5 Tips for Creating a Design Portfolio That Gets You Noticed

5 Tips for Creating a Design Portfolio That Gets You Noticed

For freelance designers, finding work is all about being able to prove yourself to potential clients. One thing that plays a key role in this process is compiling a digital portfolio.

How can you make sure your portfolio stands out amidst the thousands of others online? Start by doing the following 5 things:


1. Use the Power of Contrast

Your portfolio – not just the work in the portfolio – needs to make a visual statement. Do something unique, don’t just paste images on a web page and slap in a header that reads “My Portfolio.” Get creative and use your skills to design something unique.

This portfolio from Website It Up is a fantastic example. Notice how they use the contrast of a grey background to help their designs stand out. The header is also unique, featuring jagged lines and clean breaks.


2. Be Selective in What You Feature

You have complete control over your portfolio, so don’t get pressured into including things you don’t want. “I’ve found that what you put in your portfolio for people to view, you get in return,” says designer Liz Grant. “So if you don’t want a certain type of client, don’t show that type of work in your portfolio. Also, show the best of what you have, you don’t need to show it all. People have short attention spans, especially on the web, so show your best first – don’t make them dig through tons of projects to find it.”

If you do want to show a lot of work, start with your best at the top and then gradually fade out with your less impressive work. Most people won’t make it to the bottom of your portfolio, so it’s a waste to put quality work at the end.


3. Show Diversity and Flexibility

While you should never include a design that you aren’t interested in replicating, it is a good idea to exhibit diversity and flexibility. Clients want designers who can take on a variety of projects, as opposed to needing multiple designers for each project they have.

You can study a great example of this by checking out Studio Schurk. As an animation studio, they produce a lot of different types of work, and they aren’t afraid to feature it all for prospective clients to see.


4. Feature Case Studies

A picture is worth a thousand words, but that doesn’t mean you need to cut out the text altogether. In addition to featuring images of your work, it’s a smart idea to include a couple of case studies. These case studies can explain the scope of the project and provide tangible data points that exhibit the return on investment the client received. Large businesses find case studies especially valuable, and you can increase your credibility by featuring them.

5. Rely on Quality Over Quantity

As is the case in just about every aspect of business, quality is preferred over quantity. If you only have five designs, but two of them are terrible, don’t feel like you have to include them all, just for the sake of filling up space. A client is much more likely to hire you if they see three high-quality examples, as opposed to three high-quality examples and two terrible examples. More is not always better. It’s often worse.

Let Your Profile Shine

Your design portfolio is supposed to show prospective clients your best work and highlight the various skills that you bring to the table. Make sure you’re doing yourself justice by compiling a portfolio that’s compelling and worthwhile.

Any investment in this aspect of your freelance career will benefit you in the long run.

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Larry Alton

Business Consultant

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Last Updated on February 15, 2019

7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

Now that 2011 is well underway and most people have fallen off the bandwagon when it comes to their New Year’s resolutions (myself included), it’s a good time to step back and take an honest look at our habits and the goals that we want to achieve.

Something that I have learned over the past few years is that if you track something, be it your eating habits, exercise, writing time, work time, etc. you become aware of the reality of the situation. This is why most diet gurus tell you to track what you eat for a week so you have an awareness of the of how you really eat before you start your diet and exercise regimen.

Tracking daily habits and progress towards goals is another way to see reality and create a way for you clearly review what you have accomplished over a set period of time. Tracking helps motivate you too; if I can make a change in my life and do it once a day for a period of time it makes me more apt to keep doing it.

So, if you have some goals and habits in mind that need tracked, all you need is a tracking tool. Today we’ll look at 7 different tools to help you keep track of your habits and goals.

Joe’s Goals



    Joe’s Goals is a web-based tool that allows users to track their habits and goals in an easy to use interface. Users can add as many goals/habits as they want and also check multiple times per day for those “extra productive days”. Something that is unique about Joe’s Goals is the way that you can keep track of negative habits such as eating out, smoking, etc. This can help you visualize the good things that you are doing as well as the negative things that you are doing in your life.

    Joe’s Goals is free with a subscription version giving you no ads and the “latest version” for $12 a year.



      is an in depth way of counting things that you do during the day and then presenting them to you in many different reports and groups. With Daytum you can add several different items to different custom categories such as work, school, home, etc. to keep track of your habits in each focus area of your life.


      Daytum is extremely in depth and there are a ton of settings for users to tweak. There is a free version that is pretty standard, but if you want more features and unlimited items and categories you’ll need Daytum Plus which is $4 a month.

      Excel or Numbers

        If you are the spreadsheet number cruncher type and the thought of using someone else’s idea of how you should track your habits turns you off, then creating your own Excel/Numbers/Google spreadsheet is the way to go. Not only do you have pretty much limitless ways to view, enter, and manipulate your goal and habit data, but you have complete control over your stuff and can make it private.

        What’s nice about spreadsheets is you can create reports and can customize your views in any way you see fit. Also, by using Dropbox, you can keep your tracker sheets anywhere you have a connection.



          I must admit, I am an Evernote junky, mostly because this tool is so ubiquitous. There are several ways you can implement habit/goal tracking with Evernote. You won’t be able to get nifty reports and graphs and such, but you will be able to access your goal tracking anywhere your are, be it iPhone, Android, Mac, PC, or web. With Evernote you pretty much have no excuse for not entering your daily habit and goal information as it is available anywhere.

          Evernote is free with a premium version available.

          Access or Bento

            If you like the idea of creating your own tracker via Excel or Numbers, you may be compelled to get even more creative with database tools like Access for Windows or Bento for Mac. These tools allow you to set up relational databases and even give you the option of setting up custom interfaces to interact with your data. Access is pretty powerful for personal database applications, and using it with other MS products, you can come up with some pretty awesome, in depth analysis and tracking of your habits and goals.

            Bento is extremely powerful and user friendly. Also with Bento you can get the iPhone and iPad app to keep your data anywhere you go.


            You can check out Access and the Office Suite here and Bento here.

            Analog Bonus: Pen and Paper

            All these digital tools are pretty nifty and have all sorts of bells and whistles, but there are some people out there that still swear by a notebook and pen. Just like using spreadsheets or personal databases, pen and paper gives you ultimate freedom and control when it comes to your set up. It also doesn’t lock you into anyone else’s idea of just how you should track your habits.


            I can’t necessarily recommend which tool is the best for tracking your personal habits and goals, as all of them have their quirks. What I can do however (yes, it’s a bit of a cop-out) is tell you that the tool to use is whatever works best for you. I personally keep track of my daily habits and personal goals with a combo Evernote for input and then a Google spreadsheet for long-term tracking.

            What this all comes down to is not how or what tool you use, but finding what you are comfortable with and then getting busy with creating lasting habits and accomplishing short- and long-term goals.

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