7 Tips For Improving Graphic Design Portfolios

Articles February 13, 2009

Acquiring new clients via your online graphic design portfolios is no easy task, especially for designers who do not have the time to dive into extensive online marketing and search engine tactics. So if you would like to make the most of the traffic you DO get, check out the tips below. All these tips are meant to make your portfolio more client friendly, which means more money for you!

Online Design Portfolio Tips

Above – A Great Example of an Online Graphic Design Portfolio

Online Graphic Design Portfolio Tips

1. Create a One Page Portfolio

One page Graphic Design Portfolios are a proven method of showcasing work online. They follow a similar format seen on many sales letters such as on my ebook site about how to Start a Clothing Line. The point is to keep the viewer’s eyes and actions focused.

With one page the person only has the option to go from the top of your site to the bottom and by the time they get to the bottom, your text content or great designs should convince them to want to buy or work with you. Your call to action probably wont be a “Buy Now” button, but it could be your contact information or a “Get a Free Project Quote”. Having a prominent call to action and contact information, which we will cover more is extremely important and keeping your portfolio to one page can produce great results.

2. Keep Your Portfolio Up to Date

Most designers improve over time and that’s why you need to keep your portfolio fresh with new projects, as long as they are better! Many bloggers and other design sites feature content from portfolios, and they will actually check to see if you have new work on your site. You can also submit your new work to design galleries, which can get your more traffic and potential clients!

3. Take Multiple Photos of Print Work

Taking professional photos of your print work can really give you an edge. Obviously your work appears more realistic when its printed and taking photos of the printed pieces just gives your work that extra special touch. Just make sure the photos are crisp, in focus, have proper lighting and a good background. You should also play around with different view points. Even if you can’t get a sample of the prints from your client you can still do short run prints of your projects yourself. Its worth it!

If you wanna see some great photos of business cards check out CardObserver.com and you will see for yourself how much better cards that are photographed look compared to digital representations.

4. Provide Live Demos of Web Work

Providing live demos of web work can have as big an impact as the tip above. People will feel more confident in your services if they can see your work in action! So if your web designs are live, provide a clear live demo link. If that is not possible code the framework yourself or at least host a screen shot of the site on your server and code in the background images so it mimics the appearance of a live site. To prove my point at why live demos are important, just take a look at any good site that sells html themes or WordPress themes and you will see most of them have live demo links!

5. Make Your Contact Info Easy to Find

I have seen too many portfolio sites with impossible to find contact information. People have a short attention span on the internet so when they get an urge to contact you, they should be able to do so within 3 seconds! Always have your contact information “Above the Fold” meaning your contact info or link to a contact page should be easily seen without any scrolling or minutes looking around. I also recommend putting your contact info in the footer of your site and possibly have a “Call to Action” in your content area.

6. Offer Multiple Forms of Contact

Everyone has different comfort levels when it comes to contacting another person. I prefer email or instant messenger, while some people always want to chat on the phone. You should offer as many contact options as possible, phone and email being the most important two. The more methods of contact you have the more comfortable you will make a potential client feel about getting in touch with you.

7. Show Customer Testimonials or Previous Clients

A big part of building trust with a viewer is showing them you have experience! Showing testimonials or a list of previous clients is a great way to quickly build trust with a viewer of your portfolio. Its ok if you don’t have huge clients like Apple or Honda, but if you have worked with major clients you better have them on your site! So consider creating a page just for testimonials or previous clients you have worked with.

Got any more tips or elements you have seen work well? Leave us a comment below!

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Cadence is You The Designer's senior blogger, and the most jack-of-all-trades of the staff. She's always trying out something different every day, some of which fuels her posts here on the blog. Let her know if you want us to post more about your favorite topic - she might know more than a thing or two about it!

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  • http://www.videoprofessor.com Mathew Jo Jonas

    redoing my portfolio thanks for the tips.

  • http://www.webstarmultimedia.com/graphic_design.html Toronto Graphic Design Company

    I agree with all points, besides number one. If you continue to grow your portfolio, having only one page, might cause some issues. Design peices won’t be organized and you might experience slow loading times for the page. Try seperating design portfolio in categories like logos, brochures, flyers, postcards, stationary, etc.

  • http://www.sosfactory.com SOSFactory

    I agree with the previous comment, from a SEO point of view having the content in just 1 page doesnt make sense at all.

  • http://www.saroverhees.be Saro

    This is all so true. My portfolio needs some real update!

  • Gino

    The only other pages a portfolio would have would be an about page, services page, contact page, etc. In fact most sites put “nofollow” tags on these pages so more juice is passed to the home page and I believe search engines already are starting to realize these pages are of less value.

    So to fix the seo problem you can do two things.

    1. Add a few paragraphs of text at the bottom of your home page.

    2. Start a blog that is attached to your portfolio site as a way to keep adding fresh content and getting backlinks and additional traffic.

    Starting blogs to promote design portfolios is extremely popular nowadays and for good reason, because it works!

  • http://sws.mnstate.edu/winmilal Alec Winmill

    Thanks for the tips, I’m in the process of updating my portfolio as well.

  • http://www.vanbetty.nl Betty

    Thanks for this list, i will work on it. I think it is the most difficult thing to choose the best design to put into a portfolio. Thanks again! Betty

  • http://www.designbyego.co.uk/about-ego John milton

    Brilliant post, The content is great and i agree with all the points.
    Regular updates have to be done if someone is adding more pages to their portfolio.Anyways thanks for the tips certainly benefited me a lot and would also benefit others and could be used as reference too when designing a portfolio.

  • http://www.tuning-wiki.de Barney

    Thx for this, very helpfully for me.

  • ashley

    Look a madmediamonkey.com
    ^___^ It’s awesome.

  • http://www.creatik.co.uk Ikem

    Interesting comments. Check out my online porfolio http://www.creatik.co.uk. Feedback would be great by filling out the form on the contact page. Thanks