The portfolio design is usually the first thing your prospective employers and customers notice.
It proves as simple as ABC to form a judgment about your portfolio within seconds.
That is why it is necessary to avoid the typical portfolio design mistakes we are about to shed light on.
You will find this post helpful if:
- you are working on your first portfolio design;
- you feel your portfolio can perform better on the job market;
- you are looking for new unconventional ways of presenting your professional experience.
So, roll up your sleeves and get your portfolio design perfected easily!
To make this post easier to skim, we have divided all the portfolio design mistakes we have singled out into two groups.
The first group contains five mistakes that relate to the content representation.
The latter group comprises two mistakes that result from the misuse of the portfolio design layout.
Feel free to navigate to the group that seems to need more fixing in your case!
Portfolio Design Mistakes: Content Misrepresentation
Mistake #1. Neglecting the Customer-Centred Approach.
When creating a portfolio design, you need to demonstrate that you know the target audience you are addressing.
There is no unique way to present your skills if you want to interest both big corporations and individual customers.
So, before you start designing your portfolio, make sure that you know whom you want to attract most/first.
Let's look into a situation when you are a freelance graphic designer that provides personal services to individuals.
Then your portfolio design should be guiding and welcoming to the fullest.
To begin with, you would need to leave out all the professional jargon altogether in order not to intimidate your prospective customers.
Also, your portfolio design would benefit from a full case study.
Think of all the possible crucial stages that your projects usually go through.
If possible, explain the details of the project development process in a short (up to 10 minutes) video.
Also, try to come up with the call to action design ideas that are easy to identify.
Encourage your clients with friendly slogans that contain verbs in the imperative form and “You”, “Your”, e.g. Grow your business with our designs.
Believe it or not – showing the genuine respect to your customers will help you leave all your close competitors far behind in no time.
Mistake #2. The Poor Projects Presentation.
This is an umbrella concept for portfolio design mistakes like “too many projects”, “too few projects”, “no real-life paid projects”, “irrelevant projects”, “badly structured projects” etc.
To fix these mistakes, you need to face two simple facts.
Fact #1 – you get hired mostly because your prospective employers or customers find your completed projects promising.
Fact #2 – there is always a way to present your experience, skills, and completed projects in the best light possible.
So, create a portfolio website that is multi-page.
Think of an excellent way to categorise your projects.
For instance, devote a separate page to the best/recent projects that you think are worthy and exemplary of your professionalism.
Sort the completed projects by date, subject, budget or any other criterion that looks applicable to your market niche.
Mostly, the projects you can present on a website are visual.
This is especially important for creative professionals that deal with imagery like photographers, designers, and architects.
The excellent quality of your visuals is also vital if you belong to entrepreneurs who provide extensive beauty services related to skin care, haircuts, makeup etc.
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Mistake #3. The Lousy Self-Presentation.
Both your future hiring managers and individual customers will pay considerable attention to how you construct your image.
Yes, your professional skills are #1 priority, but a real person behind the scenes matters too, right?
It is a must these days to access job seekers as both professionals and humans.
So, make sure that you show your hard skills and soft skills to advantage.
Have a closer look at your Homepage or the introduction section in your portfolio design.
Is it 100% clear who you are and what you do?
Does your portfolio contain a friendly note to your first-time readers?
Can a person that came across your portfolio a second ago identify straight away your professional goals?
Did you make it explicit what your portfolio was created for (to attract employers, to increase the client base, or to get the new online audience)?
If you answered “Yes” to these questions – congrats, you are on the right track!
Mistake #4. No Updates.
Both traditional paper portfolios and current online resumes have to be regularly updated.
Put simply; recurring portfolio design mistakes leave your prospective employers and customers wondering what you have been up to these days.
The easy fix for this mistake is to make sure that you always spend one day in a month updating your portfolio.
No update is a mistake that makes a wrong impression not only when it comes to projects and skills section.
In other words, you have to figure out how often you need to publish to stir the interest of your target audience.
A monthly post can be enough for most professionals if written thoroughly.
Put this monthly publication on your agenda to build your online audience quickly.
Mistake #5. A Credibility Problem.
There are specific credibility signals that you should make use of to look trustworthy at the job market.
The most common signals are testimonials and reviews.
Yes, not all of us can manage client reviews like a pro and end up with no testimonials/reviews or poorly worded ones.
Both testimonials and reviews are the tools that demonstrate that you are capable of building the positive business relationship.
How to integrate these tools into your portfolio design?
The safest way is to ask your former partners or customers directly if they would be willing to compliment on your professional skills.
You can do this either via a thank-you note or a follow-up letter/email.
By the way, it is a fact that testimonials with photos and social media reviews look credible, so why not give them a try?
It is a common courtesy too to give your reviewers a chance to see how you are going to use their feedback (as a testimonial or a review) on a website before actually posting it.
Portfolio Design Mistakes: Layout Misuse
Mistake #6. No Responsive Portfolio Design.
A mobile-friendly portfolio design can become your ticket to success.
The increasing importance of mobiles and tablets has led to significant changes in the way we perceive recruiting and hiring.
According to Statista, at the moment there are more than 3 billion unique users that prefer mobiles as their web exploration tools.
That is why when choosing a web design to build your online portfolio with, double-check if it is responsive.
With a responsive portfolio design, you will kill two birds with one stone.
On the one hand, a responsive portfolio design is suitable for building the substantial online presence as being mobile-friendly has become a ranking factor for most search engines.
On the other hand, mobile-friendliness helps you look professional in the eyes of your future clients and employers who are a sure thing, multi-device users, themselves.
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Mistake #7. The Misplacement of Contacts.
How easy is it to find your contacts in the portfolio?
Almost all the newbies make a colossal mistake when putting much effort into presenting their skills/completed projects and neglecting contacts as such.
We have all been there and done that.
It is time to change the way you see contacts.
They are not only your phone number and the current email address.
Contacts are the critical breadwinners on your portfolio website.
So, make sure they get the full attention.
In practice, it means that on a multi-page portfolio website, contacts should be visible on every single page.
Also, do your best to back contacts up with other tools like Google map, a QR code, social media options etc.
Final Thoughts on Portfolio Design Mistakes
The bad news is that there are many types of portfolio design mistakes one can make.
The most common of them are neglecting the customer-centred approach, the presentation/self-presentation of the poor project, no updates/mobile-friendliness, the low credibility, and the misplacement of contacts.
All of these mistakes can and will put off potential hiring managers and the whole customer base if occurring permanently in your portfolio design.
The good news, however, is you can fix all these problems yourself.
So, take your time.
Think your portfolio design through.
Find the way to wow the job market with your professional skills and experience!