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Thread: Writing samples on online portfolio

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    Writing samples on online portfolio

    I'm currently in the process of creating a website for myself that highlights some of my planning work. I'm pretty happy with the result so far, but now I've hit a wall: writing samples. I've been putting my visual work in a gallery with descriptions of the project and my role, and it looks great. But when I try to do the same with writing samples it just screams "boring wall of text that no one will ever have any desire to read".

    Does anyone have any suggestions on how to effectively present writing samples in an online setting? Writing is, after all, very important to planning.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian
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    Minimize what you post. Lengthy documents will never be read. Copy and paste example paragraphs from documents that are representative of different types of writing such as staff reports, analysis, etc. My guess is that most people will just want to know if you can put an intelligent paragraph together that clearly says something.

  3. #3
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    If this is an online resume that is one thing. If this is an online design portfolio then keep the writing samples out.

    Not many planning agencies will want to see writing samples unless they are going to interview you. Show them samples at that time. To me these are two different topics - design portfolio, and resume / CV / cover letter, etc.
    A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. -Douglas Adams

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    Writing samples are kind of pointless unless you are directed for a specific subject. Best to just leave it out unless specifically asked as HP as said.
    follow me on the twitter @rcplans

  5. #5
    Cyburbian
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    I actually use full writing samples in my digital portfolio which I distribute on customized discs to specific individuals or groups (it is not on the internet). I don't give use the portfolio for EVERY job application though. Here are a few suggestions when displaying planning writing samples.

    1. If you are familiar with HTML or Actionscript, you can now embed Adobe Acrobat Reader directly into the webpage. Instead of the PDF opening in a different window you can now have it in an embedded browser.
    2. Use a watermark with everything that can be printed, downloaded, or copied. I wrote "SAMPLE" in a very light grey on a diagonal on each page (using either Microsoft Word or Adobe Acrobat).
    3. Don't make one giant PDF. I have roughly 55-60 projects in my portfolio (roughly 45-50% of my work) and each project has its own page or pages.
    4. I use text AND a thumbnail for links to other pages (instead of just an underlined text box). It adds a little more interest to the work sample.
    5. Include only the works/excerpts that you had substantial involvement in. I display entire comprehensive plans, design guidelines, environmental assessments, site impact analysis, etc. For zoning ordinances, I include an executive summary that briefly outlines what I did, followed by highlighted excerpts (these can still run 10-15 pages each).
    6. Finally, I use Adobe Flashpaper to display my work, which includes everything from writing samples to construction documents to site plans to renderings. It is a combination of Adobe Acrobat and Flash Player. Adobe still sells the program but they discontinued technical support a few years ago. You need a basic knowledge of Actionscript or HTML to figure out how to configure it, which took me a while to understand.

    Hope this helps-
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
    "M&Ms. I ran out of paprika."

    Family Guy

  6. #6
    Cyburbian
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    Jul 2010
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    Thanks for all the comments. On further reflection I think I'll leave writing samples off the website and keep it more design focused. Then I can tailor which writing samples I give depending on the job.

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