Pro Tips to Create a World-Class Design Portfolio (With Examples)

If you’re a web designer or some other type of creative professional, sooner or later you will need to showcase your expertise on a global stage, which is only possible through an online portfolio. A thoughtful, well-designed personal portfolio not only helps you get work from new clients but also establishes you as a reputed expert in your respective competitive industry.
Building a simple online portfolio is quite easy but a great portfolio, which could make your stand out from the crowd, needs to be created with proper planning. So to help you build an awe-inspiring design portfolio (or improve an existing one), I’ve listed twenty proven tips accompanied by great real-life examples.
Let’s dig in!
Keep a Strong Core Objective:
The first and foremost thing you need to know is the real purpose behind your portfolio. Ask yourself why you want to build your portfolio – to get a good job or sell your works or gain yourself some reputation or just to make new connections. Define the main objective of the portfolio and stick to it really well till the end.

Examples: Sean Halpin and Andrew DotsonSean H

Andrew1 Andrew

Focus on Personal Branding:

Since your portfolio is about you (and of course your work), you must create a powerful personal brand. This can be done by using an awesome logo and adding a short and descriptive tagline to your portfolio. While an eye-catching logo quickly tells visitors who you are, on the other hand, a strong tagline explains them succinctly what you actually do.

Examples: Monica Lynn and Anthony Wiktor

Monica Lyn

Add Information About Yourself:

Consider adding sufficient information about yourself so that your prospective clients could know a little bit more about you. Business occurs between real people and therefore, you need to show your potential clients that you’re a human. To convert your visitors from interested to invested, write a killer “About” page that makes you stand out from the crowd.

Examples: Calvin Teoh and Adam Hartwig

Calvin Theoh

Keep Portfolio Simple and Intuitive:

Be it a portfolio, blog or online store, simplicity rules everywhere. Where a simple portfolio helps visitors quickly focus on your showcased work, on the contrary, a complex portfolio having a lot of unnecessary stuff burns out your reputation among potential clients. Hence, keep every design element on your portfolio as simple and intuitive as possible.

Examples: Yaron Schoen and Rob Wootten


Make It Super Easy to Use:

Along with being simple, a good portfolio needs to be user-friendly. To check whether or not your portfolio is easy to access and navigate, browse it from a user’s perspective. Make sure your portfolio doesn’t contain any confusing design elements – like pop-ups and shiny banner – which most of the common users find difficult to understand and use.

Examples: Hayk and Jim Ramsdem


Keep Contact Information Visible:

Don’t make your perspective client go here and there just to find your contact details. The easier you make it for visitors to contact you, the higher the chances of getting work from them will be. Keep in mind, the ultimate purpose of making a portfolio is to attract clients and get paid. So let your potential clients easily reach out to you!

Examples: Seb Kay and Jared Christensen

Jared Christensen

Include Testimonials:

Whether you’re an experienced professional or just starting out, adding your previous clients’ testimonials to your portfolio is a great way to make your potential clients more likely to try you out. You may ask your previous clients to write testimonials but always remember, every single testimonial on your portfolio must reveal the truth and be honest.

Examples: Philip Park and Steffan Williams

Steffan Wiliams

Show Only the Best Pieces of Your Work:

Don’t try to showcase every project you’ve ever worked on. Instead, show off only your best projects that demonstrate your expertise efficiently. As clients generally don’t have time to dig through tons of projects, you must be thoughtful about what projects you’re going to put in your portfolio. Remember, quality always wins over quantity.

Examples: Ivo Mynttinen and Camille Léonard

Ivo Mynttinen

Categorize Your Work:

One of the most overlooked things while building a portfolio is not categorizing work samples. For a client, it’s much easier to browse hundred categorized projects than those ten that are not categorized. So categorize your best works, which you’ve added to your portfolio, to spice up portfolio browsing experience and help clients quickly find what they actually are searching for.

Examples: Huncwot and Olly Gibbs

Olly Gibbs

Tell the Story of Each Work Sample:

Every piece of your work that you’ve added to your portfolio should tell a compelling story, with both engaging text and attractive images. To make your portfolio more memorable and impressive, do a creative write-up of your each project along with adding stunning visuals. Let the work speak for itself and give your perspective client an undeniable reason to hire you.

