“A free, simple-to-use solution to allow creative folk to showcase their work.” That’s the description of the portfolio site Dunked on their homepage. They aren’t lying– it’s 100% true.“Beautiful Designs. Responsive. Retina Ready…. Create your online portfolio without learning code. For free.” Once again– no smoke, no mirrors, no bullshit, no kidding.
I’ve placed three Dunked beta portfolio images in this post. The images link to the full portfolios. You can also check out the working version of the XK9 Dunked site.
Dunked went live on May Day (this past Wednesday). As of this writing, 19,523 beta testers have signed on; I registered today. Within a few hours I had assembled a nice portfolio site. I had a bit of an advantage in that I had just gathered all of the materials for the launch of the XK9 site. But any marginally organized designer or artist with digital images of their work and a familiarity with their computer can make this happen relatively quickly.
As they say, Dunked is the product of gentlemen. Three in fact. They are Orman Clark (the designer), Gilbert Pellegrom (the Scots code monkey), and Mark “Themezilla” Southard (the builder). Mr Clark was the only one of the trio I was familiar with. He’s well-known in the world of design for WordPress. His themes (templates for sites) are among the best designed architecture for semi-pro web-building. Clark made a name for himself by giving away amazingly well-crafted illustrations, icons, and forms via PremiumPixels.com.
This is a grand accomplishment. But as a business, it raises questions. How will they make their money? I’ve been told that it’s only free for beta testers. The site templates don’t currently allow for advertising. Perhaps they will and maybe the site-holders will share in advertising revenue? Or maybe an ad-free site will come with a small subscription fee? Or maybe there will be add-ons and upgrades, like blog tools, self-hosting options, more space, that come with fees attached. As far as I can tell, they haven’t shown their cards and their poker faces are impenetrable (especially their mascot Dutch’s ice blue stare).
If you’re considering using a host like SquareSpace or CargoCollective you owe it to yourself to give Dunked a test drive. I can say from experience that it’s light-years simpler than WordPress, and easier and less money (free) than SquareSpace.
I have a few problems with Dunked. There are variables you can adjust– colors, type, project pages– but your homepage will still resemble many, many others. This is also true of Behance, which is why I never considered joining that barrel of fish. But Dunked does a better job of showcasing the work than Behance. And my initial impression is that it avoids the appearance of an unending amateur portfolio review and the generic sameness of Behance.
Another downside, for me, is the that an artist’s work will bear the artist-name.dunked.com email convention. It’s harder to stand out in a herd. We can also become tainted by our associations. In time, Dunked may become known as something like the illustrators’ site and that might prejudice a prospective client’s impression of a given designer– in the same way an aol or hotmail email address makes a poor impression. So long as I am working as XK9, I will continue to identify my work on my own domain– XK9.com.