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How to create your digital design portfolio

Whether you’re a graphic, digital, web – or maybe even UX/UI designer (the list goes on!) there’s a whole range of specialist skill sets out there in the design world.

Due to this, it can be quite tricky for potential employers to find out who is best suited to their business and who will match their creative ambitions. 

If you’re a budding designer who has recently graduated from University, try not to worry if your professional experience is somewhat limited. Even if it feels as though you don’t have a lot to showcase, there are still effective ways to demonstrate your skills. 

Here’s our free guide on how to put together your graphic design portfolio.

You don’t need a lot of work to have a strong portfolio

In fact, a mistake you could be making with your portfolio is relying purely on examples of your work. Whether freelance or what you’ve designed while employed; it’s likely that particular work has been briefed with some form of guidance (brand guidelines or a strong steer on your client’s preferences) and says little about your individual design and brand preferences.

Therefore, the ability to get your creative potential across to a prospective employer is quite tricky, especially if you’ve worked for big brands with a strict set of guidelines or maybe a marketing manager who is set on what they want. 

How to work around this dilemma

If you are limited to only the type of work mentioned above, make an effort to display it in a visually creative way that’s more suited to your personal taste. 

You can demonstrate all assets to a certain campaign and then add your own commentary to them to inject some personal perspective.

You can talk about:

  • The brief
  • How you interpreted, challenged or changed the brief
  • What you decided to do and your reasons behind the creative decision
  • How the campaign performed and feedback you received

All of the above will give the viewer a much better understanding of not only your creative skills – but how you think and work.

Your CV & portfolio are your biggest opportunities to really stand out

Before potential employers look at your work, they should already know your style by the way you have chosen to design your CV and portray yourself through the information provided; your key skills, personal bio/statement and how you represent yourself as an excellent asset to any team. 

Remember, you are your own brand – so write your own guidelines. Describe your own USP and set your own design limitations.

The best portfolio, through clever wording and an innovative layout, can portray personal branding that has an enormous amount of style and creativity – even if in fact, the examples of your work are limited in their creative freedom. 

Once you’ve completed your portfolio, host it

You won’t believe the number of clients who have a certain size of inbox limit and/or are not able to access download links such as WeTransfer. 

We always recommend that you put your CV or portfolio onto a web address or a locally hosted (offline, private) link. By doing this, you will demonstrate your skills in basic web design and this format can be easily updated to include or remove work.

Online hosting

There are plenty of free hosting sites you can use, such as Wix or Figma. The free versions of these apps will allow you to host on one of their URLs if you are not in a position to buy a domain. In paid versions, you can easily shorten or customise the URL as you prefer. The plus of this option is that there’s more chance for someone to come across your work online.

Offline hosting

Alternatively, programs such as Adobe XD will allow you to create your own portfolio site completely from scratch. You can then share a private link which doesn’t require an active web URL or hosting fees – and only recipients you choose to share this with can access it.

Final advice

If you do decide to stick with a PDF, make sure all of your hyperlinks work, especially the ones to your portfolio or email address. It may sound obvious, but even if your design skills are strong, mistakes like this will really reflect on your attention to detail in the design world!

Remember to look at your portfolio as a piece of design work in itself – it can really help you to stand out from the competition and represent yourself exactly as you wish to be seen.

Work with Distinct

At Distinct, our recruitment specialists match professionals to their ideal creative opportunities across the UK. If you’re searching for your perfect design or marketing role, contact us today to learn how we can support you. In the meantime, you can also browse the latest roles on our jobs board.

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