First Year of Design – What Should Be in Your Portfolio?

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When you are starting out your career in the creative industry, it is important to showcase work that not only shows your talent and technical skills as a designer but also emphasizes your thought process and who you are as a person. A good portfolio often tells a story about design and your relationship with it. Employers come across a variety of portfolios on a daily basis, how are you going to make yours unique?

Your projects often speak for themselves when it comes to your abilities as a designer. It should tell the employer that you are capable of producing work that is at par with your peers when it comes to creating refined and down to the last detail work. Use ‘less is more’ approach when it comes to what you want to show. It would make sense to include 5 of your best work instead publishing all your projects just to fill up space. Employers would much rather see your best work and understand the hows and whys of each than 5 excellent work mixed in with 5 mediocre projects.

Besides including designs that would appeal to a professional clientele. It is useful to include projects that you are passionate about, it could be work that you have done outside of your design classes. This could even be an experimental project that you care about as long as it defines the direction you want to take in the next step of your career. It is important for your portfolio to showcase a clear vision of what you want to do as a designer. If you are looking to design websites, make sure to include samples of work you have done in this regard. Ultimately the employer must be able to get a sense of what matters to you.

# 6 simple tips to build a knockout Portfolio

1. Highlight the work you want to be noticed for

Curating your work allows you to showcase the type of projects you want to work on in the future. Your projects usually tell a story. It should reflect who you are as a person and what you are looking for. So if you are looking to design book covers, make sure to include artwork that reflects this interest. Choose projects that showcase your artistry, choice of materials and technique. Be selective with your designs and use this space to demonstrate the quality of your projects.

2. Tell the backstory

Once you have selected the kind of projects you want to show, start planning on how to tell the hows and whys of the project. Besides showcasing compelling imagery, take the viewer through each step of your concept development process. Presenting your process from start to finish will help the employer understand your thought process and get a sense of who you are as a designer.

Start with a title and small paragraph that tells the backstory, followed by an eye-catching imagery of the project. Your designs should speak about your process. Everything above the fold, the typography, imagery, and the content should be engaging enough to make the viewer want to learn more about the project. Here is a great example that showcases the design process of Sebastien Gabriel, a senior UI designer at Google.

3. Use the interface intelligently

When it comes to your portfolio, you want your work to take center stage. Having a distracting web page will not help highlight your work. Simplicity in the visual design of the web page will help bring your work forward. Designing the right visual environment for your work will help showcase your work effectively. So when looking for a portfolio template make sure to choose a site that is easy to navigate and has a layout that is best for your creative work.

4. Personalize your bio

As a creative, share your unique perspective that includes your point of view about design and your approach to work. To be able to tell a great backstory, designers have to dig deep into their experiences with design and how they developed their point of view that shaped their creative direction. Anchor your bio with real-world details, like the clients you have worked with and the publications you have been a part of. End your story with personal trivia. Talk about your likes and hobbies that you care about. By making your bio approachable and relatable, you are bound to connect with a wide array of clients.

5. Add your blog, achievements and share your work

Your achievements and merits sure shot way for you to gain clients trust. So make sure to include them as this will give you an edge. Promoting your blog on your website is another way to help you get noticed by professionals in the industry. A blog should add value to the overall site, so don’t include it if you think it will detract from the content you are looking to show.

6. Keep your web page and designs Consistent

As your designs and you evolve with time, make sure to update your site same diligence and careful curation to keep it consistent and cohesive with the overall theme.

Choosing the right typography and visual assets to selecting the perfect color palette can seem like a daunting task. But with the wealth of freely available information and resources on the internet, designers should be able to find elements and assets to add polish to their designs. Getting started in a creative career is tough. We hope that this article provides a little insight into what it takes to build a portfolio and in effect create a brand awareness in today’s populated internet marketplace.

Iggy is a designer who loves experimenting with new web design techniques, collating creative website designs, and writing about the latest design trends, inspiration, design freebies, and more. You can follow him on Twitter

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