In more traditional professions, a simple resume and LinkedIn presence are sufficient to communicate qualifications to potential employers. However, for graphic designers, copywriters, artists, journalists, and others in creative professions, a standout portfolio must accompany your resume.
Your portfolio website is a place in which you can showcase your best work and demonstrate that you can manage any projects a client may send your way. This article showcases examples of great portfolio websites and gives you tips on how you can make one that highlights your skills.
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Why you need a portfolio
For professionals in creative fields, a portfolio website gives potential employers and clients a clear sense of what you can do. If a customer wants to hire you to design creative and visually appealing user interfaces, they will want to look at previous samples of your work to determine if you are right for their brand. Putting your best work in front of clients and employers demonstrates your skills and your potential fit for the company and/or client.
Eleven standout portfolios
This Brazilian visual arts studio has a website that is well-designed, functional, and easy to navigate. Its strength is in its simplicity. On the company’s homepage, a simple animation plays on a black background, forming the company’s name in a large, readable font. Eventually, the background of the homepage is populated with a bright, colorful design that is representative of Black Madre’s work.
By placing navigation headings on the side of the website, prospective clients can easily move throughout the site while still being able to clearly see elements of the portfolio. For example, clicking on the “Projects” link brings you to a portfolio full of images. Each image includes a link to a separate page with more details about the selected project.
This website is clean, and it’s not over-designed. Potential clients do not have to do a lot of digging to locate the studio’s previous work. Every aspect of the page is well thought out and intentional.
A freelance web designer and UIX designer based in France, Olivier Guilleux has garnered attention for his modern and fun portfolio website. His homepage features a minimalistic, animated self-portrait that helps introduce clients to the person behind the design. There is a call to action located at the bottom of the screen to scroll down. Once you scroll through the homepage, you learn more about Guilleux and what he does.
The portfolio section of this website is very clean and well laid out. It initially reads as an alphabetical list of projects in a large, bold font. However, once you roll over different project titles, a background image appears displaying visual aspects of the project. You can also click on each title, which takes you to a separate page that serves as a case study for the project. It features information on the assignment and the design process as well as screencaps of the finished product.
Since Guilleux is based in France, his portfolio initially loads in French, but he has included a feature that allows the site to be loaded in English for a broader range of clients. His contact information is easy to locate within the site, but it does not interfere with portfolio materials.
In a departure from tradition, Allison Bratnick’s portfolio website reads like a Pinterest board on the home page. Rather than hiding her work in sub-pages within the site, the home page puts all of her work front and center.
For clients who may be comparing multiple designers or who are in a hurry, this site makes it easy to see all of Bratnick’s work. If you are interested in learning more, the Design and Production tab brings you to a slideshow with larger images and detailed information about various projects.
A graphic designer who works on a variety of projects, Kimi Lewis’ portfolio is well laid out and pretty. Each photo on the home page is intentionally placed, with images complementing those near them. Lewis includes examples of packaging, print media, and much more. Potential customers are treated to a well-rounded sample of her best work.
The about page features a paragraph about Lewis that allows clients to learn more about her background and the wide range of work that she provides. It also has a link to her Instagram page, which serves as a mini-portfolio itself. Lewis’ Instagram is a curated sample of her work, but she tends to go more in-depth on her projects, uploading multiple images and videos.
A New York City-based product designer, Olivia Truong’s portfolio website includes a lot of features that make it memorable, including animated boxes that “float” in various locations on the site. Her “About” page offers a glimpse into her personality, with photos that appear to be taped to the screen.
As a designer, Truong works on a variety of projects, and she tends to manage more than one part of each project. Her portfolio is very detailed with intricate case studies about each project. These case studies take clients from the front end of the project to the back end, highlighting everything from physical design to social media campaigns that she has completed for events. A customer who peruses this website will become familiar with the scope and depth of Truong’s process.
This illustrator specialized in line art that appeals to fans of old underground comics and posters. His work is prominently displayed on the homepage of his portfolio site. While it is not as clean and sophisticated as other featured examples, this website showcases the artist’s personality. His brand is well established within the site. It is easy to navigate, with an “About” tab, a page to find various shows featuring Albright’s work, and a shop in which you can buy some of his prints.
