What's the first thing you look for in a portfolio?

almost 6 years ago from , Designer

I've always wanted to ask this honest question. Obviously, we all want to see the awesome work we are here for. But, I've seen all kind of different and fancy portfolios - you know, the ones with the crazy animations and bizzare scrolling effects. How much does things like those count, and how much do they add value to the portfolio itself?


  • Simon EvansSimon Evans, almost 6 years ago

    Don't make me hunt for your case studies/work.

    8 points
  • Ken Em, almost 6 years ago

    Simplicity, quick loading times. If I have to wait for some loading dingus, your site is too slow.

    4 points
  • Aaron Wears Many HatsAaron Wears Many Hats, almost 6 years ago

    Personally, I look for content. How well does this person understand colours, juxtaposition, white space, etc. The portfolio itself is a medium to show your best work, and should be almost invisible next to the work you are promoting.

    If you're applying for a position as a web designer/developer, I feel even then you should let the portfolio site itself fall into the background. It should be clean, elegant, and wholly unobtrusive from displaying your work. And if it's hosted on Wix or some shit like that, you're going in the bin.

    Note - the second thing I personally look at in a digital portfolio, is the codebase. If your markup looks like a dogs breakfast and you're loading dozens of libraries to display your work, then you've stumbled on a major hurdle. If you want to show yourself as a digital designer, you want to be within the full stack mindset, or close to it.

    Thus, is the problem with digital portfolios. It's easy to show with your first impression that you have pitfalls. Personally, I end up interviewing more people who drop in a physical print than a web address. Especially in this day and age, digital portfolios all blend together, whereas some nice digital printing on decent stock can make a huge difference in capturing the attention of an employer. Plus it sits on your desk, instead of in your browser history.

    2 points
  • Scott ThomasScott Thomas, almost 6 years ago

    Its all based on what your are trying accomplish and what skills you want to show. A site without the fuss can be as nice as a one with all the bells and whistles. I know my friends changing his design, but I like how damn simple it is http://www.derektorsani.com/

    If you are doing it as a side project to explore different technicians. I say go with the crazy animations. Learn, try, fail. Its a good way to express your talents without restrictions.

    However, I wouldn't do all the craziness until you have all your content up. Portfolio sites are a endless pit of unhappiness. Its better to have something up then nothing.

    It took me 1.5 years to finally getting to put up my own site. Is it the best? Heck no, but was it good enough to get me a job? Yep! I rather work on side projects then deal with it.

    1 point
  • Dennis EusebioDennis Eusebio, almost 6 years ago

    This is a bit surface level, but I always notice the typography first. Even on a website, if someone doesn't have a strong grasp on type, it's usually a sign of shaky fundamentals. So line lengths that are way too long, pairing of type that doesn't really work, no clear hierarchy. All of those things take seconds to make an impression on someone.

    1 point
  • Simone Simone , almost 6 years ago

    In general, I think someone's portfolio should represent their sensibility towards design. In that light, a custom site always goes further than any template in my book because it shows that you have a different degree of care (and pride in your work) than just picking up between the 3 options that someone already built for you. Sure, a template might give you better performance — but frankly unless you're doing crazy stuff nobody experiences crazy load times anymore (if anything it would be more about CPU/GPU usage).

    That being said, its up to you to choose how far you want to push it. If your design standard is to have 5s transitions between a click and a page load, the go for it. If you want to be rougher and more direct, show that instead.

    The last consideration is that 90% of the sites with "fancy" animations are actually build by someone else, which frankly makes no sense to me, especially when the site is better than its design or the work within.

    1 point
  • Daniel PapeDaniel Pape, almost 6 years ago

    Crazy animations and bizarre scrolling effects actively make me less likely to contact a designer.

    The first thing I look for in a portfolio is self-initiated projects, which demonstrate that you think about the bigger picture rather than just following briefs.

    1 point
    • Simone Simone , almost 6 years ago

      A portfolio is a self initiated project, if you actually build it yourself.

      2 points
    • , almost 6 years ago

      I find this extremely interesting, since I've been wondering if self-initiated projects may seem a bit.. undervalued - since you had no real briefing or client.

      0 points
      • Sean LesterSean Lester, almost 6 years ago

        I'm a big fan of them for two reasons. One is, especially at the junior level we get a TON of people who haven't had the opportunity to do real work in the app/product space. In that case, at least show me some potential instead of nothing at all. The other is when someone comes in and tells me they did an unsolicited redesign of an app for their church or whatever (actually happened, so that's why I use this example) I know that they actually care about design — that they identify problems in design and get the itch to solve them. It says something about them.

        0 points
  • Nice ShoesNice Shoes, almost 6 years ago

    Your name.

    0 points