The Perfect Portfolio - Do's and Don'ts

As a designer there are so many things one has to get right – but none more important than a portfolio. If you’ve spent hours, nay days, attempting to attain perfection for your portfolio, you know what we’re talking about.

A portfolio helps us by-

a. Providing a platform to curate all one’s projects at one place.

b. Helping you choose a defining style and attract likeminded clients.

c. Increasing legitimacy and thus helping build trust amongst potential clients.

The hunt for the perfect portfolio can get pretty confusing at times, and it’s easy to lose oneself when continuously bombed by a myriad of stimuli thanks to the internet, and social media. For those seeking advice, we would like to chip in with a few pearls of wisdom, straight from the mouth of our in-house designer and cohort mentor Arnab Chakravarty. Trust us, he knows what he’s talking about!

He even hosted a workshop about it on the 16th of April! For those who missed it, we tried to capture his genius as best as we could to bring you a quick summary of his advice.

1. Avoid too many words on your portfolio!

Everybody lives busy lives and very few devote the time to reading a portfolio that banks more on text than visual aids. By 2015, attention spans had reduced from 12 seconds to 8 seconds within the period of 15 years. 8 seconds, that’s it! That’s all the window we have. If the reader’s attention isn’t caught within those 8 seconds, our efforts won’t yield many results. So, concise and visually expressive is the way to go.

2. Put yourself in the client’s shoes!

Create a portfolio that’s designed to attract a client. Most often, clients do not have the bandwidth to dive into the nitty-gritties of the design process. They look for specific milestones that determine whether you’re a perfect fit for that role. So make sure you put relevant information with absolute clarity.

3. Re-edit. Review. Repeat!

No body of work should be put forward without multiple reviews. Check for grammar errors, sentence restructuring, even spelling mistakes. There’s always room for errors, but we can minimize the chances of that by practicing this simple technique.

4. Kill your darlings.

No, we don’t mean the movie. We mean the idea portrayed by the phrase – to eliminate any unnecessary element in a project that doesn’t play a direct role. Only put in projects that are directly relevant to the kind of roles you are searching for.

5. Describe outcomes over processes.

As a designer, it’s easy to get lost inside the intricacies one has to navigate while working on a project. When designing a portfolio, it’s best to concentrate on results achieved rather than the procedure adopted to achieve them.

6. Structure your portfolio

A methodical, meticulous flow to your portfolio is incredibly important. It always helps to categorize projects according to proper labels. These could be: overview, the role played, major impacts & outcomes, user research, iterations, style guide and deliverables.

7. Testimonials all the way!

Nothing builds a client’s trust in your work than a previous client leaving a positive feedback. We don’t need to stress on this point. You get it. The more people that talk about your fantastic vision, the easier it is to attract better attention.

The portfolio is a powerful tool. Without it, there’s very little ways of highlighting the work done by a designer. So the next time you get to updating yours, remember to follow these simple guidelines.

Join our Product Design Fellowship - a four month program that will strengthen your design foundations. As you get mentored by some of the best in the field, you will receive the opportunity to better your presentation and storytelling skills!

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