Why Your Online Portfolio Needs a Makeover Before the End of the Year

Published: Nov 12, 2018

Imagine you’re pitching your work to a new client. It’s the client of your dreams — one you’ve always wanted to land. The natural first step is to send them to your online portfolio, so you want that representation of your work to be the absolute best it can be.

Psychologists studied how long it took to make a first impression and discovered you have about 50 milliseconds for the person to assess the visual appeal of your website. If your aesthetic appeal is on point, your first impression is a positive one. Your online portfolio is your opportunity to introduce your work to the potential client in a memorable way.

As you enter the final quarter of the year, and before you head into a new year with fresh projects and clients, update your portfolio so it makes the best first, second and final impression possible. Many companies gain new budgets on Jan. 1 and look for experts to work with, so you should be prepared.

1. Check Your Mobile Responsiveness

About 95 percent of Americans own a cellphone, and 77 percent own a smartphone. Most people believe a mobile site should work as well as desktop. Ensuring your portfolio performs well on mobile devices is one of the top priorities for a makeover.

Check things such as how fast the page loads on mobile devices, that all images adapt to the size of the screen, and that navigation is clear and easy to use.

Online Portfolio

Alex Coven has a portfolio that looks very similar on both mobile and laptop devices. The use of the scroll-down command encourages the user to see examples. On a mobile device, there is a reduced width and the hamburger menu is added to the top, as you can see from the screenshots. The information appears in the same way on both devices.

2. Declutter

When you first create a portfolio, there are just a few samples highlighted. Over time, more examples appear as you work with different clients. The result is a cluttered page that needs to be cleaned up. Take the time to get rid of any older samples and replace them with ones that highlight your work in the most favorable light possible.

Limit the number of items on your landing page, even if it means creating categories for your projects. When someone lands on your portfolio home page, they should immediately see some of your best work, contact info and navigation to more in-depth information.

3. Showcase Your Expertise

You spent a lot of time learning your craft and becoming the best at what you do. Take the time to highlight your expertise by adding a few case studies of work you’ve done for clients. If you had a particularly challenging project but were able to master it and help the client, showcase before-and-after photos.

Make sure you include contact info, so your new lead knows exactly how to get in touch with you.

Online Portfolio

Illuminated Integration does a great job of highlighting its expertise in a case study that’s part of its portfolio. It highlights the work it did at Holy Ghost Preparatory’s campus. It installed a theater system complete with lights, audio, rigging, curtains and video for the new Holt Center building. The case highlights how the building was once a warehouse and how theater outfitting was added to transform the building for the campus.

4. Read Like Your Audience

Do you know who your target audience is? Are they laid back and casual or more serious and formal? The way you speak to your audience depends upon them. If most of your clients are professional bankers, you’re going to use more formal language than if they are mainly housewives looking for someone to complete a project. Many factors play into the wording of your page and how effective it is. If you aren’t sure about the exact wording to use for elements such as calls to action, conduct some A/B testing and see which words are most effective with your site visitors.

5. Add Video

The use of videos in marketing is on the rise. The average person watches about 1.5 hours of video every day. Other studies have found videos create higher conversions for websites as well. Adding a video allows you to share your unique story and stand out from the competition by offering something they aren’t delivering. A busy executive appreciates being able to watch a video on the fly and get a feel for your work.

Online Portfolio

David Stine Woodworking uses a video to tell a story about the woodworker and his projects. The video highlights his attention to detail, quality of the materials and a few of the beautiful pieces he built for customers over the years. The video adds another element to the page that engages the user and pulls them in.

6. Pepper in Testimonials

In a customer survey, researchers found that 85 percent of consumers state they trust online reviews as much as a recommendation by someone they know. Adding testimonials, even short ones, to your portfolio shows potential clients you’ve worked with others and they recommend your services. It doesn’t take much time or space to add a few testimonials, but the result is a level of trustworthiness that pulls readers in.

Make Over Your Portfolio

Add a few additional highlights to your portfolio and showcase only your very best work. When a potential client visits your website, they should see you are talented and able to complete their project in a timely and professional manner.

Before you go, you might also like: How to start your Design Career.

Lexie Lu is a designer and writer. She constantly researches trends in the web and graphic design industry. She writes weekly on Design Roast and can be followed on Twitter @lexieludesigner.