What Should Go In a Web Designer’s Portfolio

As an aspiring web designer, your shot at getting the job usually boils down to one thing: Your portfolio. You may have a great degree from an Ivy League institution, and you may have worked at some notable companies in the area, but all that doesn’t mean that you can design a website that will satisfy the client. For most employers, the proof is in the pudding — or, in this case, the work you’ve already done and that you are showcasing in your portfolio.

What you include in your portfolio can make or break your chances at getting the job, whether you work as a freelancer or you are applying for a full-time, in-house position. Here are a few tips on what you should include in your web designer portfolio online content:

Complete Websites

The first thing that potential employers are going to want to see is an example of your work. While a screenshot of the home page can give employers an idea of the overall look and feel of a site, they really need to be able to explore the site live to appreciate everything you have done with it. You should include at least active links to sites that you’ve created. However, it is even better to include a demo copy of the site on your own server, just in case the client makes any changes to the site in the future. By saving a copy to your own server, you can be sure you always have a sample of the site the way it looked when you designed it.

Screen Shots

Featured Programs

Some sites are massive, sprawling, memory-stealing beasts that you can’t possibly host on your own server. Instead of risking linking out to the site and losing all the hard work you’ve done when the client eventually does a redesign, just take screenshots of some of the best features of the site. Make sure you get high-resolution images and that you take enough shots to showcase the design, functionality and any special features you added. Screen shots also give employers the chance to quickly skim your work without spending a lot of time clicking through to other sites.

Easy Navigation

You should include a wide sampling of websites in your portfolio, but you should categorize them to make it easier for prospective employers to look at the information that is most relevant to their interests. Create eye-catching thumbnails for the sites, and arrange them by categories in a system that is easily navigable. Be sure to include enough sites to show off your range but not so many that you dilute the focus from your specialty area.

Your Best Work

Your web portfolio creates an argument for why employers should hire you. It’s not a historical document of all the work you’ve ever done. Make sure that when you select the work to feature in your portfolio, you only choose your best pieces. If you notice the flaws in a website, chances are that a prospective employer will also notice them. Don’t put yourself in a position to have to answer awkward questions. Make sure that potential clients leave your site feeling nothing but impressed.

Supporting Information

Though pictures are worth 1,000 words, they don’t always tell the whole story. Make sure you include information with each of the samples you put in your portfolio about the work you did. Explain what you were hired to do and what innovative solutions you came up with for the client. Show off the results you achieved, such as an improvement in page rank because of on-page optimization. You don’t want to include your whole resume on the site, but you should include enough highlights to make employers want to learn more.

Creating a portfolio is as much an art as creating a website. If you put enough thought and preparation into creating your portfolio as you do your designs, you will be sure to land the job.

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