Tips for Making a Web Design Portfolio

Cartoon filing folders in red, orange and yellowThe best way for creative professionals to demonstrate their expertise is to share what they’ve done. Rather than sending a prospective employer or client your work by attaching files to an email, enhance your résumé by developing an online portfolio.

What is a Portfolio?

Before the advent of digital technology, creative professionals used to create their portfolios by scratch! Now design professionals have endless opportunities to make them stand out from other professionals through a multitude of platforms. According to, an online portfolio is a website that “provides professional information about an individual or company and presents a showcase of their work.”

Why Do You Need One?

There’s no rule saying you need one, but in our digital age, and being a creative professional – it makes sense! Aside from attracting prospective employers, clients and contracted projects, online portfolios give web design professionals the chance to show viewers how their work has evolved over time. If you maintain your portfolio throughout your career, you can pinpoint your greatest achievements that will serve as a selling point.

Have an Objective

Like other design projects, your online portfolio must have an objective that makes sense to your viewers. Before you begin, determine why you are making this portfolio. While the objectives varies from designer to designer, the most basic objective is to highlight your professional experience and display compelling content, with the hopes of turning into leads and opportunities for employment.

When it comes to compelling content, your work can be displayed in a variety of ways. Some of the most popular formats to use are slideshows, thumbnail galleries and video presentations. The more creative you can get with your format, the more likely someone will want to reach out to you to utilize your abilities.

Integrate Your Social Media Accounts

Since an online portfolio is meant to market your talents, you will need to create profiles on a variety of social media accounts. The best platforms for keeping your followers updated on content or other changes you make to your website is Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+. By actively engaging in social media, you will not only inform your followers, but will also increase your chances of generating traffic to your website.

Once you’ve taken the time to build up your social media profiles, put the links on the header, footer and sidebar, as well your website’s contact page. Most content management systems (CMS) will offer widgets that cover the major social media platforms.

Add a Blog Component

In order to enhance your online portfolio, have something to write about! Although the most important aspect is what you can do with design, prospective employers and clients want to know that the portfolio owner can also develop thought-provoking content.

Good ideas for blog content include the lessons you’ve learned thus far in your career, trends in web design and related industries and consistent reflections of each project you complete. Use your online portfolio to brand yourself in the long run, which creates the opportunity to become a resource for other design professionals.

Maintain a Consistent Tone

Depending on what your objective is, make sure the tone of your content reflects your end goal(s). For example, if you’re using an online portfolio to attract employers, use a tone that is similar to your resume and cover letters. Conversely, if the purpose of your online portfolio is to serve as a professional resource, make your tone educational.

Implement Well Structured Text

A necessary skill for making the most out of your CMS, your content will be more effective if you use HTML headings properly. Their purpose is imperative because they are meant to create order in your content. For more information on how to use HTML headings, visit HTML5 outliner.

Less is more

Although design is your expertise, you do not want the design to alter the impact of the content. Play around with different templates or create your own to develop a format the effectively showcases your work. If your portfolio is too flashy or hard to comprehend, users won’t think twice about leaving your website. After all, the work is the reason why you’ve created it in the first place.

Optimize for Functionality

Along with having a simple design and minimal graphics, be sure to apply the same philosophy to the functionality of your portfolio. Don’t opt for complex or unconventional navigation, as it won’t do anything to enhance your work. In sum, create a navigation bar that is accessible to your target audience.

Add Categories

Rather than clumping your entire work together under one category, separate your specialties through categories. Good examples of general categories found on design portfolios are web, illustration, print, personal projects, and branding. Some designers might find it helpful to add a category that exemplifies their most recent work as a means to show users that they’re keeping up with maintenance. Lastly, if you have a lot of work to display, it’s useful to add search bar functionality for browsing categories.

Make it Personal

Competition for creative professionals is fierce, therefore, it’s crucial to incorporate elements that demonstrate your personality or unique touch to the design process. Don’t confuse this for adding intricate graphics, as already discussed before, but rather focus on more subtle elements like typography or color schemes.

Include a Detailed Biography

In order to brand yourself, you must have a detailed biography that not only discusses your professional expertise but your personal life as well. Important things to include are your educational background, profile picture, goals, interests and hobbies, as well as link to a downloadable PDF resume.

You can also opt for a separate contact page, or add it to the tail of your biography. Contact information should include phone number(s), email(s), address, links to your social media profiles, and published work, if applicable.

Have Fun with it!

If you’re passionate about design, then creating your online portfolio won’t feel like work. This is a digital publication that you should be proud of for years to come, meaning it should be a work of art that doesn’t reflect the theme or look of others.


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