14 Tips To Make A Better Portfolio Website


Over the last 5 years, I have used dozens if not 100’s of designers and found some designers get their portfolio very wrong! You have to expect your website’s visitors and clients to be completely uneducated in how to use websites. Therefore, make it idiot proof! Here is a list of 14 tips and suggestions for your online portfolio.

Make it easy for people to contact you

This is my number one point, so often when looking for work to be done I can’t find out an easy way to contact the designer. You need to make it easy for people to contact you because there is no point in having an amazing portfolio if no one can contact you for work. Don’t just have one form of contact either. You can list your email, phone numbers, and also be contactable via social networks such as Twitter and Facebook. Another idea is to tell them when they can expect to hear back from you. Often potential clients want to start ASAP and so if they can expect to hear from you sooner than other designers then they may pick you over them.

Make it clear who you are

On your portfolio, you need to make it clear who you are. Remember to list your previous experience, so clients know who you have worked with and on what types of projects, etc. Its also useful to list your time zone so clients know what hours you are up and where about in the world you are located.

Your work speaks for itself

Make sure you have a strong portfolio. Don’t list every bit of work in your portfolio, especially if its similar. Display the best, and you will sell yourself at a high standard.


Make it clear what you are offering

Make it clear to the client what you are actually offering to them. There’s no point in getting to the mid project stage and the client is saying, for example, “can you buy this domain for me then?”, if you didn’t make it clear that you aren’t buying the domain but just hosting it.

Make your prices clear

Make your prices clear on your portfolio. You could say web design 5 pages for $… so that it’s clear for customers to know what they are actually paying. When working with potential clients they sometimes don’t see the value in your service and don’t expect to pay very much, so if you are a high end designer, make it clear that you are and your average rates. A great example of making clear how much work will cost is PSD2HTML.

Make your portfolio perfect

If your portfolio is perfect, your customers will think that their website can be the same. This doesn’t just include spelling mistakes, but the navigation, user interface and cross browser compatibility.

Full size previews

On your portfolio, make sure if you are displaying thumbnails that they link to a full size preview of the design. Your customers don’t want to strain their eyes. Plus, a full screen size makes sure clients can see your full potential.


Make it clear you are a real person

On your portfolio, come across as a real person. Maybe put a picture of yourself, so clients know that they are working with a real person. Often, potential clients are put off thinking you may scam them:make it clear this won’t happen because you are a real person offering real services.

Explain the process

Clients can always get confused about the process because every designer is different. You could provide a diagram of how you complete the design process with clients. For example, the design faze, drafts, deposits and so on…

Upsell the client with services they actually need

Maybe on the page where clients get a quote from you, you could sell the client services they might actually need. This may be domain names, hosting, or website management. Read my guide on how to make more money online doing web design, where I discuss how to sell hosting and other things to clients.

If you have been featured by a big company, show off

Designers around the world have been featured all over the place, in newspaper, magazines, news websites and have been interviewed. This adds to your credibility and so it’s important to show it off!

If you work with a big client, show off

The same goes if you actually work with a big client. Say if you designed a poster for Sony’s Playstation 3, why not show off the fact that Sony is one of your clients?


Testimonials: let your past clients write a personal recommendation

By all means let your clients write a statement about your services, and what working with you was like. I’m sure when displaying the testimonials you can link back to their company. Its a win win situation for both you and the client.

Call to action

If you offer a call to action, clients are more likely to buy your services. For instance, if you give 10% discount if the client orders a logo design by a certain date, or if you ask them to fill out a form asking for a quote.

To Your Success,


P.S. What do you think made a big difference to the success of your portfolio?

P.P.S. Don’t miss my recent article on How To Make A Lot More Money Doing Web Design

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42 thoughts on “14 Tips To Make A Better Portfolio Website”

  1. Good tips. I especially like your advice to be clear about what you are offering. I visit so many sites where I have no idea what the intent of the site is.

    (mine doesn’t count – I’m just getting it going. πŸ˜‰

  2. The One Point To Rule Them All: “Your work speaks for itself” !

    It’s 100% fact. You can basically see giant media & advertisement companies with an almost blank canvas website but placing their works nicely and correctly turns it into an awesome showcase.

  3. Thanks for the post. Make it clear who you are, Your work speaks for itself these two points are really wonderful.

  4. “Make your prices clear on your portfolio. You could say web design 5 pages for $…”
    A web design company that charges on a per-page basis screams amateurism.
    Modern web site design and programing practices involve information architecture methods (server-side data architecture, ajax, RSS feeds, etc.) that make the separation of content into “pages” completely irrelevant.
    Also, the price of a website depends on whether the site content will be manageable by the client or not (integrated with a CMS or not), which changes everything regarding how future maintenance and updates will be carried out and what they will cost.
    I personally do not mention any pricing in my portfolio, and i get a lot of work.

