Portfolio Design Do's and Don'ts

Designing a professional portfolio can be a daunting task for anyone. You may wonder what information to include and what to leave out. It helps if you have some background, but even if you do not, it is never too late to learn. We will explore the do’s and don’ts when designing your portfolio in our article below. Let’s dive into it.

Why Do You Need A Good Portfolio?

A portfolio is a vital tool for any creative because you need it to attract potential clients or employers. It is also an essential tool for showcasing your work to other professionals within your field. By continually updating it, you get to showcase your latest projects. It may provide an opportunity to advance your career if the right people get to see it. Consider the time you spend updating your portfolio as an investment in your career and something which you must do on a constant basis.

A Good Portfolio

A good portfolio will allow you to showcase your accomplishments and also let people know what you are capable of. With the growth of the online space, you get to showcase your portfolio on your website. But, you will also need a printable version for meetings, or to give out at different industry events.

Take note of the following.

1. Your Introduction Matters

Introduction matters

Do’s:

Introduce yourself, so that anyone who will interact with the portfolio knows who you are at-a-glance. Include a small paragraph giving relevant information, but make it concise and straight-forward.

Your introduction should showcase you as a professional. Do not include hobbies or any other work you did outside of your professional practice. You may, however, include them in your resume. Show your skillset and why any would benefit by having you on-board. You must also be honest about your skill level. Indicate as much, so that you get that out of the way.

Don’ts:

Be too clever by using generic terms that really do not say anything about you. All you will do is create confusion without communicating. It would be disappointing for someone to hire you only to see that you lack the skillset for very difficult jobs.

2. Spend Some Time On the About Page

About page

Do’s:

Spend time on the ‘about page.’ An excellent ‘about page’ is a very essential part of your portfolio. Most people will go there first so that they can get as much context about your portfolio as they possibly can. It may have a massive role in determining whether someone continues to stay on your site or not. Do a casual check with Google Analytics, and it may surprise you at the number of people who visit your about page daily.

Memorably present the page while giving all the relevant detail. You may even consider adding a picture of yourself to make the profile more interesting.

3. Be Careful About the Work You Include

Do’s:

Be careful about the work you include. You may be incredibly proud of the work you have done over the years. You must, however, emphasize quality over quantity. It would help if you can pick a maximum of four projects to showcase your work.

Don’ts:

Feel tempted to include everything you have ever had a chance to work on.

4. Simplicity Works Best 

Do’s:

Come up with a simple design that will allow you to let your work showcase itself. Present your work in an easy to consume manner, thereby requiring that you pay extra attention to the display aspect. Remember, people will form an opinion from a glance before they take the time to go through the whole portfolio. First perceptions are very hard to change, and so you must be careful about how you present yourself.

Don’ts:

Have too many sideshows. Too many sideshows, such as animations and videos, may remove the attention from your work onto the gimmicks.

Useful Read: 20+ Best WordPress Plugins for Photographers

5. Use Easy-To-Understand Language

Do’s:

Use easy to understand language. There is always a thought process behind any project you undertake. It could be a personal experience, careful research, generating ideas from things around you, among others.

Find a smart way to tell a compelling story about every project you will use in your portfolio. Take the person reading your portfolio through the process of coming up with the final work. You must, therefore, document the challenges, how you managed to overcome them, among others.

Don’ts:

Use hard-to-understand language, so that you interact well with anyone who will be looking at your portfolio.

6. Context is Essential

Do’s:

Pay attention to content. Some people feel that the use of images in a presentation is a good idea because pictures do speak for themselves. Contextualize what you want to say clearly, highlighting your goals, the resources you have available, how much time you require to complete projects, among others. Images are fantastic for breaking the monotony, but you have to apply the use of words to sell yourself.

Don’ts:

Rely solely on pictures. While you may incorporate photos, you should not rely on it entirely to sell you.

7. Vary the Templates You Use To Present Your Projects

Present your Projects

Do’s:

Vary your templates. You must also consider what kind of experience the user on your site will have. Your site design should be easy to navigate and provide relevant information quickly. You should, for example, never export images directly from sketch or illustrator. The client may not be able to understand what it is you’re trying to convey. It will also make your site look flat and aesthetically and appealing.

A fantastic idea would be to apply the use of mock-ups and excellent photographs to add some variety. If you can afford it, get a professional photographer to take the pictures for you. You get access to high-quality images for use in different projects.

Don’ts:

Use one template to present all your projects. Each is unique and will require different ways of showcasing your work. You may need to expand on an aspect in one project but not do the same in the other.

8. Typography

Do’s:
Pay attention to the type of font you use to improve readability and the overall look of your portfolio.

Don’ts:
Think that typography is not a big issue, it is an essential part of your portfolio.

9. Check Out Other Portfolios

Do’s:
Check out other portfolios to give you a good idea of what to include or not.

10. Editing

Do’s:
Check grammar.

