How to Create A Better Online Portfolio

Since last few years it’s very essential for a designer to look again at how he presents himself to existing and potential clients. It doesn’t matters which one is your creative discipline as your website is the only foundation of how you are perceived. Even if you are very good at what you do and your work is predominantly in print or broadcast in interactive media, your online portfolio is usually the first stop of call for people looking to commission or hire you as clients are always be nervous or hesitant about purchasing freelance services.

Here in this article, we discusses some key points to consider when designing or redesigning your online portfolio because creating a appropriate portfolio is easier than you think.

It’s very necessary that your site accurately represents what you’re offering and sells you to your client base because most of the time, you won’t have a tangible product to sell, so it’s very hard to show clients what they’re paying for up front. If your clients are not impressed by your online presence, they won’t bother to het in contact to request your print portfolio or showcase.

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How to Create A better Online Portfolio

instantShift - How to Create A better Online Portfolio

There are some common mistakes designers usually make in their online portfolios. Let’s focus on some key points by which you can avoid those mistakes whether you re-modifying it or designing it from scratch.

1. Know Your Audience

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The first key points you need to take care are identifying your audience and describe how you’re going to present yourself in front of them. For those prospective clients that may live too far away or may be searching for freelancers online, a right type of online portfolio is pretty much a must-have solution to reduce their difficulties.

There are number of questionnaires you need to answer yourself first to represent all areas like Do you have a broad client base that needs to be updated regularly with what you’re currently working on – or are your primary objective is to attract new clients -or which type of user friendly technology you want to use for your portfolio making etc. There is a very good chance that you have very clear answers to all the questionnaires so according to your answers you’ll get pretty clear idea about how you’re front-end should look like? or how you going to lay it out? This is very important to brand yourself correctly, bearing your intended audience in mind.

2. Choose The Perfect Environment

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The perfect environment is a must requirement for your online presentation. you need to work on some figures before selecting the website environment. Like which technology you going to use as website platform. Is it WordPress, or it’s joomla, Drupal or just a simple CSS/HTML. It’s up to you as each technology have its pros and cons. If you like to update your clients regularly than you need to try CMS or blogs softwares.

You also need to work within the limitations of potential or existing clients’ browser and internet connection. Your site should be cross browser friendly and it should load quickly when everyone in your client’s office is online at same time as it’s a fast moving world and no one likes to wait. you also need to remember that many users are still using 1,024 X 768 resolution screen so make sure your site looks good when viewed in small screen resolutions or even bigger then your screen resolution. Also Be sure that every part is easy to navigate, professional-looking, and most importantly, is representative of you.

3. Always Think Two Things Ahead

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Chances are high that whatever you finished with your portfolio some new technology or service emerges and get popular or any of your used technology get updated So make sure to make your site is less complex and more flexible as it’s easy you re-modify in future. One effective way to do this by keeping yourself updated via performing little research on web as every technology having respective blog or news section on their official site.

This phenomena is quite important as the clients are hiring you is only one step in a chain of events that they need to act on in the future.

4. Keep It very Simple

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Your site’s navigation should be as clear as possible. The very first step to achieve this by braking down your site into broad sections like ‘About’, ‘Portfolio’, ‘News’, ‘Contact’ – and run these along the very visible spot (mostly top or side column) of your site. There can be further categorization in each of them but most importantly your portfolio section of your site should be further broken down into the relevant services you offer, such as ‘Web Design’, ‘Graphic Design’, ‘Illustration’, and so on.

5. Use Easy Navigation Techniques

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Try to make navigation as simple as you can which helps your client to explore even further without any confusion and difficulties because if they can’t find what they looking for quickly, you might lose them. There are few articles you can follow for easy navigation and design techniques.

6. Define your Criteria and Strategies

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When it comes to Strategies and goals, it’s very essential to set your course of action before you begin. You need to setup your gales and develop the respective strategies accordingly. If you looking for new client or want to get hired than you need to mainly focus on your previous work presentation as that is the only key thing which helps on getting you a job. Some other requirements include creative writing. Means you don’t need to write an essay you have to put too much information in very little space so your client don’t feel bored. After all, No one here to judge how long you can write. But If you actually need to put a large amount of information on a single page than you can use Grid and Column technique Designs which allows you to manage a vast amount of information.

