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Design Blog

5 Tips for Building a Design Portfolio

Trevor McWilliams
Trevor McWilliams on Nov 21, 2016 8:42:00 AM

In the graphic design world, having a portfolio of your work is a must – no if, ands, or buts about it. A portfolio is a representation of your creative mind coming together in various works. Whether you are applying for a new job or trying to acquire a new client, they simply will not even consider you as an employee if you don't have a portfolio. Therefore, you need to know what it takes to build a successful portfolio to earn a new job or new clients.

Here are 5 tips for building a design portfolio:tips for creating a design portfolio

Diversify Your Examples

A portfolio is a representation of your skill sets, so include more than one type of piece. Show the clients or employers everything that you thrive in. Doing this may also open the client’s eyes to a new idea on a project based on your specific talents. Doing this will also build trust with the client, and let them feel confident in hiring you for the job.

Show Your Best Work First and Last

It's psychologically proven that, in a series of things, people remember the first and the last thing in the series most clearly. The things in the middle are likely to blend together. Furthermore, the first piece will set the tone for the rest of the portfolio; it's your first impression. The last piece is what they see right before speaking to you again, so pick a piece that could lead to a great conversation about your work in general.

Group Skill Sets Together

Your portfolio shouldn't be a random compilation of all the work you’ve done in the past. It should tell some sort of story. You could group your pieces into categories of logo design, infographics, etc., categorize them by the tone of the pieces, or divide them into sections based on the medium you used for each piece – whatever you choose, it should flow when the client/employer looks at it. Show the method to your madness!

Show Your Personality

After someone looks at your portfolio, they should feel like they know you – and if you don't want to appear scattered and disorganized, don't choose random design pieces. If a potential client/employer can detect your personality in the pieces, they will feel your passion for the work, which can easily segue into a working relationship.

Packaging Your Services - The Easy Way

Have a Physical and Digital Portfolio

Don’t make the mistake of only having one way for people to see your work. You want your work to be accessible to everyone. If you have a digital portfolio, you should add the link to your business card; if you happen to meet a potential client, they have a quick way to access your work. On the flip side, during a job interview the employer may want to see how your work looks printed out in its final form, so a physical portfolio is key to show this.

As a designer, a portfolio is of utmost importance – it's the only way to show prospective clients or employers that you "know your stuff" and that they can be confident choosing you.