Making and Maintaining Your Online Portfolio: Best Practices

by in Design on 16th Jun 2011 · Comments

Having a portfolio online is important to any creative. Having the possibility to show your best work samples to new clients is a very important step in the process of getting new projects. You can even get clients from your portfolio alone if you spread the word a bit. This is definitely something you have to look into, as it is an investment in the future of your business.

Making and Maintaining Your Online Portfolio: Best Practices
Image credit: jmacego

Making and Maintaining Your Online Portfolio: Best Practices

Creating your portfolio and keeping it up to date will require you to have a plan and follow certain steps in order to do it in a successful and effective way. We've made a list with some tips on what you should consider during this process. Remember to leave us a comment if there's anything you'd like to add as well. Now let's have a look at our tips!

Make a plan

What comes to mind when you're thinking of your portfolio? Do a little bit of brainstorming to come up with your own idea of what you want it to be like. Many good ideas will occur in an early stage of the process, before you're bound to a specific design.

Your Opinion Portfolio Tips
Image credit: Magurka

Give yourself a few days to think and avoid getting everything done in a very short time. Some ideas will grow on you, and others will be rejected once you get the time to think about it a few times.

Make the required time

Making a good portfolio takes time. Rushing through it will not give a good result in the end. Even if you may see this as you "working for free" for yourself, this is an investment in the future of your business. If you take the time to do it properly you will see results! Put it on your schedule and plan it as if it was any ordinary project to make sure that you're able to give it priority.

Who's gonna make the actual design?

If you're a web designer, making your own portfolio is a great way of being able to tweak everything to your own liking along with saving some money. If you're some other type of creative, you may need help. Consider the options.

Designing Portfolio Tips
Image credit: Zsuzsanna Kilian

Do you know anyone that can help you with this properly? Could it be an idea to set it up through a CMS like WordPress? These things have to be considered before starting out the actual work, and you're the one having to make the decision.

Show quality

Your portfolio has to display the quality of your work. This means that the selection-process has to be taken seriously. It's not about quantity, it's about quality. Remember that what you're especially proud of doesn't have to be what is actually your best work. Spend some time on making your selections and you will get the best result.

Show variety

Having a lot of similar pieces wont do you any good. It's of course great to show that you have a style that can be recognized if that is the case, but focus on showing the variety in what you do.

Variety Portfolio Tips
Image credit: Bonvivant

New clients will be impressed if they see that you have the ability to come up with different designs. Your portfolio can also inspire them and give them ideas of what they'd like to see in their own projects.

Include some information on each example

Add a couple of sentences with each example of your work if possible. This way it will be easier for your potential clients to understand what you've actually done. Describing in a few words what you did and who you did it for can be a good way to introduce it. If there's a certain thing you've done to the website/design that makes it unique, you can of course mention that as well.

Keep personal work out of it

No client wants to see a photo-book you did for your kids, your own wedding invitations or something you just scribbled down during a break. It has to be relevant to the type of professional work you're doing.

Dare to be different/unique

With all the thousands of designers and portfolios that are out there, you have to try to be unique. Browsing through similar websites can be a great plan for getting inspiration and seeing what can actually be done. Make your portfolio your own, put your print on it and make it memorable. This can be by using unusual colors, fonts or a different type of navigation from what is found "everywhere".

Unique Portfolio Tips
Image credit: Steven Goodwin

It's also quite popular to add some sort of personal element, such as doodles or your favorite quotes to the design elements to add that little extra touch to it. What feels right for you can be different, just make sure you're happy with it and feel it reflects you well.

Keep the work in focus

Being different and having a unique look is great, but remember to not let it all hide your work away. It has to be easy to find the actual examples of what you've done and they have to be displayed well.

Get feedback from others

To make sure everything looks good and is easy to navigate through, you should get feedback from others. Find someone you can trust to tell your opinion and have them evaluate the portfolio. If you work a lot on something you can be a bit blinded by it and it will be hard to see any mistakes done.

Feedback Portfolio Tips
Image credit: Dominik Gwarek

Having someone else look at it can bring possible issues to your attention and also give the confirmation that it actually looks good and works well!

Include contact details

It's important to include contact information so that people can reach you. Add a contact form, your Twitter username, a link to your regular business website and your phone number. Different clients could prefer getting in touch in different ways, so only one way of getting in touch isn't good enough.

CV

What have you done in the past? Which software do you master? Adding a CV element to your portfolio can definitely help you get that job. Just make sure that it isn't too much and include only relevant information.

CV Portfolio Tips
Image credit: Asif Akbar

Update regularly

Make the updates part of your schedule. Once a month is a good rule. Look through your latest work and add what is relevant. Having an up-to-date portfolio is a huge asset to you. Having a portfolio is important, keeping it up to date is crucial.

Spread the word

Remember to include the link to your portfolio wherever it can be relevant; on your website, business-cards, email signatures and so on. The more visitors you're getting, the better chance you have of getting new assignments.

Spread The Word Portfolio Tips
Image credit: Sergio Roberto Bichara

Keep evaluating

Don't abandon your portfolio once it's out there. Keep evaluating. Keep an eye on how many visitors you're getting and take note of any feedback you're getting - both good and bad. All of this will help you in evolving and becoming better and better. Your portfolio is a work in progress.

Let us know what you're thinking

Your Opinion Portfolio Tips
Image credit: Dhiegaum

As you will experience, making and maintaining your online portfolio will include a lot of work if you want to get it done properly. If you decide to do your best with this and are able to put your own touch on it whilst keeping it unique, you'll see the results within a short time.

We'd love to hear what you think of these tips, and if you have any tips of your own. Of course we would also like to see what your online portfolio looks like, so make sure to include the link with your comment.

Good luck!

Hilde is a Norwegian girl with a great passion for everything related to design, freelancing, PhotoShop, photography, Illustrator and more. Running her own website and work with mainly Graphic Design and Business Consulting besides article writing.