Set yourself targets regarding how often you will update the main and news areas of your site, and stick to them. Try not to compare your portfolio with others. However you can always free to search for good tips available online.

On other hand, if you want to just buildup your reputation and want to increase your networking circle than you need very attractive design for artist’s showcase with lots of networks building tools as your main focus is on building relationships. or you can simply attach your portfolio with your blog so you can give more chance to you visitors to know you better. By running a popular blog you have the opportunity to make your portfolio much more visible than it could be without the blog.

7. Style and Core Design

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Often, it’s very difficult to update your site very frequently. In general, the more intricate a site is, the more difficult it is to update. Conversely, easily updatable sites often rely on template-driven approaches, such as blogging engines or Content Management Systems (CMS). There are several possible reasons for using a Content Management System, but the main and important reason for using a CMS is to make creating and editing of you news content simple and easy. It’s also Important to choose right CMS while you got limited funding because creating the best online portfolio will often require a balance between aesthetic appeal, ease of updating, time and money.

One of the unique advantage of building your portfolio on a blog engine also lets visitors to subscribe to your news using its built-in RSS feed, so that users who have readers such as Google Reader and those built into most web browsers and email applications will be instantly notified about your current and next project.

8. Find a Right Hosting!

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Hosting is one of the sole elements of any portfolio or blog. If you already running a popular blog and planning to add your portfolio with it than it’s possible that it’ll boost up your domain traffic additional. There is one thumb rule to follow “always think for the best and be prepared for the worst”. in that case, you need to find the right hosting for your site which is comes under your limited budget. Online Hosting range from the free to the very expensive. While the free ones may have very limited features and services, the most expensive ones may have lots of things you don’t need but will end up paying a large amount for. Here is the few articles Listed below which gives you idea about what to do before signing up with a new Web host and what to do if you already have a provider.

9. Decide What to Show

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Let me put in this way, if you needs to review a thousand portfolios, I can bet you will come up with some shortcuts or techniques based on some key variables to boosting up the selection process about your potential employee. Now think according to your client’s point of view and ask yourself what your employer is going to be interested in seeing. Then decide which of the past work you want to display on your portfolio. Portfolio never meant for loading all the previous work done by you with it. There’s no point in overloading a user with too much, you should remember that a potential employer will probably make up their mind within the first couple of projects done by you so it’s very necessary to make a right selection.

Try answering yourself some big questions like what type of work does your studio or company do? How can you be still creative within the confines of corporate jobs? What is you going to want if you’re a client, and so on. So keep your portfolio limited to your best work with full details. Don’t try to overload it with examples because showing too many examples in your portfolio increases the possibility a client will see something they didn’t like or even hate.

There is one more important question need to answered is whether to create a site yourself or get a third party to design it for you should be based on your skills and budget. Creating and maintaining your own site is a good way for even print creatives to save money – and as you have the design skills, you need only to learn the technical side. Also, it’s a great way to show your creativity without any limitations.

10. Describe Yourself

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You may be a visual or sound creative, but your potential clients are likely to be business professionals. However, it seen more often that many portfolios didn’t show their work properly. They isolated their work from other important details like which was the client? How did you provide them what they need? How do you manage the time? What part you played in the project—did you complete the whole project? Or if it was a website, or the design?

Never try to hype things up. I’ve seen designers show work that they played the full role but in actual it was just only a tiny role. You might get caught yourself in very awkward situation when the questions inevitably comes up. On the other-side, if you actually did everything, then make sure you take the full credit! It helps you to impress a potential employer.

Remember to put your posted images or videos in context. In the ‘News’ or ‘blog’ part of your site you should include information about the client and how your work will appear. If possible put the other important details also which I just mentioned above.

