A portfolio should include examples of your best work, the work you are proud of, and the work that best demonstrates your skills. But Web designers and Web developers have special needs for their portfolios - especially if you want to show off your programming, Flash, or dynamic HTML skills. So the first step in deciding what should go in your portfolio is to decide how you're going to maintain your portfolio:
- Print or hard copy This is the traditional form of a portfolio. If you are doing graphic design as well as Web design, many employers and clients will expect to see hard copies of your portfolio. Having a hard copy portfolio is also helpful for in-person interviews, you can bring it with you and display your work right away.
- Online Most Web design portfolios are online. If you do a lot of programming, Flash, or dynamic HTML, an online portfolio is the only way you can showcase your skills so that employers and clients can see it in action.
Always Use Only Your Best Work
If you have a lot of items to choose from, choose at most 5 to 10 items to put in your portfolio. It can be very tempting to put everything you've done or even everything you like a lot, but the reality is that nobody is going to look at the pieces beyond 5 to 10. More than that and you risk the client or employer getting bored with the portfolio.
Don't use anything you're not happy with, even if the client was pleased. If you have reservations about a project or wanted to make changes that were not approved by the client, those qualms will be apparent when you discuss it with new clients. You want to use items that you are excited about, that make you happy, and that show off. This is not a time to be modest.
What to Include in a Web Design Portfolio
- Complete websites Whenever possible, you should include a copy of the complete website in your online portfolio. Make a copy of the files and place them on your own Web server. You never know when a client is going to change the site, so pointing to their website is risky, unless you still work for them. Always get permission. I recommend having a clause in your contracts that you can store a copy of your work on your personal server for use in your portfolio.
- Screen shots of Web pages If you can't get the complete site for your portfolio, be sure to take a screen shot of your work once it's live. The screen shot should include the entire browser window, including the site URL. This shows your clients that the site was live.
- High resolution images If you did graphic design work you should save high resolution versions of your images for your portfolio. Remember that even if the image is only used on the Web, if you have a print copy of your portfolio, high resolution images look better than images at Web resolution.