Graphic designers… what do you think makes for an effective portfolio website?

I’m updating a session for students and would love to get insight from any designers or anyone who hires designers. If there are any great portfolio websites out there (individuals rather than studios or agencies) then please share links below as well.


  • Never underestimate the power of 'suprise and delight'. Some small little micro-interaction that serves no other purpose than adding a little joy and personality to the portfolio is powerful - these don't need to be big things, they could be as subtle as the way the menu icon turns into a cross or the hover state of a button.

    Consistency, is obviously another big one. Understanding your font heriarchy, your colour palette, your layout structure, etc. You want everything to feel cohessive and considered - it'll stop the user from getting lost or confused and will overall be less jarring. It's great to break the rules to make things stand out, but you need to udnerstand the rules you've put in place first.

    A more practical piece of advice is to really nail the 'call to action'. Be clear on what you want the user to do. Is it to email you? Check out your store? Visit you social channels? Make sure you're always leading them to where you want them to go and give them multiple touch points throughout your site to do so. CTA's also give you an opportunity to inject a little more personality into your tone of voice.
  • Hey Alec - some lovely thoughts on making something bespoke here -
  • Completely agree with what Miriam said.

    I recently had a Skype call with a potential client and one of the nicest things they said to me was that I was totally who they were expecting to see on the other side of the camera having seen my website. It made me so happy to hear that. It meant I finally got my website right after developing it over the past 3 years since going freelance.
  • I agree with Mariam below; the first look should grab the viewer, be easy to navigate, etc.. It should also be quick to communicate, no huge essays for any case studies being shown, and keep the vocabulary straightforward. Don't overwhelm the reader with a level of English that needs a Thesaurus to get through.
  • I'd say - what makes for an effective portfolio website is a visual translation of your identity as a designer. That from the very first glance an impression of your attitude (specific or neutral) or main stylistic pillars could be visible. It should be clear and easy to navigate through, but I do believe that its best when it doesn't look explicitly like a tumblr page template. :)

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