Useful Tips

20 tips and examples for creating a flawless design portfolio


Your portfolio is one of the most important things you will ever develop. He introduces you to the world and, if you are a freelancer, as a rule, the portfolio plays an important role in whether clients will choose you to hire or not.

By looking at thousands of portfolios on the Internet, you can clearly identify the flaws that every second freelancer repeats. That is why, we decided to talk about them so that from now on, you would be more careful and not repeat them.

1. Indication of your age

Oddly enough, but this is extremely common information that can be found in the portfolio of web designers. Designers feel the need to present themselves in such a way as to make the page more personal, but they cannot come up with anything good, so they return to the basics like: "I am a 22-year-old web designer from Papua New Guinea."

Only children show off their age

It bothers me every time I see it. Of course, this is not the worst mistake you could make, but it just smacks of a novice. It’s unlikely that you’ve ever seen anyone grabbing at the fact that he is a 43-year-old web designer. Only young people feel the need to wear their age as an honorary badge.

“You will never see anyone boasting that he is a 43-year-old web designer.”

If you study the portfolio of venerable designers, you will find that they boast only one thing - their experience. For example: "I have been creating websites for various companies for over 10 years." Now this is really the figure to brag about.

What's the difference?

Personally, I experience certain mixed feelings when I read such information: who needs it, in general? Do you want people to hire you based on talent and experience, or because you were born in a particular year? If you do not want potential customers to rate you by your age, then why are you talking about him?

Remember, the only time a potential client can think twice about hiring an artist is when he sees his age. Even if you were the most talented web designer, the age in the portfolio can alienate many clients: I personally would not trust the development of my site to a 20-year-old specialist.

Just a necessity

Leave it all aside. I don’t want to know how old you are, what type of computer mouse you use, or how often you buy a new pair of sneakers. Tell me exactly what you are doing, and prove it with some convincing examples. This brings us to the next point.

2. Demonstration of school projects

Here is another thing that constantly amazes young designers. They always feel the need to showcase their school projects.

This is not a home refrigerator where you can post drawings, but a professional portfolio, and customers want to see real work.

If this is all you have, then better show the following ...

Let's go one step back. If you just graduated from school, college, and so on, and your customer experience is zero, then the best option would be to create the simplest site to show as an example. Many potential customers will not mind this, especially if this inexperience is paired with a low price.

Put paid work

Speaking about this, I mean that as soon as you already have several projects to show yourself, you should think about how to remove your student work. Otherwise, you may find yourself in a situation where the client will look at your portfolio and think: “Hey, this guy is really good! Oh wait, student work? He’s a newbie, so I’d better look for another, because I need a professional! ”

See how many double standards are there? Even if the client thinks that your work looks amazing at first glance, when he sees and understands that these are just student projects, they immediately regard you as inexperienced. Is this filthy? Absolutely not! This is true? Not. This is how the world works.

3. Lack of confidence

There is time and place to be modest, but your portfolio is not one of them. So often you can see how really talented designers present themselves to the client with the help of short and uncertain characteristics, and this can really drive you crazy.

“There is a time and place to be modest, but your portfolio is not one of them.”

“I am just starting” or “I hope to one day reach.” "- these things may not seem as bad as you write them, but they destroy the confidence in your ability to deliver quality results.

Clients - a reflection of your level of confidence

If you cannot gain enough confidence to tell the client that you are a terrific designer, then it is unlikely that he will independently come to an opinion about you.

To a potential client, what you write about yourself gives very little information, but it can play an important role. If you doubt your abilities, the client can go look for another professional or use your weakness to force him to do more work for less money.

Fooling around

Again, there are times when confidence can turn into arrogance. If all the information in your portfolio is literally overwhelmed with self-confidence, then this will make the client run away as quickly as the lack of confidence. This is the fine line that you walk along, and finding balance is not always easy. You must understand how to tell the client how cool you are as a designer, but try not to brag about how cool you are.

Often the best way to do this is to let your work speak for itself. If your work is really amazing, then you will not have to convince the client that you are really good at your job.

4. Grammar

This is very difficult for designers, and for most of them. Many of the designers have their own blogs, and often write more than they develop sites, but even so, it’s easy for you to find a grammatical error in their texts.

What I'm talking about is a very important thing that you should pay attention to. This is not the end of the world, if you write in the sacraments alone or end a sentence with an excuse, just make sure that a normal educated person can read your sentences without wondering how you managed to finish high school.

What if Russian is not your hobby?

Designers with whom I often talked are trying to do everything possible, but, unfortunately, many of them do not have the Russian language. And this can be easily understood by reading the portfolio.

This is a very sensitive topic, especially if you speak only one language. Again, if you speak two or three, then you can be called a unique person. At the same time, do not forget that speaking fluently in German or French does not mean at all that you can write a high-quality text “About Me”. So, if you decide to make your portfolio in several languages, then it’s better to contact a specialist, spend some money, but do the proper translation.

“You want to get feedback that you are a good designer, then don't let bad grammar get in the way of this”

5. Neglecting a blog

This is one more thing that one has to deal with: the designer is starting a new blog, and he is enthusiastic about how often the blog will be updated.

