If you’re serious about offering your graphic design services on a freelance basis (or even if you run your own fully-fledged graphic design company), you’re probably aware that you’re going to need a portfolio of your work in order to have any hope of garnering the interest of potential clients.
Just about every potential client will request a link to your personal portfolio website and if you don’t have one, you’ll literally fall at the first hurdle. Obviously, you’re probably reading this and thinking that I’m pointing out the obvious and to some extent, I am. It’s likely that every single one of you has a portfolio of work on a personal portfolio website but the question is; is this good enough?
These days, a good graphic design portfolio doesn’t just contain a heap of work you’ve previously done; it needs to reflect your skills and say something about you as a person as well.
To help you take your portfolio to the next level, I’ve rounded up a list of what I feel to be essential tips for creating a graphic design portfolio.
Design Your Portfolio Around Its Purpose
As a graphic designer, it might be easy to get carried away when it comes to designing your portfolio and naturally, you’ll want it to look great. However, I believe that in some cases, you can get too carried away with the design element of your portfolio which can end up defeating the purpose of the website.
If you think about it, your portfolio only has one purpose; to convert potential clients into actual clients. When a client asks to see your graphic design portfolio, they want to see what you’re capable of and also, the sort of style that you use in your designs.
Now, it might be tempting to design a flashy site that features over-the-top animations between the pages but truthfully, this will simply serve to annoy the visitor. The client wants to see examples of your work; so although your portfolio design obviously needs to reflect your design style in itself, you need to make sure that your own portfolio design isn’t so good that it puts the rest of your work to shame.
You also need to think about what you want a potential client to do on your website. If you apply the same sort of psychology that a landing page design might have for your portfolio website, you’ll significantly increase the chances that a potential client will make contact and establish that all-important communication.
Piatek (pictured above) is a good example of a design based around its purpose. You can see it has three sections; “about”, “the work” and “contact”. Simple and clear.
Keep The Portfolio Projects To A Minimum
You’ve probably been involved with a huge number of projects as a freelance graphic designer and when it comes to designing your portfolio, it might be tempting to include just about everything you’ve ever done. Again, this is a mistake.
You need to keep your portfolio to a minimum. By this, I mean that ideally you should showcase no more than 10 designs. Why is this? A potential client doesn’t want to waste their time navigating through pages and pages of content; they just want to see what you’re capable of as quickly as possible.
What’s more, not everything you’ve ever done will be your best work. By narrowing down your portfolio and including only the absolute best work that you’ve done, you’ll be able to create a much better first impression than if you showed everything.
Keeping your portfolio quite small also allows for easier navigation and allows you to focus more on the quality of each of your portfolio pages. If you’ve designed a stunning website, stationary designs and branding for a company, it would make sense to include a paragraph or two of written information about that project on the portfolio page (not too much though!).
A good example of this is on JulienRenvoye.com; he only has 10 portfolio items in total, which is plenty to see he’s great at what he does.
Make It Personal
Your portfolio isn’t just a place to showcase your work but ultimately, a place to showcase yourself. As a freelancer, your clients are putting their faith in you and they want to know as much as possible about the person they’ve chosen for the project.
Obviously, you’ll probably have an “about me” page on your portfolio website and although in some instances this is perfectly adequate, you can go even further.
Take the portfolio for Basil Gloo for example (pictured above), you can see that the portfolio oozes his personality throughout and the homepage even includes a photograph of him. You’ll also notice that everything is written in first person, which further adds to the personality of the portfolio.
You have to remember that if a client trusts you and believes you to be a creative genius, they’re going to be much more inclined to choose you for their project.
Organization is Key
If you specialise in website design (or any form of UI design), then this won’t be a problem for you but if not, you need to remember that organisation is key when it comes to your graphic design portfolio website.
When a potential client lands on your website, he/she will want to find what they’re looking for as soon as possible. If they’re interested in hiring you for a branding project, they’re going to want to be able to see your previous branding work without having to peruse a portfolio littered with other design projects.
In terms of your website, this is where a well constructed menu will come in handy, as it will allow your visitors to find what they want without the hassle. You can see a great example of this above (pictured). It’s an extremely creative, well-designed portfolio but a clean and clear menu bar is still present at the top of the page.
Remember, just because your portfolio is a creative project, it doesn’t mean that the usual rules regarding websites don’t apply. If people get bored and find that they aren’t able to find what they’re looking for within seconds, they’re going to leave and go elsewhere. If this happens, you essentially lose a client.
It’s hugely important that when you’re creating your graphic design portfolio, you concentrate a lot on the design and throw your personality into it. As a graphic designer, this will more than likely be what you’re best at but it’s also important to ensure that you don’t lose sight of the more “boring” points that I’ve mentioned above, as they also contribute towards the success of your portfolio a vast amount.Tags: Designer, freelance, freelancer, Portfolio