Creating a website used to be difficult. Not anymore – nowadays almost everyone has a website or at least a blog, thanks to different CMS solutions and blogging platforms that make it possible to build a website in just a few clicks. Of course, the range of available options varies from service to service, and so does the level of customization you can perform. If you're not too finicky, but still want a beautiful website, may I recommend Portfoliobox?
Portfoliobox is a self-service web app designed to help you build a website quickly and easily. It doesn't require any knowledge of HTML and you don't have to worry about hosting – just customize the look of your future website, pick a name for it and start adding content.
The developers of Portfoliobox say that the app functions on the “LEGO building blocks” principle, meaning that you can simply add and remove elements of the webpage as you see fit. The Portfoliobox workspace consists of a persistent top menu with links to all available options, and the main area in which you modify the contents of your website.
I don't know how it's displayed on bigger screens, but on my 15” laptop the top menu looks rather small and impractical. On the one hand, it's good that all the options are grouped together and visible at once, but on the other, I'd love to see better navigation (or at least a bigger font) in an app that aims to be a stylish solution for visual artists. Since this is probably the only negative thing I have to say about Portfoliobox, I won't dwell on it too much.
So, how do you make a website with Portfoliobox?
When you create an account, Portfoliobox will ask you to choose a layout for your website. The layout affects the position of the menu and the image gallery, and you can freely change it whenever you want. The next step is to add pages for different types of content you plan to publish on your website.
Before using Portfoliobox, you should have an idea or a vision of your future website, especially in terms of how many pages it will have and how they will be connected. You can create a single, static landing page or use Portfoliobox for a purpose spelled out in its name – as an online portfolio. If you're a designer or an illustrator, you'll surely appreciate the gallery and slideshow pages which are suitable for high-quality previews of your work. Your Portfoliobox website can serve as a blog, too, since there's a special type of page just for that.
After you've added all the pages that form the skeleton of your website, it's time to link them to each other. Portfoliobox makes this easy by letting you edit the main menu. You can add links to other pages on your Portfoliobox website as well as links to external websites, such as your Twitter or Facebook profiles.
Naturally, you can modify colors on your website and choose fonts from a huge selection offered by Portfoliobox. It's also possible to upload a custom favicon and password-protect your website. Possibly the coolest feature of Portfoliobox is the ability to localize your website into any language using the custom translation form.
Small business owners will love the fact that Portfoliobox supports e-commerce features and enables building a complete e-store with cart and order management, PayPal integration and options for different tax and shipping prices.
Since we're talking about money, it's time to mention that Portfoliobox comes in two flavors: free and premium. The biggest limitation of a free plan is that you can upload only 40 images to your website. While this might be more than enough for a simple portfolio, you should probably invest in a premium account if you're planning to start a webshop. The upgrade will open up features like Google Analytics integration, custom newsletters, email addresses and a custom .com domain. You'll also be able to add up to 1000 images and pages.
Advanced users and professional web designers shouldn't feel left out, because Portfoliobox supports some custom CSS and HTML, so you can modify your website more thoroughly. There's also an incredibly useful marketing guide (an excerpt is pictured above) which helps you promote your website directly from Portfoliobox.
Though it might seem that Portfoliobox is yet another app riding the increasingly popular “automate everything” wave, I feel that it leaves its users just enough room for creativity while guiding them through the process of setting up a website. The task is not oversimplified - it's just made easier, and I believe that's exactly what many future website owners are looking for.
Ivana Isadora Devcic is a freelance writer, copyeditor and translator fluent in English, Swedish, Croatian and Norwegian. She's a Linux user and KDE fan interested in web design, productivity and personal branding. Ivana tweets about the world around her as @skadinna.