20 Pro Tips to Create a Winning Graphic Design Portfolio

Gurpreet Singh - Author Gurpreet Singh on Dec 11, 2017

As a graphic designer, your portfolio is the sum total of your work. Whether you are a student just about to get out of college, an aspirant looking for a better job, or a freelancer looking out for clients - your graphic design portfolio is the most important thing on which potential clients and employers will judge you.

No matter what is the stage of your career, an impressive graphic design portfolio wins clients and projects for you. Your online graphic design portfolio website is your creative window to the world. A winning graphic design portfolio website showcases your work, tells your story, inspires confidence and open doors for collaborations. Given its impact, creating your online graphic design portfolio website is the most important design exercise you will undertake in your graphic design career.

Here are our 20 pro tips to create an awesome graphic design portfolio website for yourself:

Have a Clear Purpose

Start with deciding on the purpose of your portfolio. If you are looking for a job, focus on the work you want to do more of and showcase similar projects upfront. Polish your resume and clearly layout your skillsets and strong points so that employers can judge whether you are a good fit for their requirements. If you are a freelancer seeking clients, showcase your successful case studies and emphasise on how you have helped clients achieve success. Including a few client testimonials is also useful. If your online graphic design portfolio is mainly to build your brand, you have a lot more freedom to showcase experiments and personal work that you have done along with commercial work.

Olexs Studio clearly defines its purpose - to design hand scripted fonts - https://www.olexstudio.com/

Curate your work

At its core, creating a great graphic designer portfolio is all about presenting your best work and keeping it simple. Put your best designs upfront. Make sure that your portfolio does not exceed 20 projects (better still, a super-sharp selection of 10 projects). Once your final selection is ready, review it to make sure that its cohesive and represents you well.

Pro tip- The first project that you showcase in your portfolio is the key - this would be seen by most people and be referenced in interviews or client meetings. 

Showcase your versatility

While choosing your strongest projects, you also need to make sure that you are presenting the full breadth of your work. This can be a tight-rope walk and if it comes to choosing a project based on quality vs. range of work, choose quality. Remember that you are as good as the lowest quality work you put out, so make sure that your curate only your best works.

Designer - Brandon Perez shows his diverse skills right on the home page of his portfolio website - https://brandon-perez.pixpa.com/ 

Pro tip: Do not include an inferior work in your portfolio even if it is for a big brand name. Outstanding work done for a smaller client would do the job better. Clients are judging your talent, not your clients’ size. Having big brands in your portfolio helps though :). 

Invest in a proper graphic design portfolio website

Putting a bunch of your work on free platforms such as Bechance, Coroflot or DeviantArt undercuts the very purpose of creating your portfolio - which is to stand out and make an impression. These free platforms reduce your work to just another link amongst millions others, with the same shared experience. When showcasing your design portfolio, you need to be professional and come off as someone who is serious and successful at work. With your own portfolio website, you create your brand and control the experience of how your work is viewed and you are perceived by potential clients and employers. Invest in a real portfolio website and connect your custom domain name with it. Its a worthwhile investment that would payoff many times.

Choose the right platform for your online graphic design portfolio

There are a ton of website builders now which make it simple enough to create and manage your own graphic design portfolio website. Wordpress is the most prominent of these, but if you do not have programming skills or would rather not invest your time / money in creating a custom-built website, it make a lot more sense to choose one of the hosted website builders. Even within the hosted website builders, there are platforms that enable building any business to create any kind of website and not-just designers. Choosing a platform that focuses on building online portfolio websites would give you a lot more options in terms of showcasing images, videos, gallery layouts themes etc. that are well-suited for online portfolios.

Chris Tammar's portfolio website built on Pixpa - https://www.christammar.com/

Pixpa is an online website builder tailer-made for graphic designers to create your portfolio website easily and showcase your work with style and simplicity. Check out the portfolio website themes and graphic design portfolio examples built on Pixpa.

Keep it simple, stupid

The best graphic designer portfolios are all about showcasing work in an easy and intuitive interface. Follow best practices and choose a clean, minimal design that highlights your graphic design works as the centrepieces of the viewing experience. One of the big mistakes that many designers make is to “over-do” the design of their portfolio. Your portfolio website design should not overshadow or take away the attention from your graphic design portfolio. Rather, it should serve as a backdrop that highlights your work and makes it easy for visitors to explore your online portfolio.

Designer, Bjorn Borgers, presents his work with a minimalist, clean website - http://www.bjornborgersmedia.com/

Create your brand

As a graphic designer you would be working on creating, enhancing and evolving the brand equity of your clients through various creative mediums and projects. What better way to prove it than to create your own brand to present your graphic design portfolio. Creating your own logo is first step to establishing your personal brand. Follow this through with a consistent visual language for your portfolio website, resume and even your business card. Your brand identity should not only look nice, but also be a statement on the kind of designer you are.