Don’ts:
Ever send out a portfolio that has poor grammar or typing errors. It will show that you’re not very serious about your work and some clients take this very seriously. When you spend too much time on a project, you may miss some very obvious mistakes. If you can afford it, let someone go through the text part for you

11. Keep Updating Your Portfolio

Do’s:
Update your portfolio. The more work you have, the more resources you get to keep updating your portfolio. Clients will have more confidence in reaching out to someone who keeps on bringing new work onto their portfolio. It shows that you have a good client base and are capable of producing excellent work. Remove what is no longer applicable and remember to update your client list section.

Don’ts:
Forget to keep updating your portfolio.

12. Upload your resume

Resume

Do’s:
Upload your resume. Some potential clients like to know as much as they can about whoever they bring on-board. Your resume is a fantastic avenue for sharing such information. Ensure you give relevant information such as the clients you have worked for, professional training, past employment details, among others.

Don’ts:
Forget to include a way for people to reach you, and that is why you need to ensure that your contact details her part of the resume. Your contact details should ideally be on most parts of your portfolio so that someone does not have to click on your resume to know how to reach you.

13. Your Portfolio Must Stand Out and Be Memorable.

Do’s:
Make your portfolio memorable. You want your potential clients to keep remembering you, and the best way to do it is to have an excellent portfolio. The most crucial step is to ensure that you have outstanding work as part of the projects you showcase. The design of your site must also be unique and very different from what other people have.

Don’ts:
Use online templates; while the temptation may be to use online templates, and free photos; the result is ordinarily standard at best.

14. Spread Your Portfolio Around

Spread your Portfolio

Do’s:
Share your portfolio widely. Yes, you have a website, and it is the first place you showcase your portfolio. You, however, have so many platforms that you can use in the online space. Spread your portfolio around on other sites such as Google + profiles, social media platforms like Instagram Twitter and Facebook, professional networks such as LinkedIn, among others.

Don’ts:
Forget other platforms on which you can share your portfolio.

15. Remember You Have Bragging Rights

Do’s:
Remember you have bragging rights. If you are the owner of outstanding work you have bragging rights to it. Sell yourself through your work, and do not under any condition, undersell yourself. If there are aspects you are especially proud of, then you must showcase them very actively.

Don’ts:
Ignore testimonials. It would not hurt to have the testimonials or reviews as part of your portfolio.

16. Make People Want To Look At Your Portfolio

Do’s:
Make people want to look at your portfolio. You might have come across some sites, and you cannot help but spend some time on them. And you can see that the person who came up with a design took some time thinking about the overall look. The same should apply to your portfolio. It should draw people in because of how attractive it is. Let it be that creative outlet for you.

Don’ts:
Go crazy with the design. You may, therefore, want to temper any urge to be too creative or playful just because you can.

17. Quality of Images

Do’s:
Use quality images. You must ensure that you do not have any low-resolution pictures. Also, take the images in a good light. Anyone who is looking at them should see what you are trying to present. You should consider investing in hiring someone to take professional photos for you. Consider this an investment that can help you land very big jobs in the future. A professional photographer will be able to set up the lighting properly, take multiple shots, allow you to get close-ups, among others.

Don’ts:
Use stock images or take pictures with your phone camera.

Also Read: How to Optimize Images for Web and SEO

18. Consider Adding a Blog

Add a Blog

Do’s:
Consider adding a blog. Having a blog on your portfolio is a fantastic way to showcase your skill. With the right content, you can also optimize SEO, thus making it easy for the search engines to send traffic your way. Maximize picture titles using the right keywords to increase your visibility to the search engines further. You have so many options with the type of topics you can write about. You can share your experiences as a creative, give advice to beginners, share your methods of coming up with the perfect work, among others.

Don’ts:
Ignore keyword research. Ensure that you do keyword research so that as you provide value, you also make it easy for Google to find you.
19. Ask For Help or Opinions

Do’s:
Ask for help or opinion. If you are designing your portfolio, you may have that attachment that many creative’s have with their work. You must, however, aim for objectivity and get someone else to look at your portfolio for you. Let it be someone who has no problem telling you the truth without being afraid that they will offend you. Unless they are sincere, you may want to avoid family and friends because they probably know how you react to criticism. Ask clients, colleagues, and mentors to give you an honest critic of your portfolio. You can then use the feedback to tweak whatever needs tweaking.

Don’ts:
Ask those who may have a problem telling you the truth

Final Thoughts

We have shared with you some fantastic tips on how to create the perfect portfolio. Your portfolio is the first insight a client will have on how good you are at your work. You must, therefore, spend sufficient time in coming up with the content for your portfolio. Let your work speak for itself by showcasing some of the fantastic jobs you have done. You must keep on refreshing your portfolio as an indication to potential clients that you are working hard on your craft. Do not forget to include client testimonials because they are a potent tool when pitching for a job.

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