Designing A Knockout Graphic Design Portfolio

You may be heading out into the world of professional design or are a legacy designer trying to reinvent your design portfolio. Either way, finding work can be a job unto itself. You are essentially marketing yourself like a business would market its own products and services. You need a good portfolio. and the steps to creating a great portfolio will depend upon your experience, your skills, and your presentation of both. Use the following as a guide for doing so.
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Gathering Your Most Impressive Work

This is the first step and probably the least daunting. It's easy for you to go through and find what pieces of work you are most proud of and would have no problem sliding into your design portfolio. However, don't be afraid to ask for second opinions from both experienced professionals and average people. An objective outside opinion is always useful and may provide insight into what a prospective employer is looking for in your design portfolio.

You may later find that, like a resume, a portfolio will need to be continuously updated to showcase your top skills, talents and achievements so far in your career. Go for impact. Make sure the images or pieces that you exhibit are ones that are not easy to forget.
Also, try to be flexible to each situation. Project or client A might want to see specific examples of a certain type of work. Try to create sets of work that define these types of scenarios and their parameters.

Deciding Upon Structure and Purpose

Building your design portfolio can be just as much, if not more, work than working on an actual project for a client or employer. And crafting the right design portfolio is a little like crafting an outline or storyboard. You must decide on the structure and purpose of your portfolio. What is the best way to design the portfolio for what it needs to convey to others? What will it speak to them? And how will the information be presented in a way that is easily understood?

Remember the advice from earlier. Tailor the portfolio to the user. Only provide them with the information they are looking for.
Break that information down by category. Create an outline with sections of relevant information. What are the main categories? They could be topical and broad, with sections like Business, Entertainment and Sports. They could also be functional and more precise with sections like Illustrations, Layouts and Logos. Break them down into further sub-sections if you need to. You will then need to decide how to incorporate your work into a usable document, site or application.

How to Present Your Work

Now you're getting down to the nuts and bolts of your design portfolio. After gathering your work and deciding on structure and purpose, decide how you will take that information and incorporate it into one engaging media-rich package. Again, this will depend upon your skills, talents and comfort level with various software.

You may do this a number of ways. If you're handy with layout in desktop publishing software, you could create a multi-part PDF document and use Issuu, a free publishing software, to create a beautiful flip-page interactive document that can be embedded to websites and viewed on mobile devices like tablets and smart phones.

You may also decide to just build a website yourself. For this, there are numerous tools and development communities to help you, often free (unless you need a custom domain and advanced hosting). Dreamweaver is an advanced site creation tool. Apple's iWeb is a more simple solution. Open source content management software (CMS) like Drupal, Wordpress and Joomla are very popular and Google's Blogger platform is very simple to set up.

If you know your way around Flash, you can build a nice interactive package that you can use in numerous ways on a website.
Numerous third party sites exist that also help with building portfolios online. Also, many have started to use Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, Flickr, Picasa and other social media and web tools to get the job done. This last part of advice should seem obvious, but be creative!

Creating an online design portfolio can seem like a daunting task for a novice entering the creative profession or the designer looking to remake themselves, but with the proper planning, vision and tools the task can be done quickly and it will be worth it in the long run if you are serious. Gather your best work by all accounts. Find a purpose for your portfolio and begin work on the structure. Finally, put it all together in your chosen format for the best results.

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