A professional portfolio is a crucial asset at any career stage—whether you’re a seasoned graphic designer or just starting out. While you’ve likely saved your work on your computer and social media pages, showcasing your experience and talent online with a portfolio website can help potential clients easily find you for their next project.
This article will give you 10 practical steps towards making your own graphic design portfolio, plus tips on how to get it online.
What is a graphic design portfolio?
A graphic design portfolio is a curated collection of your works throughout the years. It provides potential clients with a well-rounded vision of your work, style, and other important background information that can help influence hiring decisions.
The bulk of your portfolio will include images and descriptions of your past experience—but an online graphic design portfolio means you can engage visitors in new ways. Continue reading to make a graphic design portfolio website that will stand out online.
How to make a graphic design portfolio, with examples
Ready to get your work online? Take these 10 steps to make your own graphic design portfolio. The most efficient way to learn is often by example—especially when you’re visually inclined—so on top of outlining this process step-by-step, we’ll also draw inspiration from the best portfolio websites examples and grab tips from designers with a strong online presence.
01. Choose a website platform
The first step in knowing how to make a portfolio is finding the right website building platform. From low-code, no-code platforms to entirely DIY-friendly software, choose a website builder that suits your knowledge, skills and resources. Plenty of platforms combine the best drag-and-drop technology with advanced design features, optimization tools and business and eCommerce solutions for streamlined solutions that’ll please even the most discerning pros.
Tip: For users who want to build a custom website by simply inputting their idea, try Wix ADI, which employs AI technology. Alternatively, you can hire a professional web designer through the Wix Marketplace to quickly get your graphic design portfolio up and running.
2. Pick a template or layout
Your website’s layout will lay the groundwork for your graphic design portfolio. Professional website templates can help you start making your own website, since the layout is already provided. You’ll generally start with an easy-to-use and customizable template that includes the pages and design elements you need.
Many platforms offer portfolio templates designed for the needs of self-creators and freelancers. Choose one that speaks to your personal and professional style, and upload your own content from there. A template is not set in stone, so you can delete design elements you don’t like—such as imagery, color or fonts—before you hit publish.
If you design a website from scratch, create the framework by deciding on your layout type. Symmetrical layouts are a popular choice for portfolio designs. If there was a vertical line running down your webpage, a symmetrical layout would imply that the visual weight is equal on both sides of that line.
But an asymmetrical layout can help create a sense of hierarchy, movement—or simply foster a unique composition that stands out from the rest—as seen in Juliette Van Rhyn’s site below. Van Rhyn says of her portfolio: “I wanted to develop a look and feel for my website that reflected the characteristics of my work; I opted for a playful, offbeat layout, using colors found in some of my posters. My aim was to make my website feel like one of my designs in its own right, to create a cohesive identity that gives a strong sense of what I offer as a designer.”
Although the arrangement of content may be different on each side with an asymmetrical layout, balance is achieved as long as the visual weight of elements is equal.
3. Find a domain name
Finding domain name is one prudent step toward launching your professional graphic design portfolio. A domain name is the address people type into a browser to reach a specific site, which will give your site some sharp branding, and make it easy for clients to recognize.
When choosing your domain name, keep it short and to-the-point. Designers and other creative professionals commonly use their first and last name for their domain. In the graphic design portfolio example below, Kath Anderson adds “design” to her domain name (www.kathandersondesign.com). This detail adds a personalized touch to the browsing experience and keeps the website on-brand.
Tip: If you want to give audiences a preview of your site to build the hype, consider making your domain live while it’s still in production and adding a website under construction page.
4. Showcase your best graphic design works
As a graphic designer, you probably have a diverse collection of works to show future clients. But one of the best design portfolio tips is to choose quality over quantity. When curating your graphic design portfolio, use your keen eye to hand-pick a selection of your best works that concisely represent your style.
Linda Baritski, aka Seasons of Victory, gives us a great curated online portfolio example. Highlighting her most recent designs across a diverse group of projects, Baritski keeps her portfolio relevant while showing off her range of skills.
