Web Design Portfolios: Tips for Web Design Job Seekers

Web design portfolios involve a range of media few other professions have to consider. Web design portfolios include design, technical and aesthetic components. That makes these portfolios not only complex, but sometimes difficult to manage. The web designer has to create a portfolio which reflects their abilities and talents, and also provide evidence of core competencies in employer requirements.

In an industry where web design software is constantly changing, applications are constantly being added, and systems are always being upgraded, that's not a simple process. The performance bar is continually being pushed higher by intense competition within the industry. The web designer's portfolio is an art form in itself.

Components of a web design portfolio

Because the industry demands a range of things from web designers, it's easiest to structure your portfolio around the core requirements of employers. The usual web design position requires several categories of skills and proficiencies, and you can match your portfolio to these criteria quite easily:

Technical requirements: The job criteria invariably cite familiarity with web design systems, media, and platforms. In some cases they will also require html, server experience, and other esoteric things. You can organize a good representative set of samples of your work for your portfolio on this basis. Functionality is the key, so your smooth running sites and operations are the best for this purpose. Be prepared to provide in depth technical information for these materials, because someone will ask.

Media: Another standard requirement is working with a range of media. Your media materials should include major industry platforms, things like Flash, Dreamweaver etc, as part of your portfolio. It's advisable to use high visual impact materials for best effect, but you do have some flexibility to show innovation and design concepts to good advantage.

Design products: The whole design picture is also important. Some web designers produce so much material that this can be a real issue. The other significant problem is that the shelf life of web design products can be short. The industry, naturally, is looking for current material. It's best to have a two tier approach to deal with these issues. Select your best for the portfolio, but also keep a secondary range of new materials in view for use in your portfolio when required.

Aesthetics: Design, by definition, is an aesthetic of itself. This is sometimes a critical part of commercial web design, where the employer wants to go beyond templates and standardized materials. This is what marketers call the Unique Selling Point area, and it can get you a lot of work.  A conspicuously imaginative, unique portfolio can be a very effective hard sell approach. This part of your portfolio can be assembled from all your work, so you can have some fun putting it together, too.

Things to avoid

There are some serious Don'ts in web design portfolios:

  • Never put together a portfolio without checking out job or contract requirements.
  • Don't get caught without an answer to technical issues in your materials.
  • Don't use obsolete, outdated materials unless you have a very good reason.