How To Create A Winning Online Portfolio – Even If You Design Offline!!

by . October 3rd, 2012

Whether you’re freelance, employed in an agency or looking for work; a good portfolio will help back up your skills and experience, improving your chances at interview and helping you and your employer impress prospective clients.

It’s really important for offline designers to showcase their work online as well as in a physical portfolio. Follow our tips to get the most out of your best resource for work – the internet.

Make an impression fast

If a prospective client or interviewer is reviewing your profile, chances are they’ll also be checking out the competition. Therefore your portfolio needs to make an impression within the first ten seconds. Make sure your strongest work comes first and don’t let any fancy Flash intros get in the way!


Make sure your contact details are visible at all times

You’d be surprised how many designers make the rookie error of failing to make their contact information visible on their portfolio. A contact form often feels as though you are deliberately putting a barrier between yourself and the viewer – it’s better to display your email and telephone contact details. Links to your social media profiles are also a must!


Easy navigation does it!

Don’t be tempted to show off with fancy graphics in your navigation. Even if the interviewer or potential client is impressed, they’ll come away from the experience without getting a good feel of your work. And don’t force viewer to click on and expand a thumbnail – chances are, they won’t. Having music on your site is also a bad idea!


Make your layout clear

Don’t cram the page with images and information – lots of white space in between images makes the page easier on the eye and gives a more professional feel. Too much clutter and fancy squiggles gives the viewer a headache and makes the space seem confused and unprofessional.

Make your writing even clearer!

There’s nothing worse than being faced with a load of industry jargon – less copy is always more. Let your beautiful visuals do the talking as much as possible, and use plain English in all your writing. Keep sentences short (up to 30 words) and use paragraphs / blocks of text of no more than 100 words.

If writing is not your strong point make sure an experienced copywriter goes through your content. Don’t make the rookie error of having poor spelling and grammar on your portfolio!

Be SEO friendly

Make sure you’ve included (but not overstuffed) search keywords into your portfolio. Consider terms specific to the industries that your prospects are from.

Be flexible

If you’re applying for jobs or pitching to prospective clients, be prepared to make frequent adjustments to your portfolio. This is where different platforms can come in handy: why not create a fresh portfolio tailored specifically to a company – this will flatter them no end and make sure you’re on-brand and on-message.



Which platform?

Depending upon your skills, and the amount of time available to you; you may choose to host and build your own page, or use an out-of-the-box portfolio site.

If you decide to go it alone, you should check out Chris Spooner’s excellent tutorial on creating a single page portfolio website, or Cameron Chapman’s tutorial on using WordPress as platform for your portfolio.

If you don’t want to create a portfolio site from scratch, there are some great sites out there which will allow you to upload your work with less work, some for a monthly fee and some completely free.

You could try using multiple platforms to target different audiences, gain maximum exposure and reap the benefits of the different services offered by each platform.

 Portfolio platform sites: 


  • Shownd – A free site that lets you customise your portfolio’s layout and upload content straight from Flickr.
  •  Coroflot – Free and easy to use – Coroflot enables you to reach thousands of potential clients.
  •  Carbonmade – You get a choice of two accounts – ‘Meh.’ – the free version (up to 5 projects) and ‘Whoo!’ $12 / month. (up to 50 projects).
  •  Krop – Free (10 images) and premium ($9.99 per month) available.
  •  Behance – Free site which distributes work to online galleries to maximise your exposure. Integrates with social media.
  • Ucreative – Another free site that allows you to create and update your own page/portfolio and participate in discussions with other members of the community.

So – you’ve created a stunning portfolio and all your best work is on display. Time to sit back and wait for the orders to roll in? Not quite – now it’s time to get your lovely hard work some well-deserved attention…


Add a side order of words…

A great way to boost your portfolio up Google’s rankings is to add a blog to your site. Not only does this give you the opportunity of adding relevant keywords, but you can also begin to produce tutorials and other useful content, which will (hopefully) help you make a name for yourself. Guest blogging is also a great way to get links back to your portfolio – get involved and spread the gospel that is your marvellous design work.

Source: Ian Dennis


Display work in a design gallery

Design galleries often feature design portfolios just like yours, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to get your site featured. Many of these have ‘site of the week’ competitions, a great way to gain extra exposure.
A few to try:





Link to your Flickr

Don’t forget about Flickr – it’s not just for personal projects, the site is also a great way to get your work noticed. Check out graphic design groups and get active! make sure your images link back to your main portfolio – you could include your site’s URL in your signature. NB: Flickr’s rules state that you can’t use the site to promote your work – so make sure any commercial goings-on happen on your own watch!

 Share the love!

…on your business cards, on social media – hell, you could even get a t shirt printed with your URL and a massive picture of your beautiful face on it.

Aswad Charles

About the Author

Aswad Charles is Senior Graphic Designer for Zeta. We’d love to know more about your portfolio tips and tricks – or post a link to your portfolio site below!