Social traffic and design visibility

Traffic and signage congestion

During the redesign of my portfolio website in 2014, I thought about the advantages of using a socially-driven portfolio with a built-in audience (behance, dribbble, tumblr, etc.). It connects you to an existing user base instead of relying on search engines or your smaller circle to showcase your design work with others.

Free publicity! I thought it would beneficial using a service that eyeballs were already gazing at, though that wasn’t the only thing that I wanted out of my online portfolio. There are more considerations than just being visible to everyone.

One exploration while looking at portfolio options was to see the ranking of social sites that could potentially house my work or be integrated in my identity online. The most readily understandable way to find this info that I know of is through Alexa ranking, which comes from Amazon. Looking at this gives a close snapshot of where the internet viewers are visiting at a given time, and this can be informative in determining the size of your potential audience, and whether it is worth setting up an account and being active on it.

These were a few of the social services and sites that I thought could be relevant, or they were places I’d seen other portfolios or designer presence in the past:

Ranking of traffic, as of 2014:

1 – facebook
8 – twitter
37 – tumblr
38 – pinterest
57 – flickr
102 – instagram
447 – quora
1,105 – behance/prosite
1,544 – dribbble
7,293 – cargo collective
17,710 – forrst

I didn’t just go down the list and start going with the top ones just because they seemed popular. The part of the story that these numbers leave out is the subset of internet surfers that would be interested in design, in you, and your portfolio more specifically. Realize that the world may not flock to your showcase of work unless they have a reason to: they could be potential clients, fans, collaborators, employers, people interested in your work’s subject matter, or taste-makers that are drawn to your stuff. The other thing to consider is the relevance and fit of your work. Flickr, for instance, is heavy on photographs, from professional to family memories. I’ve seen graphic designers post their stuff on there and connect with the right groups, but the majority of people aren’t thinking of flickr to find design material, unless it’s a photograph thereof.

Why did I start looking into this? Well, online I’m typically more of an observer than a promoter. I tend to be more interested in learning from others than showing off. But I also recognize the importance of sharing, being social, and not hoarding my knowledge, my experience, or my work. All of these sites have a digital social component that can bring new connections to what would otherwise be a one-way conversation of a portfolio.

In the end, I kept my main portfolio on my own domain so I had full control over it. The decision was guided by the fact that I’m not bound by other sites controlling my content, and that I had already had a presence on this domain. I’ve joined a few of the above to remain on the radar, but I haven’t placed much prominence on social media to market myself. It works for some designers, but I’m not trying to drum up demand for my work.

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