The Best Platforms for Your Design Portfolio (+ a portfolio planner)
Portfolios are a designer’s best asset.
A professional portfolio can help you find a job, attract clients for your freelance business and help you stand out as a leader in your specialty.
There are an endless amount of portfolio platform options nowadays. Some offer more features than others - you’ll have to evaluate your goals which will help with your platform decision!
I’ve reviewed a few of the most popular options below, shared examples of great design portfolios and what my experience with each has been.
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This is for you if you’re a graphic designer, letterer or simply want a clean & sophisticated portfolio that’s simple to setup. The great thing about Squarespace is you can grow your site to include a blog and easily add marketing tools (like an email sign up form) for interested clients.
My Experience: I currently use Squarespace to blog & market my services. I love the modern aesthetic & how simple it is to set up. If I was just getting started today (especially as a graphic or visual designer), I would use Squarespace.
This is for you if you want full design control of your website. You can show off your code skills by and creating a website from scratch or utilizing one of the many frameworks available.
When it comes to Wordpress, there are limitless possibilities, you may love that idea or find it overwhelming. If you’re not up for coding your site, there’s tons of themes in a range of prices that you can check out.
Note that by being in full control of your site, this means keeping an eye on updates, maintenance and security.
Cost: Prices vary, hosting is typically $10-20/month. You may consider purchasing a theme or framework, quality ones usually start at ~$50.
My Experience: When I first started my freelance business I used (and loved) Wordpress. There’s tons of features and options but there is a learning curve.
If you’re in the web design business I would highly recommend considering Wordpress as your first option. Having Wordpress experience helped me land larger clients as many use Wordpress for their sites & blogs.
Adobe Portfolio is a great, affordable option. It’s simple to setup & looks professional. You can also bundle it up with your Adobe subscription. This is a great “bridge” option between simply posting your work on social media or a full-on website.
The other cool part about this is that it is connected to your Behance Portfolio, which can be useful marketing & networking tool.
My Experience: Back in the day, this was known as ”Behance Prosite”. I set it up in the summer after graduating college - I was able to whip up a professional looking portfolio FAST and landed my first job.
Social Media Style Portfolio
If you’re not quite ready to invest in a professional portfolio, why not get started on social media? Start posting your work and in progress shots. It will not only give you an easy spot to share your work - but you can gain an audience at the same time!
This would be my go-to option, because you can really customize the way your work is seen. It’s more like creating a website (like the design blog) instead of just posting to social media. There’s tons of templates out there, or you could create your own.
Instagram is a great way to connect with potential clients! Make sure to use hashtags and engage with folks. This is also a great option if you’re in the very early stages of honing in on your style. You can share your work regularly while constantly improving on your aesthetic.
Here’s another great way to market your work, especially if you have an etsy or society6 shop. Simply pin all of your work or products to a “portfolio” board. I recommend doing this with whatever platform you end up going with, it’s a great way to drive traffic to your website! Be sure to include keyword rich descriptions so that you show up in searches. For example: logo and brand identity design for female entrepreneurs.
This is a great option for showing in progress shots. You can share a lot more of the process instead of just final snapshots of the work.
Super popular among designers and another great option for sharing progress shots. My only concern with sites like Dribbble and Behance is that there are so many designers on there that a potential client can easily get distracted & click away from your work. Not to mention, you might get overwhelmed and stuck in a comparison trap checking out other people’s stuff.
My Experience: After landing my first job, I decided I didn’t want to pay for hosting my site. I put together a simple Tumblr site to share my work which helped me pick up occasional freelance gigs on the side.
Pro tip: Purchase a domain name (examples: yourname.com, yourfirstnamedesigns.com, yourfirstnamecreates) and forward it to your social media account. That way if someone asks for your portfolio it’s not: instagram.com/becky_kinkead but beckykinkead.co - so profesh!