Design Portfolio: Tips, Hacks, and the Recipe to Get Noticed

We did a deep dive into portfolio design that includes best practices, simple tips, and awesome examples to help you level up your own portfolio design.

If you're creative, you probably will need a design portfolio. Having a well-curated collection of your best work is crucial for making a great impression on potential employers. A strong portfolio can be the difference between getting your dream design job or missing out.

How to get noticed with your design portfolio

This article will cover ten foundational tips for creating a knockout portfolio design that gets you noticed. From curation to layout to branding, we'll explore best practices for crafting an impactful and memorable design portfolio. Plus, you can dive into some of the best design portfolio examples, UX design portfolio examples, and other creative portfolio examples to help inspire you.

1. Curate ruthlessly

Begin by being extremely selective about which pieces you include in your design portfolio. For personal branding purposes, we advise only including your best work that highlight your design skills and experience. In other words, a nicely curated portfolio is better than including filler pieces that might lower the overall quality.

Selecting your best work

  • Go through your entire portfolio of design projects and separate your top 5-10 best pieces.
  • Get objective feedback from other designers, colleagues, or even design mentors on which projects they feel are your strongest
  • Look for work samples that solved a tricky design challenge in an innovative way.
  • Prioritize including highly polished, exceptional final results over rough works-in-progress.

Tailoring your curation

  • If you're looking for a user experience design role, curate more user research, wireframes, and prototypes
  • For a graphic design portfolio, highlight your best branding projects, packaging designs, visual designs, etc.
  • Customize and refine your curation for each company/role you interview for.

An example of curated portfolio design

Active Theories portfolio website is a complete experience. But what makes it stand out is the impressive body of work the creator highlights. While they could add plenty more examples of beautiful projects, they choose to show visitors only the best of their work.

A snapshot of Active Theories online design portfolio
A stunning design portfolio from Active Theories.

2. Tell a visual story

Don't just show images - use your portfolio to narrate your creative process and thinking behind each project. This narrative can include mood boards, sketches, works-in-progress, and explanations of your design decisions. Telling this visual story draws the viewer in and provides valuable context.

Crafting your project narratives

  • Map out the creative journey for 2-3 anchor projects you'll feature more in-depth as case studies.
  • Start with initial imagination and research, explaining how you defined the problem and objectives.
  • Progress through key milestones like mood boards, style exploration, and iterative development.
  • Showcase how you utilized user testing, feedback, and made design decisions.
  • Conclude with visuals of the final results (if possible).

Ways to present your story

  • Create dedicated case study pages that guide viewers through each step.
  • For a PDF or website portfolio, use descriptions, annotations, and callouts alongside visuals.
  • On a print or tablet portfolio, consider including separate process materials like sketchbooks.

An example of a design portfolio that tells a story

Devanta Ebison's portfolio immediately catches the eye and draws visitors in. It also tells a story of his work experience and how it contributes to his skills. Another small but important detail is how easy it is to find his contact information.

Devanta Ebison's homepage of his online design portfolio.
Devanta Ebison's design portfolio.

3. Make a landing page for your portfolio with AI

You should have your portfolio available in multiple formats. This includes a PDF portfolio, website or online portfolio platform, and even an iPad or tablet version.

However, a high-quality landing page portfolio is one of the most easy and impactful ways to show your work. This is especially true if you have a design portfolio template to quickly accelerate this part of your workflow.

Another excellent aspect of using AI to generate a portfolio is that you don't need to use any coding. So, if you need a web designer portfolio, industrial design portfolio, or game design portfolio, you can easily do that without knowing any code.

Let AI generate your design portfolio

  • Use AI tools like Musho and Lummi to accelerate your workflow.
  • Let the robots design most of the landing page, and you put the finishing touches.
  • Use good prompts to help generate the best and most accurate landing pages.

Find inspiration for your portfolio design

  • Check out other landing pages to get your portfolio design ideas flowing.
  • For another level of inspiration, study other designers' portfolios.
  • Experiment more with Musho and create more generations.

An example of a portfolio made with Musho

Musho AI generated this design portfolio within a matter of seconds from a simple prompt. Product's like Musho show how AI can create high-quality designs and save people tons of time with their workflow.

An example of a design portfolio made with Musho.
One of many design portfolios made with Musho.