In the ‘Portfolio’ part, you should turn each project into a case study – detailing in text the brief you were given, how you fulfilled it, and what elements you created. Each project should detail the skills that you have and how they can be exploited by potential patrons. Also try to include client testimonials with respective projects as they are effective to make your client believe in yourself that you will deliver on your promises.

11. Make Others Remember Yourself

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Often, it’s found that potential clients have short memories, so try to give visitors a permanent reminder of your site by offering freebies to download related to your work. Illustrators, photographers, free themes and digital artists should offer desktop and mobile phone wallpapers for a range of screen sizes. Fun short films are a memorable approach for those working with video and animation. Ensure these are available in iPod format (M4V) to maximize the chance they’ll get watched. Just make sure to keep your logo or watermark on each and every free stuff you providing which simply allow your clients to make you remember.

You can also give them the facility to signup your site newsletter so you can keep them updated via their email communication. Just make sure not to load your newsletter with garbage or unwanted information. Also keep the frequency of sending newsletter as low as possible as you don’t what yourself to get avoided or end up in spam massages.

12. Try making Multiple Portfolios

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I can count you number of reasons that why you need to have multiple portfolio at once. The web gives you the possibility of creating multiple portfolios. If you work in several distinct markets, It’s always good to create different portfolios with different URLs that present each area of your work. They are often useful for targeted market for specific projects. You have freedom to choose which portfolio suites you best for the job you want yourself to get hired for.

There are many online services which gives you facility to create your portfolio online on their server. The best once are mentioned below.

13. Utilize the full benefits of SEO

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It’s very important to have a SEO optimized website as it can make the content of your web pages more relevant, more attractive, and more easily read by search engines and their crawling and indexing software.

Of course, your current clients who already acquainted with your business and potential clients would be likely to find your web site without any difficulty. Wouldn’t they? Are you absolutely sure that your advertising has reached enough potential customers? Did you consider that some people simply do not read the online design blogs where you got featured? How about people who didn’t get the issue of the magazine or newspaper where you placed an expensive ad? The simplest choice for any client is using the search engines to find what they looking for. SEO can get you in top results of many famous search engines which can bring thousands of new visitors and many valuable inbound links.

You must have remembered, not long ago, Flash sites were popular with creative pros, as they’re more visually appealing than HTML sites. Currently though, we’ve seen many of these replaced with simpler HTML sites. The main reasons behind it is because HTML sites are quicker and cheaper to create and maintain, and can be a lot slicker than they used to be through the use of CSS and AJAX code, also they are 100 time more SEO friendly that any other flash site. HTML sites are easier for search engines to navigate, so potential clients will find them more easily.

However, there is an exception for Flash designers, who of course should create their site in the medium that they specialize in.

14. Make Yourself Approachable

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Use your ‘Contact’ section to make yourself easily reachable. Try to put your contact information in a way such that it should be easy to find in the shape of contact forms. Try to put your contact details in terms of contact address with valid phone numbers and fax communication if available. also provide your email address and other communication ids like Skype, MSN, twitter, and so on. If possible than put the contact number in header so it can visible on every page.

15. And Finally! When you All Set

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Just check all the pages and links to make sure they are working fine. Try to cut overloaded details which you find irrelevant to the subject. As I already mentioned that creating the best online portfolio will often require a balance between aesthetic appeal, ease of updating, time and money so try to keep it under control.

Showcase of Some Creative Portfolio Designs

01. Digital Mash

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A mash of work from Australian designer, Robyn Morris.

Official Link

02. Emotions Live

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professional portfolio of Mike, a freelance web graphic designer.

Official Link

03. Alex Buga

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Portfolio of good way design-addict Alex Buga, from Bucharest, Romania. The Creative Director of MB Dragan – (True) Interactive Agency

Official Link

04. Branded07

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Branded07, Online Web Design Portfolio of Rob Palmer. Creating accessible website design. Using Web Standards.

Official Link

05. N.Design Studio

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N.Design Studio is a design blog and portfolio of Nick La, Toronto based illustrator and web designer. He’s specialize in designing beautiful illustrations and web standard CSS websites.

