Let me start off by saying that I believe the 3 most important elements of a successful E-Portfolio are…
Without these three elements, it is going to be impossible for you to create a viable, cohesive and successful E-Portfolio that does the job that you want it to do. For that matter, what do you want your E-Portfolio to do for you? Do you want it to showcase your talents or past professional projects? Do you want it to give people a general overview of who you are as an employee as well as an independent person? Do you want it as additional content for people to reference if they are interested in learning more about you? Hopefully, it is meant to do all of these things and more, as a successful E-Portfolio has no limits to the things it can do for you and your career.
Now, I am no professional when it comes to E-Portfolios, but I do have experience in creating my own as well as critiquing some others. For this particular site I have created (my E-Portfolio), I utilized WordPress through an affiliation my university has with them for the sake of creating these online portfolios. WordPress is a free online blogging engine in which you can create as many of your own sites as you wish. I found it a bit difficult to maneuver at first (getting my widgets to appear exactly where I wanted them to, creating and placing categories for my blogs, finding the difference between creating a page and creating a post, etc.), but with a practiced hand and a bit of patience WordPress can become an incredibly useful tool. Through WordPress, I have gained valuable experience using the Google Analyticator (an in-depth tracking software to see how many people are visiting your site, the bounce rate, demographic information, and more). I also have experience creating websites through Google Sites for my own personal endeavors and as a means for storing information. Google Sites are free as well, and in my limited experience with them they do not seem to be as in-depth (meaning, customize-able) as WordPress, nor do they seem as difficult to maneuver. There are many options out there for creating a free website, it is just a matter of finding the one that you are comfortable using.
Ahh, content. This is what can make or break you. Just like any online information, you want to make sure that your online persona is saying what you want it to say about you. Everything has it’s place, but in an E-Portfolio you want to make sure that you come across as the professional you want to be seen as. For a photo of yourself, you want to make sure you are using either a professional photo or one that you are comfortable using as your avatar. Remember, an E-Portfolio is to showcase the best of yourself, right down to your image. You want to make sure that the information you are putting down is something you would be comfortable with your employer and co-workers knowing about you. This is not the place for idle chit-chat about your home life. This is where you want to shine in your abilities. When coming up with content, imagine you are speaking directly to your boss… this will give you a good gauge on your content.
Organization can also turn somebody away from an E-Portfolio that has the potential to, otherwise, be successful. You may have all of the right content in all of the wrong places. If you are writing about personal experiences, keep it in the “About Me” section (if you opt for one). When it comes to professional experience, keep it in the “Employment” section. If you jumble everything that you want to say on one page, it will be too overwhelming to read and it is likely that visitors will leave seconds after they showed up.
What good is a well-executed E-Portfolio if nobody knows that it exists? You need to strategically place your E-Portfolio everywhere that your professional life reaches. I have the link to mine directly on my resume, so that potential employers can find out more about me if they so wish. I also have it on my business card, so that any contacts that I make in person have the knowledge of my E-Portfolio so they can view it in their own time if they so wish. It is on my LinkedIn account as well, for obvious reasons (I think). My E-Portfolio is also available if somebody were to “google” my name. Everywhere that I want my E-Portfolio to be, it is. It is also necessary to bring it up every once in a while, whether it is in a face-to-face or online discussion. You need to push your site out there into the open. Just like life, you can’t expect everything to come to you. Sometimes, you need to go out on a limb for success.
I do hope that this blog was helpful for any attempts (successful ones, I hope!) at creating a professional E-Portfolio. For your reference, please feel free to browse E-Portfolio’s of other Temple University students and alumni, as well as my own. I find that seeing how others organize their content can be extremely helpful in the early phases of building an E-Portfolio.