Marcus Artis's distinct logo type creates instant recall - https://www.marcusartis.com/

Organise your work

Sequence your work in a way that tells a story and builds a strong case for you. Your portfolio website should ideally present all your works visually in a sequence designed to make an impact. However, its also important to organise your work by category, type of media, industry or chronologically. Use tags to filter projects and make it easy for clients to find the relevant work examples that they are looking for. There are many ways to approach this - for example you could use Clients as your base and put together all the work that you have done for a client as one project that showcases it as a full case study. Whatever way you choose, make sure that the end result is approachable and memorable and not confusing.

Designer, Belen Roldan, does a great job of organising his work into ditinct categories in the site navigation - https://belenroldanfranco.pixpa.com/

Write about the process behind your work

Graphic designer portfolios should be more than just a visual collection of your work. Add authenticity and context to your work by sharing your thought process behind the project. Write about what was the starting point of the design process, what were the challenges and requirements of the project brief and how the final design solution fulfilled those requirements. A successful graphic design project is not just about beautiful visuals, its also how the creative process led to finding a successful design solution to a real world problem. Share these insights in your portfolio projects.

Show results and case studies

Clients and employers are always more interested in real-world results. Showcase how your designs translated into the real world by including action photographs of your design in action - the brand design rollout on various collaterals, a printed brochure, a shot of the store front. Make sure you photograph your completed work being used in the real world - that’s the best kind of design portfolio you can create.

Graphic Designer - Ling K writes a detailed case study about each of her projects - https://www.hellolingk.com/branding/spoilt-at-subi

Don’t beat around the bush

There’s plenty of research that states that a website visitor just takes 2-3 seconds to make their impression. Don’t waste away this tiny window where you need to grab the attention by showing lengthy animated flash intros or a heavy website that’s slow to load. Put your best foot forward and make sure you communicate effectively right from the word go.

Inject it with your personality

Add an “About Me” page to tell your story. This is where you talk about yourself, your interests and inspirations and how you started off in your field. Your “About Me” page should give an idea of the kind of person you are to work with. Given the choice to choose between two people with the same skills and experience, clients typically hire the person that they “like” better. Make sure that you win that choice.  

Dart Creative has a succinct "About" page that clearly talks about their USPs, services and contact details - https://www.dartcreative.uk/about


Designer, Stacey Mendez of MDZ Design, injects her personality in her portfolio website - https://www.mdzdesign.com/about

Add a downloadable resume

Create a proper resume page that details your education, experience, projects and clients you have worked with. Make it chronological with the latest events coming on top. Your resume is all about your work and qualifications - be truthful but pick the right details, do not cram it with irrelevant or avoidable information. Add a link to your downloadable resume as well if you are seeking a new job.

Clearly include your contact info

You have done all the hard work, created a great portfolio and got visitors on your website. The last thing you want to do is to make it difficult for potential clients, employers or collaborators to reach you. Make your contact information available as clearly as possible on your website. Every lead that you get from your website is a potential big one, so make sure that the email address or phone number you are providing is actively used by you.

Dart Creative has a clear contact details page that does the job well - https://www.dartcreative.uk/contact

Make sure your online portfolio website is responsive

Over half of the total internet browsing now happens on mobile devices. Make sure that your portfolio website is fully responsive and optimised to display your work beautifully on mobile devices. The mobile experience of your website should load fast and leverage the basics of a touch screen interaction.

Add a blog

Add a blog to your website to let people know what you're working on and share behind-the-scenes experiences of your life as a designer. Write about ongoing projects and experiments that you pursue in your free time. Make your personality shine through and let people know about you as a person.

Get reviews from your peers

Its important to get objective feedback from others before you lock down on your portfolio website. Your peers will see mistakes, gaps and opportunities that you would most probably miss or overlook. The constructive feedback you would get from your peers would help you re-look at your portfolio website from a fresh perspective.

Review and refresh often

You need to put in place a constant and consistent process of reviewing and refreshing your portfolio website periodically. The review should not just be about adding new work, be ruthless in deleting old work as well that you feel is no longer representative of your best work. Make sure that you do not end up with a bloated portfolio over time, keep pruning it as you add new works.

Create a print portfolio

While your online portfolio website is going to be probably your first point of interaction with people, it helps to have a classy, sophisticated and impressive print portfolio in hand when you are meeting someone face-to-face.

Promote your portfolio website.

Your work does not end after creating a great portfolio website. In fact that is just the beginning of the process of marketing yourself. Get active on social media platforms, start posting your work on Twitter, Instagram, Google Plus and Facebook with links back to your website. Create your profile and share portfolio works on Dribble, Behance and other such showcase platforms.

Use social media to expose your portfolio to as many people as you can and start building traffic for your website.

Have a look at these 31 online resources that you can use to promote your website.

While you are in the process of creating your graphic design portfolio website, its important to focus on the end result that you are striving to achieve. Your portfolio is not a vanity showcase, but a careful constructed engine to drive your career growth and bring you more opportunities.

With the above 20 pro-tips, and a little bit of ingenuity, you are well on your way to create a portfolio that would be able to attract and impress potential employers, clients or collaborators.

Get inspired with these stunning graphic designer portfolio websites built on Pixpa.

Happy portfolio building!


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