We all know that the most visually stunning personal websites often belong to folks in creative industries. After all, they have rich portfolios of work to plaster all over their sites, showing off their stories and abilities instead of just writing a block of text to tell people about it.
But what if you don’t work in an especially visual role or industry? How can you have a “gallery” of your work—when you don’t have any tangible work you can show off? Or what if your strong suits are soft skills, like leadership and communication? How can you visualize that?
Read on for five tactics for adding more imagery to your website or portfolio. Whether you’re trying to present a project that isn’t particularly visual (hello, Excel spreadsheets) or looking for ways to creatively show off soft skills, there’s bound to be a solution for you. And while a lot of inspiration does come from the designers, trust us—these are ideas anyone can use.
1. Show Off Logos
This is a quick and dirty way to make your site a little more visual. Instead of just writing about clients you worked with, use their logos to add a little visual interest.
If you’re in sales, you can use this to highlight major clients you sold to (as long as there’s nothing proprietary or prohibited by your employer). In marketing, think about companies you organized partnerships with. If you’re in business or finance, maybe there is a slew of companies you have consulted for. Or, if you’re a writer or speaker, include the logos of publications or conferences you’ve contributed to.
Whatever it may be for your industry, if you have more than three or four compelling, recognizable logos to show off, do it!
Like designer Anthony Wiktor, you could create a grid of logos that link to pop-ups or another page describing in a little more detail the work you did with that company.
Or, like writer Allison Stadd, you could use the logos to link directly to contributor pages around the web.
2. Create a Narrative With Photos
Just because you don’t have pictures of your work doesn’t mean you can’t find pictures that represent the work you do.
Think about ways you can incorporate general imagery as you explain what you do or describe projects you’ve worked on. Maybe you work in HR and are talking about a project you did to improve team culture. Could you include a picture of your team looking happy or a stock photo of a team gathered around? Or if you work in operations and are describing a new process you implemented, could you find a general photo of people brainstorming to visually represent the hard work you put in? Even if the picture isn’t actually of you or the specific work you did, a person reading your site will be able to connect the idea of the picture with what you did—and are much more likely to remember it.
Designer Bo Kristensen does a nice job of this in telling the story of how he got to where he is today—a tactic anyone in any industry could use.
Or, you could go the route of “creative communicator” Hannah Silverton and simply have small pictures that go with each of your skills, representing the idea and accompanying your aesthetic.
Looking for affordable images? In this article that walks you through building a personal website, we’ve provided some great resources for free photos around the web. Or, if you’re building your site with Squarespace, you can license stock photos from Getty Images for a lower price than you could elsewhere.
3. Show Your Skills With Icons
If photos don’t feel quite right for you, you can accomplish a similar goal with icons. For each of the skills you want to describe on your site, find a simple little icon that represents it. For communication skills, you might find an email icon or a microphone. For amazing sales capabilities, you might find an upward-trending graph. For product development, you might look for a light bulb (for ideas) or a gear.
Kristensen does a great job of this on his site as well, even throwing a little about his personality into the mix.
On The Muse’s site, we use icons to accompany stats about our amazing audience. Why couldn’t you steal the same tactic to go along with stats about your successes?
The best place on the web to find icons like these is The Noun Project, where you can search for icons by the topic you’re looking for and download them for $1.99 each.
4. Share Information With Charts or Infographics
Speaking of data, why not actually create some graphs or charts with data related to your work to add a visual element to your site?
If you work in a more analytical or numbers-oriented field, this is a great route for you, but even if you don’t, there’s still data you can show off! Check out Lily Zhang’s advice on quantifying your work—even when you don’t work with numbers. The key is to not overwhelm with charts. Just pick a few that represent you the best and are most impressive, and make sure they’re visually consistent so they look good together on your site. Check out a great example on developer Ana Enders’ site.
Or, you could take it a step further and create a whole infographic about yourself to embed on your site! We promise, you don’t have to be a designer to do it: Vengage has a drag-and-drop infographic builder, and Infogr.am allows you to easily build interactive infographics. (Check out a quick example with totally made-up data here.) And Rachel Gillett has some great tips on thinking through creating an infographic resume. Designer Deidre “Deda” Bain has an amazing and personality-filled one on her site—even though she’s a designer, you can definitely get inspiration from it!
5. Try Smart Typography
Sometimes there just really isn’t any imagery that makes sense. And in that case, to make your site more visually engaging, try getting creative with the typography.
Think of ways you can use colors, italics, or different fonts to pull out elements of your skills or experience. The easiest way to do this is to create an image using Photoshop (or a similar free service) and then embedding it on your site.
Designer and editor Allen Tan gives us a great, simple example. It’s just text, but it’s lovely to look at and in just a matter of seconds gives us an idea of who he is.
Bain has a slightly fancier example that’s a sort of word art graphic. While hers on the site is interactive, you could create a still one with a similar aesthetic.
Working in a non-visual job doesn’t have to stop you from creating a visually beautiful website. A picture says a thousand words, and everybody has a story to tell. You just might have to get a little creative in figuring out how to tell yours.