Digital Designers

How Digital Designers Can Manage Their Virtual Portfolio

As a digital designer, you’re likely to be focused on any one of several major areas. Whether your chosen niche is photo-editing, web design, print layouts, advertising, or logo design, one thing is certainly true:

People expect a lot out of you!

Not only do you need to have a sense of how to catch the eye of the viewer, use color, and utilize effective placement, you are also expected to have deep understanding of current technology. This makes your virtual portfolio even more important than similar portfolios are for other artistic fields. Here are some simple tips on managing your portfolio.

Show Your Masterpieces

One of the most common questions about setting up a virtual portfolio is how many images should be present. While some of the more extreme designers show as many as a hundred different pieces, this tends to overwhelm viewers. The best number of pieces to show off falls between one and two dozen. As such, you should only be showing your very best work.

If you don’t have at least a dozen pieces that you’re really proud of, take the time to create some before you begin.

Share in!

Some communities to share in to let your portfolio be seen?

Use Attractive Design

If you work in the web design field, chances are that you’re building your own site, and that it will look absolutely gorgeous. However, if you’re not familiar with CSS, HTML, Javascript, and so forth, you may want to consider hiring an expert to do this for you. An attractive design serves to bring your work into focus. Advanced tools like Lightbox 2 galleries are also advisable.

Retain Rights

When you contract with new clients, discuss the rights you’re retaining with your creative work. Almost no one will have an issue with a small portion of the contract that specifies that you retain the right to use the work in your portfolio. However, taking this simple precaution can prevent a huge headache down the line.

Keep Your Portfolio Updated

Look through your work at the end of each month to see if there’s anything new you would like to add. In order to make sure this process is easy, keep your images in cloud storage. This gives you well-organized access from anywhere that you have internet access, and it also dodges the risk of computer failure.

Try to add at least a couple new things to your portfolio every few months. That way, returning visitors will have something fresh to look at.

It Doesn’t Have to Be Perfect

Digital designers are more prone to perfectionism than many other creative professionals. While this portfolio is a representation of who you are in the field, it doesn’t need to be flawless. Do your best to meet all the standards above, but realize that it’s better to have something out there than to have a giant void because you’re “still not ready.”

While a portfolio may be challenging to build, manage, and maintain, it can also be an emblem of pride. After all, this calculated demonstration of your abilities serves as a superbly beautiful foundation to the rest of your work.

Image Credit: pablobarra

Jennifer Williams is a writer, turned traveler, turned blogger who is learning and explorer her new found love for the social media and blogging industry.


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{ 23 comments… add one }
  • Brett Widmann February 9, 2011, 9:11 pm

    This is a really interesting article. Thank you.

  • John Endicott February 4, 2011, 3:48 pm

    I think the best piece of advice on this thread is to keep the virtual portfolio under 50 pieces. I don’t believe that someone is going to sit down and scroll through more than 10 photos before they pass final judgment on what they think about the artist.

  • TJ McDowell November 8, 2010, 10:56 pm

    I definitely agree that with portfolios it can be easy to have too many pictures. One other thing to consider though is that you may want to have more than one portfolio to showcase different styles of work.

  • Murlu November 2, 2010, 8:57 pm

    Any of the gallery sites are really great to submit to as well because you can pick up backlinks and show off your work to a lot of other designers to build that credibility 🙂

  • Jasmine November 1, 2010, 2:32 am

    I think these days it’s very important for designers to have a digital portfolio to showcase some of their work. With this they will get more exposure.

  • Karan Labra October 30, 2010, 11:44 pm

    I aspire to be a graphic designer and I really believe that the information I got from this very post, will provide me immense knowledge to get out my designs in the best way possible.

  • Gabriele Maidecchi October 30, 2010, 3:45 pm

    I would like to particularly stress the “Retain rights” point. Many designers really forget about this part, and that’s silly ’cause the client usually has no issue with that, and you really need a portfolio. Nice tips.

  • Kimi October 30, 2010, 9:15 am

    Hey Jennifer,

    I haven’t put any portfolios yet, and i guess that’s not my thing, because i am not a designer .

    But these days, a lot of people “lie” about stuff on the Internet, including the portfolio.

    But indeed for coming clients, it is worth to put portfolio section in our sites, since they will look for examples of our works.

    Great point.

    • Jennifer Williams November 1, 2010, 7:18 pm

      I agree, even having a “portfolio” of your writing, or anything else business related that you can share, is extremely important.

  • Rahul October 29, 2010, 7:44 pm

    i really was ignoring this and it seems very interesting here since it’s clear and very well written , i really share the fact People expect a lot out of you! evrything was smartly said !! great 😉

  • Alex October 29, 2010, 4:09 pm

    If you are a graphic designer have a super slick design it’s a must in my opinion. I can compare it with a fitness trainer, if some fat 300 pounds man would come to me and tell me do this to get thinner I would be like, why don;t you do it, it seems like you need it.

    Presentation is key in the graphics world, if you can make a stunning design for your presentation it will for sure capture more eyes then a dull design. And people will always tend to believe what they see then believing what they read.

    • Isabel Rodrigues - Pro Blogger Journey October 30, 2010, 10:09 pm

      I totally agree presentation is key. If you present there is 99% chance of getting best possible outcome.

    • Jennifer Williams November 1, 2010, 7:21 pm

      A gripping visual presentation can help your reputation exceed you. Someone might see your work before they actually know who you are, and it can be a strong brand representation!

  • Hung October 29, 2010, 3:54 pm

    I sew some designer with portfolio is very good but after working with him, the service is not good as his presentation

    • Jennifer Williams November 1, 2010, 7:22 pm

      Yeah this happens occasionally. sometimes its best to initially have a designer draft you out a demo design of what he could do to see what his “real” levels are at.

  • Dave Doolin October 29, 2010, 1:12 pm

    Yes, retaining a right to use in portfolio is critical. In the past, I’ve not insisted on this a priori, and it’s much, much more difficult to get permission after the work is finished. The client doesn’t even have to answer your email to say either yes or no.

    These days, I obtain agreement – before starting work – that I’m able to list the client in my portfolio.

    • Jennifer Williams October 29, 2010, 3:33 pm

      I agree! A lot of clients don’t wish to have the relationship revealed, and unfortunately won’t grant permission if it’s not given right from the get go. Transparency with clients is always best- outright asking is the best way 🙂

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