    1. I agree 100%. I was just about to leave a comment saying the exact same thing. Other than that, it’s a pretty good post.

    2. Totally agree as well. Some of the smallest # of page websites have been some of the largest regarding man-hours spent because of new technologies used, e-commerce, and so on.

      Providing set prices hurts both you and the client. If the price is too low, the scope of the project gets shortened on your end (meaning lower quality work) or you end up working for free after you run out of billable time. If the price is too high you lose potential clients that could be small, “fill in the gap” work that you could pick up while waiting for larger projects to come through from other clients. In fact, I’ve even seen some clients that were turned off by prices that were too low because it gives the impression that the designer is less capable.

      Don’t pigeon-hole yourself by setting prices on your website. Leave yourself open to view the entire scope of potential projects before offering a cost.

  5. I find it ironic that you mention not having spelling mistakes in your portfolio, but you have several throughout the posting.

    Other than that, great compilation. I see some of the best portfolios that lack testimonials, which to me is disconcerting.

  6. Thanks for your greate post.
    I reposted your post on my website to share it to my friends (with your copyright) πŸ™‚ hope you’ll accept πŸ™‚ Thanks.

  7. Great post and some really good tips for beginners and anyone who wants to make a good portfolio. Will have to bookmark this and come back to it for the tips. Thanks

  8. I completely disagree on posting prices on a portfolio website. Every project is different and it’s important to interview the client to understand what their needs and objectives are. From the information collected, prepare a detailed written proposal that outlines the project, the project phases, timeline, deliverables and costs involved for the client to sign off on. It makes the designer look professional and having everything in writing helps eliminate misunderstandings.

  9. Nice tips, but — “Make your prices are clear”, “Make it clear your a real person” and a capital L in “let” for no reason… Those kind of ruined it for me. Especially because you advise people to strive for perfection.

    Also, to faze is a verb. Faze does not mean “phase”.

    Otherwise, nice article, and smartly divided into neat, bite-sized chunks. Very usable.

  10. Hi Michael, thanks, good read! I’d like to add one; the importance of updating your portfolio. Current work works better and a portfolio update can be a reason to connect with your network. Be active and current!

    1. Great tips. The full page preview idea is simple but effective. Web design is all about clarity of the work.

  11. Definitely think keeping your work updated is important and also adding some of your own personality to your portfolio site too if you can. πŸ™‚

  12. Great advice for young designers. Thank you for the post. The only thing I don’t agree with is having a set price. I like to be more flexible in pricing jobs. I like to set the price according to the specifics of the deliverables. There are to many variables to have a set price on your site. You’ll back your self into a corner if you do.

  13. These are some great tips – I’ve really been struggling with how to set up my portfolio, but hopefully this will help me come up with a better set up! Thanks!

  14. Great tips for creating a wonderful portfolio website. These tips can be helpful to many newbies as well as experienced designers when they design a portfolio website. You have covered almost all possible designing aspects here.

  15. This points are great.

    I have to agree that your work sells itself, but in an interview, you also have to sell everything your offering through good communication skills. If you aren’t able to articulate why you chose to design something a certain way, you won’t be successful as a designer.

  16. These points are great.

    I have to agree that your work sells itself, but in an interview, you also have to sell everything your offering through good communication skills. If you aren’t able to articulate why you chose to design something a certain way, you won’t be successful as a designer.

    I wrote a book on portfolios specifically for young designers. Hopefully you find it helpful: http://www.studentguidewebdesign.com/a-students-guide-to-web-design-portfolios-ebook/

  17. Great post it really helpful. I completely agree with your points like testimonial and show off if you work with big client. But we don’t prefer to mention prices in our portfolio i disagree at this point.

  18. I implement 3 of them, now I must redesign my portfolio. “Make your portfolio perfect” is my goal for now!

  19. I want to design a website and found some designers but there portfolio was not good then this website helps me. I read some good tips to make a better portfolio website from this website.

  20. Great post !

    I need some help. Please replay.

    I want to start my own freelance web designing service, but i haven’t taken any web design courses at all. Few years ago i inspired by myself and started learning through internet. Now i have sound knowledge in HTML5, CSS3, PHP, MYSQL, JQUERY, RESPONSIVE DESIGN, bootstrap etc.

    So, how can i describe my knowledge and experience in “ABOUT ME” section of my website.


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