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5 Common Mistakes of Portfolio Websites


Undoubtedly, for creative professionals, an online portfolio is the most powerful tool for self-presentation. It shows your skills and accomplishments to clients which might be interested in hiring you for their project. Your portfolio has to be the best thing you’ve ever designed, it has to catch the attention of potential client.

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A number of poor portfolios calling for revision is, unfortunately, still scandalous. Let’s take a closer look and uncover the most common mistakes you can find across the online portfolios. Before you approach the world of potential clients, consider to review your existing portfolio or try to avoid the fatal errors before creating one working for you.

1. Showing the school projects and treating all your work the same way.


It doesn’t matter what are you by profession, not all the work we do is the best. Apply this rule to your portfolio and be selective about the pieces you include.

If you are a young designer, you may tend to show all your school projects. As a freshly graduate who haven’t had a client yet you should definitely build a site and include what you have. Clients don’t mind to hire an inexperienced designer, especially when they search for a budget solution. Once you finish your first projects, pull down your school project and show paid work.

When you’re applying for a job in the special industry, show only a few appropriate samples of your work. More likely they will check only the samples with suits their vacancy. You can always come up with more pieces once you are at the interview.  

2. Lack of confidence

How do you want to make a potential client believe in you when you don’t believe in yourself? Your portfolio has to speak confidently and expressly, with clear language and calling to take an action. There is no space to be humble, especially talking about your skills. If you are not sure, make a test – ask your friends or family what impression makes your portfolio and be honest to you – would you hire yourself if you see and come through it?

Jillian Lockwood suggests to set the goal and try to reach it through your portfolio:

„- Are you trying to get hired? Consider testimonials and be sure to note you’re available for hire.

– Are you trying to sell your work? Include pricing in your captions, build an online store and/or include directions for commission requests.

– Would you rather focus on building your reputation? Dedicate a gallery to showcasing press about you and your work.“

3. Don’t let the grammar bring you down.

Errors and typos are the enemy of everybody, including designers. Before you drop your portfolio, make sure to find somebody who will proofread your copy, nobody wants to see the mistakes in your professional kit. Especially, when English is not your native language.

4. Perplexing navigation and domain name

The potential client doesn’t know your portfolio, so one of the main features to be considered is easy and user-friendly navigation. Visitors landing on your page have to easily find what are they looking for.  

We recommend you to have your portfolio hosted on your own domain unless it’s not possible. Then try to choose the one which reflects your brand the best.

5. Your portfolio coincides among others


As a designer, you have to give an original touch to your portfolio and make it stand up from the crowd. Start with an appropriate layout, otherwise, it may seem disorganized and empty. Treat yourself the same way as you treat your customers – design and the right layout speak about the quality of being trusted. Your online portfolio has to have a logical layout with consistent using of font, colors, links and ask somebody to make a final check before you launch it.

In general, the most visited page on a website is About me which is a chance to engage visitors. This you can accomplish by telling a story that can support your visual identity. Try to tell the world about you in a way that the visitors can picture you and remember you.

2 extra bonuses from Joshua Johnson, editor, writer, designer, & photographer of Design Shack:

„I’m 22 years old web designer from Papua New Guinea. Translation: I’m young and inexperienced. Do you want people to hire you based on talent and experience or on the year that you were born? Skip the fluff. Tell me what you do and prove it with some solid examples.“

„There’s an interesting trend in web design portfolios right now that not only showcases your skill set but also weighs the different items against each other. It’s good to have strengths and weaknesses, everyone does. However, I’m not convinced that showcasing your weaknesses in a pretty graphic is the best marketing strategy.“

Carefully consider each piece of your portfolio. Regularly review the components which can help you to scale up the chance of being hired. What you might think is helping you can be seen clumsy without an added value for a potential client and in fact, it’s disqualifying you.