4. Design a cohesive brand experience

Your portfolio design should reflect a cohesive, well-designed brand experience. This includes everything from your visuals, layouts and other aspects like font choices, color palettes, and graphic elements. Treating your portfolio domains like a client brand identity project can add professionalism to your work.

Defining your design portfolio's brand

  • Establish a distinct visual style and set of branding guidelines.
  • Choose 1-2 brand fonts that are both aesthetic and highly legible.
  • Use a signature color palette that's tasteful and consistent.
  • Develop a cohesive design system for layout grids, headers, graphics, and more.
  • Consider introducing a personal logo, monogram, or signature "mark" as well.

Applying your brand voice and tone

  • In addition to just visuals, you should always reflect your brand voice and tone.
  • For example, are you going for polished and buttoned-up or more casual and playful?
  • Make sure your design philosophy and personality shine through in how you write about your work.

An example of a design portfolio with voice and tone

Paula Wrzecionowska does an excellent job of maintaining a brand tone and voice on her web portfolio.

Create portfolios with a cohesive brand experience.

Plus, It's easy to see her attention to detail in maintaining her aesthetics and creative direction.

5. Guide the viewer

Use straightforward navigation, sections, and visual hierarchy to arrange your portfolio in a logical, easy-to-follow sequence. This might include separating different types of work into separate categories. The goal is to guide the viewer's experience rather than overwhelm them.

Structuring your navigation

  • Make sure to break down each section and category like Branding, UX/UI, Illustrations, and whatever else is necessary.
  • Use a simple and clear primary navigation on all browsers/devices
  • Within project case studies, establish a consistent content structure and taxonomy
  • Can incorporate nested navigation for subsections if your content demands it

Designing a transparent visual hierarchy

  • Implement intentional use of heading sizes, font weights, colors, and whitespace
  • For example, lead with a bold project title, followed by challenges, then process
  • Use visible dividers, spacing, and containers to group related content
  • Focus on creating logical, intuitive paths for how viewers consume your work

An example of a design portfolio with structure

A great example of a portfolio with hierarchy is Oğuz Yağız Kara's. The eyes intuitively glide across the design, and it's easy to distinguish between sections. The portfolio is also easy to navigate between his projects and get a sense of his skills.

This is a design portfolio example that showcases hierarchy and structured navigation.
Always try to guide your viewer through your design.

6. Prioritize quality over quantity

While you want to include enough examples to demonstrate your skills, don't overload your portfolio with so many projects. Carefully editing yourself is critical, and you should prioritize featuring 5-10 of your most impressive, high-quality projects.

This isn't just UX design portfolio tips or graphic design portfolio tips, but applies to all portfolios.

When to stop adding more projects

  • Condense multiple smaller projects together into an abridged overview.
  • As you accumulate experience, be decisive about swapping in new work for older pieces.
  • Follow the rule: If it doesn't excite you and showcase your best abilities, cut it.
  • Aim for a portfolio compact enough that viewers make it through everything.
  • Showcasing skills with fewer projects

    • Within each main project, share diverse visual artifacts and finished projects.
    • For example, include illustrations, icons, marketing assets, and more under a branding case study.
    • You can still hint at your range while keeping your total portfolio focused.

    An example of a design portfolio with quality over quantity

    Christina Kosik creates a design portfolio that presents a visually engaging and modern approach. Her work is a great example of a design portfolio that highlights quality over quantity.

    Christina Kosik's design portfolio.
    More quality examples over lots of projects.

    While she only chooses to display a few projects, each example of her work is exciting and invites viewers to explore more.

    7. Make your portfolio memorable

    Your portfolio design should make a memorable impression that reflects your unique design skills and creative perspective. You can show this through distinctive styling choices, innovative layouts, and compelling storytelling. In other words, find ways to make your portfolio stand out as a one-of-a-kind glimpse into your design talents.

    Keys for designing a memorable experience

    • Showcase your most conceptual, creative, or thought-provoking projects upfront.
    • Tell personal stories that provide rich context around your inspirations and design journey.
    • Add surprising, delightful details that reinforce your brand personality.
    • Always consider going beyond just showcasing pleasing visuals - make it an immersive experience.
    • Get experimental with cutting-edge design techniques, interactions, or presentation formats.

    Finding the balance between memorable and legible

    • While aiming for a lasting impression, don't let your creativity overshadow showcasing your work.
    • Strike the right balance between being tastefully unique versus gimmicky or distracting.
    • Let your innovative design solutions speak for themselves first.
    • Any extra creative flair should elevate and support your overall presentation.

