If you’re a creative in the online community, a personal website can be essential to grow your online influence. People are visual, so it’s more beneficial to show them your talents rather than just telling them.Your resume, samples of your work, and your proudest accomplishments are primary examples of what you can put on display. If you have a diverse skill set, it can be challenging to decide how to organize and showcase your work on your website so that it captures all your talents. Your website’s audience consists of potential collaborators, clients, and employers, so making sure it’s well-organized is a top priority.
In this week’s #WebsiteWednesday, you’ll learn how Los Angeles creative and self-professed “writer, sometimes illustrator, art director, story consultant, podcaster, and game developer” Leighton Gray serves as an example to follow for building an organized personal portfolio site via her own online portfolio: LeightonGray.xyz.
LeightonGray.xyz is the personal website of Leighton Gray, a very busy creative living in the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, California. She hosts two podcasts. She is a prolific illustrator. She has even had public speaking engagements about art history, video games, and Twitter. She writes and develops games for Game Grumps, an American independent video game publisher. And, she was named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 – Games list with her writing partner, Vernon Shaw. Together they created Dream Daddy, a cross-platform simulator that Nintendo World Report said “succeeds at creating developed characters that have unique stories, interesting dialogue, and fun personalities.”
So how does a writer-illustrator-art director-story-consultant-podcaster-game-developer showcase all their various skills online? Here are six tips for achieving an organized and diverse website design like LeightonGray.xyz.
A striking domain name will get you noticed immediately and can encourage a new contact to dive right into your website.
Leighton wisely selected her full name as her domain name, one of the most memorable selections you can make. The .xyz extension in her URL, she explains, made it zing. “The .com domain for my name was already taken, and I had never seen a .xyz before and found it unique. I find it more memorable than a more traditional .com domain. Looks great on business cards, too.”
A unique name paired with the allure of your .xyz domain can make visitors take notice. A memorable domain name can make the difference between a successful web presence and being just another website. Imagine you’re walking through a shopping mall among a sea of shops. An enticing shop name paired with an eye-catching window is likely going to see an impressive rush of visitors. That’s the goal for your website.
Displaying the projects you have poured your heart into is a great way to highlight your capabilities.
You’ll notice on the menu just beneath Leighton’s About tab that there are four direct links to specific projects she wants to spotlight. These projects showcase her diverse interests and accomplishments.
First is a link to the landing page for her podcast for the “terminally online,” the Leighton Night Podcast. The next option, Fearful Fathers, leads to a page sharing Leighton’s presentation for the 2019 Game Developers Conference (GDC) titled “Dream Daddy & Fearful Fathers: How Indies Can Cope with Being Terminally Online.” The third option, Metamodernism, is a direct link to a page full of resources on Metamodernism, another of Leighton’s passions. The fourth and final option, Deep Cuts, leads visitors to a page dedicated to Leighton’s horror movie-themed podcast of the same name.
By including a variety of your passion projects on your website, you can show visitors just how multitalented and proud of your work you are. This can then generate increased audiences (and potential clients) by word of mouth.
It can be tempting to use elaborate detail when working on design projects, and creating a website is no exception. However, simplicity is often best as it yields a website that is concise and easy to navigate.
Leighton’s website is both clean and bright. Her Homepage and About page feature a stark white background with her small logo on the top left that states her name inside a word balloon. Using this iconography makes it clear that Leighton is an illustrator involved in comic art. Below her name, she’s specified three of her main working interests: illustration, writing, and games. This directly informs visitors on her primary areas of expertise.
It is best to avoid complexity in favor of strong content and a simple design. Doing so can better retain the interest of your visitors, and can also provide the best platform to showcase your talents.
Your personal website is an extension of yourself. You can use it to make sure your visitors truly get to know you. Some great ways to achieve this are by using design techniques that match your aesthetic and by writing copy in your authentic voice.
Leighton uses a menu on the left side of the homepage which encourages viewers to navigate to her About page. Then, she uses her unique voice to write a short biography with noticeable wit. This works to share her personality and demonstrates her abilities as a multi-hyphenate creative.
Designing your website as an extension of yourself gives your visitors more of a complete picture of you than simply providing samples of your work.
Provide clear and welcoming channels of communication on your website for potential collaborators or employers. They are interested in your content, and your website design can put them one click closer to reaching out to you.
Leighton’s About page includes her email address and links to her Twitter, Instagram, and Twitch. Listing multiple methods of contact gives potential collaborators or employers the choice to use the channel they prefer. Leighton stands to earn income from her video game, Dream Daddy, so she’s included a direct link to the game’s website, as well. Being able to read about this video game and then go directly to its download site may be just the incentive needed for a potential player to make a purchase.
Employing multiple ways to contact you on your website makes it easier for potential partners to reach out. This is a great way to drive more opportunities for collaboration or employment.
Make your homepage a superior first experience for your visitors. This will grab and hold their attention, encouraging them to see what you’re all about.
You’ll see that LeightonGray.xyz opens directly to Leighton’s illustrations page, which showcases her colorful, female-inspired artwork. This includes artwork for a podcast titled “Leighton Night,” which lends a strong clue that there’s more to Leighton than her illustrations.
Spotlighting your strongest imagery or work samples on your homepage creates a great and memorable first impression for the visitor.
Your .xyz domain will stand out on your business card, so your website ought to stand out too. After all, it’s the place to incorporate all of your varied skills and accomplishments in a clean and organized manner. Following these six tips, LeightonGray.xyz spotlights her illustrations, podcasting, video game creations, and more on her vibrant and easy to navigate website. She is a great example to follow for how you can showcase your many skills and stand out with your own .xyz domain.
If you’re interested in discussing a possible collaboration with Leighton, or simply wish to enjoy more of her witty content, connect with her on Twitter or Instagram, or reach out at LeightonGray.xyz.