Did you know that the design industry contributes a whopping £97.4 billion to the UK economy annually?
Graphic design is an increasingly competitive field where designers, now more than ever, require a unique portfolio to serve as a visual resume.
Whether you’re just starting out or are a seasoned designer, it is important to regularly refresh your portfolio to showcase your skills, creativity and versatility.
In this article, we’ll guide you through the key elements to include in your portfolio and provide a step-by-step approach to help you create a portfolio that wows prospective clients.
What do you need to include in a graphic design portfolio?
Your portfolio is a reflection of your expertise and style, and therefore it’s important to do everything you can to stand out from the crowd.
Examples of work
In any eye-catching portfolio, there needs to be evidence of projects that demonstrate your versatility as a designer. This may include branding work and illustrative projects, as well as any UX/UI web design and print projects to show your experience and skills.
Including your social media handles, whether it is Instagram, TikTok, Pinterest, or any other platform, is a great way to show not only your work but also your personality. Clients like to work with people they know and trust, and by providing links to your social media, you offer a window into your design life.
Another great way to show clients your passion and creativity is by including a handful of personal projects. These additions are a powerful way to demonstrate your unique talents and interests in a saturated market.
Case studies and testimonials
Case studies and client testimonials within your portfolio will help to add credibility and professionalism to your work. Case studies help to explain your creative process and solutions to challenges along the way. Equally, client testimonials give prospective clients a glimpse into what it is like to work with you.
Process and thoughts
To add a touch of authenticity to your portfolio, you may want to consider adding sketches and initial ideas to show your design process. This preliminary work can help the client understand your thought process and how you work to get to the final product.
Steps for creating a graphic design portfolio
Now that we’ve discussed some key elements you should consider including in your graphic design portfolio, let’s break down the steps of creating one that will resonate with your potential clients.
The first step to creating a successful design portfolio is clarifying your audience and purpose.
Are you a freelance designer seeking clients and work opportunities, or perhaps a designer looking to showcase your portfolio to an agency for employment?
Whatever your situation, it is important to understand your goals, as they will help structure your portfolio.
Once you have defined the purpose of your portfolio, you can start selecting a range of your best work and projects. Consider what work your audience will be most interested in viewing.
For example, a PR agency will be most interested in design work that has been featured in online and print publications.
Did you know it takes 0.05 seconds for viewers to form an opinion about your website?
Your portfolio represents who you are as a brand, which is why using consistent typography, colours, layout and imagery across all pages is so important. Not only will this enhance the visual appeal, but it also reflects your design skills.
Most graphic designers now opt for a digital portfolio over a physical one, as it is much more accessible and easy to update.
Platforms such as Behance, Dribble, or even personal websites on Squarespace or Wix offer clean, modern, easy-to-use digital portfolio spaces that clearly display everything your client needs to see.
Within your portfolio, there should be a captivating introduction that offers a brief insight into who you are, your experience, and your thoughts on design. This description should strike a balance of capturing the reader’s interest while being to the point to set the tone for your portfolio.
You might also want to detail the graphic design software you have experience using, whether they are applications within Adobe’s Creative Cloud, Procreate, or any other design programs.
Be strategic with the placement and order of your work, being mindful of your most recent assignments and the types of projects the viewer will be interested in. You should create a smooth flow of work that seamlessly guides the audience through your skills.
Choose a handful of projects where you encountered problems to detail your approach and how you reached a solution. Before and after images will help bring the story to life and show your skill as a designer to resolve these bumps in the road.
With more than 50 per cent of web traffic now coming from mobile phones, it is essential your portfolio is optimised for all mobile devices. You should regularly test the responsiveness of your website on mobile phones and tablets to ensure it looks as it should on various screens.
Before setting your portfolio live, you should ask for feedback from industry peers and friends. Allowing yourself to receive constructive criticism will only help you to grow as a designer and make your portfolio the best it can be.
An out-of-date portfolio will only hinder your chances of getting new work as it no longer represents your current skillset and ever-evolving style. By regularly updating your portfolio with new work and client testimonials, you can demonstrate to new clients your commitment to growing as a designer and keeping up with trends.
Creating a portfolio
As of 2023, there are an estimated 15,395 graphic designers in the UK alone, and this number is only set to grow.
Competition is fiercer than ever, and crafting an effective graphic design portfolio that showcases your unique talents has never been more important.
By including a variety of your best work, case studies, and client testimonials in a well-organised and cleverly designed presentation, you will leave a lasting impression on potential clients.
Your portfolio represents who you are and what you do, so it should be ever evolving to keep up with new trends and stay ahead of the competition.