10 Common Portfolio Mistakes & How To Fix Them

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Common Portfolio Mistakes

Having a good looking portfolio design can do a lot for you. Whether you are looking for freelance work, building your own brand, or just trying to get a new job, a good looking portfolio is something that you cannot miss out on.

Having an online portfolio of yourself helps you in building brand and authority of your work. You get your own little place on the internet where you can display all your amazing work to the users and potential clients in the most effective manner.

Although an online portfolio is a crucial part of your digital image, most of the time we end up making some mistake here and there in our portfolio. Which is something that we do not want, right?

Having mistakes in your own designed online image can badly tamper your image, and nothing is worse than creating a bad impression in front of potential clients and collaborators. This can result in you to losing a good amount of work that you can get if you can just set these things right in your portfolio.

These mistakes can be honest as when we usually make a mistake, we do not realize it. And, in terms of creating a portfolio, it can be due to too much personalization or design related issue or providing too much information or too less information. It can also be due to anything apart from the issues mentioned here like poor navigation, ugly design, too much crowded or just too empty. What it could be is not certain and obviously not the same for all. 

But there are some common portfolio mistakes that most of us seem to make and they can be fixed and improved if given attention to.

I have listed down all the common mistakes people make while designing a portfolio here and also the solutions how you can avoid them.

Mistake #1: Targeting the Wrong Audience

Most of the time when people create their portfolio they do not consider what their end goal is and end up creating a portfolio that is not targeted to the right audience. For example, (this happens very often) People create their portfolio with a mindset to please their family, friends, or just colleagues. This is not right at all, but people usually do this.

Your friends, family, or colleagues might love what you have designed but remember, this is not the group you should be targeting.

How does that make a difference? Well, lemme break this down for you. Your family and friends might spend more time on the website in noticing and fancying the design and layout you have created but on the other hand, your clients or possible job providers will be quickly skimming down the content and will be hunting for something that they can use. If they are not able to find what they are looking for, they will just skip the portfolio. You have just lost a client.

How to fix this?

While designing your website, you need to give special attention to all the details of the design from the client’s viewpoint. If you are not sure how you can do this, just give your website some mock visits where you are the client, and you are looking for a good person for a job. See what information you are looking for and what difficulties you faced in that process.

Also, this tip does not mean to say that you should eliminate the design angle and just directly throw the details to the visitor’s face. Instead, try to find the right balance where your design looks good and is able to convey all the information a client will be looking for.

Mistake #2: Showcasing too much

Yes, that is a thing and in fact, a mistake that is done very often. Of course, when you are proud of your work, you want to display all of it with full glory to the visitor but let me ask you something.

Do you think the visitors actually give that much effort to go through all the things you have showcased? I am sorry to break this up to you, they do not.

Most of the time users will give a look to 2 or at max 3 of your work, and that is it. The clients have more things in their mind such as how fast you can deliver, how much money is this job going to cost them, or how the result is going to look like. But one thing which can surely be said is that all of your work is not going to be displayed to the user.

How to fix this?

If you have ever visited the flea market, you will know how many choices and options you get there, but I am sure you will have a hard time choosing between them as there will be more mediocre stuff. On the other hand, if you have gone to a high-end store of the same products, you might notice that they have showcased fewer products.  But you will easily be able to choose the one you like, and probably the one from the high-end store will have a better place when compared to the one with the one from the flea market.

You have to apply the same logic for your website. You have to ruthlessly eliminate your mediocre content from your home page or the showcase and have to add only the quality stuff there. There is not an “ideal number” for how many items you should showcase. It will vary from niche to niche but do keep this in your mind that the more work you will include, the more you have to be organized and neatly presented.

Mistake #3: No context or Backstory

Often it happens that the professionals put only their work in their portfolios and showcase. There is no explanation about the art or the piece of work that they have created.

There is no gain that you can actually get from showcasing just the work you have done. If your work is not self-explanatory, you need to tell your users about it by adding some context. You at least need to provide the bare minimum that a person needs to understand your piece of work.

