Online Designer Portfolios | How to best showcase web and graphic design

The designer has no portfolio

The cobbler’s kids have no shoes. And so it goes for many designers and their online portfolios. They’re so busy designing for their clients that they don’t have any time to design their own portfolio. I decided to write this blog in response to my own lackadaisical circumstance. I’ve started many online portfolios only to change my strategy halfway through and start over. By compiling a checklist of best practices, I’m hopeful to finally finish by current portfolio redesign.

10 Designer Communities that offer personalized portfolio web pages

Many of the resources offering advice for portfolios suggest that you supplement your portfolio website by having a presence in designer community sites. Each community you participate in widens your audience. Plus, the links to your custom website from these communities may enhance your search engine ranking.

  1. Behance | Sample Portfolio
    The Behance Network hosts free designer portfolios with unlimited uploads. Anyone can “appreciate” your work samples and members can leave comments on your profile. ProSite (Sample) is $11/month and allows users to create a fully customizable website with about 12 layouts that syncs with your portfolio on the Behance Network.
  2. Coroflot  | Sample Portfolio
    Create a free portfolio with unlimited uploads and a short, easy-to-remember URL. Members can “me likey” your work samples. View traffic statistics. Unlimited upload. Get new job postings that match your criteria via email, or subscribe to RSS feeds of new listing.
  3. Creative Shake  | Sample Portfolio
    Formerly called You can join for free and post up to 5 design samples in your gallery with your name in the url. Upgraded memberships cost $10/$20/$50/month and allow up to 20 samples including pdf and flash. There’s no social interaction between members.
  4. Krop Creative Database | Sample Portfolio
    More of a job board than a community. Elegant portfolio builder and hosting. Resume builder. 10 images on basic template is free. $10/month for unlimited images and 13 style templates to choose from.
  5. Deviant Art  | Sample Portfolio
    Geared more toward artists than designers, Deviant Art hosts categorized galleries. It is the largest artist community with over 13 million members. You can join for free and set up a profile, create galleries, and build a fan base. Sell digital art in their online store.
  6. Boulder Digital Arts  | Sample Portfolio
    Three free directory listings. BDA membership promotes your listings to the top of the directory and allows attachments of jpgs and pdfs. You can opt to be notified by email whenever your listing is viewed.
  7. eLance  | Sample Portfolio
    Elance offers instant access to designers who work online and provides the tools to hire, view work as it progresses and pay for creative work. Designers create profiles, advertise capabilities, submit proposals, interview, negotiate contract terms, get hired, invoice for work completed, get rated by and receive payment from Client. There are membership fees and service fees.
  8. Cargo Collective  | Sample Portfolio
    Cargo offers its members free standing personal websites with their own URL*, a wide variety of templates, and simple but sophisticated tools to control the way their content is displayed. Free basic membership. $66/yr for upgraded membership. Members must be drafted by existing members. Submit a sample to be invited to join.
  9. Dribbble  | Sample Portfolio
    “Twitter for designers.” Shots are to Dribbble as tweets are to Twitter. Become a Spectator to add your name to the Prospect list. A Spectator must be drafted by an existing Player to be able to post shots. Spectators can post comments.
  10. Hoverboard

Tips for Designing your Custom Portfolio Website

If you’re a web designer, and even if you’re a graphic designer, a custom website and domain name can be a necessity. Nothing gives you more control over the display of your work samples. However, we designers tend to be too close to the client to see the big picture when the client is ourselves. Here are a few resources to get us to back up for a clearer strategy.

5 Common Pitfalls of Online Portfolio Design from Smashing Magazine

Pitfall #1: Obfuscating  (Difficult to understand)
Pitfall #2: Cramming Information
Pitfall #3: Overdoing It
Pitfall #4: Unusual Navigation
Pitfall #5: Visual Clutter

Smashing Magazine’s ebook “Professional Web Design” issue 1 covers these pitfalls in the article “Creating a Successful Online Portfolio”. This ebook is available for approximately $5 USD in their online store

The name of this blog says it all: My Last Portfolio Sucked and Yours Might Too

Great examples of portfolios that fail

  1. Don’t use confusing navigation
  2. Thumbnails should give you a representation of the larger image
  3. Don’t forget to include your contact information
  4. Don’t have music that automatically starts playing,

10 tips to building a great portfolio from Specky Boy

Some of the best tips I’ve found…

  1. Have a clear logo and tagline
  2. Easy to navigate
  3. Easy to contact you
  4. Don’t show everything – only the best
  5. Categorize your work
  6. Include testimonials
  7. Downloadable portfolio/resume for printing
  8. Clearly say what work you’re available for
  9. Add info about you
  10. What makes you unique?

Showcases and Blogs about the Best Portfolios Online

Now… let’s get some inspiration.

My favorites:

This last one I add because of the up-front pricing packages and tool resource page. Also, some of her portfolio images with multiple items have buttons over items for links to larger single item images.

Gloria Wadzinski

About Gloria Wadzinski

Gloria Wadzinski is a multimedia designer specializing in graphic design, website design and video production. She currently lives in Boulder, Colorado. View Gloria's contact information and portfolio at
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One Response to Online Designer Portfolios | How to best showcase web and graphic design

  1. Gloria – great job and really helpful to see all the links thanks for the great presentation at the Boulder Designers Group. I am going to tweet this!

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