First things first: your professional portfolio should be an example of your best work, not a comprehensive time capsule. Instead, it should be is a sampling of your best work, throughout your career.
What Constitutes Your Best Work?
The specifics will vary by person, business, and industry, but in general, your best work should showcase your strengths, interests, and the best of what you can offer your clients. It can include major companies you’ve worked for, projects you’ve completed, designs you’ve created, and related endeavors you’re proud of. And, because these qualities will change throughout your career, your portfolio should be forever changing. Change is something we all do throughout our lives, and whether it’s personal, professional, philosophically, or political, this change and growth is inevitable. And, while inevitable, this change can be a great thing, because it encourages a fresh, new look for a business.
Curate Your Portfolio
As your professional skills and services grow and evolve, be sure to carefully cull or curate your portfolio. As you do this, think of your portfolio as a vegetable garden. To grow a healthy garden, you’ll first need to remove the weeds (no one, not even you, likes weeds…or the work it represents). Next, remove the competition, which means remove the densely packed vegetation that makes it hard for your strongest plants (a.k.a your best work) to survive and grow to its fullest potential.
Step 1: Remove the Weeds:
Remove any work from your online portfolio that you’re just not proud of. Whether it’s old or new, this work doesn’t need to be included in your body of work.
Step 2: Cull the Competition:
Your best work should be emphasized. Culling the competition involves removing portfolio pieces that no longer represent your skills, company, or services. Likewise, it’s removing the work that negatively distracts viewers from your best work. Keep only the work that makes you shine. If you simply must keep older, less applicable work, consider an archives collection or a “past work” section that shows viewers how far you’ve come. By only exhibiting your best work, your online portfolio is more visually manageable and less overwhelming. Plus, it allows you to control exactly what viewers see.
First Impressions, Long Lasting Power
When visitors first land on your website’s portfolio (or other examples of work completed or performed), it’s important for them to understand who you are, what you do, and what kind of work you’re looking for. A well-curated portfolio (and well-written content) should answer these questions in a quick but long-lasting manner. How do you create a long-lasting, powerfully curated portfolio? In a magical, utopian world, you make them feel it. Do what you can to let your brand’s look and energy ooze from every page, every photo, and every design decision. Make people remember who you are…who your company is. Bottom line: your online portfolio must efficiently show and tell viewers who you and your company are, and it needs to be done in a way that they remember for a long time. That being said, do everything you can to make your portfolio (and site) well-organized, beautiful, clean, and true to you.
What are your top tips for portfolio-building? Let us know in the comments!