Adobe Portfolio, free with a Creative Cloud subscription, is a real gem. Even if you’re perfectly happy with your website, I recommend taking a look at it. For me, it’s a been a perfect tool to publish a broader selection of work while maintaining the narrow focus of my primary website—headshots.
I’m of the opinion that you must be known for a specialization within photography. The website on your business card or in your Facebook Ads must make it very clear what you do. But marketing your speciality doesn’t mean you can’t publish other work or personal projects.
Just don’t do it on the same website. Enter Adobe Portfolio. While not a full featured web platform like Squarespace or WordPress, Adobe Portfolio does the basics of online portfolio display very well. Here are my initial impressions.
Thoughts on setup
Setting up a basic Adobe Portfolio site was pretty easy. No web design knowledge is required. Just pick from one of several templates. Then you’re free to customize—add your own sections or pages and upload images.
Google Analytics Integration
After assembling a simple site, I started to poke around the settings. Adobe has integrated some great features under the hood. Take Google Analytics integration, for example. The ability to connect to Google Analytics may seem unimportant at first. For most of us, the detail Google provides is overkill. But you’ll want to check back on occasion. Is your Adobe site getting more traffic than your main site? If so, you’ll want to understand why and where the traffic is coming from. Google Analytics can do that. Maybe work you thought was so-so turns out to be quite popular. That’s a good problem to have.
Adobe saves your template customizations
Adobe follows a template model common among website providers. Pick a template and customize. But if you decide to try a new template only to decide you don’t like it, you typically can’t go back to your customizations on the previous template. Adobe Portfolio does this quite well. It saves your customizations so you can revert back to the default template or your customized version of it. This is a very handy feature when trying to decide on a template.
Great project nesting functionality
I also found the ability to nest projects very handy for adding lots of work. For example, I can create a Headshots group and then create sub projects (Studio Headshots, Environmental Headshots, Urban Headshots etc..). While I’m not using this feature, the scaling opportunity should come in handy as my body of work grows.
Limited image display within projects
Only three downsides came up in my evaluation of the service. First, the templates all seem to display project images across the full width of the page with vertical scrolling. As far as I can tell, this can’t be changed. Some variety would be a great addition. I’d expect new templates could solve this problem—hopefully Adobe is working on it.
Limited social sharing settings
The second problem didn’t arise until I tried sharing some projects on Facebook. I noticed some inconsistencies in which image Facebook grabs to accompany the link. For you web designers, this is the Open Graph markup. I’m not a web designer, but I’ve noticed some challenges on other web platforms as well. Why can’t the interface simply ask, “Which image would you like displayed when sharing this project on social media?”
No blog engine
Third, the platform lacks a blog engine. So if you do any blogging, which is huge for SEO, you’ll want to maintain your existing blog. You can certainly link to a blog hosted elsewhere, it’s just not going to have the same look as the Adobe site.
As a photographer with a Creative Cloud subscription, you should definitely give Adobe Portfolio a try. As with any template solution, you give up a little control of the details. But I think it’s well worth the tradeoffs. Unless you get paid to design websites, spending hours agonizing over and tweaking a site is not the best use of your time. Simply maintaining a current web portfolio (with a modern look) is a must for any photographer. With just an hour or two, Adobe Portfolio can get you started.
Personally, I’m quite happy with the site I put together. It’s a work in progress as I curate past projects, but I’m already seeing the benefit of having a polished web portfolio that I control (unlike social platforms) and can easily share with prospective clients.