Visual artists also employ website portfolios as a means to showcase their work for prospective buyers, gallery owners, and people who might want to commission a piece. Artist Shantell Martin shares her vision with media ranging from custom textiles to hidden installations in New York City buildings. Her website is mostly black and white, but various animations on different pages add a sense of whimsy to the site and pull users into her work.
Her site is separated into sections based on various media. There is also a feature that lets users share images from the site to their own social media pages, building awareness of her as an artist. This is a useful strategy for promoting your work, but take steps to make sure that people who post your work to their pages credit you and link back to your site.
Photographer Franziska Strauss’s portfolio itself is an online work of art. Strauss is known for street photography, expertly capturing the personality of her subjects. Each piece featured on her website is visually appealing. Many are black and white, giving the portfolio a serious, artistic feeling. The German artist includes some textual elements, including an essay on street photography and a small bio. These help the site’s readers better understand Strauss and her work without detracting attention from the work itself.
One element of this portfolio page that makes it successful is that every image feels deliberate. Each photo that is featured prominently on different pages of the site is evocative and full of feeling. Prospective clients and employers can scroll through a slide show of images that are varied and representative of different themes employed in Strauss’s work.
Davina Van Buren
Portfolio websites are not just limited to visual artists. Copywriters, journalists, content marketers, and other artists also use these sites to highlight their work. Davina Van Buren is a copywriter and marketing strategist whose portfolio serves as a good example for those who work in these fields.
Van Buren’s portfolio is organized into different types of freelance projects, including journalism, content marketing, and other services. It also includes a page detailing her contact information and a section with client testimonials. Although it is not heavy on design, it is easy to navigate. Potential clients can easily find the information they need to decide whether or not they want to hire.
For a user interface (UI) designer, a portfolio website offers the best opportunity to highlight skills and show what a potential finished product could look like. Paris based UI designer Robin Mastromarino utilizes subtle tricks on his portfolio. The portfolio headers appear to be on a wheel that rotates as you scroll through to look at various projects. Additionally, the background images are animated in a manner that makes them appear to be blowing in a slight breeze.
By successfully designing the UI on his own portfolio, Mastromarino shows the client what they can expect from his work. He has worked with a lot of high-end, well-known brands, and these clients sit front and center on his portfolio.
Adrian and Gidi
Full of animation and creativity, Adrian and Gidi’s portfolio website successfully highlights the duo’s collective, creative personality. Their website starts out with a fun, whimsical slideshow of various product displays. In the about section, the designers offer a brief bio that describes their process.
Their project portfolio page is a carefully curated collection of advertising and other projects that reads like a museum installation. Rather than using a uniform grid of photos, the project images on this portfolio are arranged in an uneven structure, but they are organized by similar themes and color palettes to create a sense of harmony. Images can also be rotated by hovering over them.
What to remember when building your portfolio
Your portfolio website is your chance to highlight your best work. It can be tempting to upload all of your previous work, but you should stick with your best and brightest. It’s a good idea to choose a versatile display of work, but make sure the site is arranged in a way that is visually appealing and easy to follow.
Using animations, video, music and other enhancements can help your site stand out, but make sure that they don’t bury your work. A potential client or employer might not have a lot of time to spend navigating your site. Make sure that the links to your contact information and previous work are easy to locate, so the user can quickly find the information that they need.
Arrange your project images in a manner that creates visual interest and makes people want to scroll through the whole portfolio. If you have testimonials from previous clients, put them in a separate section of your website. Highlighting happy customers is a good indicator that you will be easy to work with, and it can help build your credibility.
Most importantly, your portfolio website should highlight your personality as a designer. It is part of your personal brand, and everything that makes it stand out should reflect you and your work. Use fonts and color schemes that you find appealing and that speak to your personality.
If you’re a visual artist, a graphic designer, a writer, a musician, or other creative professional, your portfolio serves as your introduction to those with whom you will eventually work. Showcasing your best work in a visually appealing manner can help give a potential client the chance to become familiar with you before they ever contact you.
By thoughtfully curating your website, you can put forth your best, most effective work to showcase your talent and skills to new clients or potential employers.
For more information on marketing your creative business, check out The Download.