This happens most of the time with the photography portfolios or the website developer portfolios. They simply add the images and the screenshots and forget to add what the work is about.

Not adding the content will only confuse the potential client rather having proper details or information around the product written down will help the user in faster coming down to the decision.

How to fix this?

Well, to begin with, you have to provide the Content (obviously). You need to again see yourself as the client of the visitor and need to analyze what all information the user might be looking for in your work.

Talk about how you come about the plan and the workaround of the product. You can write about how you executed the process and if the project was collaboration, what was your contribution. Was your client happy and satisfied with the result? And anything else that you think your potential client might be looking for.

Mistake #4: Missing Motive

Many times portfolio website fail simply because the clients or the visitors are not able to decide what their website is all about and what the professional is trying to achieve.

Ironically, this happens because the professional himself/herself is not able to come to a conclusion why they are not creating a website and what is the purpose of the website. Sometimes they create an online portfolio because of the norm “you need to have a website, right?”.

Well, let me tell you something. If you do not have a goal a vision, you will have a hard time converting your visitors.

How to fix this?

To fix this, you need to first sit down and think what your website is going to be about. For example, if you are searching for a job, you need to make it clear by maybe adding a “hire me” section and make it clear that you are open to full-time jobs too.

You can’t expect your visitors to understand your thought if you are beating around the bush.

In case, on the other hand, if you are looking for freelance projects only, it will be wise to give out your rates based on the niche and project that you do. This will save you from unnecessary emailing back and forth while the ‘time eating clients’ are trying to lowball you.

If you are not in this for money or opportunities and just want to build your brand, you can do it easily by adding more social proof elements to your portfolios such as kind words from your clients, press releases and recognitions and awards received by you.

Mistake #5: Not Enough Personal Information

Apart from talking about what you do and how you do, you need to talk and share info about you as well. People are definitely interested in your work, but if you want to retain these visitors, you need to talk about the person who will be taking care of their project.

There is a current trend where the designer adds a catchy or snappy line under their name which is usually witty and tells the visitors about the professional. You can incorporate this into your website too and see how the retention turns up.

You might also be damaging your portfolio’s strength if you have not yet added the “About Us” or the “About Me” section in the website. Most of the time when people want to learn about the person or the professional of the website, they look for the “About” page. This is the place which gives all the required information to the visitors. If you do not have this page on your portfolio or even if you have it, but it is not well crafted, then this might be a good time to update the content there.

How to fix this?

You need to start with updating your About Us/Me page. You need to pay attention to the details you are giving out to the users. Do remember not to give out too personal information that might make the users uncomfortable but at the same time, you need to tell the users about yourself and who you are.

You can also start by a thank you note to the reader about thanking them for taking the time to learn about you. This makes the reader feel welcome to the about us page and does not make them feel like they are trying to peek into other’s life.

Mistake #6: Not Mobile Responsive

We know that there is nothing better than showing your portfolio on a big bright desktop screen but there is a good chance that might not be the case always, so you need to be prepared for that.

The trend has shown that there is a huge jump in mobile users in the past years and it is keeping on increasing at a significant rate. Then why are we not paying attention to this part of the users?

If you assume that there might not be many mobile users, then you will only tamper yourself, and ironically this is the same mistake many people do when they are designing their Portfolio.

You need to consider all types of devices that a user can use to access your portfolio. Even the tablet devices. You cannot know in any way how your visitor is going to access your website, so the only way to make sure this problem does not arise is by creating a mobile responsive portfolio.

How to fix this?

The only way to do is to create a mobile and tablet responsive device, and that’s it but for a person who is not tech savvy and does not know how to create a website or an even a mobile responsive layout, can be quite a task.

If you are not sure how you can create a mobile responsive portfolio, then you can use the Portfolio Designer tool for WordPress. You can create your own custom portfolio using the options provided and that too without touching a single line of code. There are unlimited combinations that you can design for your portfolio so you can go ahead and try to change your layout the way you want and again, that too in a totally codeless way.

Mistake #7: Not frequently updated

This happens with a lot of people. Actually, a lot more than you can think of.

