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8 Features to Consider for Your Portfolio Website

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Many freelancers designers rely on their portfolio to land them new client work, so it’s of high importance to make sure you’re providing enough information about yourself and capturing the interest of your potential customers. Here’s an overview of clever features designers are currently implementing on their sites that you might consider for your own portfolio.

What do you offer?

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There’s a massive range of skills that spread across the web design industry. Are you a front end designer, a coder, a programmer? It’s hard enough for designers and developers to decide what job description fits each skill, so we can only imagine how confusing it can be for clients. Matt Imling presents his skills in a graph on his website, allowing him to clearly show his strengths.

Who are you?

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The Internet is becoming more and more social, but it’s surprising how many people still don’t show their faces on their portfolio websites. A simple photograph can immediately give a personal connection between you and your clients that helps generate trust and authenticity of your services. Gilles Munten shows a large photograph of himself as a focal point on his website. He even adds a touch of humour with a silly message which further establishes an insight to his personality.

Who have you worked for?

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If you’re a veteran designer who has a number of high profile clients under your best, flaunt these on your website. Having the logos of companies you’ve worked for (even if not household names) will give you extra cred that will help persuade any potential client to hire you. Joey Rabbitt lists a collection of client logos in his sidebar under the title “I’ve worked with…”.

How did you produce your work?

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The typical approach to most portfolios is to simply attach a single screenshot, but there’s so much more you can do to really present your work and give an insight into your design process. Elliot Jay Stocks writes a short paragraph explaining the nature of the project and backs up the final design with his initial sketches and detail shots to show just how much work went into the piece.

Are you blogging yet?

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I always cite how a blog is one of the most crucial features of any designer portfolio website. A basic portfolio will end up gathering dust in the corner of the Internet, but a consistently updated blog will help you fly up the search engines and boost your exposure. Tyler Galpin uses his blog to give behind the scenes insight into the making of his brand and website.

Are you asking the right questions?

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It’s too easy just to ask for a potential client’s name and email address, then struggle to generate an estimate or quote for their project. Make sure you’re collecting the vital details such as their budget and timeframe along with the finer details of their project to help you put together a concise quotation. Dave Ruiz from Foundation Six collects this information as part of the website’s contact form.

Are you available?

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A simple addition to your portfolio website that can really help manage your daily emails is an availability status notice. If you find yourself having to constantly turn down clients due to being fully booked a notice stating your availability will help weed out those clients wanting a quick fix. Any clients who continue to get in touch will be comfortable with the expected delay. Simon Collison describes his limited availability in 2011 as a message above his contact form.

Where else can I find you?

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We’ve already mentioned how social the web now is. If you’re an active user of networks such as Dribbble, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn you should direct your viewers to connect. Not only will this help boost your friend and follower count, but it will also give potential clients further opportunities to check out your work, hobbies and interests. Nathan Hornby links to his social profiles with icons at the bottom of his portfolio, with an invite to be friends.

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Written by Chris Spooner

Chris Spooner is a designer who loves experimenting with new web design techniques collating creative website designs. Check out Chris' design tutorials and articles at Blog.SpoonGraphics or follow his daily findings on Twitter.

29 Comments

  1. alex says:

    Thanks, Chris! There`s always a detail that anyone could miss. Very useful tips.

  2. Joe says:

    Great tips but showing the photo of yourself is highly debatable — especially for those looking for in-house positions rather than strictly freelance.

  3. Dan says:

    Nice post Chris. I've been wanting to add a couple case studies into my portfolio so I can outline what I did for the projects and include everything from sketches to the end result. Like you said, this is indeed a fantastic way of showing prospective clients how much work you put into your designs.

  4. .. brilliant tips, especially like the tip of letting your client see what exactly you're skills are!

    Have that in my CV, but it's missing in my portfolio! So thanks Chris for that one, cheers!

  5. ajclarkson says:

    Some great pointers here, I'm currently redesigning my portfolio so this post came just in time for me. Thanks!

  6. zanematthew says:

    Short and too the point! I'm really liking the question "How did you produce your work?"

  7. Kevin says:

    Thanks. This information will help with the final design of my website. good read

  8. Josh says:

    Really useful post. The only part that I would question is the "what you offer" section. I think listing skills for non technical clients might be a little daunting or confusing. I suppose depending on your client you might want to add/change to, web design, cms development, email newsletter design & development etc.

    • Margaret says:

      Yeah, Josh you made a good point! This example would work great for designer/developers' resumes – but it can also be easily switched out to list specific types of projects. ;)

  9. Emir Ayouni says:

    Really great article!

    I have a new portfolio that I'm launching tomorrow (July 12th) and I've covered 7 out of the 8 steps you included.

    Only thing I skipped was the detailed contact form. I kept it simple just so it would look more convenient to get in touch without having to fill out a whole bunch of info in the first process of just touching base.

    But who knows, I might end up changing that and follow your advise. We'll see :)

  10. Nexstair says:

    Thanks for great tips. Can you please give me more useful tips regarding to web design and development work.

  11. Dony Purnama says:

    Just one wordsssss AMAZING

  12. Blue Llama says:

    Great read. Love the idea of a graphical representation of what your skills are. Going to jump on that one now! Thx.

  13. Prerak Patel says:

    Chris this is a good & helpful checklist for designers at all levels. As usual thanks a lot. You always have good stuff. Keep 'em coming.

  14. NoeG says:

    perfect timing! I'm working on my portfolio right now thanks for the tips

  15. Del says:

    Great blog Chris! I have just started blogging and it has really increased my visitors highly recommend it :)

  16. AWESOME job, Chris! Thanks so much for your insights!

  17. steff says:

    thanks for sharing Chris! your ideas are simple and efficient…

  18. Faus says:

    What a great article.. I'm in the process of creating my portfolio and this info comes really handy :)

  19. aziq says:

    nice tips…i'm currently working with my portfolio…thanks.

  20. akkon says:

    umm i don't know but i think soon i will create my portfolio..

  21. Margaret says:

    Great tips, as always. I will definitely use this as a reference as I'm updating my website. Thank you!

  22. Serge says:

    Thank you for the shortlist, almost nothing's missing. I think that the photo can optional. Also you can add Uses Cases and Client Testimonials.

  23. Tomm says:

    Great post! I'd be interested to know how many hours a day you spend trawling the web for all those examples you showcase here.

    I particularly liked Nathan Horbny's social icon implementation… a clean and fresh approach.

  24. Joshua says:

    Just a heads up to anyone needing a referral or a compare and contrast. I mistakenly hired SKYWAX to do a simple website, and they came back with a free template from godaddy. Serious disappointed. I know alot of people are focused on word press, DIY, and joomla. But some of use small business owners still want a custom design.

  25. Chris says:

    Great ideas, I think the more info you can provide about a project (within reason), the more a potential client will find something to identify with their specific needs, not to mention the SEO benefits of extra content.

  26. Ashlyn Ackerman says:

    Hey Thanks for the advice for reguarding to graphic design, i really cant wait to become a graphic designer

  27. Les says:

    Great blog Chris. I'll use these 8 as a checklist for my websites in future.

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