (free and easy to edit) software from WordPress.org.
If you download the software from WordPress.org, you’ll still need to find someone to do your web hosting. Bluehost, WPengine, and Wix are some of the most popular options, but that is going to be an added cost. WordPress.org takes a little bit more time and energy to use, but the freedom of motion is appealing.
I’ve been working on building a personal website with WordPress.org and it would be hard to find someone who knows less about computer programming, so it’s possible for anyone who’s willing to put in a little effort. I did have a specific vision and feel that I wanted for the site, though, and WordPress.org has allowed me to bring those details to life.
Wordpress.com charges $4/month for its most basic plan, which is billed yearly, so you’ll pay $28 to start your website. And for comparison, Bluehost is $2.75/month if you pay for 36 months up front and $4.95/month if you pay for only 12 months up front.
Pros of WordPress
- The most flexible design wise
- The cheapest if you use WordPress.com
Cons of Wordpress
- WordPress.org can take a lot of time to learn
- You’ll need web hosting if you go with WordPress.org
Wordpress Design Portfolio Examples
Squarespace is in the competition for the easiest to use from start to finish. They use a drag and drop method for building your site, so you have a lot of options for placement and design. And they offer a lot of support if you need step by step help. The one downside to Squarespace is it’s known for not being as flexible as Wix or WordPress in terms of design options.
Their basic plan starts at $16/month if you pay monthly or $12/month if you pay for the full year. A lot of website hosting is similar. You’ll save some money if you pay for a year up front.
Pros of Squarespace
- Possibly the easiest to set up
- Great customer service
Cons of Squarespace
- Limited design options
- A little more aimed towards e-commerce instead of designer portfolios
Squarespace Design Portfolio Examples
Wix is one of the most versatile options out there. Wix doesn’t have as many big name companies that use them, but they’ve become one of the larger players when it comes to personal websites, and the options for themes and the ease of use have made it one of the fastest growing website builders out these days.
Their basic plan starts at $13/month if you pay for the full year or $17/month if you pay for it month to month.
Pros of Wix
- Tons of style options
- Easy to use
Cons of Wix
- The most expensive monthly plan
Wix Design Portfolio Example
If you use Adobe services already, you may already have access to Adobe Portfolio. It’s one of the easiest website builders out there and it is attached to Adobe, which has a whole suite of great design software.
Portfolio doesn’t have as much flexibility compared to other options, and it’s exactly what it calls itself: a website builder for personal portfolios. It’s especially successful if you’re a photographer or designer because it’s visually compelling and makes it really easy to make your pictures and designs stand out.
Unfortunately Adobe is a little more expensive, but you do get the whole suite of Adobe products along with it, including Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign. It’s $52.99/month, but make sure to get a student discount if that applies to you. If you’re a designer, Adobe software is great, so maybe this is the time to pull the trigger and buy a subscription.
Pros of Adobe Portfolio
- Paired with your Adobe CC subscription
- Easy to use
Cons of Adobe Portfolio
- Limited options for site structure
- You can’t buy it alone
Adobe Portfolio Examples
Webflow is what built the site you’re currently on. Although portfolio sites typically have all that you need to show off your images, if you’re also doing a lot of business through your website, you may need the added options that come with Webflow. This is why Real Thread uses it.
Their basic plan starts at $12/month if you pay for the full year or $15/month if you pay month to month.
Pros of Webflow
- Tons of design options
- On the cheaper side
Cons of Webflow
- Steep learning curve
- Aimed more for businesses
Webflow Design Portfolio Example
Dribbble and Behance
There are so many companies getting into this field that it feels strange to attempt to give an exhaustive list. Dribbble and Behance are both free places to post images and design work. They’re on the simpler side compared to the options at the top, but they may be just right if you’re looking to get your content out there for the world to see and if the images can speak for themselves. Behance is open to anyone, but Dribbble is like Facebook in the old days; you’ll need one of the members to send you an invitation.
Pros of Dribbble and Behance
- Fastest setup
- Easier to be discovered
Cons of Dribbble and Behance
- No control over design
- Doesn’t look as professional as a personal domain
Summing it all up
Most of these sites have a lot of similarities and their basic startup prices are not too different from each other. It really comes down to how much control you want of the site, and how much time you want to spend building.
I’ve had trouble myself finding the perfect balance between something approachable and user-friendly and something flexible and able to bring out my vision. The best way to gauge which one is right for you is to look at the examples. See if you want your website to look like a website that was built on that platform. It helps to know what you’re aiming for, and although it might cost you some hard work, you’ll know exactly where it can take you.
Have any designs that you need to put on a t-shirt? Let our team know! Real Thread would love to make your digital designs come to life on some soft, stylish t-shirts.