Whether digital or printed, the design portfolio is an essential tool for creating and showcasing your brand and work to your future employers and clients.
1. Present only your best work
Be selective of the work you showcase. Don’t make the mistake of chosing quantity over quality but instead, focus on a small number (between 8 to 10) of your best and more relevant projects. Choose your most successful, unique and creative work that will help future employers appreciate your skills and potential. Remember that your portfolio is only as strong as the weakest piece you have included.
2. Tell a story
Story telling is a great way to make your audience intrigued and engaged. Think of the key elements you want to communicate to your future employers and synthesise a story for yourself and your work. Introduce and close your story with your strongest pieces and select and organise your projects in order to be cohesive and relevant to each other. Talk with confidence and enthusiasm about your projects and make the future employer intrigued and eager to see more.
3. Context is key
Many designers concentrate all their effort on creating a beautiful and functional layout and present their most visually stunning projects and they miss a very important component of the design work: the context. Design does not exist in a vacuum; you may have created a very beautiful piece of branding, for example, but if you don’t present the company you created the brand for, the messages you wanted to communicate, the strengths you aimed to highlight, the story you visualised, your viewer will struggle to find the meaning and purpose of your work.
4. Show the development process
Similarly to the context we mentioned previously, the development process is a part of the project that is often easily dismissed as non-essential. However, giving insights and explaining your rational, your research, your thoughts and the problems you overcame, will help your future employer see through your projects, understand your approach and better appreciate the final piece of work.
5. Include personal work
Adding self-initiated projects will help you add some personality and make your portfolio unique. Especially if you are a recent graduate and you are looking to start your career, having personal projects alongside your university work is essential. Share the inspiration that helped you initiate these projects, the story of the creation process and the meaning they have for you and transform them to a key element of your portfolio.
6. Showcase diversity
Make sure that you display a variety of different design projects. This will not only make your portfolio more interesting but it will also help you showcase different skills and approaches to your future employer. Keep in mind, however, that it still needs to feel like one person’s work, so sticking to the story and message you want to communicate will help you avoid creating a patchwork of unrelated projects.
7. Add some personality
The portfolio is a great way to showcase your vision, ideas, passions and goals in design. Don’t be afraid to ignore the trends and make it quirky; be bold and create a portfolio which will be engaging not only because it is a beautiful showcase of your work but because it is your own unique, personal perspective on design.
8. Keep it up to date
Your portfolio is a living piece of work that evolves and changes alongside you. Don’t let yourself be attached to old projects; chances are that your designs have changed and your skills have developed during the years that have passed since that one favourite project of yours that you want to include in your portfolio. Don’t be afraid to leave projects behind and replace them with fresher, up to date work that is more relevant to ‘who you are’ as a designer now.