Tips and Tricks for Creating a Modern Online Graphic Design Portfolio

by Abbey Fitzgerald | June 29, 2013

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Whether you are just out of school or a seasoned pro, having a great graphic design portfolio is a great way to showcase your work for future prospects. Whether you are looking for a full-time graphic designer job or for new freelance clients, having an online portfolio of your work is one of the most important tools you’ll need to have as a creative.

Portfolio Options

Online Portfolio PlanFor those of you who do not have a graphic design portfolio site, or are in need of a redesign, you may want to design your own site from scratch and have complete control over the look and feel of the site. This is a fantastic choice for your next graphic design project! Be sure to look around for great examples and note what you like about them. What makes the layout unique and modern? Is it easy to find what you are looking for? Do you like the colors used?

Don’t feel like you have to design a site from scratch. If web design doesn’t interest you, or would like to get a portfolio up fast, another option would be to use a portfolio site with template options where it is easy to add portfolio images and text.

Free, or Very Reasonably Priced, Portfolio Sites to Feature Your Work

There are more options out there that might be a better fit or that you might prefer their templates more so than the ones mentioned above. When I came across the sites on this list, my opinion was that they had a simple and up-to-date look. They are the perfect solution for a modern online portfolio that will be showcase ready in no time!

Create a Great Portfolio

Whichever approach you choose, there are some key things to include on any portfolio site. Check out our list below.

1. The overall website design should be simple. Let your work be the focal point.

A contemporary portfolio is a perfect solution. The term “contemporary” refers to a portfolio with a clean, modern feel to it without any unnecessary design elements. Your work will be the focus, not the site design elements. This is where clients or employers will view your work. They most likely don’t have much time to browse, so make it easily accessible so they can get a quick idea of you and your work.

Marius Roosendaal's Portfolio

Here is a great example from Marius Roosendaal. The work is the focal point and I am intrigued by it
and want to learn more.

2. Start With the Most Important Elements First

A gallery of work and a clear method of contact are the best starting points. A method of contact could be a form on a contact page or clear instructions of how to contact. Contact information and work samples are the two necessary elements for prospects to see your work and contact you with questions or design leads. While you are working on the rest, make sure you have work samples and your contact information for any new leads included from the get-go.

Choosing work examples to feature in your portfolio is very important. There really is no “right way”, or magic number of pieces to include.  Consider the types of jobs you are looking for and choose examples that show your capabilities for that job. Portfolios are very different for Photographers, Graphic Designers, Web Designers, and other creatives, so it is important to do your research. It is helpful to take some time and look at the online portfolios in your industry.  Ask yourself what you like about them, what type(s) of work are they including, etc. Time researching is time well spent. By doing your research, it will make your project go a lot smoother because you will be inspired and will have a clear plan of what  you want to include.


The portfolio of Sianne Juliana has a great collection of work, as well as, an easy way to contact. In addition, there are social icons on the right. This is an example of a portfolio built using Coroflot.

3. Craft a Creative Bio

Make your “About” page personal. Tell your story, not just your job history. For some, it can be hard to get started. Here are some ideas to get you thinking:

  • What is your point of view on your industry? Mission statement?
  • Tell your story. What experiences shaped your creative direction? What types of actions today are you taking to shape your creative future?
  • Be yourself. Add some fun facts…personal trivia might be fun. Hobbies, interests, pets, etc.
Here is a fun example from These Are Things.

Here is a fun example from These Are Things.

Other Important Elements

After you have your bio and work examples, here are more ideas for additional information to include.

  • Be social: Include links to your social sites. A great option is to share your work on sites like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Google+. This can help get your work seen and is a great way to make connections. Remember, sharing is a two way street. You can be a good socialite by connecting and sharing others’ work too.
  • Share Your Point of View: Do you Blog? If so, be sure to include that link. If you do not Blog, it may be something to consider doing since it is a great way to showcase your knowledge and give you the opportunity to share your point of view.
  • Toot Your Own Horn: Be sure to mention any awards or press coverage.
  • Be personable: It’s all about making connections. Invite others to connect to stay in touch or to reach out with any questions.

Always Change It Up

Your skillset is always growing, so make sure your portfolio keeps up. Have a great project that you just finished? Be sure to update your graphic design portfolio. Learned something new? Be sure to add it to your skill set and mention it.

I know it can be hard to keep up and update…I am certainly in need of a little updating myself. However, if you keep up on it, it will be a lot easier to stay relaxed if you have a meeting or interview that comes up last minute. Instead of frantically updating your online portfolio all at once, there will be a lot less stress beforehand.

Make sure the work in your graphic design portfolio looks current. If things start to look a little “dated”, they can be replaced with more current work examples. If you still would like to keep an older work sample, sometimes all it needs is a quick little update and it is once again portfolio ready. I’ve done this a couple times, changing a couple older looking photos and switching to a more contemporary typeface does wonders for an older design project.

Have any advice for your fellow graphic designers and other creatives on making a great online portfolio? Please share in the comments below.

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