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Welcome to Episode 1 of ‘Ask PSD.FanExtra’, our new weekly post series!
Each week readers can leave a question in the comments to each Ask PSD.FanExtra post, and I’ll pick my favorite to answer the following week. If you have a design-related question you’d like answering simply leave a comment to this post.
This week’s question is from: Pablo
A great question to start off the series! This question is actually harder than it appears at first.
The classic answer to this question is ‘only show your best work’. This is certainly true, it’s always better to show a handful of your best projects than to show anything you’ve ever worked on. You should also narrow down your portfolio to your more recent designs. It always looks a little strange to have a portfolio of outdated designs from 9-10 years ago.
I would generally advise a minimum of 4-5 projects/designs and a maximum of 15-20. Too few designs and you run the risk of appearing inexperienced. Too many designs and you can overwhelm your viewers, appear indecisive suffer from ‘portfolio bloat’.
So that’s the basic stuff covered: Choose a handful of your best, fairly recent designs.
However, I’m afraid that’s the tip of the iceberg. When you’re out looking for new clients, or trying to shape a personal brand for yourself, you should definitely consider some of the following questions:
The answers to these questions should drastically shape the type of work you’re displaying. For example, are you looking to move to working with higher-end clients? Are you interested in pursuing more logo design work than web design work?
If you’re looking to land multiple smaller clients to bang out several logo designs then you should display more logo designs in your portfolio. If you’re looking to land some larger projects with high-end clients then focus on displaying your more complex/complete web projects for your more reputable past clients.
The ultimate question to ask yourself is ‘what does each project say about me as a designer?’. Sounds like a simple question, but try sitting down and go through each project in your portfolio. Try jotting down a list of words next to each design that you think define that work. This can really help finding the right combination of works to display.
Try to view your potential works from the clients perspective. Will your potential clients know any of the companies that you have worked with in the past? If they will then it might be a good idea to display these works. Whenever I view someone’s portfolio if they’ve designed a website that I’ve used in the past I feel an instant rapport with them, and want to delve further into their portfolio.
As a designer myself I have a whole range of past projects to choose from. However, I’d get a largely different response depending on the works I displayed. To have a lack of political correctness for a second, if I displayed the only ‘girlier’ works, I probably wouldn’t be attracting many male clients. If I displayed the works for creative/trendy firms (film studios, skateboard companies, music production companies etc…) then this may alienate some of the more corporate potential clients. However remember, if this is the type of client you want to attract, that’s fine. Not everyone wants to or can attract Fortune 500 clients!
Tom is the founder of PSDFAN. He loves writing tutorials, learning more about design and interacting with the community. On a more interesting note he can also play guitar hero drunk with his teeth.
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