Graphic Design Online Portfolio Website

Graphic Design Online Portfolio Website

Treat your portfolio with the same care that you would a freelance job. Apply the same level of thoughtfulness and creativity to your own portfolio as you would for a client.  

Format gives you the design and customization tools to make your inspiration a reality. Once your free trial is done, you can continue using your portfolio website for as low as $10 a month.

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Your portfolio website is your professional calling card. As a graphic designer, your site is the first point of contact for clients, agents, potential collaborators and other industry professionals.  It also serves as the hub for: your business management, communications, contracts and tracking. It’s essential to have a website that accurately represents your work and highlights your achievements, as well as providing a visually pleasing and user-friendly experience. 

Here, we’ll show you how to quickly build an impactful portfolio website. Follow along with our video tutorials for designers. You can also look through some of our best online portfolio websites for creative inspiration.

The Best Graphic Design Portfolios

So what makes a great design portfolio? The best graphic design portfolios are the ones that can get these three things right:

Filter your best work. The sole purpose of building a portfolio website is to show off who you are as a graphic designer. There are thousands of designers around the world, so your website should feature work that sets you apart from everyone else. This doesn’t mean stuffing your website with every single thing you’ve done in the past—quite the contrary. Choose work that you’re proud of, that displays your strengths, and is indicative of your unique style, interests, or values as a designer.

Don’t forget to mix things up too. While a portfolio website is all about quality over quantity, you need to make sure your portfolio is diverse too. A design studio is more likely to hire an artist who is capable of working across different styles and media, so if possible, try to include things done for branding and visual identity, advertising, illustrations, publications, and package design. Plus points for designers who have UI and motion graphics work too!

Harness the power of storytelling. Not all clients understand how much work a designer puts into every project. Putting context to your designs through case studies lets people in on your creative process, as well as your ability to understand what your clients need for their business.

A personalized, story-driven narrative is much more compelling than a flat description of your work. Talk about your role in the project, the client’s goals and your process for achieving those goals. One thing many designers tend to leave out of their case studies is the result of their work—the client’s reaction and the effect of the work on their business. This gives potential clients hard evidence that you are an effective designer!

Invest in a professional website. If you’re a web designer with coding experience, now is the time to put your web design skills to the test and build a website from scratch. This will prove as the ultimate portfolio entry. However, if coding isn’t your strong suit, you can always rely on site builders like Format!

Regardless, it’s important to keep your website current and well-maintained. Choose a template that goes well with your style and projects, and keep the design clean, minimal, and easy to navigate. And remember, nothing says professional like your own domain.

How to Make a Graphic Design Portfolio

Now that you know what the best graphic design portfolios are made of, let’s go over the step-by-step process of building one.

  1. Choose a template that complements your work. If you’re building a portfolio on a website like Format, the first step you have to take is to choose a template. Your template will dictate the overall layout of your portfolio website, so be sure to choose one that allows you to display your work and talk about your creative process all in one go. Choose wisely, but don’t stress over it too much—you can always change or customize things later on!
  2. Curate your portfolio. Here’s where you take all our advice on filtering your best work and apply it. If you’re still unsure or don’t have enough photos just yet, Format lets you start with just 10 photos to get your site off the ground. You can distill your photos into galleries, which can be organized by client, project, or medium.
  3. Create an easily navigable menu. The menu is what helps site visitors find their way around your website. With a hard-to-find or confusing menu, visitors can easily become frustrated with your website and choose to leave before finding anything useful! You’ll want your menu to tell visitors how to find important things like your top-rated projects and your contact information.
  4. Design your website. When designing a website, you should always have your brand in mind, from the color palette down to the font styles. Format’s website builder allows you to customize your site to your heart’s content using the “Design” tab. Here, you can change your template, customize your color palette, and choose which fonts to use. On top of this, you can add a custom logo, as well as change your headlines and footers.
  5. Introduce yourself. Every portfolio website needs an “About” page. This is where you talk about who you are as a designer, detailing your expertise, years of experience, and professional passions. This is also where you can talk about or link to professional accomplishments, such as awards, published work, and press. Throw in a headshot too to put a face to your name. Lastly, don’t forget to include contact information!
  6. Extra steps. With Format, there are a few extra tools at your disposal that can elevate your site. For one, the “Social” tab lets you add up to five professional social media accounts to icons on your page. You can also optimize your website for better search results, create a custom map to your business, and even set up an online store!

