Designing the Optimal Portfolio Website

Designing the Optimal Portfolio Website

Website best practices for Architects, including UX design, Internet marketing, and content marketing

CLIENT: Catalano Architects

INDUSTRY: Architecture

SERVICES: UX Design, Marketing, Web Development

Portfolio website homepage


Established in 1987, Catalano Architects is a Boston based architectural firm best known for its design of elegant, custom homes in New England and New York. They have received numerous awards and recognition, including two Bulfinch Awards and induction in the New England Home Hall of Fame. As renowned New York Times architecture critic Paul Goldberger commented, “Thomas Catalano is an architect whose shingled and clapboard houses are handsome and expansive and endeavor to fit into their surroundings.”

Catalano needed a best in class site to match the quality of their work. The site design utilizes full screen photography with a minimalist user interface (UI) allowing the work to speak for itself. As always, the site was also constructed with search engines in mind to help increase traffic.



Portfolio Best Practices

We followed Charles Eames credo "the details aren't the details, they make the design" when creating this site. Here are the highlights:

full page image portfolio website


  • Edge to edge full screen photos displayed in a slideshow format
  • Minimal branding, navigation and no distracting headline text over the photos 
  • Disappearing logo and navigation that reappears on mouse movement or scroll
  • Contact info always at the footer for easy access
  • Paired vertical photos when needed so the photo area always goes edge-to-edge
  • A truncated description area that expands when clicked


Here is an example with the project description expanded and two vertical photos paired so the image area goes edge-to-edge.


edge to edge photo slideshow


This example shows the work overview page. Note the simple grid layout that goes to the edges as well as a mouseover that is easy to read and informative.


projects on a portfolio website

Other features include a blog for company news, press and awards. This is also the content source for increasing traffic from search engines.

Drupal — an easy-to-use content management system — was used for this project, allowing the client to add new projects, post to the blog and edit pages. 



The site has been well received by the client, their prospects and clients. The design has proven to be an effective showcase for their work, helping land new business.

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