You’re probably losing out on clients just because your portfolio doesn’t give them all of the information they need. Based on what we’ve learned from running AwesomeWeb, this is what clients look for most.
In the same way that a logo represents a brand, your portfolio represents your personal brand. If you get it right, you can have clients forever.
As a freelancer, your biggest struggle is finding good, consistent clients. But very few freelancers take the time to craft their portfolio or even consider, “what do clients want to know about me?”
Today we’re going to look at the lessons we have learned from analyzing member profiles on the AwesomeWeb job search site. We know these improvements will get more eyeballs to your project page, because we see which designers get most client inquiries and why. Let’s start and take a look at some graphic web design portfolio tips.
Oh, and stay tuned for a special announcement at the end.
Table of Contents:
- 9 Things a Good Portfolio Website Needs!
- 7 Mistakes that Force Potential Clients to Dislike Your Portfolio
- How to Rock Your Own Web Design Portfolio to Get Clients
- 10 Easy Steps On How To Create A Good Photography Portfolio
- Create a Classic-Styled Portfolio Design in Adobe Photoshop
- Outstanding Commercial WordPress Portfolio And Photoblog Themes
9 Things a Good Portfolio Website Needs!
When working on your portfolio site design, think about the elements your future client should be able to find. Many designers make the mistake of designing a creative portfolio page, but forget to answer important questions their client will have, when he considers hiring the designer.
1. Make Visuals Not Only Beautiful, But Detailed
A picture says more than a thousand words. In the design world, visuals are especially important. Clients will see the visuals first and if he likes what he sees, he will continue digging for more details. Make sure you build that interest in clients with a beautiful presentation of your project.
Different designers and developers have different specialties – your task is to find a way to represent your skills the best way possible. If you are a logo designer – ensure you add a high quality picture of logo and add black and white variations. Put that logo on business cards or packaging designs to show you are a professional.
If you are a developer, find a way to showcase your expertise. If what you have built cannot be presented well in picture, make sure you explain in the page the importance for the client to check live website and keep explaining your expertise on the rest of the page.
Tip: If you are building websites, don’t just include a beautiful header with a nice image in the background. Create a high quality snapshot of the whole website, so client can immediately see the details. Only header snapshot doesn’t give enough information about your design skills to the client.
2. How Much Time It Took To Finish a Project?
Clients want to know how quickly you will be able to finish the work for them, they want to know exactly what to expect. Most designers and developers don’t even give approximate completion time, because they say it always depends on the project.
But you need to look from the client’s perspective – your client wants to know approximate details as fast as possible. Maybe he needs to sell his project idea to his partners or his boss. Your client needs to know how much time it will take and how much it will cost. You must compromise and give estimates very early, because your client wants everything done yesterday.
3. How Much Project You Created Cost?
I would say that your client’s main criteria will be these three points. Do they like what they see, how much time it will take and how much will it cost? It’s up to you how you price your services, there are different clients for different designers, but be clear about your pricing.
Clients want to know the answers to these three questions as fast as they can and you will do a great service to them if you do that clearly. This way you will attract the perfect client and will not waste time compromising or answering the same questions over and over again.
4. What Are Some Challenges You Solved? What Did You Improve?
Okay, so the first three points were cake, everything else is the icing on the cake. And we all know how much we enjoy the icing, but it’s still not the cake. Before you move on, make sure you answer these three questions very well on your portfolio page.
Now, when the client has got the answers to his most immediate questions, he will want to dig deeper and get more details.
Explain what were the biggest challenges you solved in the project? What was the process you went through to come up with the finished result? When you share your ideas, you show your expertise (or lack of it) and build trust.
5. Give A Link To A Finished, Live Website
Why, oh, why so many creatives don’t share a link to a live website – a place where your work is used? If you cannot show the live example, the client will think in his head – “Is this a real project?”.
Just do it – if you are a logo designer, include a link to website where logo is used, if you are icon designer – include a link where your icons are used.
