I'm redesigning a website for a client with a fairly large archive of metal work (staircases, railings, furniture) containing over 1,000 items. They want to be able to access the archive to help clients make decisions.

But we also want to have a Portfolio of featured projects. One of the most significant difference between Archive and Portfolio content is going to be the Photo Quality.

As I write this, I'm wondering if the Portfolio is should just be a separate interface for Featured Archive Items.

Am I conceiving of the difference between an Portfolio and an Archive in a sensible way? I would love to have some more input and some references to websites with good Portfolio as well as Archive interfaces would be very welcome.

  • How a user access the "portfolio" and the "archive" are likely to be (and probably should be) very different. However, straying somewhat away from "UX" (hence why this is a comment): to be useful, the archive images are likely to need tagging in some way ("staircase", "steel", "wrought-iron" etc.). It may make sense from an implementation point of view to have the portfolio images "in the same system", but suitable tagged as "portfolio" images.
    – TripeHound
    Commented Aug 14, 2018 at 15:18

1 Answer 1


Both user goals and business value of a portfolio and an archive are very different. The archive will be a simple reference or catalog of all projects, probably displaying basic information about the projects.

The portfolio would be the place for these projects to shine and this would be the primary section to lure potential clients in. These portfolio pages would probably contain more imagery, a more elaborate description of the project/process and maybe even introduce a bit of storytelling to reel in the customer.

It's a question of more static/informative content (archive) versus more dynamic/persuasive content (portfolio).

A decent example of a metal work portfolio I've found is O' Brien Metal.

What's important though is to find out which decisions clients should be making on the archive page, so you can design for that specific goal. Make sure you debrief with your client to make sure you validate their business goals and also try and find out their customer needs.

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