This article was written by guest author Lorie Dodson, a full-time writer and content editor
If you are a web designer, your online portfolio plays a central role in your career trajectory.
The layout, quality, tone, and overall aesthetic will all either give or take away from the credibility of your personal brand. Bearing that in mind, your portfolio needs to be concise, functional, elegantly designed, and, of course, absolutely stunning. It should serve as an example of your skills, specialties, creative vision, and ability to draw viewers in with aesthetic charm.
However, it’s not just web designers that need guidance for creating stunning personal portfolios. Just about every emerging creative professional does. And that’s why we’ve written this guide. To provide insights, references, and ideas to help your web design portfolio pop online.
Whether you are a web designer, photographer, or artist, today we’ll look through seven web design tips and tips to help you create a portfolio that is visually and conceptually impressive.
What Should An Online Portfolio Include?
Regardless of industry or profession, there are some key components that every online portfolio should include. Design choices aside, here’s a list of everything your portfolio should include:
- Your name and contact details
- An “About” section
- List of skills, credentials, and achievements
- Examples of (recent) work
- Easy-to-navigate format
- Instructions for how to get in touch/hire you
Key components aside, you can really go wild when it comes to designing your online portfolio. In fact, the more distinctive and unique you make it, the better it will probably be.
7 Web Design Tips to Create a Portfolio Your Future Clients Will Love
1. Go Bold On The Landing Page
The landing page is where your clients will arrive when entering your portfolio, so it’s got to make a good impression. Going bold from the get-go can help draw viewers in and entice them to want to find out more about what you’re capable of.
Here are some suggestions for going bold:
- Use bright, eye-catching colors that evoke an emotional response
- Large, strong typefaces that are easy to read
- Maximalist imagery (if you’re in an artistic field)
These are all simple yet effective ways to introduce yourself as a strong, visually oriented professional with a clear understanding of how to attract people’s attention.
2. Use Animated Navigation
This one might be a bit outside of your comfort zone if you aren’t a part of the web design industry, but it’s nonetheless a popular way to make online portfolios or any webpage truly stunning. You can create an animated cursor or navigation bar using CSS or HTML.
If you aren’t familiar with coding, there are plenty of online tutorials that will show you how to execute simple website animations. Alternatively, you can always outsource the work to a web developer.
3. Create A Strong “About” Section
Many potential clients will be curious about the person behind the portfolio, and you don’t want to disappoint. If you’re a freelancer, even more so. After all, they will have to work directly with you if they hire you for a project. So, make sure you flesh out your “About” section well.
While adding in some charming personal details—just nothing too personal—remember to keep your description relevant to the portfolio itself. That’s what clients want to know more about.
4. Keep It Simple
When in doubt, sticking to a minimalistic portfolio layout is never a bad idea. Simplicity is almost always in fashion, and it adds a professional, mature tone to the presentation of your portfolio. Stark, minimalistic backgrounds can also help your work stand out more. Other ways to keep it simple include:
- Plenty of white space
- A restrained color palette
- Avoiding serif or other overly complicated fonts
- Be intentional about your placements
A big part of visual simplicity and minimalism has to do with purpose. Quality over quantity. Rather than haphazardly uploading as many examples of your work as possible, select each one with a clear intention. Only show your best work; it’s what will sell your skills the best.
5. Employ Large Modular Grids
Magazine layouts have become extremely popular in contemporary online portfolios. By using a large modular grid to structure examples of your work, you can create a sense of cohesion and familiarity that viewers can comfortably glide through.
The idea behind a great portfolio is that it not only looks visually stunning, but it also invites you to keep exploring. You want viewers to feel enticed by the structure, and a modular grid can do exactly that. Make it as easy as possible for viewers to follow the structure of your portfolio.
6. Look At Examples Of Successful Portfolios In Your Field
It will be much harder to create a stunning, lasting portfolio if you focus on yours and nobody else’s. There are millions of beautiful online portfolios that you can use as inspiration and guidance when making your own.
You can look at other creative professionals’ online portfolios and see what they’re doing and why. But, while you can pick up some stylistic tips and tricks from others, be sure to put your own stamp on your end result. Then, carry this style through everything you do, from your website to the printable invoice template you use on the completion of a job.
By sticking to a signature style, you’ll establish your brand and create a cohesive look and feel that’s uniquely yours.
7. Don’t Skimp On The Quality Of Your Copy
Unless you’re a writer yourself, website copy might not be something you pay any particular attention to. But copy quality is integral to any successful website, portfolios included.
If your portfolio features typos, poorly structured sentences, or simply text that doesn’t read well, it can negatively impact your reputation and the credibility of your site in a serious way. While images and layout should still be the main elements of your portfolio, quality copy should be equally high on your priority list.
And if you struggle to create good copy on your own, don’t risk it by trying. Rather, outsource an affordable freelance copywriter to help tell your story in a professional and inspiring way.
Having a great online portfolio is important for most creative professionals today. Whether you’re a commercial photographer or freelance illustrator, having one place to showcase your talent, experience, and skill set is crucial for attracting clients.
But when it comes to web design, in particular, the online portfolio stakes become a little higher. This is because the portfolio layout and functionality form a part of the portfolio itself. With these web design tips, anyone can create a compelling and professional online portfolio that showcases their work in the best possible light.
To learn how to create a portfolio from scratch, check out our article on making a graphic design portfolio from scratch that covers the exact steps you need to take to create a portfolio that’ll have clients rushing to hire you.