6. Do A Creative Writeup About Each Project
Share the history how this project came to life. Maybe you have an interesting story to share how many revisions you did, how the client found you, how you worked for several nights and days for a project just to get it out on time. Give more details, share short, fun stories and show your personality. Clients are humans with emotions, they will relate to you better if you open up first.
7. What Exactly Was Your Role In The Project?
If you didn’t complete the whole project on your own, explain what it is exactly you did. When you add the role, you allow your client to understand if it’s possible for him to find one person, who will complete the whole project or he needs to hire somebody else as well.
Clients will have more trust in a designer, who knows his strengths and weaknesses. Less is more.
If you were partnering up with another developer to complete a project, share that as well. You might both get hired.
8. What Skills Did You Use When Working On The Project? What Industry Was It?
This is where you can share more technical terms for tech savvy clients, who know that they need to find a Ruby on Rails developer or a UI expert. Explain what programming languages or software you used on the project.
As a side note, include what industry the project you completed was involved in. Your client is more likely to hire you if you have already done a similar kind of work for another client in the same industry. They will know then, that you understand more about the industry than any other designer the client would hire.
9. Lastly..Do You Drive Traffic To Your Portfolio Page?
I congratulate you if you have taken into consideration all of these things in your portfolio page! You are definitely standing out from the crowd right now (if your work is good)! But why so many brilliant designers and developers still aren’t getting enough clients?
There is no way clients can hire you, if they cannot find you!
There is no point of having a great portfolio page if nobody is going to visit it. You must drive traffic to it and that’s where AwesomeWeb comes in place. On AwesomeWeb we work hard to make sure we help designers and developers to improve their member profile pages so they show up on search results, for clients who are most likely to hire them.
We are responsible for driving traffic to your member profile as you are responsible for answering possible questions the client might have when he finds you. Driving traffic to your portfolio site is a time consuming task and that’s why we suggest you to join AwesomeWeb. You are a great designer or developer, we are great in marketing. We connect great clients with great designers.
Portfolio Search is Here!
At the beginning of the article, I told you we have a special announcement from AwesomeWeb. Today we are releasing portfolio search, which will help clients find you even better. If you have great visuals – if you are a graphical, web designer you will love portfolio search.
This is how it looks:
As a freelancer, portfolio search will also be a great source of inspiration.
See what other great freelancers are charging and how much time it took to complete. Find these 9 questions answered on all project pages. This is great for freelancers who struggle to get clients and price their services.
Go ahead – try portfolio search right now! Learn more about other freelancers and tell me what you think!
Now let’s look at some mistakes that can prevent clients from deciding to hire you.
7 Mistakes that Force Potential Clients to Dislike Your Portfolio
A portfolio is a collection of documents, works, progresses and basically everything you’ve done and want to show off. The point of a portfolio is to assist you in the process of presenting your skills, knowledge and experience. A portfolio has the aim of showing who you are in a short but detailed form. It’s important to always have a portfolio as you never know what kind of job opportunities you may have in any unexpected moment. That doesn’t mean you have to create one and carry 5 copies of it with you — instead, you can always keep it online!
Anyone can create a portfolio but online portfolios are mostly used by IT workers, such as designers and developers. This group represents the biggest part of portfolio-owners on the internet. In this article we will try to explain the key points of any successful portfolio and analyze the mistakes made which really drive clients from your online portfolio.
Your Domain Name
This is the most basic mistake which can be made. If you consider yourself a professional, you must keep the domain name professional as well. The best idea would be using your name and surname as the domain name as it’s neither too personal nor crazy or strange. It will only say that it is your personal page, and that’s exactly what you want to achieve. The bad part may be the unavailability of the domain name.