    An example of a memorable design portfolio

    Bruno Simon's portfolio is one of the most memorable we've seen. The creative use of 3D-rendered graphics makes it an eye catching experience that engages visitors from the first moment. Instead of just flat images, those little window displays give it a playful, almost toy-like vibe. Lastly, it is a excellent example of interaction design.

    Bruno Simon's 3D animated design portfolio.
    Bruno Simon's portfolio is a memorable experience.

    8. Showcase your versatility

    If you have experience across diverse design disciplines you should consider creating separate portfolios for each category. Or include a few diverse pieces to hint at your versatile skill set.

    Dedicated portfolios

    • For designers who are equally skilled and want to pursue multiple disciplines.
    • Create distinct and focused portfolios for each practice area.
    • For example, a branding portfolio, UX/UI portfolio, and motion portfolio.
    • These allow you to cater to ideal project types, case studies, and storytelling for each.

    Mixed portfolios

    • If you want to pursue one main creative path but have additional experience
    • Can feature your highest priority work first, with briefer "additional skills" sections
    • For example, devoting 70% to UX case studies, then 30% branding and packaging samples
    • Ensures your versatility is highlighted while not distracting from your strongest selling point

    An example of a portfolio that highlights skillsets

    This portfolio design effectively highlights the designer's skills through a clean, well-organized layout. The surrounding sections detail the designer's critical skills like product design, sketching, and languages. This structure gives you an overview of their capabilities.

    An example of a design portfolio that highlights lots of skills.
    Employers often like to see a high range of skills.

    Additionally, the timeline quickly conveys the breadth of their real world experience. This timeline includes everything from internships and competitions to higher education and freelancing roles.

    9. Design for your audience

    Tailor your portfolio design and content to effectively speak to your target audience. Let the type of work you feature and how you present it align with what your ideal job/clients would value most.

    Additionally, design portfolio examples for students should also include work for potential clients.

    Understanding your audience's needs

    • Research typical roles, skills, and day-to-day responsibilities for your targetted positions.
    • For example, an in-house brand design role vs. freelance digital agency work.
    • A good practice for UX designers is highlighting user research, wireframes, and prototypes.
    • Print portfolios for packaging designers should be highly visual and tactile.

    Adjusting your presentation approach

    • Do brands value powerful storytelling and unique ideas the most?
    • Do you need to demonstrate specific technical skills and workflow mastery?
    • Adapt how much supporting content vs. final visuals you feature accordingly.
    • For design-savvy reviewers, you can be more minimalist in your case studies.
    • For non-designers or broader stakeholders, provide more context

    An example of a portfolio for a specific audience

    If you work in a specific field, you should design and highlight your work based on their interests. This portfolio example targets viewers interested in a specific style.

    An example of a portfolio made with Musho.

    10. Update it regularly

    Your portfolio should be an evergreen labor of love that you regularly update with new work over time. Revise, swap out older projects, tweak the design - keep it fresh and accurately represent your latest skills and experience.

    Reviewing and refreshing regularly

    • Schedule portfolio reviews every 6-12 months to make revisions.
    • Cut anything that looks out of date, detracts from your current expertise, or is no longer in your top portfolio pieces.
    • Update with any significant new and notable projects you're proud of.
    • Tweak sections like your bio, about page, and any other dated information.

    Extending your portfolio's lifecycle

    • As your portfolio design and brand matures, avoid entirely redesigning or restarting from scratch.
    • Iterative redesigns can allow you to retain your core portfolio structure and identity.
    • You can expand by building additional portfolio volumes or separate smaller case study pieces year to year.
    • This approach keeps your existing foundation while also remaining evergreen.

    An example of a portfolio that stays updated

    Pablo Stanley constantly creates new and exciting projects, and his portfolio keeps up with his latest work. This real-time update gives viewers a quick way to see his latest ideas instead of having to search through multiple websites.

    A section of Pablo Stanley's portfolio.
    Pablo Stanley's portfolio is constantly being updated.

    Go out and shine with your design portfolio

    A well-designed portfolio is one of the most critical assets for any creative professional. It acts as a curated showcase of your abilities and the first impression that potential employers, clients, or collaborators will have of your work.

    In such a visual and competitive industry, investing time and effort into quality portfolio design can make all the difference in helping you truly stand out from the crowd.

    It all starts with a landing page. Read more.