Examples: Martin Fletcher and Cole Townsend

Cole TownsendCole Townsend2

Showcase Your Design Process:

Do you know clients love to hire designers who have a great working process? That’s because when you explain your design process, it becomes quite easy for a client to understand how you frame, think and solve a problem. Additionally, showing your design process gives answers to many questions of your clients, saving them from wandering here and there.

Examples: Stacey Baldini and Deidre “Deda” Bain

Stacy Baldini

Don’t Skimp on High-Resolution Photography:

Even though your portfolio is completely online, having stunning, high-quality images is always a plus point for your portfolio. You never know when you may need to showcase printed materials or a physical product. Therefore, incorporating gorgeous photography is a great idea whether your design portfolio has a print version or not.

Examples: Deluxemodern Design and Nainoa Shizuru

DeluxModern Design

Highlight Your Expertise:

Make it clear to your clients what work you really are available for. Let them know what you specialize in and what you are not so good at. For example, if you’re expert and passionate about Photoshop, clearly say that. Don’t make it hard for your clients to figure out what kind of work you’re able to do. Finally, be honest about your areas of expertise.

Examples: Robby Leonardi and R.V.Krishna

RV Krishna

Add a Downloadable Resume:

Believe it or not, most of the people today still use hard-copy resumes. This is specifically true in the case of a traditional workplace that has a number of HR (Human Resource) departments. So if possible, include a downloadable copy of your resume on your portfolio. A PDF file is usually works best for this purpose.

Examples: Matthias Holler and Andreas Knutsson

Andreas Knutsson

Andreas Resume

Include Links to Relevant Social Media Profiles:

Feel free to add links to any relevant (and active) social media accounts on your design portfolio. Whether you’re a freelancer or full-time designer, you must include at least three social media profiles – LinkedIn, Dribbble and Behance – to your portfolio. Keep in mind, your links must be relevant and should not compromise getting clients.

Examples: Beta Takaki and Eliot Slevin

Beta TakakiBeta

Add a Compelling CTA (Call to Action):

No matter what purpose you’re creating portfolio for, each page on your portfolio must have an effective call to action to make your clients take the next step. The longer a visitor stays on your portfolio, the better the chance is you’ll accomplish the main objective of your portfolio. Use persuasive CTAs like “Request a quote”, “Hire Me” and “Download resume”.

Examples: Joe Rutland and Ashley Farrand

Ashley Ferrand

Highlight Side Projects:

Show off your personal side projects to reveal more about your personality and make employers feel that you’re active even outside the office. Like a creative person, you need to assure your clients that you are passionate about your work and have the ability to work on a broad set of problems. As long as your side projects support the main goal of your portfolio, they can be added.

Examples: Jessica Hische and Joshua McCartney

JessicaJessica Hische

Go For Variety:

Instead of adding only one kind of projects, include a wide variety of projects on your portfolio. This way, you’ll be able to show a wide range of your skills and abilities to your clients. Remember, a great portfolio demonstrates diversity. Even if you’re versatile enough, make sure all projects on your portfolio represent one person’s (i.e. you) work.

Examples: Stefan Lucut and Studio Mast

Studio Mast

Keep It Fresh:

From technology to content, always keep your portfolio up-to-date. Every time you finished working on a new project, look at it as a new portfolio piece. If you find it better than your previous works, include it instantly on your portfolio. Keep in mind, your portfolio is a never-ending process and therefore, it needs to be updated from time to time.

Examples: Pierre Georges and Josh Overton

Pierre Georges

Be Unique:

Last but certainly not least, don’t forget the most important thing: your uniqueness. As much as possible, be unique all over your portfolio so that you could give your prospective clients a solid reason to choose you. Sit down and think how you can make your portfolio different from others. Make your portfolio so unique that your potential client would have no option except “hiring you”.

Examples: Colin Snow and Pauline Osmont

Collin Snow

About the Author
Ajeet is a senior web developer at WordPressIntegration – PSD to WordPress service provider, where he is responsible for writing custom JavaScript code during the conversion process. In his spare time, he writes on different topics related to JavaScript, WordPress, and Web Design to share his work experience with others. You can follow WordPressIntegration on Facebook

Ajeet is a senior web developer at WordpressIntegration - PSD to WordPress service provider, where he is responsible for writing custom JavaScript code during the conversion process. In his spare time, he writes on different topics related to JavaScript, WordPress, and Web Design to share his work experience with others. You can follow WordpressIntegration on Facebook
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