Whether it’s for a graphic design, architecture or photography website, they are all the same – it’s a portfolio and you are trying to generate clients. A portfolio is important, it gives potential clients an insight into you, your style and your past projects.
I can never deliver the best results for my clients without a bit of research. Each project I tackle I try to become a mini expert, finding out all the latest practices and techniques. This not only helps improve my skill set, but also it ensures I can give the best advice to my clients..
Below is a list of design flaws I discovered when performing my research. For each point I have included a best practice to turn these flaws around into winning portfolios. After this project, I took a long hard look at my own portfolio and made my own adjustments!
1. Using Small Thumbnails
There are a lot of design portfolios that use very small thumbnails to showcase their range of projects. Not only do you not get to see the overall picture of the project it doesn’t help entice the viewer to look into the project further.
Increasing the size of your thumbnails allows people to get a clearer overall picture of the project. If they like the style, colours or layout of that first image, it begs them to open that page and learn more about that particular project. Maybe it’s a similar project and they get encouraged to hire you!
Extra bonus: This also helps with lowering your bounce rate!
2. Inconsistent Work
You might be just starting out and feel like you have to grab every job that comes your way. But in reality, being a “Jack of all trades” can confuse potential clients. They might see some design work but tons of photography and decide that you do not design logos anymore. If you think you have two separate types of work you should have two different sites that focus primarily on those topics.
3. Tiny Project Screenshots
There is nothing more frustrating than opening up a project and finding the project images are tiny! Think, like a potential client, what do they want to see? Large images! They want to see the whole project and the finer details. They want to know that they can trust you to pull off their project and that you will worry about the little things. You just can not see this using tiny weeny screenshots.
4. Lack of Details
A lot of portfolio websites just have brief descriptions about the companies the work was done for. What’s wrong with that you ask? Well, it’s fine to have a small company profile, but you should put it towards the end of the write up about your project.
Potential clients want to read a good description of the project, what you did, how you did it and if there was a problem, how you solved it to improve their business.
- Think about these questions, next time you do a project write up for your portfolio.
- What was the initial brief?
- If the client had a problem that they wanted you to solve, what was it and how did you solve it? When was this project completed?
- Was the client happy?
- Was there any return on investment?
If you have the space, then maybe include a case study on the project.
5. Not Having An External Link to the Project (if possible)
After I’ve finished reading about a project and looking at selected screenshots, I want to see the design in action! If you are designing websites, you should consider linking to the working website. This allows potential clients to feel your project and understand its flow. If you are more focused on print media, linking to a website might not mean much. But try to find out where it might be used digitally, in a blog or on facebook and link to that.
This shows the client that the design work you have done is being used and, on top of that, that you can be trusted with their project. It also gives the potential client an opportunity to contact the company you worked for and get a reference off them.