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Factors to Consider when Designing Your Portfolio

Posted April 19th, 2012 in Articles by Eko S

This is a guest post by Tara Hornor, if you want to guest post on this blog, please contact us.

Creating an effective portfolio is deceptively easy. Some people think they can just take pictures of all their work and put it online with the word ‘Portfolio’ at the top, but a professional portfolio takes a lot more thought than this.

Portfolio Design Consideration

The difficult part is that we have so many options these days. Would your work for catalog printing, business cards, photographs, and more look better on a website or in hand? Or should you create both a physical and digital version? Regardless of the medium, the following are some important questions to ask yourself as you consider building your portfolio, along with a brief overview of which medium to use.

1. Is it too cluttered?

One of the most common mistakes people make when creating a portfolio is that they feel the need to post every piece of work they have ever done. However, it is best to choose only the most noteworthy projects to give a sampling of your work. It is important not to overwhelm the potential employer. Choose work that is diverse, showing the range of your abilities. Show work that is relevant to the job you are trying to obtain, and those that have market value. Use only pieces that are recent, and keep the portfolio up to date. Use between 7 through 12 of your strongest pieces.

2. Is it organized?

Portfolio Design Consideration

Creating an outline of the content can make it easier to keep it to the point. Areas to include are pictures of works, information about you and your design process, contact information, a list of previous clients, and any awards or honors that apply to the job. Make sure each work is clearly identified with important information and consider including a standard format resume as well.

3. Is it user-friendly?

The next thing to remember is that the portfolio should not be fairly simple and quick to download. Be careful not to overdo it with colors, animations, and music. In today’s fast-moving world, most clients do not have the time nor the patience to wait for unnecessary extras to download. Keep clients interested with a clean, streamlined design.

4. Is it visually attractive?

Portfolio Design Consideration

A portfolio, be it online or in print, should be attractive enough to impress viewers. The portfolio itself is a piece of artwork. The design of the portfolio is the first thing the potential client will notice. It should give an idea of who you are and make a great first impression. This will set the mood for how the viewer perceives the projects themselves.

5. Is it professional?

As equally important as content and the aesthetics of your portfolio is the professionalism of your portfolio. Make sure each individual element is presented in the best way possible with high-resolution photographs, if this is how you will be presenting your work. Check for errors in the pictures and do not include works with stains, rough edges, or dogged ears. Another area that is common for mistakes is with descriptions. Artists can get caught up in the visual elements and make embarrassing typos or grammatical errors. Double and triple-check your use of language, and ask someone for help with proofreading your writing.

6. Is it memorable?

After the client has viewed your portfolio, they should come away from your portfolio more than just satisfied. The impression that your portfolio makes should be so strong it stays with them and compels them to hire you! You want a client’s viewing experience to both start out strong and end strong with a visual they will not forget. Use a really powerful and effective image as your first piece, and then save the best for last.

7. Should you use an online portfolio site?

While you can create your own online portfolio from scratch, consider using an online platform that’s already been developed. Each has their own communities and strengths, so choose carefully. Examples include Flickr, DeviantArt, Behance, Stock.Xchng, and many more. These sites make it easy to build out a portfolio quickly and manage it fairly easily.

A common mistake artists make when creating an online portfolio is neglecting to have alternatives. Consider creating something tangible that the client can see up close and hold in their hand. Have a flyer or booklet and a business card that you can leave with them after face-to-face meetings. Or, you may want to include an option in your online portfolio for a packet of physical examples you can mail to them. Again, no matter your choice of medium, make sure that you have addressed each of the factors above so that your portfolio leaves clients with wanting more.

About the Author!

Tara Hornor has a degree in English and has found her niche writing about marketing, advertising, branding, graphic design, and desktop publishing. She writes for PrintPlace.com, a company that offers online printing services for business cards, catalog printing services, posters, brochures, postcard printing services, and more printed marketing media. In addition to her writing career, Tara also enjoys spending time with her husband and two children.

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