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Portfolios: Common Mistakes

What steps can you take to ensure your portfolio makes a great impression?  Portfolios are like the designer’s calling card. Standing in lieu of you, the designer is a website that could mean the difference between a night out on the town and a night at home – working.  Needless, to say a good portfolio site can make a big difference.

With great portfolio career conversations get off to the right start.  It’s a common fact that these websites are the most promotion that many designers will ever get, so when one goes wrong, heavy-laden with obvious mistakes, it’s truly a big deal.

Fortunately, knowing ahead of time about common portfolio mistakes can ensure that your portfolio efforts are not in vain.  Most of all, it can reveal tips and hints about what exactly it takes to create a stellar portfolio site.  In this post, we’ll take a look at some the worst and some of the best.  Enjoy!

Portfolio Mistakes

1. TMI = Too Much Information

This common mistake rules the day when it comes to things to do to bore and confuse your visitors.  When too much information clogs the content, users tend to lose patience, skipping quickly over the verbosity and moving on to the much less complicated.  This is great when the “much less complicated” is actually on your site, but not so great if not.

2. Navigation No No’s

The navigation menu is an important aspect of any site, why? Because most users will, return to it again and again.  Since its whole purpose is to remain in constant use, it makes sense to ensure that it is free of common errors in design and functionality.

Portfolio example:-

3. Gaudiness

This common design mistake at least generates a certain air of un-professionalism and at most generates a very confused, image-weary visitor.  You want your visitors to get to know your design style on sight. Rather than bombard the senses, it’s a good idea to keep your portfolio design minimal and uncomplicated in style.  Choose basic elements, slightly embellished, with key demonstrations of your abilities, such as model windows or vertical navigation, elements that show visitors your expertise without complex visual combinations.

Portfolio example:-

4. Clutter

Simple, clean lines, useful navigation and plenty of white space are the defining marks of a great portfolio.  Notice that these elements de-clutter a site, keeping it easily accessible to the visitor from a visual perspective. In other words, just as a cluttered room leaves a terrible first impression, so too a cluttered website can alienate the audience and distract visitors who have little time to pick through the design mess for the information needed.

5. Elements in the Way

One of the best things about your portfolio is that it’s yours to make of it what you will and to grab the attention of your visitors the best way you know how.  However, some designers do not take advantage of this unique opportunity.  Instead, best assets are blocked by boring images that should be big and bold.  This ensures that visitors have a visual focus and reminder of excellent web design to take away with them once they click away from the site. 

Portfolio example:-


While we have listed only five here, there are actually hundreds of mistakes that are made every day in portfolio design.  Hopefully, having read this post, you’ve been steered in the right direction – away from common mistakes and into portfolio success.


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