Some time ago we took a look at Carbonmade, a fantastic portfolio app. It’s been a year since then and Carbonmade has made several great improvements in that time. We’ll take a look at some of Carbonmade’s major milestones and how you can take advantage of this app to show off your work.
A lot can happen in a years time, especially on the web, and Carbonmade hasn’t been sitting on their hands. They’ve improved everything from the interface design and usability to the app’s features and customizability so you’re able to show off your work even better than before.
Although Carbonmade’s app has had lots of improvements, the app and team’s success has also had great growth! They have more staff, more users and continue being profitable, which all translates into continued improvements and development for their awesome users.
The New Carbonmade
The Carbonmade team knows what’s important to you—your work. It’s important to them as well, considering the idea behind the app came from a need of their own that they opened up for the world to use. Some of the best apps I’ve discovered were created out of need, rather than just another product to sell, and Carbonmade is one of those—one of the best.
Carbonmade’s improved app gives you, not only an improved “gussied up and modernized” design for your portfolio, but also new features users have requested such as the ability to tag projects as new, thumb design options, branding and bigger pictures.
And if video is your thing, a sexy multi-platform video player is now available, with multi-video projects as an option as well.
While the things you see and the options available to you have been improved, the user interface is sporting an improved uploader for handling multiple images, project & media management to make it easier to manage your work, a custom web address option and new privacy options.
If you want to read a few more details about the improved Carbonmade, see the release notes here.
New Staff & Office
Believe it or not, Carbonmade was developed by a super-awesome crew of just three. It always blows me away to see such amazing work from just a few people—kudos Carbonmade team! They’re no longer just a team of three, however, having added two full-time positions during the last year.
The team also moved into an all new office to accommodate their current and future growth. I’m sure the new workspace will give the team’s creative juices more opportunity to flow, finding its way into the Carbonmade app.
Last year year, when Chris took a look at Carbonmade, they had a userbase of just over 160K. That number has nearly doubled since that time, ready to break 300K as I write this review! The same trend goes for projects and images by their users.
The New & Improved Carbonmade
As I’ve not used Carbonmade prior to this post, it would be relatively difficult for me to solely cover Carbonmade’s new features. So, instead, I’ll walk through the app from a fresh perspective. I’ll also note that I’m a former web designer & developer and current hobby photographer. So I’ll hopefully provide a perspective appealing to those of you interested in showing your work in similar fields.
Getting started with Carbonmade is a breeze and the app, from beginning to end, seems to be built on the principal of “KISS” (Keep It Simple Silly/Stupid…etc). It’s about your work, not fussing about with the app. The pricing plans follow this idea as well, with two options; “Meh”, which is free and “Whoo!” at $12 per month.
To quickly comment on the plans available; you might initially think they’re semi-inadequate (as I did) but if you think about what you want to show in an active portfolio, they’re more than adequate and the “Whoo!” plan is well worth it’s price.
Once you’ve signed up, you can begin by adding a project. However, as I usually do, I’ll start by personalizing my account and changing a few settings.
Personalization settings are simple, though a little limited. Currently there are only two color schemes, font faces and image sizes available to choose from. While this keeps the app from overwhelming you with options, I hope to see a few more choices in the future.
Note that changes are made on the fly, no “Save Changes” button clicking required.
Heading over to the Settings page, you’ll see that you can easily add Google Analytics to track your portfolio’s traffic (a most welcome feature) and easily toggle your portfolio’s privacy. A neat feature to note here is the ability to allow visitors to request the access code via email.
Analytics and Privacy
While Carbonmade’s provided URL (in my case “jremick.carbonmade.com“) is simple enough, they also offer the ability to setup a custom domain. I’ll be adding jarelremick.com, which is a pretty simple process with clear instructions.
Next up, I’ll add some information about myself for my portfolio’s About page. None of this is required but it’s generally a good idea as people would like to learn a bit about you.
If you’d like to enter URLs when entering info. about yourself, you don’t need to use HTML. Simply use http://yourURLhere.com and Carbonmade will automatically convert it into a live link for you.
Now on to adding the good stuff—our projects and work!
Heading back to the Projects tab we’ll be able to begin adding the work we want to show off, including images, video and information.
Clicking Add a project brings up an overlay form where you’ll select the project type and give it a title.
Project Type and Title
On the next page you’ll add the type of media you selected in the prior step (I selected images) and enter the projects details. I’m quite impressed with the image uploader, which handled some pretty big JPGs I dished out (a few at 4000px wide). Images were uploaded with a progress indicator and shown once they had been processed.
Once images are uploaded you can select the images and enter captions in the viewer above as well as drag and drop to rearrange them.
Next you’ll add details about the project. In most cases, the project will likely be for an actual client but for the purpose of this review I just uploaded personal photos and entered some sample information.
Lastly, you’ll choose the project’s layout and visibility. I’d love to see a few more layout options to choose from.
Layout and Visibility
Once you’re done entering media and information, you’ll see your project on your Projects overview page. From there you can change where the text will appear in relation to the project thumbnail; below, inside or off, as well as chose the number of thumbs per row.
Let’s view the portfolio now! Of course you’ll have more than just one project displayed, but it shows how clean the portfolio view is and how well it focuses on your work.
The project view is also very cleanly displayed and the image viewer transitions very smoothly. However, an option for a timed slideshow would be a nice additional feature.
Just below the image viewer you’ll see the projects information. It’s simple and focuses on your work first and foremost.
Notice that when changing images, the URL changes so you or your visitors and link directly to images, a feature many apps forget.
You’ll probably have quite a bit more information on your About page than I do for this example, so the page will feel much more “full” normally. While its simplicity causes visitors to focus on you, your information and your work, I can’t help but feel that it’s a little lacking in “flavor” that might be achieved with a few additional design options.
Overall, it absolutely accomplishes its goal allowing you and your work to be the focus rather than unnecessary graphics and bloat. You should absolutely take a look at Carbonmade’s Favorite Examples, which really shows how well the app focuses on and show’s off your work.
Carbonmade has certainly made great advances over the last year and is one of the best options out there for getting a portfolio online in a matter of minutes. It’s simplicity is refreshing, leaving you and your visitors to view and manage your work, which is the entire point of a portfolio. Beyond that, however, it’s incredibly easy to use—a necessary aspect for maintaining portfolios.
While I do love the simplicity Carbonmade offers, I also feel it’s lacking a few more options and perhaps design “oomph”. Perhaps I feel this way because their home page is so colorful and artistic, which I’d like to see a little of pushed into the app for users. However, the growth Carbonmade has experienced this last year may bring more of these desired features as the app continues to mature and develop. Either way, the Carbonmade has done a fantastic job of creating a killer simple and well functioning app.
Kudos to the Carbonmade team for their growth, success and fantastic app!