April 20, 2024

Show, don't tell

Show, don’t tell — create sites that do the talking for you. Advice from a seasoned web designer on how to design and build a portfolio site that will dazzle clients.

Shine a bright spotlight on your work

When Marco was leaving his last job and looking to transition into a new role, he realized that he was in desperate need of a new portfolio. Though building a new one felt straightforward enough, he didn’t feel like he had produced enough relevant product design work — and his application would get lost in the shuffle.

To combat this, he decided to lean into what he had the most experience in — which was building Webflow websites. He then leveraged these skills to prominently showcase relevant product design work he had done.

For Marco, this meant creating interactive elements to allow people to experience his past designs. For example, to showcase a food delivery app project, Marco’s portfolio allows users to click through an interactive prototype of the design and experience it first-hand. In addition — Marco also includes an information section where you can read a case study about the design, tools used to build, and the background information.

He urges other designers and developers to emphasize past experiences beyond just a quick screenshot and blurb because doing so is key to “show” what you can do as a designer or creative. This means building in site experiences that highlight your talents and position  you positively to hiring managers or potential clients.

Highlight who you are as a person

Beyond the products, Marco also wanted to tell site visitors to his site about him as a person. So in his “About section,” he also built a grid of elements that visitors could interact with — this time with some of his favorite things. Some highlights include music that he’s currently listening to, his favorite podcasts, what he’s tweeting currently, and even some of his recent photography he’s taken on his iPhone.

He even created a contact form that looks like iMessage so people can get in touch with him. When the form is filled out, it actually sends a text message directly to Marco’s phone and he can respond via text — so the conversation both aesthetically feels more personal and is more personal in practice.

Many designers and creatives often go for the standard “about” section that emphasizes professional accomplishments. Though that’s important, by highlighting who you are as a person — your interests, likes, even dislikes — he believes you create an opportunity to add a human element to your professional life. In your portfolio, you’re trying to reach people who you might be working with closely over large spans of time, so his advice to other designers is to let them get to know you and allow your personality shine through.