I'm trying to build a portfolio template for a writer's portfolio, and I'm having trouble finding an effective way to present so much text. Most portfolio sites have the benefit of (hopefully) gorgeous imagery to guide the user, and thumbnails are natural "previews" that allow you to scan quickly over the entire portfolio.

Text doesn't have the same ability - I could try grabbing a sentence or two out of context, but with no input from the writer himself (one of my constraints), I would have to grab random snippets, which would probably make no sense.

Any ideas/suggestions on how to present a pure text portfolio in a compelling and user-friendly experience?


I think I wasn't very clear in my question - I'm working on a template for a writer's portfolio, not my own portfolio. It is all generated programmatically by the backend, the only data I have access to is the text itself, and some popularity metrics. So I can't write out goals, solutions, etc.

My first thought was to show the portfolio entries as objects (thumbnails, panes, whatever) whose size relates to the popularity of that piece.

In many ways, I think this might be something of an information visualization problem.

4 Answers 4


I thought http://vizualize.me was a good example of a neat way to make a pretty visualization using only text + numbers. It takes the text of a linkedin profile and generates charts, etc.

For example, mine is http://vizualize.me/xaotica

Here are some other cool ideas for text / data visualization: http://www.quora.com/What-are-some-examples-of-well-designed-navigable-timeline-visualizations-on-the-web

  • Fantastic - while not all these examples are 100% applicable, they are all great solutions to challenging UX and visualization problems that are at least similar to my description. Thanks for the examples (the only answer so far!). And I'd welcome any more you run across :)
    – Dave W.
    Nov 7, 2011 at 3:41

There is a solution for a text portfolio, but I'm not sure it's one you can achieve on your own.

So think of all e-books in Kindle - Amazon gather your highlighted markings and shares them online, so readers can see snippets of what other people considered to be interesting or otherwise outstanding text. If you had this sort of information it would be trivial to choose the most relevant snippet. But I doubt anyone but Amazon or Apple can actually implement this right now. Just thought to share this option with you.

If you don't have the above user-generated ranking of snippets all you can really do to intelligently choose one is to ask the author, or maybe the first reader or two.

  • I may be able to extract that kind of information, and I think you are right - that would be very useful. Any suggestions on how to lay that out on a web page? One of my biggest challenges is how to present this all visually without becoming monotonous or repetitive. That's why I thought the popularity <-> size correlation might be a useful way to introduce some visual interest, but I'd love other suggestions
    – Dave W.
    Nov 7, 2011 at 3:36
  • I don't have particular suggestions aside from looking to see how Amazon do it. Nov 7, 2011 at 9:29

I think you cannot do this in a satisfactory way. A portfolio is, imo, not so much information that needs to be visualized, as it is a message that needs to be put across (one that explains to the viewer what the artist is capable of.)

And you can't do that without knowing what that message is. No good portfolio can be generated automatically. It's easier with pictures, but even then you shouldn't just put up all images, or all populair or recent ones, but carefully select those you feel represent the best and broadest, and also have some feel of coherence to it too. And portfolios where you show work done for commission should include a description of the question too: to show how a certain question was translated into a certain result.

So I think it is impossible to create a good portfolio without involving the actual writer. They should select parts they feel represent their full work best. If you want to illustrate the work with pictures (possibly helpful, depending on the kind of work), they still need to be images that convey the same thing the text is, and those things need to be selected carefully, not randomly generated.


You can't evaluate good writing for UX without knowing whether it was a good fit and solution to a particular problem. Let people feel the problem first. Then let the solution that the text provides show them how it was solved.

That may be showing an image of the screen where it was used (assuming computer based), or if it was on a product explaining what you were trying to achieve and why you wrote whatever you did.

Edit To answer the updated question: Any template that only shows the text without seeing the context or the purpose is never going to be able to show a copywriting portfolio properly.

The only solution that may work (but poorly) is to show the copy on one side, and the explanation of its purpose and context on the other. It's never going to be as good as seeing its context, but at least it isn't the text on its own.

  • See my update above - I wasn't very clear with my original question :)
    – Dave W.
    Nov 5, 2011 at 2:53

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