In 2011, 300 million websites were created and each of them used a unique domain name. If finding suitable domain name is an issue then you should think about other possibilities as well. You may reduce your name or surname to one letter only, or, you may use a common word like “studio”. While no-one will judge you for using any extra word in your domain, it’s not a good practice to use a word like “studio” in your domain name if you actually don’t own a studio and work by yourself. It may make clients think that you are trying to portray yourself as bigger than you are. You may also use words which represent you or anything that may come to mind, but be sure not to let your imagination invent some strange and creepy names!
Bad Domain Pick
It is a very bad practice to use adjectives in your domain name, especially the ones which would describe yourself. It is the client’s job to decide whether your designs are really amazing and you are a “talented designer” or you aren’t. You shouldn’t think for your clients and impose your ideas to them.
Good Domain Pick
While we already said that using adjectives in domain names isn’t a good idea, I should admit that Visual Idiot has done an amazing job choosing a domain name. It’s actually his nickname which makes him popular in the design community. It would be strange using the word idiot in any domain name, but, you’ll immediately forget about it as the site loads. The stunning work VI has done will make you admire him and his skills. I can actually say that his domain pick is perfect and it doesn’t make him appear in a negative space at all.
Suggested Reading – 6 Must Read Tips Before Registering A Domain Name
Another key element which makes a big difference is the quality of your portfolio layout. The first impression matters much, that is why you should always try impressing your clients from their first moments being on the website. Your layout must be the one which will impress your potential clients. You can’t convince someone that your work is amazing and they should hire you if your own website lacks quality. A visitor won’t ask or seek for the prices you offer, or your portfolio if your website won’t have at least a decent look. Minimalism is totally accepted in your designs but you shouldn’t confuse minimalism and simplicity. You don’t want your site to look poorly designed and lack basic functionality. Your website’s quality should never be second rate to your work.
People like to know as much as they can about someone they may hire for a job. Before it goes deep into communication and several mails, it is very good to let your visitors know you from the beginning. This doesn’t mean you must post everything from your medical cart to parking fines.
You shouldn’t go too deep into personal life stories, but you should at least provide your name, and details about your professional studies and experience. Obviously this information shouldn’t be located in random places and the best location for it would be an “About” page. There have been several discussions on how to create great About pages so that your visitors won’t leave, at least not because of a poorly written About page.
Two More “Obvious” Mistakes
- Live-Chat – These services were invented with the purpose of helping customers on e-commerce websites where instant help is needed. In theory, live-chat widgets can be present on your website, it’s actually an unnecessary element, but it depends on the specifics of your website. A team, or a medium-large design studio could implement live chat if they have the right person and time to answer all the questions which may occur, however, if you are a lone freelancer there is no point implementing this time-consuming feature as all the questions could be asked by using the contact form and your job is not answering live chat questions.
- Inefficient Use – Another mistake you may be doing is using your portfolio inefficiently. I do not want to say that you should squeeze juice out of your portfolio — what I want to state is that you shouldn’t confuse it with a blog or other personal website. Everything has it’s aim and you shouldn’t mix two different things into one. Your thoughts about Joe’s shoes shouldn’t be near your work examples and your CV. You can always set up a blog on your website, but it should be a different page/category. While this is admissible, you shouldn’t talk about Joe’s shoes on it either. Why? Because most of your eventual clients are not interested why Joe has chosen sneakers instead of boat shoes. I can say that having a blog on your portfolio website won’t hurt you if the discussion and posts are work related.
To sum up, a great portfolio consists of 4 basic parts: domain name, layout, information about yourself and the structure of your page. Each part of it must be well thought out and planned. You don’t want to miss something which you may regret later. Every small detail should be taken into consideration because your portfolio is how you present yourself to strangers. These strangers may want to hire you, and the ultimate goal of a portfolio is to showcase your work, and get more work. In case you need someone to have a look at your design and give you some feedback, you can always ask for some on Dribbble, Forrst or ConceptFeedback!
We have covered a lot already, but we are still going strong. In the next section Wes Macdowell will give you some great tips for building your web design portfolio.