5.Upload images to a gallery
Getting your work online requires uploading images to your graphic design portfolio and setting up a gallery. First, make sure you have high quality images of the works you want to show. While custom photography can be expensive, today’s mobile devices can fulfill many of your website’s photography needs–just make sure the photos look professional and the files are high-resolution.
Next, organize your examples into categories so visitors can easily find what they’re looking for. Look at the portfolio of Sonja Van Dulmen graphic design studio, for example: They’ve divided their work into four categories (“Art Direction & Branding,” “Digital Art,” “Website Development” and “Set Design”), making it easy for visitors to find work that matches their interests.
6. Describe your work
Portfolio websites contextualize the visuals for visitors. Add concise descriptions about each work included in your own graphic design portfolio, including at least the medium you worked in, the date and the client (if relevant). To further contextualize your project, especially personal ones, you can even add your inspirations for the project. Be sure to also include alt text for individual images, which is not only a key practice in web accessibility, but also optimizes your site for organic search. This text should concisely describe the content on your site to help visitors using screen readers.
In this portfolio example by Liron Eldar-Ashkenazi (aka Lirona) below, each gallery image includes titles that, once clicked on, open to a unique page with an in-depth project description. She uses this to note projects that received press recognition and award-winning designs, making sure clients can recognize her work at its best.
7. Customize your design
According to the latest web design statistics, design has a 75% influence over a website’s credibility, according to WebFX. So use your designer’s eye to give your online portfolio the most professional look and feel. Most importantly—give it personality to help it stand out. This means having a cohesive design, strong branded elements and, of course, providing visitors with a great user experience.
If you use a template, you could have everything you need for your site to function—but you’ll probably want to make visual adjustments to fit your work and personality. For example, you can replace your site’s color scheme, font and imagery style in your template with visual features more characteristic of your personal brand.
Ryan Haskin’s portfolio (shown below) really lets the graphic designer’s personality shine through. Haskin’s custom layout includes scrolling effects, bright vector art and animated visuals throughout the design to keep visitors engaged. On top of his “more-is-more” style, Haskin’s categorizes his portfolio galleries for a seamless user experience.
8. Use the best navigation practices
Whether it’s your contact details, portfolio gallery or your CV—make sure visitors can easily find what they’re looking for on your site. The best way to do this is adding a website menu as a central navigation point for your graphic design portfolio.
Typically, you’ll place this on your website’s header (at the very top of your site). When mapping out your menu, add the most important web pages of your portfolio or rather, the ones you want visitors to reach first. In the portfolio example below, Brad Albright’s organized website menu creates excellent user experience—it includes links to important pages and has a unique logo that directs back to his homepage in one click.
When adapting your design for mobile usage, consider condensing your menu design into a hamburger menu. Or, you might use this menu style from the get-go on your desktop version, like in Wendy Ju‘s graphic design portfolio. To save more screen real estate for her images, the designer places an easily-findable hamburger menu at the upper right hand corner of her site.
9. Include bio and contact details
While your work alone may sell potential clients, visitors to your graphic design portfolio will most likely want more information before they reach out. You can expand on your work by including an About page with your CV, bio or other details that shed light on your professional background and personality.
When making a professional portfolio, you always want to have contact details published, too. Once visitors decide they want to hire you, they should easily be able to find an email address or a contact form on your site to get in touch.
While Fernando Dominguez’s portfolio is extensive, the designer’s contact section is short and sweet—including an email address and links to his social media accounts in the website footer.
10. Publish and share
Now that you’ve covered these essential steps, it’s time to publish your graphic design portfolio. You may want to run through our website launch checklist, too—which includes 50 things to review before, during and after publishing to help your website live its best life.
Once it’s live, share your website with both your personal and professional networks, including: family, friends, colleagues and, of course, your social media followers.
By Jenna Romano
UX & Web Designer Expert, Writer