What do you look for in a portfolio website (student and professional)?

over 6 years ago from

This is more of a research based question rather than applying it to my own portfolio website but I want to see the different opinions from people of what you think should be in a portfolio. Have you ever found a portfolio/website that you instantly fell in love with? Can you pinpoint the reason you liked it so much?

One example for me is text that accompanies the project. A lot of times I see a project but I don't know who it is intended for or why it was created!

Thanks in advance for any comments and your time! I'm interested to hear what everyone has to say!


  • John PJohn P, over 6 years ago

    Actual f-ing work not just a high def photo of some dude.

    6 points
  • Todd SielingTodd Sieling, over 6 years ago

    I want to know the provenance of the work: is it a school project, is it for a client or a previous job, is it a personal project. Specifically, I want to know 'did this get built?'

    2 points
  • Mihai SerbanMihai Serban, over 6 years ago (edited over 6 years ago )

    It depends a lot on what the designer actually does. UI/UX projects should include detailed case studies. Branding projects should showcase the progress, some variation and the actual work being used in different environments. Digital art work should also have some close-up screenshots attached. There's a bunch of other things that make a portfolio look great but I think the most important part is the designer. The portfolio is a tool for promoting yourself, not only your work.

    Also, worth mentioning that if you are a student you shouldn't try to make your portfolio look like it's one of a senior's (mainly because you'll probably fail because of the quality of your work). Keep it simple, showcase the best work you have and leave premium fonts, fancy videos and 3D mockups for later, when you will have more experience and you'll know better how/when to use different showcase materials.

    2 points
  • Greg Warner, over 6 years ago

    I try to restrain myself from setting expectations for what makes a good portfolio. I want to see: Emphasis on the work, not the designer or portfolio itself. Evidence of initiative and thought: at least lean case studies showing thought process toward a solution. While definitely secondary, I like to see a degree of character and art direction to the portfolio itself. An utterly minimalist portfolio design to me generally indicates a lack of design personality. Add a bit of color, a textured theme, a good display typeface, and a witty headline or bit of bio copy. Show that you know how to speak to people and not just design Photoshop comps. A best example of each type of work the designer considers to be a personal strong point, that would be applicable for the job in question. If you're seeking to design for web/mobile/software, designing and crafting your own site is definitely a good selling point, even if it's simple. It shows that you care about how things are made and want to understand the tech behind your work. Show that you're hungry and a learner! That really goes farther than anything, and is a big selling point even if you have room to grow aesthetically.

    1 point
  • Tim Resudek, over 6 years ago

    First off, I look at the design and layout of the site itself. If a designer is using a squarespace template or WordPress theme it's a point against them.

    Rather than showing a bunch of work, keep it to three or four really good projects that cover the breadth of your experience.

    If you're showing student work, ffs, don't try to pull it off like it's paid work. It's fairly obvious to tell the difference between paid work and student work so avoid the embarrassment. Showing student work is totally fine if you're fresh out of school and there's no need to pretend it's paid work.

    Lastly, DO NOT open up the site with a big image of yourself. The user wants to see your work, and learn about how you think. Nobody cares how you look. You're photo is on your LinkedIn profile and that's more than enough.

    1 point
    • Mario MontoyaMario Montoya, over 6 years ago

      Why knock a designer down a point for using a template?

      3 points
      • Tim Resudek, over 6 years ago

        If you're a designer, and you design custom solutions for your clients, then why not for yourself? I get it. It's not always feasible to make a completely bespoke site for yourself. If you have the means at all, you should. It's a great way to learn if nothing else.

        7 points
      • Dirk HCM van BoxtelDirk HCM van Boxtel, over 6 years ago

        Don't worry too much about it. Job searches go two ways. If you lose points over stuff you disagree with, that means you're not the right fit for the company, and the company is not the right fit for you :)

        0 points
    • Account deleted over 6 years ago

      First off, I look at the design and layout of the site itself. If a designer is using a squarespace template or WordPress theme it's a point against them.

      Maybe true for product designers? Not sure. But def not true for branding and graphic designers. Agency recruiters, design directors and my peers... could care less what it's built on. It's all about the work, creativity, craftsmanship and presentation.

      0 points
  • Anita Fox, 3 years ago

    Hey. I understand that you are developing sites. Recently, CSS has become much interested. Although this is not my specialty. I am an academic writer https://paperell.com/buy-term-paper. At first I began to think about the structure of the site, and then I went into the source code and it attracted me. I don’t even know what all this will lead to.

    0 points
  • katie orenstein, over 6 years ago

    I wrote this a while back, still stand behind it: https://medium.com/@katieorenstein/portfolio-advice-for-young-designers-ecba26801f4

    0 points
  • Marcin B, over 6 years ago

    Great question, I was wondering the same. By the way, you've been in few places, but not sure where are you based now. I'm in Toronto and I've been working in Australia too (Sydney tho) :) Always happy to grab a coffee and talk about design! cheers

    0 points