So you finally designed your portfolio, and it is looking all good, and now as expected you have started to receive a lot of good work and conversion as well. Good for you! But in all this process, if you forget to keep your portfolio updated, then you are going to have a hard time getting future clients.

This happens to all of us as once we start receiving more work and recognition, you forget about the thing that brought you all this work in the first place. This is not something that you should forget about and rather with more growth, you will need to update the portfolio more often.

How to fix this?

The easiest way to make sure you are keeping your portfolio updated is by creating a schedule and a habit to check regularly that you are updating your portfolio. You can make it a weekly task to check on the details of your portfolio and see if everything is on track or not.

Choose, say an hour of your Wednesday schedule, to check on your portfolio and the details up there. You do not need to go through all the details of the portfolio such as the about page, as there will be very few instances that it will require changes. But do make this a habit to check your portfolio section and your news and updates section (if you have any). These are the areas where it is most required to pay attention related to the updates.

Mistake #8: Too Little Work to Display

It happens most of the times when we are starting out our work, and you do not have much to show on your portfolio, and yet you decide to add what all you have got and whatever work you have done so far.

Although we discussed earlier that you should not add too much work on your portfolio but adding too less work is not good too. Nothing is worse than having a partially filled or empty portfolio page.

How to fix this?

If you feel like your portfolio is not showcasing enough of your work, then go ahead and add more projects to your portfolio page. In case you are just starting out and do not have much work to showcase there then add your student or college projects (if any) as long as they have all the related information and how you got that project. If you do not have any student projects, you can always go ahead and do some projects yourself and put them under the category of “Personal Projects”.

If you wish to really add more quality projects to your portfolio, you can go ahead and do some free project to local communities or NGOs and show those projects as your contribution. This will add significant value to your portfolio.

Mistake #9: Disorganized Portfolio

Now When you meet a person, you tell your name then who you are and then what is that you do and then start your conversation, right? Why do we forget to follow this pattern in your online portfolio?

You need to follow a proper structure in your portfolio, and your portfolio should be able to create a good professional image as well. If you have a good portfolio with all the details mentioned but if you miss out on the structuring of that data then it might not make a total sense, and you might end up confusing your users.

How to fix this?

Give your Portfolio a good read. A read that a visitor would do who want to know about you, who wants to work with you and who does not have any idea who you are. See if you are able to understand what your online portfolio is trying to tell you.

Find what your users want to know about you first and then add that information on your home page. Create proper navigation on your website for easy accessing of all the information on the website, and this can be easily done by adding a menu at the top of the website.

If you are confused about how to create a proper structure, you can leave all the worry to the Portfolio Designer. This tool, as we discussed before, can create a portfolio for you with all the details you need there.This tool comes with dozens of impressive portfolio designs that you can use to design your own portfolio in minutes.

Mistake #10: Outdated Design Style

Everyone has a different taste in style and how things look, but it is not wise to push what you like to your users instead of what they want to see. This can happen with the website design as well. You need to pay attention to how a single element looks on your portfolio and how they look like when taken all together.

You can check out other successful portfolios and see how they look in terms of design and how the details are listed there. Then once you have the idea about how an ideal
design needs to be, you can go ahead and do the same design to your portfolio as well.

How to Fix this?

If you want to create a good looking design, you need to first sit down and see how your current design is like. Then you can see what areas need improvements. If you do not want to go through all that trouble, you can simply use the Portfolio designer plugin to create your portfolio. With this plugin, you can have access to hundreds of professionally designed portfolio templates that you can add to your website in no time. 

If you want to know more about the Portfolio Designer, check here. If you want to get the Portfolio Designer, you can get it here.

So, here are the top 10 mistakes that people make when it comes to creating an online portfolio. You can check your website and see what elements are missing from your website and what all you can improve to make it look better. There is a fix assigned to all the mistakes listed above so if you happen to make the same mistake, you can correct it yourself and avoid causing more damage to your online portfolio and brand.

Feel free to add more to the list by commenting down below the mistake that you were making (if any) on your digital portfolio.

If you think others can benefit from this article as well, then do share it!

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