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General Discussion

Best full service and adaptable portfolio site?

I have multiple people asking me to help them design and launch websites they can use as their portfolios (artists and musicians mainly). The website needs to be something they will be able to add/change content to down the road without my assistance. I've started thinking I could make a side business out of setting up and tweaking the design of these portfolio sites but I am not sure which site is best for this type of work - Squarespace? Wix? Virb? Wordpress? Tumblr? CargoCollective?

It needs to be a site that I would be able to retool the HTML/CSS enough to get whatever design the "client" wants but easy enough to use that I could hand it over to them once it's launched. I've looked at various sites, each seems to have its pro and cons and varying degrees of yearly expense.

Anyone have any experience and/or thoughts regarding these sites? Which site would be best to learn in order to start a side business?

5 Answers

John Locke
John Locke
15,479 Points

My own limited advice: Not Wix. I've had people approach me to fix their site that someone else set up in Wix because no one can update it.

I've heard Squarespace is really easy on both the designer and client end, but I haven't used it myself.

I do a lot of WordPress sites, and updating and adding content is pretty easy for the clients.

Those would be the two I would be most likely to lean toward, but we need more input on the subject. What says the rest of the community?

James Barnett
James Barnett
39,199 Points

I think Wordpress probably has more overhead than necessary for something like this. Of course remember the old adage, the best tool for the job is often the one you are most comfortable with, so for established Wordpress devs, Wordpress is probably the right choice.

Otherwise I'd say choose something that's really easy to set up for you and very customizable, Squarespace from what I hear does that.

I concur with John Locke that Wix isn't a good choice as it's not expandable/customizable enough. I don't think tumbr is the right fit for a portfolio.

Chase Lee
Chase Lee
29,275 Points

Try Clover Sites. It's made just for people with no web experience. Although it's not very customizable for people like you, it will be very easy for your clients to change their sites.

I've also heard good things about SquareSpace but I haven't personally used it. You do have to consider what your clients are willing to pay: It's anywhere from $8-$30/month to use but SquareSpace keep the backend running smoothly. All your clients have to do is update their content.

Conversely, WordPress is free but you have to rely on the client to update Wordpress regularly, as well updating as any active plugins. I've personally had problems with clients who don't update regularly, so you may want to offer an update service instead. This could compete with SquareSpace's price point. You'll also need some PHP knowledge with WP but you'll have more flexibility with your designs and functionality.

I would personally pick WordPress because I'm most familiar with it, but that might not be the right choice for you.

Whatever framework you do choose, just pick one. You'll drive yourself mad if every client is using a different service.

Thanks for the advice. Sharon you're right, I've been feeling a little mad looking at all of the possibilities I've done some research and played with various sites. Each has its pros and cons, I've listed my top choices below.

CargoCollective pros easy to update templates and hosting for only $9/mo allows access to HTML and CSS for customization cons default iOS design is generic (not template specific). the site is invite-only and users are limited to only five invites.

Virb pros good looking templates and hosting for $10/mo user-interface easier than Cargo. Excellent responsive design built-in for templates. cons The site CSS and HTML are unaccessible. Customization of templates is done through CSS overrides.

SquareSpace pros Excellent responsive design built-in for templates. Developer Center: totally customizable code, build for free until ready to launch. cons Price: $16/mo for templates and hosting. All of the templates look similar. Virb offers more variety. No backup or data retrieval.

My conclusion is this: for friends who need a good looking template site with little customization I would recommend Virb. For a site with a lot of customization that still needs to be updated by the client, I would recommend either SquareSpace Developer or move on to self-hosting and use Joomla or working from scratch. I think one could make a strong argument for why SquareSpace isn't worth the $16/mo when self-hosting is cheaper.