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How to Create a Portfolio Website like Behance & How Much Will It Cost You?

Starting a tech business is always tricky. With over 5 million apps on the leading app stores and growing e-commerce competition, some start-ups decide to launch a web-based social platform instead and go niche. In case you’re one of these guys and want to challenge Behance, here’s how to build a portfolio website designers will fall in love with.

Getting started with web development: Behance stats & figures

The “portfolio website” term is most often applied to simple do-it-yourself (DIY) websites where designers and photographers showcase their works and interact with their followers and potential clients. Behance, on the contrary, is the LinkedIn for visual artists. It’s a fully-fledged social network which (unlike DeviantArt, its closest rival) requires users to prove their artistic skills before joining in and connects freelance designers to employers.

So, let’s get down to competitor analysis:
  • Founded in 2006, the creative platform had been a bootstrapped enterprise for six years before nabbing $ 6.5 million from Amazon’s CEO, USV and Dave Morin;
  • Behance is in fact a network of 15+ served websites where user projects are published (by category);
  • The company also created ProSite – a DIY website builder similar to Weebly which allows designers to create hosted portfolio sites for $ 9.99/$ 49.99 per month. Since Adobe’s acquisition, it’s called Adobe Portfolio;
  • Just in case we forgot to tell you, Behance was acquired by Adobe Systems for $ 150 million in cash and stock five years ago;
  • The success didn’t come out of nowhere: Behance boasted over 2 million published projects (that’s 20 thousand projects shared each week) and had over 10 million unique monthly visits to its network;
  • As of now, the Behance network makes money through ads (the good old banner placement never dies, right?), skillshare events and its website builder.

How to Create a Portfolio Website like Behance & How Much Will It Cost You?

Ok, what have we got here?

You probably shouldn’t copy its feature set and monetization strategy entirely: as a start-up, you cannot afford to organize dedicated events or build several websites at once to cross-promote your content. Instead, you should narrow down your target market to certain design skills (vector graphics and typography, for example), invest in SEO and content marketing to increase online visibility and monetize your platform through profile and storage upgrades.

Let’s get down to business then!

How to build a stunning portfolio website?

We set down to talk with Zakhar Bessarab, Senior Web Developer at R-Style Lab, to discuss your website’s tech stack and optimum feature set.

Technology stack

Based on his social media website development experience (click here to check out R-Style Lab portfolio while you’re at it), Zakhar suggests using a JavaScript framework (Angular, Vue or React) and a reliable PHP framework (probably Laravel) for the front-end and back-end parts of your project, respectively, in order to make your website responsive and scalable.

Considering the projected workload and amount of “heavy” graphic content shared by users, we recommend that you choose the CDN cloud-based storage solution to streamline content delivery.

When it comes to website architecture, microservices (that is, segmenting a web application into separate services) is obviously the next big in web development. In order to achieve greater scalability, your vendor can separate the social and content management parts of the system – and create content upload, postproduction and display modules to make it even more flexible. Unlike traditional monolith software, microservices can be scaled and updated independently – and this alone will help you reduce website maintenance and redesign costs in the future.

Feature set

  • Public and private user profiles (supporting social media login and personal information management);
  • Social features (including likes, comments and social sharing; the integration with Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram is a must);
  • Company profile (businesses should be able to add company information and job offerings to the appropriate sections);
  • Live chat (the feature requires extra storage and back-end coding);
  • User and job search (the modules enable designers and companies to look for employees and job offerings using custom filters);
  • Content management modules (which allow companies/individuals to publish and edit projects and tags, review comments and monitor post performance);
  • Media storage (cloud-based storage where graphic content and user data – including chat history – will be stored).

If you want to monetize the platform through storage upgrades, you need to implement two types of storage accounts (Free and Premium) or limit the amount of uploaded content for non-paying users to several projects per week/month.

Other monetization options include different types of user profiles (free, advanced and premium); profile upgrades will improve user account ranking, thus increasing their chances of getting a job.

How much does it cost to create a portfolio website?

The actual price of building a Behance-like website depends on its feature set, your growth strategy and the resources and time available. Since it’ll take you at least 6 months to get your website noticed by search engines and promote it across various media channels (including social networks and tech blogs), the r-stylelab.com team recommends that you start with the very basic version of your platform and continue to expand its feature set.

This, however, can only be achieved by working with a team of experienced web developers who will design software architecture with scalability in mind and define the interaction patterns between web app modules.

According to Zakhar, it will take up to 4 thousand man-hours to create a fully-fledged social networking website that features the modules listed above. Multiply the efforts by the median web developer hourly rate ($ 120 in the USA, $ 30-40 in Eastern Europe and $ 25-35 in Asia). Even if you choose the cheapest option (which isn’t always best!), you’ll still arrive at an impressive figure.

How to Create a Portfolio Website like Behance & How Much Will It Cost You?

Ways out?

As we said, you should start small. Consult a reliable vendor to define the crucial features for your social networking platform and build an MVP; we assume it’ll take about 400 man-hours to develop a social networking website supporting user registration and content publishing/viewing options. Then you should try to get users on board. Do not charge for your services for a while – make money on ads instead. Once your platform gets massive traction (a million projects will do), you can approach investors and introduce several billing plans. Provided you create a high-performance website with UX in mind and take the time to market it, you are doomed to success.

We don’t peddle trends. We streamline business.