A digital portfolio is your opportunity to put your best foot forward with prospective employers and clients. It’s a representative sample of your body of creative work that should convey your greatest skills, strengths and accomplishments. In many ways, your digital portfolio is more illustrative of you and your work than your resume and cover letter.
Are you in the process of creating or revamping your digital portfolio? To put yourself in the best position to secure whatever career opportunity you’re seeking, make sure that your portfolio is:
Following are tips on selecting the right platform, organizing and showcasing the right content, and successfully presenting your portfolio.
Digital Portfolio Platforms
If you want your portfolio to speak effectively to your abilities, it is important you choose a suitable platform to build it. For example:
- If you are a web designer, you will want to create a custom website to showcase your personal design and development capabilities.
- If you are a graphic designer or photographer, you can use a platform that offers templates and galleries for showcasing images such as Squarespace or Wix.
- If you are a marketer or copywriter, you will want to choose a platform that has excellent blogging tools such as WordPress.
- And lastly, if you are a video producer, video editor, or motion graphics artist, you will want to choose a platform that can support your reel such as Vimeo.
Many of these sites not only provide you with tools and templates, but also with easy ways to tag your content with metadata to ensure your pages are found by search engines. This will help improve your visibility online and potentially even gain new clients or contact from employers.
No matter the platform you utilize, select striking visuals. Always use the best images, highest quality themes, and a user-friendly design. You do not want it to appear messy or cluttered.
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Digital Portfolio Content
As you put together your portfolio, you will need to make two critical decisions: what to include and how to present it. As proud as you are of your work, you must recognize that less is more when it comes to your digital portfolio. It is far better to have a few impressive samples that leave a vivid impression and show off the range of your expertise than 100 samples that leave the interviewer overwhelmed and bored.
We recommend 7-10 project samples. They should all be recent (within the past 5 years) and should represent your core strengths, industry experience, and skill level. Some possible pieces to include are:
- A project that generated impressive ROI metrics
- Your favorite project
- An was extremely challenging project that had a short deadline
- A project that garnered industry accolades
- A project that shows specific industry experience (healthcare, retail, or finance, for example) that relates to the position you’re pursuing
The pieces should not only be an excellent representation of what you have done in the past, but also what you want to focus on in the future.
If you are a UX designer, art director, or creative director, keep in mind that many hiring managers love to see the sketches, notes, or storyboards you used in the planning stage of a project. These samples can showcase the way you tackle a challenge and illustrate your thought process to arrive at a creative solution.
With each work sample, tell a story. Explain the challenge presented, your role in the solution, and the various steps you took to design, write, or create the final piece. Keep it short and include success metrics whenever possible. Did your design lead to a 25% higher client conversion rate? Did the project come in under budget and before the deadline? Did it receive rave public reviews from customers or end users?
A closing point on content: Always be honest. When you stretch the truth and include items in your portfolio that are not fully yours, or when you claim credit for work you were involved in only tangentially, you’re misrepresenting yourself and your credentials. Inevitably, this will backfire. Employers in the creative field place incredibly high value on integrity. They should be confident that what they are seeing is what they will be getting.
Digital Portfolio Organization
There are many options for how to set up your digital portfolio. Keep in mind your audience and the story you want to tell about yourself. What are your top priorities for getting new work? Do you want to focus on a specific industry or discipline? Is your intended focus on branding or a specific deliverable such as websites, environmental design or dynamic content creation? You can organize your portfolio by:
- Category of work. If you are a designer, for instance, you can have a section for print, digital, branding and environmental design. If you are a copywriter, you can include a section for brochures, editorial copy, ad copy, annual reports and internal communications.
- Industry. If your experience has been focused in a few specific industries, you can organize your work to showcase your knowledge of those markets.
- Case studies. Organizing your work through case studies can give employers a clear and concrete idea of how you think, work and solve problems.
- Chronological order. This type is best for entry-level creatives and can be an effective way of demonstrating growth and improvement over time.
Don’t forget: Include your contact information and add your resume as a downloadable PDF.
Once you have completed your digital portfolio, diligently check your work! Images should load quickly and all written content should be clear, concise and free of typos. Double-check that your portfolio site runs correctly on different browsers as well as on various mobile devices.
Presenting Your Portfolio
Prepare and practice a persuasive narrative to accompany your portfolio presentation. Explain what the interviewer is seeing. Who was the client, what was the objective, what was the result, why did you enjoy this assignment, and how did you answer a particular challenge? Remember that excitement about a project and pride for your work will be attractive and compelling to interviewers.
Always keep in mind that how you represent your digital portfolio is as important as what you’re representing. It’s one of your first opportunities to showcase your professionalism, communication skills, attention to detail and overall creative expertise to potential clients. If you follow the recommendations above, you’ll impress your audience and hopefully land that next job or freelance gig.