How to Create an Effective Design Portfolio
Having a beautiful digital space to share your work can open up loads of opportunities. Framer makes it easy to get a design portfolio up in no time.
What is a portfolio?
A portfolio is any method used to showcase your best work. No matter the industry, fashion, architecture, or design, there are tons of ways to display your work in order to get a new job or expand your audience or customers.
Types of design portfolios
Depending on the type of design work that you do, there are different portfolio formats that will be best suited for your needs. A design portfolio can be digital in the form of a website, slideshow, or PDF but it can also be analog in the form of a print book or poster.
Graphic design portfolio
When it comes to graphic design, designing a PDF as your portfolio is becoming more and more popular to highlight your work and PDF design skills. Using tools like InDesign and Photoshop you can create multi-page PDFs that can be fine-tuned and formatted any way you like. With new software, like Framer, it's becoming even easier to create a PDF online and share it in no time. The result of your PDF portfolio will be a brochure or one-pager piece that shows off examples of your best work along with the descriptions of each project and more related information.
Creating a portfolio in PDF format
There are many benefits of a PDF-style portfolio for graphic designers. First, the PDF is easy to email. If you’re applying to many jobs this is a quick way to blast your work to recruiters. Second, you have control over the exact format and layout without having to worry about web rendering issues that you might have with a website portfolio. Being able to focus on visual design in portfolio creation is a great benefit for graphic designers. Next, the PDF itself is able to highlight your layout design, typography, and visual skills. Not only is your work displayed, but the design of the PDF can give you an edge as well. Next, PDFs are typically easier to create than online portfolios or slideshows. Finally, your PDF can be printed out as a hard copy as well as shared virtually. This means you’ll always be prepared for virtual or in-person recruiting opportunities.
While the PDF design portfolio is a great choice for some, there are some drawbacks. First, PDFs are less effective in highlighting web and digital design projects. Especially if the PDF is printed, it can be hard for others to get a grasp of your digital work. In addition, PDFs required the recipient to save, download, and open your file online instead of just clicking a link. This could be not getting a second look from a busy recruiter.
Creating a portfolio as a physical book
The other portfolio example that works well for graphic designers is a physical book with printed examples of your design work. This classic professional portfolio can still serve a purpose in our increasingly digital world. There are different ways to create a print portfolio book. You can design your own custom book, go to a service to create a professional bound book, or insert your designs in a pre-made book and get it shipped to you.
There are some major benefits to a physical book portfolio for graphic designers. First, your book can be brought anywhere to any event regardless of wifi or internet connection. You’ll always be ready to showcase your work. Next, professional portfolios like this are great for showing your print work in its final format. You’ll be showing your tangible skills to the right people. Finally, if your design focus is print design, this is the portfolio style for you. No need to translate your prints into digital versions—just show the real deal.
The main drawback of this portfolio style is that it can be expensive to create. This means, you’ll probably only print one copy so if you leave it with anyone to review, you’ll be stuck for a while without a portfolio.
UX design portfolio
For UX designers, online portfolios are probably the most popular type today. This can be in the form of a simple one-page website with your contact information or a more thorough online gallery site. If your main discipline is web design, a portfolio website is the choice for you. It serves as an example itself of your web design skills, as well as highlighting your best work where it’s meant to be seen.
Portfolio websites come with many benefits, especially as most of our work is done online. First, they can show off design properties like animation and interactivity. As an important part of UX design, it’s important to show these aspects so viewers get the full experience of your designs. Next, website portfolios are super easy to share. You can include the link in your social media bios as well as send the link to anyone at any time. Your work will become more readily available this way. Finally, online portfolios are a great way to show off your personality. As the more new-age mention of displaying your work, you are less constrained by the rules of the classic print portfolio.
When going the online portfolio route there are some drawbacks. First, website portfolios often require knowledge of code to create. This can be a blocker for many UX designers. However, there are increasingly more tools like Framer that allow you to create a design portfolio without code. Next, you have to keep in mind the constraints of the web. Things like breakpoints, different browsers, and rendering issues that you wouldn’t have to think about in print portfolios. Finally, website portfolios can be more time-consuming to create depending on how many site pages you need.
Best practices for creating a design portfolio
Creating a successful portfolio means putting your best work forward. You want your most impressive pieces front and center to catch the viewer’s attention. Usually, your most recent projects will highlight your best work, so make sure these are featured at the top of your work page. On the other hand, you will want to showcase your range of talents, so if you’ve worked on something unique at any point in time make sure to include that as well—it shows you’re a versatile designer!
You’ll commonly find portfolio websites filled with image galleries and thumbnails, as they provide a clean and organized way of showcasing visual projects. While you don’t need to display your work in one of these formations, is it a good rule of thumb for keeping things organized.
Professional portfolios will often have an about me or biography section. This lets future colleagues and employers get an idea of who you are, including a brief summary of your work history, strengths, and accompaniments. Finally, ensure it’s a seamless experience for anyone wanting to contact you about your work by including an easy-to-use and brief contact form. This is how you’ll land your next big gig!
How to make your portfolio
While there are lots of similarities in how work is displayed on portfolio websites, there are many different ways to actually build a portfolio. Building a portfolio website or React portfolio can be a challenge if you’re starting from scratch or not familiar with code. But, designing in Framer means you get all the benefits of working with React without actually touching code.
Starting with a portfolio template
You don’t have to start with an empty canvas—Framer’s portfolio template can give you a customizable foundation. The free portfolio template is powered by Smart Components with customizable Variables and interactive Variants. This means your images and videos will have hover effects right out of the gate—no setup required. These subtle micro-interactions will help take your portfolio to the next level and make it indistinguishable from a real React portfolio or bootstrap portfolio. You can find even more out-of-the-box interactivity in the Email component—allowing visitors to actually contact you in one click.
Start your portfolio website from scratch
When designing in Framer, you can easily add interactions and animations to make your site pop. Any element can be interactive just by adding hover or pressed states, perfect for navigation bars, call-to-action-buttons, and thumbnails. Interactive elements in Framer are called Smart Components. When you design Smart Components, it's equivalent to building a component in React — except this way you’re doing it all visually.
With drag and drop elements that have pre-built interactions and hover states, all you have to do is upload your content to the template. The Insert Menu in Framer is your free library for icons, illustrations, buttons, and more so you’ll have everything you need to customize your portfolio template. Once you have your portfolio content set just how you like, preview your portfolio design and share with anyone in the world just by sharing a link.