Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Competitive Analysis - Professional Portfolio

For this part of the assignment I must conduct a competitive analysis on a professional portfolio. I must sum up the pros and cons of their designs in preparation for the creation of my own. I have chosen to analyse the portfolio of Chris Spooner, who is now an independent freelance designer having participated in a number jobs through his career. His site can be found here.


On the homepage you are instantly hit by a very bold image reel. This is great for grabbing the viewers' attention from the start, with a small insight into some of the work he has done. This is definitely going to encourage the viewer to go on throughout the site, learn a little more about you, and sample some more of your work.

Above the image reel is a very subtle neat header design. Both the logo and navigation are very clear, which is vital for the user to be able to navigate around the page.

Use of a very bold heading and subheading text gives you a good sense of hierarchy; important for navigating around each page. The most important information is also all found above the fold which is crucial to increase the chances of viewers continuing through the site.

The paragraphs below the fold line are poorly structured, and make me unsure where to go after reading the first one. This could be solved by dividing the sidebar more from the main content section.

The link to his personal blog is a very good touch on any page. Advertising your own work only increases its views, and your profile. The clever hover image also grabs your attention and makes you more aware of the link.

The footer is very simple and does exactly what it needs to. He could have possibly included a site map, but for a four page site I do not believe this in necessary. The small link saying 'going up?' is a very clever tool. The way in which it takes you to the top of the page is aesthetically pleasing, with one smooth movement.

About Page

The large bulk of textual content is very well structure on this page. The colours are comfortably distinguishable with the dark text on a light background. With a good size font and good line length, the text is easily readable.

Again, the uses of links to his blog are used. Here he has included his second one but it is a great advertisement for his work.

I like the use of the side bar for a small portfolio section. I personally think it is good that he has included the image of himself. It instantly gives you a more personal feel for his work and means you can put him into context.

He has used the section entitled: 'My other homes on the web' to advertise all his online work. This is a great use of links to a variety of different websites he has work on.

Portfolio Page

This is a very clear and precise way of displaying his work. The thumbnails are great for allowing you to quickly preview the work before you click on it. Using thumbnails also allows you to fit plenty on the page. One negative has to be the lack in information on each piece of work. A small piece of writing to describe the work would have helped me to put each piece into context.

Contact Page

This page is also very simple and clear. A good use of PHP for the small feedback form gives the readers simple communication means to him.

The section entitled: 'A few things to keep in mind' gives clear information as far as contacting him and the questions that can be answered upon initial contact. These are great outlines for anyone interested in his work. This is a very profession approach with very clear guidelines as to what he does, what you need to do, and what you should expect. This is something I should definitely take onboard when making my professional portfolio.


Some of the language used (especially in the headlines) is not of a professional standard. I know the intention is to be relaxed and reflect some personality, but personally I think a little more professionalism is needed.

Overall the portfolio is very professional looking and does exactly what it needs to without the fuss. It is also very user friendly and I can definitely take many positives from it.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Competitive Analysis - Student Portfolio

As part of an assignment we had to undertake a competitive analysis of a student's website portfolio. I came across Richard Paul Davidson's online portfolio and decided this would be a good site to base my analysis. Richard is a recently qualified First Class Multimedia (Computer Science) graduate, and his portfolio can be found here.

Initially the portfolio doesn't provide anything to grab my attention. The choice of using black as the main colour makes the site look very dull. The header and footer use very amateurish computer design skills and without an impacting header on the site, I have to wait for the flash player to complete before I know what I am looking at.

The flash player can be used very effectively; however, the use on this homepage actually limits your access to the vital information until the flash cycle has completed. I believe the information should be there in front of you from the start, telling you viewer exactly what they need to know straight away. This is the purpose of a homepage.

From the homepage alone, it is very clear that there is no grid system used and no text alignment. The text is randomly placed around the page, which makes it look very disorganised and unaesthetically pleasing. This becomes more obvious as you view through the different pages, seeing a definite lack of consistency. Also from viewing all the pages it is very apparent that each page uses a different font size which is a direct neglect of basic design principles.

A positive of this website is its navigation. The text is very clear and consistent, making it very user friendly. I like the use of the hover over drop down menu too because it leaves the page uncluttered. It also adds another aspect of interactivity that is well thought out.

I don't think this website has used the footer to its full potential. Crucial information can be placed in there for easy access. Although Copyright is not necessary, it is always worth showing and stating the Copyright holder of the site. Other things such as contact details and sites maps could have been placed in this section.

On the portfolio pages the lack of internal navigation makes it very difficult to navigate through the different projects he has worked on. There is also an issue with coding as the final link for the Tower Hill work, actually links you back to the Empirehouse.biz section. This is a very basic mistake that actually stops you seeing all of his work.

Again, the use of flash is very poor on this page although it is a good concept. As you move your mouse to click on the projects on the right I found the link quickly moving across the page and it became a task just to be able to click the imagery link. This is not a very user friendly idea, as I found it very frustrating. A simple navigation system would have been much more appropriate.

My first impression of the profile page shows very poorly structured content. He has still continued to imbed the content in flash. This means that the content becomes uneditable, and users are unable to highlight it. The page would be much better off if it was pure HTML and CSS.

On more of a typographical note, the line length is far too long for the readers. Having a long line length means your eyes struggle to find where you are in the sentence. The fact that the text is white on a black background also increases the difficulty of registering the words. The line of text that follows under the image is also very unaesthetically pleasing. Despite these things there is a good use of a portrait picture to be able to put a face to the name.

The CV page again has no need to use flash as the content becomes uneditable. The text is made even smaller on here and the line length incredibly long making it very difficult to read. This page should not be fixed in length and should allow the CV to continue down the page. Definitely a good idea to include the PDF and Word documents, as the CV would be unusable otherwise.

The contact page should contain a list of contact details rather than an instant link to outlook express. This means that he is relying on people having an outlook express account set up, whereas this should be an optional means of contact.

Overall, I have struggled to find many positives on this portfolio. The basic rules of design and typography seem to have been neglected throughout. It has done a very good job of highlighting the things I must avoid when creating my portfolio.