Ideas for Graphic Design Portfolio Projects

For students and fresh graduates, putting together a design portfolio is extra challenging, considering they haven’t had too many opportunities to score real projects yet. Here are some ideas for design portfolio projects.

Don’t be afraid to use school projects. Typically, clients and studios don’t look past school projects from fresh grads. Use your portfolio as motivation to really excel in your projects and come up with something worthy of showcasing to future clients. The same goes for projects done at internships or volunteer programs.

Offer to help friends and family. It’s more than likely that you have at least one friend or relative whose business needs a designer’s eye. Approach them and offer to revamp their branding, ramp up their social media presence, or redesign their packaging.

Design conceptual work. If you have aspirations of being an art director one day, now is the time to practice. Find a brand you love and give it a branding overhaul or make a mock product design for them. If done right, this can show clients that you have the capabilities to give old brands a fresh perspective and will still respect its brand identity.


Graphic Design Portfolio Tips

Here are three things to always keep in mind when designing a portfolio.

Don’t be afraid to show your personality. Clients and studios are probably tired of seeing the same old restrained, minimalist portfolio. When you inject bits of your style and humor into your online portfolio website, it makes you a hundred times more interesting than your competitors. Details matter, so look at how you can change things up even with little things like your sidebar, logo, and website title.

While you’re at it, get personal. Even though you’re designing a professional portfolio, you can take a risk and include one or two personal projects that are deeply meaningful to you. This shows clients what you’re interested in, what you value, and how much effort you put into things you’re passionate about.

Welcome feedback. No man is an island, they say. While you may be happy with your portfolio, an extra pair of eyes can really help you pinpoint problem areas. Consult with designers and non-designers alike for a well-rounded outsider’s perspective on your website.

Graphic Design Portfolio FAQs

All your most frequently asked questions about building a design portfolio, answered.

Portfolios are showcases of all the things designers are most proud of, from their most effective work to award-winning personal projects. Here’s what you could do: consider including a wide range of styles and media, such as visual identity, advertising materials, and motion graphics.

But make sure to also stick true to your identity as an artist. You might be wary of including too much text – don’t worry about this. A designer needs to let people in on his creative process too. Every designer must also include an about page with contact info and social media links.

Making and designing a graphic design portfolio on a website builder like Format is easy. Simply put together at least 10 of your best designs that speak to your specialty and skills as a designer. Then, find a theme that complements your style and your portfolio, and spend a good amount of time customizing it to your liking.

For inspiration, look at portfolios of different designers from different specializations. Check out how motion graphics artists create a portfolio that is cohesive and allows designs to breathe. Observe how illustrators show their unique style through simple customizations in their theme.

One of the biggest mistakes graphics designers make when designing their portfolios is overstuffing them with repetitive and irrelevant work. As much as you may love every project you’ve done, your portfolio needs visual coherence and concision. A designer must narrow down their list to contain only 10 to 15 of their top designs. And don’t include multiple photos of the same or similar visual too—this is one easy way to get site visitors frustrated!

For designers who prefer to stick with PDF or print portfolios, you must not exceed 15 pages. With online portfolio websites, though, a designer has more leeway to fit more designs, including motion graphics that just won’t translate well on paper. If you design your online portfolio website well and stick to 10 to 15 designs, you won’t have to worry about how “long” it seems or how much is in there.

There are dozens of types of graphic design. Here, we’re going to look at a few of them in terms of specialization. 

Visual identity consists of branding, logos, and typography. Marketing and advertising designs include everything from flyers and posters to digital ads. User interface and user experience includes designing for things like websites, themes, games, and apps—these give users a better experience of using a software or computer system.

Publication designers work with magazines, catalogs, and books as their medium, while a packaging designer designs concepts and creates mockups for a product. Motion graphics has to do with any animated graphics, for example, opening credits in a film or explainer videos on YouTube. And environmental designers take care of the design of outdoor spaces, including murals, signages, and events.

Start Building Your Portfolio

When it comes down to it, building a remarkable design portfolio is really just about knowing who you are and what you stand for. Once you hone in on your style and personality, curating a killer collection is second nature. Of course, you can’t let these things shine if you don’t invest in the right tools too—especially a sleek and intuitive website where you can display your portfolio for the world to see.

With Format, you can create a design portfolio in six easy steps. With dozens of customizable templates to choose from, you can easily build a site that does justice to you and your works. Try Format’s free portfolio builder for 14 days, then upgrade to a plan for as low as $8 a month.

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