You’ve pulled all-nighters, rabbits out of hats, gained feedback from your professional peers, made your clients’ logos “pop that little bit more”, and you’ve diligently produced design work to the very best of your ability. So when it comes to apply for that UX/UI design role of your dreams, you want to make sure your design portfolio shows off your creative and technical talents which rise up from the breadth and depths of your very soul!
We’ve compiled the most practical ways to make your digital design portfolio stand out from the crowd. You can rest easy if you follow these tips.
If you aim to produce approximately 20 pages’ worth of artwork for a physical portfolio, this would convert to approximately 30 pieces of artwork in an online portfolio space. Demonstrating breadth and range of artwork is important in cases where even a small selection of your pieces are viewed, they will speak of your broad skillset, and each be treated as reflective of your overall style.
When applying for a full time design position, it’s important to consider the requirements - not just of the company and their position in the market, but of the job title itself on a practical level. For example, a design studio looking to make a hire for the role of Creative Director, will not be solely looking for artwork examples or production-specific skills such as kerning or tracking. So be sure to include relevant examples of your work for the role to which you are applying.
A client or employer will want to relate your portfolio to their respective creative briefs. Wherever possible, make sure you include notes about the reasons and rationale behind which your work was created, as well as how you carried it out.
Particularly helpful to the person viewing your work, is an indexing system including page numbers with project titles.
Side projects, freelance work, and other self-initiated projects relevant to the role, are an excellent way of demonstrating your ability as a designer. Don’t assume that you must only include client work to show your professional skills, as mentioning your ability to work with a variety of agents and industries will demonstrate a point of view which is unique to you.
Include recommendations from satisfied clients or employers. It lends credibility and proof that you can deliver on your promises. Testimonials from previous clients do all the work for you, and speak volumes on your behalf.
Regular editing and curation of your portfolio every now and again is the best way to prepare for a presentation at short notice. It doesn’t have to be a laborious process. Simply removing out-of-date work, or developing certain pieces, could be all it takes to put your work over the line in a hiring round. Plus, you’ll be in a better mind-set to present when you feel good about the thought and consideration you’ve put in to your chosen pieces.
It always helps to get a second and third professional opinion regarding which pieces best demonstrate your skills and viewpoint. Have someone whose opinion you rate, critically evaluate the overall look of your entire portfolio, as well the tone. It’s easy to become blindsided by the strengths and weaknesses of your own work when you’re too familiar with it. Getting a good tonal balance is important so as to prevent being pigeon-holed by any one theme or genre. It’s best to ensure the portfolio is neither too serious nor too light-hearted, so as to get a real sense of your potential to work for different clients.
Are you good ONLY at illustration or editorial layout? Of course not. The chances are, your design know-how is transferable across a range of functions. Don’t overlook other valuable side-skills you may have unwittingly developed. Simply listing in the accompanying notes all those times you helped out managing projects, or that project you developed on a shoestring budget, and how you galvanised the team in a strict deadline. These are all professional assets, and they might be considered more valuable than you know.
Even if your use of social media is minimal, make a point to put yourself out there. Post links to your work online and reach out to your community. There’s no sense in being shy here. Ultimately, a huge portion of jobs are obtained through social networks*, so get on your Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin fired up, to make sure your work is seen and heard!
Top tips on promoting your design portfolio:
So there you have it! Eight of the most practical ways you can showcase your work as the design fiend you truly are. So go forth and promote your skills!
*Research carried out by the Society for Human Resource Management found that in 2015, 57% of companies hired from LinkedIn, 19% hired from Facebook and 65% of companies used some form of social media to hire.
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