Before I say much more (an oh, I'm gonna), there is a big difference between a standard dA account page and their portfolio service. I'm not planning to leave dA entirely, just considering whether or not to stop paying for Premium and using their professional portfolios.
Here's the visuals:
|Standard dA bio page.|
|Portfolio bio page.|
|Standard dA gallery page.|
|Portfolio gallery page.|
I pay about $30 a year for the Premium service (last year with some very welcome donations from fans for this new dad). The Premium Portfolio means:
- I can customize the URL, hence the very original glendonmellow.com.
- No ads from deviantART appear on my page.
- I can make new portfolios, add specific page URLS through my domain host (like published.glendonmellow.com )
- There's lots of image storage.
Those are all decent features in the plus column.
Here's a couple of other things I like:
- Layout forces me to stay clean and simple for potential clients.
- It really easy for me to change and add or drop artwork.
- Limits on how much art per gallery forces me to keep it fresh for return clients.
- I occasionally add my entire resume to it as a pdf download - not there at the moment, but that's neat-o.
- I love how it looks.
But here are the features in the minus column that have me wondering if my $30/year would be better served somewhere else.
- Not enough links. The text on the bio page is insanely limited and includes the HTML - so when something helpful to my business like say, Google+ crops up, I have to delete another important - actually important, not just for fun - link from the link list. They limit the text so that the whole portfolio has no scrolling. Yeah cool. But to link to my Scientific American gig and increasing Media list, I had to drop links to two other blogs I have contributed to.
- I pay for no ads, but I get pranks. This past April Fools' Day, deviantART thought it would be funny to pretend they were taken over by cats and there was a pop-up that if you wanted, would lead you further into the joke. Or you could disable it. Each time you went on dA on April 1st, it would pop back up. Kind of funny stuff, but I pay for no dA ads, and here's a silly joke I had no part in designing that any potential client was going to get stuck figuring out for a whole day. Pissed me right off.
- No links in art descriptions. Click on the little letter "i" under the art, get some neat info about the image. But no links to further information, and it's reduced to about two short sentences. I do science-based art. It sometimes needs a bit more explanation about the client, project, subject and materials. You know. The professional details.
- No statistics. This is the worst. The HTML I am allowed to use is on the bio page only, and is very very basic. No third party html widgets or gadgets to track stats using SiteMeter or Statcounter or even Google Analytics. When the portfolio service first launched I assumed this was coming at some point (dA offers crazy amounts of stats for their basic accounts). That was 2.5 years ago. Last year, when Annalee Newitz of the popular geek site io9.com featured Trilobite Boy and some of art in a fun article, they appropriately linked back to glendonmellow.com . And though I can see on the io9 article that it had over 14000 views (most just in those first few days) I have absolutely no idea how many went through to my own portfolio.
So. Do I stay or go? If I go, does anyone have any good suggestions?
- - - - - - - -
Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite © to Glendon Mellow
under Creative Commons Licence.
Find me on Symbiartic, the art+science blog on the Scientific American Blog Network!