Is your portfolio selling you short?

Are you following along with my free report, Get Your Website Done: 12 Actionable Steps for Designers? We are nearing the finish line with Step #9: Prepare your portfolio.

If you are like the majority of my clients, you’ve been in a business a while and you have very distinct ways of working with your clients. You solve problems and find solutions—sometimes without even realizing it. My point is, there’s a lot more depth to what you’re doing than just the pictures of the final product. Let’s figure out the best way to showcase all these great services you provide.

Step #9: Prepare Your Portfolio

The problem with portfolios is that they just show the end result, not all the thinking that got you there. Your client didn’t buy a brochure—they also bought the thinking that makes the brochure work for their business.

What about using your portfolio to solidify not only your awesome end-products, but also your amazing service?

I’m all for it! And right now, I think the best way to do this is through case studies. (I love how Think Baseline and Intend Creative are doing this!)

Case studies in your portfolio

Including case studies in your portfolio allows you to:

  • Show the thinking that went into the project
  • Show that working with you is about more than just the finished product
  • Solidify the service you provide
  • Give prospective clients with similar challenges something to relate to
  • Show that you understand how to take a challenge and create a solution

As I create my portfolio for my new website, I’m going the case study route so I’m working on including a project description with challenges, solutions, and deliverables.

Displaying your work

Think about what will work for you when it comes to displaying your work in the best light. Here are the options I see most frequently:

  1. Take photographs. Remember back in art school when you professors made you mock up the most perfect something ever and photograph it? You could put these skills to use and photograph your work. Or hire a photographer to do it.
  2. Use product mockup stock photography. Using product mockup stock photography allows you to lay your design on a template that already exists. Creative Market and Sidecar are great sites to fine amazing product mockup templates.
  3. Use the digital file. This is probably the least time consuming and most basic. Just create a jpeg of the digital comp.

In my current portfolio, I’m showing a screen shot of each home page and another page or two. But for my new site, I want to show the work the way it would be consumed in real life: on monitors, smart phones or tablets. I also want to break up the mockups and photographs with vignettes of design elements used in the project. The idea is to create variety and interest with the visuals and really capture the essence of the website.

Looking for more tips and tricks about online portfolios? Check out Your Online Portfolio: 5 Steps to Awesomeness.

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One thought on “Is your portfolio selling you short?

  1. These are some great points. There are some great examples of case studies at basicagency.com as well.

    I would also add that if freelancing is what you want to do, you should think of your website as a business site and not necessarily a portfolio site. Therefore, the way you structure it would attract your ideal clients.

    Great Articles Jill

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