Portfolios are one of the best methods we have as designers to showcase our creative talents and imaginative muscles with code. Being able to portray your abilities in a way that will both captivate and intrigue your audience (potential clients) and future employers is therefore as important to your job hunting attitude as a resume. Within this article we’ll examine the three elements of a portfolio that should reflect your abilities best, and give you some inspiring examples of these in action.
Skills Matter to Clients
Every portfolio needs to explain three fundamental job related skills to a client and those are what web related technologies are you tooled in, what services can (or are you willing) to provide, and the visual examples of your previous work which inherently showcase the true skills you possess. This is much like analysing the abilities of an artist: the technologies represent the tools you can use (like a paintbrush), the services represent your forte (like portraits) and the visuals are the end result.
If you have a talent for web design, make the effort on your portfolio to showcase it!
The importance of having all three listed goes without saying. If you don’t explain to people what specific languages you know, you may end up getting requests for work you simply can’t undertake (so attracting the wrong kind of client), if you don’t explain what services you provide, you may get requests for a wide range of things from designing icons to writing software (which doesn’t help you) and without that portfolio and previous clients, your reputation simply hangs in the balance instead.
There are many different technologies that we utilise on a regular basis. From lowly markup languages like HTML to the ever more complex server-side scripting selection (like PHP), it’s quite a dynamic range! As a designer or developer, it’s important that you explain precisely what types of languages you are equipped to deal with, or you may not attract the type of clients you would hope for. Usually a simple list will do, but you could provide extra details such as the level you’re at.
Giving your clients an idea of the type of work you undertake will improve upon knowing the types of language you are equipped to deal with. Perhaps you only prefer to do PSD to HTML conversions, maybe you do advanced WordPress integrations, or you might want to work as a consultant doing audits! Whatever your trade or niche, declaring it effectively will help a potential client gauge your suitability to their particular project. Unless of course you want to take on absolutely everything!
Finally we have the portfolios themselves, of which the common trend involves displaying a lovely big image or screenshot of the work undertaken, details of the project itself with the name of the individual or brand you worked with and a link to the site itself (if it still exists – if not, you could consider hosting a mirror of the work). When you’re showcasing your past work, you want to include the best pieces perhaps organised by date if you find that you’ve far too much in one portfolio.
Creativity is Critical
Within the web design and development process, being creative and highlighting those important aspects of your work makes all the difference. If people know who you are, what you can do, what you offer and can see you’re a master craftsman, clients will find you! Portraying that portfolio is more than simply offering a general list, it’s about explaining your purpose, showcasing your passion and giving people every single reason possible to hire you rather than to look elsewhere.
While keeping in mind that every website must be highly usable and accessible, producing a unique portfolio that doesn’t look boring will inspire people to take a closer look at you. Portfolios are lucky enough to be in a position where that first impression tells a lot about you and your quality. If your showcase is out of date, poorly maintained and barely legible, no-one will hire you. Therefore as you leave this article, perhaps consider ways your own portfolio’s visibility and distinction can increase.
Do you have a unique portfolio design that is unlike anything else out there? What tips do you have for producing a successful portfolio? Is your portfolio a single or multi page site? And what, if anything do you believe is the most critical of the three elements? Let us know in the comments!