Official Link

06. Taufiq Ridha

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Portfolio blog of Taufiq Ridha, Web and Graphic Designer who lives in Jakarta.

Official Link

07. Jay Hafling

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Online portfolio of Jay Hafling, twenty four years designer from Ukraine. He is an expert level designer and coder with more than 6 years of experience under hus belt.

Official Link

08. Jeff Sarmiento

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Portfolio of Jeff Sarmiento, a web designer from Toronto, Canada and he enjoy making smoking’ websites. He also work at FreshBooks, an online invoicing and time tracking service that helps people make their billing process easy.

Official Link

09. mariusroosendaal

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Design portfolio of Marius Roosendaal, a graphic designer that aims to create vibrant and detailed designs while keeping the web standards and usability aspects in mind.

Official Link

10. Pojeta

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Graphic portfolio of Tomas concept, which specializes in the creation of graphic designs web pages, logo, corporate identity, illustrations and other graphic work.

Official Link

Continue Reading Full Showcase >>

Find Something Missing?

While writing this article, it’s always a possibility that we missed some other great tips. Feel free to share it with us.

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  1. Bro, you need a proof reader. “How to create a BETTER portfolio…” :)

  2. Nice tips

    I can really use some !

  3. Just the inspiration i needed, up for a redesign.

    Whats with the “Batter”? typo….

  4. Nice post man! ;)
    Really loved it :mrgreen:

  5. Really good article :)

  6. Thanks for great post. Good job !

  7. very good tips, I’ll follow it.

  8. Very nice post and I really love those images you used!

  9. @Peter – All the images are from famous stock image sources like iStockphoto, shutterstock etc.

  10. Great article. Many great tips for a beautiful and great portfolio.
    I also like the choice of images, I would like to know where they’re from, perhaps you can e-mail me? Excuse me for my (bad?) English.


  11. Can you mail me which exactly? You’ll be my hero for today =)

  12. Great post!
    I enjoyed reading it.
    Keep up the good work :)

    Best wishes

  13. I really enjoyed this article. You definitely took the time to think conscientiously about what it takes to make a great portfolio. Well done!

  14. This article is very useful. I am in the process of redesigning my portfolio and those tips will help out tremendously!

  15. Wow… Can I get a spell check please!? Horrible word spacing as well… tisk tisk

  16. I like your collection of Creative Portfolio Designs.

  17. Anders, thanks for the mention.

    Your readers may be interested to find out that is about to launch a FREE online portfolio tool for artists. It’s going to be a more professional way to show your art, rather than just linking a prospective employer to your profile page. We spent months developing it and are excited to have y’all try it out.

    If you’re interested in reading more about it, click here:

    Let me know what you think.



  18. Sounds like great advice… but maybe you need a proofreader, there were tons-o-grammatical errors!

  19. very nice sites thanks admin….

  20. Nice article, thanks for sharing.

  21. Useful Tips & Links

  22. Good thoughts, I definitely agree. Something that I’d add is that it’s essential to be unique. I’m so tired of seeing portfolios that all look the same, and I think that going outside the box is a very good idea when designing a portfolio.

    Anyways, great article, thanks for sharing!

  23. Hi Anders, thanks, nice article! Regarding grammar / typo’s, for a German dude, not bad;)

    @Nick I totally agree with the importance of being unique with your portfolios, but most of all the work itself should speak for itself. Good work doesn’t need much of shape and graphic elements around it I think, bad work probably needs more of that;) I (a former art director/buyer) prefer to look at images / creative work in a pretty much clean environment. I like a minimal and functional approach in graphic and interface design for portfolio websites. Last year we developed a portfolio website creation tool for people who don’t have tech skills but do like to create and manage a unique site. For some examples check

  24. Really very good idear which provide new look to Website.

  25. Thanks for sharing.

  26. You might as well consider using something like The free and has a blog or even a shop in the Pro license. If you’re on flickr you can instantly download images or sets with a few clicks…

  27. CPULuv doesn’t work and Designtaxi seems to be a blog magazine thing now! I found a couple of other portfolio website and hope it help’s someone!

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