My first few months at Futureheads have been an incredible learning curve, and as resourcer for the team specialising in digital creative jobs one of the biggest things I’m learning is what makes an impressive portfolio.

Earlier this year, my colleague Giorgia in our UX team wrote a piece on how to ace a user experience portfolio, and I decided that we in the creative team should throw our hat into the mix!

Of course, digital design is a very subjective thing and everyone’s tastes are different, but here’re a couple of things that struck me about the best work samples.

They give context

To me, giving design work some context is arguably the most part of a portfolio. A paragraph or two describing the project you worked on, what the brief was and how you went about tackling it gives the viewer a much better hold on your work, and you’re doing yourself an injustice if you don’t mention how tricky the brief was or discuss your full input!

They show more than just the end product

This ties in with the point about context; a design portfolio is a great place to take viewers on a journey through your work, and half of the way to do that is to provide some explanatory text. The other half is to show how the project progressed towards the final product; some photos of low-fidelity sketches and the planning stages you went through make for a really comprehensive portfolio to look at, and they also make it easier for the viewer to understand your design decisions and appreciate all the work that was put in.

They allow for filtering

Strong portfolios often contain a diverse range of cross-platform work, but often when I visit a portfolio I’m doing it with regards to a specific area of design. An option to sort work into web and mobile amongst other categories can have a big impact on how ‘tidy’ the portfolio feels – having an ‘all’ category as a default still allows you to show the breadth of your work.

They make contacting the owner easy

For me, a portfolio without clear contact details is like a supermarket without checkouts – they show what’s on display, but don’t capitalise on it at all. As a resourcer, the first thing I want to do when I see a great portfolio is get in touch with the owner, and doing that can never be made too simple.

It’s also worth remembering that most employers tend to look at a portfolio before a CV – but it’s still important to have a well-designed CV which shows your career trajectory and complements the work on your portfolio.

They show carefully selected work

A portfolio is a great selling tool, and as such it’s important to put your best products on display. It can be tempting to put all of your digital design work in, but you shouldn’t be afraid of just showcasing the projects which you’re most proud of; 5-10 really strong projects will look better to employers than 20+ projects of varying quality.

Of course, it’s worth remembering whilst reading these tips that I’m still learning a lot myself, and I’m always keen to learn more! If you’d like to chat to me about your portfolio experiences or about digital creative jobs in general then you can get hold of me on rob@wearefutureheads.co.uk., as well as through LinkedIn and Twitter.

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