At first you post about, share useful tips and your work, but a few months after you start to relax, you will notice that your blog has turned into a terrible old doll that is lying in the closet with a bunch of other unnecessary things.

Digital web

The most interesting thing is that you probably did not take into account the message that visitors to your portfolio will see. One of the first things I do when I visit a blog is to look at the date of the last post, what will tell me about your blog and how useful it is?

“If your last post was published more than a year ago, then your blog has become covered by the web”

The lack of new blog posts and neglect will cause the client to doubt your competence, that you continue to take projects and work successfully. Perhaps you have already abandoned the career of a freelancer and went to work in one of the offices for a permanent salary.

Do it right or don’t do it at all

A blog is a great addition to any portfolio, but if it’s not done well, it can actually pull you down and harm your work. The advice in this case is simple: either give some of the time to update your blog on a regular basis with quality and interesting content, or just don’t do it.

You do not need to write posts every day or even every week, but at least you should try to post something monthly to interest people.

Since you have decided to create your blog, then use it as a place for sharing knowledge, disseminating the necessary information and, possibly, evaluating traffic, but not for publishing photos of your cats or thinking about how delicious pizza is cooked in a nearby institution and for who are you going to vote in the next election. This kind of content is only suitable for a personal blog, so it's best to leave it there.

6. Demonstration of weaknesses

Currently, a tendency has appeared in the portfolio of web designers to demonstrate a set of skills, and meanwhile to counterbalance some things. Quite often, such information takes the form of a small graph or visualization, as shown below.

Pretty neat? This quickly gives the customer an understanding of the services you offer and the level of skill that you have. Great, so honest!

However, the problem is that the way you see the information shown and the way the potential client reads it is very different. It turns out that you think that the client sees it like this:

Unfortunately, this is what he actually sees:

“Do Not Indicate Your Weaknesses”

It is good to have strengths and weaknesses - this is for everyone. However, I’m not sure that demonstrating weaknesses in any form, written or graphic, is not the best marketing strategy.

Think Before You Create a Portfolio

The real benefit of this article is to carefully consider every component of your portfolio of web designers, from the work that you show, to the information about yourself that you write.

At each stage of creating a portfolio, ask yourself if you are really improving the quality of the finished product or actually reducing the likelihood that someone will hire you. You will probably find that everything that you considered the right and necessary information, in the end, will turn out to be just a load that will pull you down.

19. Suitable examples

If you are applying for a full-time position, it is best to include suitable examples of work in your portfolio. You must be sure that the examples are relevant to the position you are applying for.

If you are a digital artist, you must submit the figures in digital form. Pencil sketches will not work here:

18. Context

Whether you are a designer or an artist is not so important. Because in any case, you will have to create graphics based on briefs from creators. You will need to be able to carefully interpret the brief.

If your portfolio has scattered images, this is not enough. You need to provide them in context. Where did these paintings come from? How was the idea formed? What is the chain of thoughts?

Anything that can help reveal the concept of images should be included in the portfolio.

17. Work for pleasure

Even if you are in the process of creating a portfolio for a specific contract or position, include not only those works that were made to order. After all, a designer is not only a job, but also a hobby, right?

You can include any work in the portfolio. If, for example, you are an illustrator and are looking for freelance work, then the presence of projects that you did not order to order will certainly help.

15. Recommendations

A portfolio is not just a collection of your design work. It’s worth highlighting some recommendations in bold. Insert them directly on top of the work. Moreover, recommendations in real life will help even more.

All this shows your capabilities. It doesn’t matter where and when you left your job. Make sure that you have a great relationship with your colleagues and ask them for recommendations. Recommendations always help.

14. Step back

You can view your portfolio from a third party. Surely you already had experience when more experienced employees looked at your portfolio, and you expected their criticism.

It is very important that you know your strengths and weaknesses. Based on this, you will be able to prioritize growth and practice working with graphics.

10. Platform

There are several options for publishing your online portfolio. If you need a clean, personalized place for your portfolio, then you just buy a domain and ask someone to create a website for you.

Or install WordPress and customize it for yourself. If the above is beyond your power, IM Creator is at your service.

8. Be selective

You should not post most of your work online. Be selective. Choose the best of your work. Make sure that they reflect most of your capabilities. Do not show all at once.

Make people want to see more of your work. This is exactly what you need to do with your online portfolio:

7. Edit

Malika Favre, an illustrator from London, says: “Supervise your work. An online portfolio should follow the same rhythm as a printed portfolio: you have to tell a story.

Arrange your projects so that they flow from each other, complement each other. If an old project has to be deleted to fit the new story - so be it. ”

1. How do you work?

It is important to show that you are completing the work. But, what is often even more important, is to show how you do it. Let the customer get into the creation process. This will give your customer the opportunity to feel happy:

This publication is a translation of the article “20 Tips and Examples for Creating the Perfect Design Portfolio” prepared by the friendly team of the Internet project

1. Design for yourself

The most obvious way to get a portfolio case is to design for yourself or your company. It can be a website, corporate identity or something like that. The difficulty here is that you have to come up with restrictions yourself, because design without restrictions is not design, but pure creativity. But if you work well, this project will become not only a case in the portfolio, but also your business tool.