Few people feel comfortable at the prospect of designing their own website, which is why there are so many companies offering their DIY web services. Portfolio is Adobe’s offering, as long as you're a Creative Cloud subscriber. As you’d expect from a creative company, the websites Adobe will help you create, are focused on showcasing your creative work.
When you get into Adobe’s Portfolio page you’re offered a choice of two types of sites: a Gallery of your Work, or a Splash Page.
Whichever one you select, you’ll have the opportunity to add additional pages and create a full featured site. For the purposes of this review, we chose the Gallery option.
- Want to try Adobe Portfolio? Check out the website here
You’re given a choice of 12 themes to choose from. The large previews give you an idea of what you’ll be creating. They also include a small thumbnail of what each theme will look like on a mobile device, which is an original way of informing you that all these sites are designed to look great no matter which device you’re viewing them from. Click on one to get started.
Once you’ve selected your theme, the main interface comes into play. It’s divided into two sections. The biggest one on the right is where you’ll be designing and previewing your pages, while the sidebar on the left is where you can control various settings.
One of those opens up the first time you launch Portfolio: as it’s linked to your Adobe Creative Cloud account, it can tell if you have a Behance account, a Lightroom library stored in online, or photos you’re currently sharing on Adobe Stock, and lets you connect your new website to any of them to import content directly.
But let’s start this exploration properly by looking at the main preview area.
The design area
This entire section is where you build up your pages. As mentioned above, these pages are designed to showcase your work.
As you mouse over any section, a blue border appears around it to show you its size, along with a little blue circle to its left. Click on that to be offered editing options specific to that section.
You fill your page with your photos which you can import one at a time, or in groups. By default, photos are displayed one above the other, but you can also create photo grids and control how your images are presented on screen.
It’s all very straightforward, and you do get to grips with the interface in very little time. We did find it a little slow when making changes and importing images though, to the point where we sometimes wondered if the interface had crashed on us (it hadn’t - it was just taking its time).
You’re not limited to adding photos to your website. You also have the option of including text boxes, thereby creating what could be viewed as a more traditional webpage, even though this isn’t Portfolio’s primary purpose. Just like when you add captions, you have basic text editing tools available to you, although these tools only appear once you highlight some written text.
If you make videos and share them on another site like YouTube or Vimeo, you can also embed your work onto these pages. However, despite the fact many web builders we’ve tried in the past, like WordPress or EverWeb know what to do when you paste the YouTube video’s URL into an embed field, and convert that to the code needed to insert it properly, Portfolio has adopted the more archaic method of requiring the actual embed code to work. This isn’t a complicated process and video sharing sites do make it easy to obtain it straight from their sharing options, but it’s nevertheless a process that takes longer than simply pasting a URL.
If this feels too cumbersome or you haven’t got videos on other media sites, you can upload your files directly to your Portfolio pages.
Every section is customisable, but for those who don’t want to deal with any of that, all these options are tucked away in ‘customise’ menus - you never have to see them if you’re not interested in them.
For those who like to give their sites a more personal touch, you’ll appreciate the changes you can make - like altering the size of a header, adding a background image to your page, modifying the margin sizes, etc.
Customisation options also include the ability to add links to your social media accounts (over 20 of them), such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, and a host of others.
Adding a page can be confusing as it refers to two different features in Portfolio. If you add a page from the Sidebar, it creates one that appears in the navigation menu at the top of your website. However, you can also add a page inside one of those pages, but these don’t appear in the navigation menu, but are represented as large thumbnails inside the page they were created from.
This might confuse novices at first who are puzzled why the new page they created doesn’t appear in the top menu, or why it doesn’t have a large thumbnail preview.
As you’d expect you have a lot of customisability regarding those page thumbnails - you can round their edges, and apply an effect that’s triggered as you mouse over them - you could for instance turn the selected thumbnail image black and white, or apply a colour overlay to it, and you could also change the thumbnail altogether, by uploading a different photo for that purpose.
As you can see, your customisation options are quite extensive.
There’s a nice previewing option that lets you see how your site would look on multiple screens, which includes tablets and phones both in landscape and portrait orientations.
This is where you can access settings that affect your entire site. There are two major features here:
One lets you make site-wide changes, like adding a background image, select where it is placed on the page, manage your pages (both top pages, and pages within pages), rename and reorder them, and even switch to a totally different theme.
The Settings options are pretty extensive. You get to select which of your top pages will be your main one (the one visitors see first), connect your site to Google Analytics, add SEO keywords and meta tags, upload a Favicon, and even set up a specific 404 page (by default it links to your main page)
If you’re worried about protecting your images, you have the option of disabling right-clicking on your photos (this is selected by default and will dissuade the more casual content thief), and you can even password protect your entire website.
You are allowed to create up to five websites from a single Creative Cloud account and they can be as big or as simple as you need them to be.
Adobe hosts the site(s) for you, and offers you a generic [name].myportfolio.com address (the name is selected automatically but you’re allowed to change it to something more suitable - as long as it’s still available.
If you own a domain name, you can connect it to your site, and there’s also the option of purchasing one straight from the Settings menu.
Overall, Portfolio strikes an interesting balance. If you just want to upload photos to share with others and use a site to advertise your skills, you can be ready to go in minutes. But you also have the ability to minutely customise your site to make it look as you like.
There are some confusing aspects to the interface, and it can feel a little slow at times, but it does create good looking pages, offering you as much customisability as you’re comfortable with.
And it being free with your Creative Cloud subscription is simply icing on the cake.
- Also check out our complete list of the best website builders for portfolios