Anatomy Of A Website: Everything You Need To Know

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This is a guest post from Allan – he started a career as a freelance designer in 2004, now he’s building web apps and hosts conferences. He also likes to blog and tweet.

First & Foremost

If you want more design work, stop designing the same portfolio site as the next guy. Speak in a different tone. Write copy for your individual pages in a way that appeals to your ideal client. Your website design and copy acts as a filter. It’s job is to evacuate the wrong clients and, in turn, give you the types of clients that you want. Instead of converting more visitors to your contact page, convert the right ones; the perfect clients that suit your creative strengths and personality traits.

The Home Page

Your home page doesn’t exist to close a sell. It’s there to increase the visitor’s curiosity. We’re all so focused on sales, conversions and the sales funnel, that we’ve forgotten the true focus of the home page. It’s purpose is to tease a visitor into wanting to know more. Get them to engage. Think of the front page as a movie trailer.

About Page

This isn’t where your bio goes. This is a page where you say to clients, “this is me, love me or leave. Don’t contact me if you’re not ready to love who I am and what I do.”  You want your ideal client to say “I love this person” and, head to the contact form, or pick up the phone.


Don’t put shitty work in your portfolio. Don’t put work in your portfolio that you’re not proud of. Clients will ruin almost every project, tainting it with their crappy ideas. Your portfolio should be full of the work you WANT to do, not work that you’ve been forced to do in the past. If you need to stretch your creative legs little a bit before you feel comfortable enough to fill your portfolio with stuff you’re truly proud of, try contributing to some open-source projects, or maybe do some make-up work. Your portfolio should be reserved for only non-client projects. You can even go as far as to tell the visitor what projects you want. Tell them what projects you can hit a home-run with.

Contact Page

Please put a phone number and email address here (even if you have a contact form). Maybe I’m weird, but when I don’t see an email or phone number, I wonder if the person behind the business is a hermit–afraid to speak with me. Most of the people that will contact you are wondering about cost. To cut down the call volume to only qualified leads, put pricing examples or a budget field on the contact form. After all, you don’t want clients that can’t afford your rate wasting your time talking to you on the phone, jabbering on about how you’re perfect for their project, but they just don’t have the money.

Side Note: Redesigns provide nothing but false hope.

There are other ways to market yourself besides redesigning your website. Don’t trust hope that someone will stumble across your site and call you or sends you an email because it suddenly appeals to them in a new way.

Other ways to market yourself:

Today, in this industry, a good portfolio site can change everything for you. Your site can spread like wildfire through Twitter, Dribbble, Forrst, Facebook, email–bringing in all kinds of new opportunities that weren’t there a week ago. Want to kill your career in six months? Try sitting at home waiting for your next client.


I’m Allan. In 2004, I started a career as a freelance designer, now I build web apps and host conferences. I also like to blog and tweet about the things that I’ve seen. I’ve been lucky, and I’ve been blessed. I’ve made my share of mistakes and learned a lot along the way.

  • Great article mate and useful tips!

  • Too true, We’re often scared to go after what we want and just take whats given to us.

  • great article and love the point of view. I just started building a portfolio page with ideas similar to yours but seeing it on paper reinforces my direction. thanks!

  • Good article. What do you think of all those portfolio community sites?

  • Hi Allan, thanks for share your knowledges with us. I´m redesigning my portfolio & I think this time I go for the right way. I hope can share my results with you soon, thanks a lot!

  • Useful writeup. I’m in the process of redesigning my website to the next and best version so far.
    I really like the contact page idea, my page lacks this one but I will add it in the run.

    I promised myself to finish this the last week but as many designers know you are your worst client.

    Hope I can finish this and also share the results.

  • One thing you missed when discussing the various options in marketing yourself and your work, is to join job exchange platforms. These sites can enable you to actively market your skills and portfolio directly to customers in need of graphic design expertise:

    In the tough economic climate this can really bring success and backs up your assertion that is you sit at home all day and don’t do anything then of course clients will not come to you!

  • Hello again Allan, yes my website now is fresh & reinvented, thanks once again for your post! :D

  • The “anatomy of a website” title to this post is misleading as it’s really all about tips for building a web design portfolio site, but I love the line “Clients will ruin almost every project, tainting it with their crappy ideas” – Oh, yes, this man knows what he’s talking about alright.