How to Assemble a Web Design Portfolio

Whether you’re going on a job interview to work at a company, presenting to an internal client, or presenting your web design work to your freelance clients, keep the following techniques in mind when assembling and presenting your portfolios.

  • Build an online-portfolio website. Often, a client asks for a list of URLs to websites you’ve designed. Rather than just e-mailing a list of URLs to the client, assemble samples of your work in one nicely designed online-portfolio site and e-mail just the URL of that site to the client.

    By making your own online-portfolio site, you can also show work that’s no longer “live on the web.” Include a little paragraph that describes what you did, what design challenges you encountered, and how you solved those challenges. Providing a little background on the project helps clients and employers better evaluate your designs.

  • Build an offline portfolio book. In addition to your online-portfolio website, you should assemble a book full of printed editions of your work. You can choose and buy a cool-looking portfolio book at your local art (not craft) store for about $80. These usually have black paper in a binder-like book, so you can take the pages out and rearrange them as needed.

    You may be surprised to find out that a lot of employers at design agencies ask you to send your portfolio to them rather than bring it in personally. If you aren’t present, your book is your only representation, so you’ve got to make sure it’s polished, consistent, and professional.

    Take screen shots of your work and print them at full size, in full color, on glossy paper. Make sure that your book is not too big and not too small — Super B (13 x 19 inches) is a good size to shoot for.

  • Put together a biography. If you’re an independent consultant, a client does not want to look at your résumé to get a sense of your qualifications. A client looks mainly at your portfolio of work. Still, providing a short paragraph that outlines your professional experience and accomplishments is a good idea. Remember, after you sell a client on your services, the client has to turn around and sell you to the other people he or she works with. If the client can rattle off a few fun facts about you to grease the skids, his or her job is a little easier.

    In addition, a bio is helpful to include at the top of your résumé when you’re seeking a design job at a company. A bio is like an executive summary that sums up your experience and gives you a chance to sell yourself before the potential employer drills into the job-history listings.

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