I just finished creating a new portfolio. Building a portfolio is a lot of work. After all, it’s a reflection of you. I’ve built many portfolio sites to display my work over the course of my career. The goal, of course, was to display projects I have worked on in order to gain more work. Each portfolio was an iteration on the last until I found a good mix of ingredients.
The last and most successful personal website I built was in 2009. It wasn’t particularly fancy or technically impressive. I left out the bells and whistles and instead focused on building a website that would appeal to potential employers. That is not to say you must do without innovation or unique branding, just that it may not be necessary for achieving the same results.
Since then I have worked at some great companies where I not only worked on projects I enjoyed, but also had to hire designers I felt would be a good fit. It wasn’t until I was in the shoes of someone looking to hire design talent that I discovered the flaws in many portfolio websites out there.
Here are some things to keep in mind when building a portfolio created to get you hired:
- Display only work that aligns with your design views and style. You don’t want to end up designing 40 hours a week for a project you don’t enjoy or working in a style you dislike. If someone were to reach out to you for work, it’s likely because they feel you’re a good match for their project based on the work they’ve seen.
- Don’t overwhelm your visitors. While the number of projects you have worked on may be impressive, most don’t want to click through a hundred different projects trying to figure out who you are. If you must show a large number of projects, make sure the viewer is learning something new about you in every project. In most cases, I have found around 10 quick to scan projects or a few in-depth case studies to be enough to gauge the skill set and personality of a designer.
- Show personality when describing your projects. If I’m viewing a project of yours that you had fun with, I would hope you explain why. If you were inspired by something that influenced the way a project turned out, mention it! It gives potential employers an idea of what makes you tick. You do not need a lengthy about section to tell someone who you are. I have seen too many about pages that read similarly. You’re unique story will come through in the way you present your work.
- Be approachable. It’s incredibly surprising how many designers are more than willing to display the work they’ve done, but provide absolutely no way of getting in touch with them. A website that displays your talent, but lacks a clear and obvious way to contact you is missed opportunity. I shouldn’t have to search for a LinkedIn or Twitter profile just to make contact.
Do you have more advice? Share it in the comments.
If you would like a swift and honest opinion on your portfolio website, feel free to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d be happy to take a look.
In addition to creating a new portfolio to display my work, I also having been building out this blog and a few other properties. The goal is to build a website that promotes my various side projects in hopes that they become enough to support me financially. In the coming weeks, I will describe in detail how each part of my new site was built and why it was built that way. Subscribe to the newsletter so you don’t miss out!