Whether you’re a freelancer or looking to be hired full time, prospective clients and employers want to see what you’re capable of. If you work in web design, a well-crafted resume and string of credentials isn’t going to cut it.
An employer probably won’t be swayed by your Adobe certification and coding fluency unless they work on the technical side of things themselves. Clients want to know what web design practices you can bring to the table, not how you’ll be going about doing it.
And in the dog-eat-dog world of design freelancing, you need a portfolio to prove that you’re the king of the jungle. Your portfolio will reflect who you are as a person and a web design professional, so here are some signs that your portfolio might be in need of an overhaul:
1. Business has Tapered Off
There could be a few reasons why the demand for your web design work is in decline, and Google Analytics can reveal what the issues are. If you don’t have steady traffic, you’ll address any potential SEO or indexing problems.
High bounce rate with low time on page? Check the loading speeds of your site. Now, if you do have traffic but aren’t generating leads, the problem is probably your portfolio. The available work samples might be behind the times or uninspiring compared to recent web design practices, or your copy could be ineffective.
Another problem could be more technical in nature, like a contact form link being broken. Whatever the cause, it’s clear that changes have to be made. If you’re hosting a portfolio that’s hard to find and difficult to navigate, it will adversely impact the impression made by the work itself.
Tighten up the technical side of your web design portfolio to ensure that your samples are a pleasure to browse through.
2. Business is Booming
Conversely, you might be so busy with web design work that you’re neglecting to update your portfolio. Should you find clients lining up in your inbox, you may be tempted to think that your flawless portfolio is already doing its job superbly and needs no tinkering.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? Wrong. While your plate might be full for the moment, if you want to keep it that way, you need to make sure your portfolio gives up-to-the-minute examples of your best work.
It shows prospective clients that your work is grounded in contemporary sensibilities and is on the cusp of developments in web design. In a more general sense, it also conveys a sense of buzz about a portfolio that looks active and well-curated.
A portfolio that looks dormant suggests that you’ve given up on your own work. If prospective clients don’t see any signs of activity, alarm bells may start ringing, and confidence that you’re the designer for the job will ebb.
The landscape of modern design trends changes quickly, and you want visitors to see that you’re moving with the times.
3. You’ve Recently Developed Your Skill Set
A portfolio needs to advertise your current skill set, meaning it exhibits your work that coheres with contemporary modernization of design techniques and aesthetics.
If you have recently added new tools to your design repertoire, your work should be showing that off. Perhaps you’ve recently gained some new certifications or accreditations. Maybe you’ve learned a coding language and can implement that into your web design in some way.
If your talents are jumping off the screen from a portfolio that oozes technical wizardry, then employers will have no choice but to be impressed.
Using the full repertoire of your abilities will help your web design work stand out and show clients that you’re not a one-trick pony and that you can turn your hand to a variety of different aptitudes.
In a crowded job market, it pays to be a little flashy, so think of how to incorporate technical flair and impressive web design practices into your portfolio.
4. You Recently Switched Specializations
It makes sense for freelance web designers to focus on a niche for their craft, especially if they’re working alone. Carving out a particular niche makes it easier for you to stay on the radars of prospective employers looking for work in the same area since you’re not trying to sell yourself as all things to everyone.
Nor do you have to keep switching up your work as you jump around different web design specializations from brief to brief. You may find that design agencies go the other way and try to cater to different niches at once, but then, they tend to have the resources and manpower to keep those plates spinning.
Regardless of which camp you find yourself in, you might switch your focus from time to time, so your portfolio needs to reflect this so that you’re armed and ready for selling your current specializations to any prospective design business clients.
Don’t worry about having too many technical bells and whistles on display in your portfolio. Just show some examples that display the very best in modern design.
5. You’re Trying to Break into a New Industry
If you’re trying to jump into a new industry, you’ll have to cater your portfolio around the kind of new work you want to be involved with.
A good case study to look at are the web design trends in the gaming industry. Much like the industry itself, visuals and hardware take great leaps forward very quickly, so it takes work to come up with a web design portfolio that reflects these advances.
Because graphics are such a huge part of the games industry itself, video game web design puts an emphasis on visual fidelity and playability, along with an ability to match the tone of the game in question.
This could be for a popular title like Casino Austria Online that millions of players enjoy every day. Or it could satisfy the aesthetics of the game’s setting, like science fiction, gothic, or cyberpunk.
Whatever the case, you would have to create a web design portfolio that could show off your visual flair and design chops in an up-to-date manner to keep in step with the industry you’re trying to break into.
6. You Need to Flex Your Web Design Creative
As a designer, you might have gotten comfortable with tried and tested methodologies in your work that you can usually rely on to meet the goals set in the client’s brief.
The beauty of a portfolio is that it is totally your own creation. It’s designed to show off YOUR talents and web design nous without having to worry about whether the stakeholders will be pleased with the work. While you are still aiming to sell your skills, you can also take some creative license.
Gild your portfolio with work that will turn heads and show what you’re capable of when off the leash. Even if your work doesn’t display the exact type of web design a client is looking for, seeing your passion and ability shine through will also assure them of the confidence you have in your craft.
No doubt they will also be assured that you can turn your talents to whatever web design work they have in mind. A portfolio needs to showcase your web design work, but also show something of your character, so a personal touch can help go a long way and draw people’s attention.
Conclusion: Stand Out from Other Web Designers with an Updated Portfolio
It can be hard to find the time to nurture your portfolio when there might be paid work demanding your attention, and choosing what to fill it with can sometimes be a headache.
But it’s crucial to your future prospects to craft a great first impression that plays to your strengths. A portfolio is the web designer’s version of a resume and should form the foundation of your sales and marketing strategy.
Like any other website, a portfolio needs regular injections of new content to remain relevant, and what might be attracting clients in the here and now could appear outdated next year. Regularly update it to reflect your growth as a designer and showcase new skills and design insights you’ve been picking up along the way.
Even if you just take a day every year to make sure all your samples, copies, and designs are up to scratch, an investment in your web design portfolio is an investment in your future.
When was the last time you updated yours?
Do you have any tips for making the perfect portfolio? Let us know in the comment section below.
Thomas Glare is a passionate freelance content writer, always striving to inspire others and bring insight into the endless possibilities of the modern times we are currently living. He also spent a lot of time collaborating with some prestigious online gaming website, thus being No. 1 expert in matters of gaming. He continues to improve his knowledge and is the co-designer of Fruit Mania, one of the most popular games from Novomatics.