Key Elements of a Great Online Portfolio

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Category: Design, Portfolios

Individuals and organizations working within a creative industry will need to have an online portfolio or gallery of their work. In today’s online marketplace there’s just no way around it. Potential clients will expect to be able to view previous work online. This is an important part of their deciding to work with one agency over another. However, it’s not enough to just have an online portfolio – it’s essential to have a great online portfolio. This post details how to ensure your portfolio is at its best.


It’s important that the design of your portfolio reflects your work and shares a similar look and feel to rest of your site. Continuity between the different areas of your site is essential to keep users aware that the are on the same website. It’s also important that your portfolio’s design doesn’t take away from or overpower the work that’s being showcased.

Relevancy of content

A very important element of each sample within your portfolio is how relevant it is to your service offering. If you offer a service on your site that has a visual outcome, your portfolio should have samples of this within it. This works both ways, if you don’t offer a particular service then it can be confusing to your audience if you have samples within your portfolio. Syncing your services with your portfolio’s organization and content is a great way of helping users find the samples of your work that they feel is relative to their needs.


How you organize your portfolio can greatly affect how a visitor is going to view your work. Breaking your portfolio down into categories makes it easier for users to sort through your work. We chose to limit the number of samples that we showcase within our portfolio, so organization wasn’t an issue, however if you wish to show a large amount of projects – categorization is a good idea.

Clear and legible

Ensuring that each portfolio sample is easy to see is very important. When working with images, make sure they’re large enough to display your work well. Also, make sure that you’re using a good balance between file size and quality when optimizing images for the web. Images of work should be crisp and easy to see.

If you choose to include descriptive content, does it clearly communicate all aspects of the project? Don’t assume that a potential client will know that all elements of a project were completed by you or not. Be clear and descriptive but also try to keep things brief. For longer more in-depth information, you may wish to create a Case Studies section within your site or blog.

Easy to navigate

A portfolio needs to be easy to use, no mysteries or hidden content if you wish for potential clients to view it. A few good questions to ask yourself are:

  • Is it easy to navigate from project to project?
  • Is it easy to see all samples within a project?
  • If you’re using thumbnails do they clearly represent what they link to?
  • If your samples are displaying over other content are they easy to close?
  • Are you using clean and friendly URLs for your portfolio? A good example of this would be: – friendly URLs make for easier link sharing too!

Being able to answer yes to the above questions will ensure that your site’s visitors will be able to easily navigate your portfolio and find what they are looking for.

Current content

Lastly it’s important to keep your portfolio as current as possible. Set aside time after every project and add it to your site, or send the information off to your web designer for inclusion within your portfolio.

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