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A comprehensive guide to creating an impressive design portfolio + 🎁 Free template!

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Lorant Toth | Design & Development
7 months ago


In today's highly competitive creative landscape, having a design portfolio that stands out is more crucial than ever. A well-crafted portfolio not only showcases your unique skills and talent but also serves as a visual representation of who you are as a designer. It can be the deciding factor in landing that dream job or winning over a potential client. With so many formats and platforms available for creating your portfolio, it can be overwhelming to know where to start or what to include.

In this guide, we will explore the ins and outs of creating an impressive design portfolio that will help you make a lasting impression. From understanding why you need a design portfolio and the various types available, to uncovering what makes a good portfolio and the different ways to create one, we have you covered!

As a bonus, we'll introduce a Figma freebie, a customizable portfolio template, to kickstart your creative journey. So let's dive in and discover how you can showcase your work in the best possible light!

Types of design portfolios

Understanding the different types of design portfolios is essential to ensure that you are effectively showcasing your work for the right purpose. Each type serves a unique function and caters to a specific audience. In this section, we will delve into the various types of design portfolios and how they can be tailored to meet your objectives.

  • Portfolio for job seeking
    Job-seeking portfolios are designed to demonstrate your expertise, skills, and experience to potential employers. These portfolios focus on practical efforts, practices, and design decisions that contribute to a company's success. Including detailed case studies and examples of problem-solving in real-world projects, this type of portfolio highlights your ability to make a tangible impact in a professional setting.
  • Portfolio for visibility
    A visibility-focused portfolio aims to boost your online presence, attract potential clients, and showcase your work to a broader audience. This type of portfolio is ideal for freelancers or designers looking to establish themselves as thought leaders in their field. With a focus on captivating visuals and innovative solutions, this portfolio type encourages exploration and highlights your unique style and creative prowess.
    Evil Rabbit's portfolio website
    Evil Rabbit's portfolio
    You may notice that individuals who have experience working at prestigious companies often showcase a more simplistic collection of their work, sometimes resembling a set of links rather than a traditional portfolio.
  • Portfolio for self-improvement
    A self-improvement portfolio serves as a personal archive for tracking your progress and development as a designer. It enables you to reflect on your work, identify your strengths and areas for growth, and set goals for future projects. This type of portfolio may include personal projects, passion pieces, and experiments that showcase your creative journey and evolving skill set.
  • Portfolio for client presentations and interviews
    This portfolio type is tailored for client presentations and interviews, where the primary goal is to pitch projects or present concepts and designs in a professional setting. It focuses on providing a clear, concise, and visually engaging narrative that highlights your ideas and design solutions. Effective client presentation portfolios demonstrate your ability to address specific client needs and showcase your expertise in a professional and persuasive manner.

Sometimes, you may have both a public visibility portfolio and a private presentation portfolio. The visibility portfolio engages the audience with stunning visuals and innovative solutions, while the client presentation portfolio showcases your practical thinking and ability to deliver results. By maintaining separate portfolios for different purposes, you can ensure that your work resonates with the intended audience and effectively communicates your unique value as a designer.

Balancing aesthetics & practicality for success

As a starting point, it's essential to define the target audience and purpose of your design portfolio. Your approach and the end result should vary based on this, as a portfolio created to boost your online presence and visibility will differ from one that aims to showcase your expertise as a designer and possibly land a job.

Olli McMillan's portfolio website
Ollie McMillan
Ollie McMillan is a talented designer and Webflow developer whose portfolio effectively showcases his professional work and design methodologies in a clear, easy-to-understand manner.

Designers seeking inspiration or wanting to know more about you may be drawn to more unconventional solutions, captivating visuals, and refined aesthetics. In contrast, recruiters are more interested in portfolios that represent your practical efforts, practices, and decisions that contribute to a company's success. It's crucial to remember that the primary goal for businesses is not solely to create a visually appealing website, but to drive engagement that can be converted into revenue, while maintaining a responsible and ethical approach.

What makes a good portfolio

Van Schneider's portfolio website
Tobias van Schneider's portfolio
Tobias van Schneider effectively showcases his diverse design expertise through visually striking and engaging projects, highlighting his work with major clients such as Spotify, and NASA.

A successful design portfolio not only showcases your work but also tells a story about who you are as a designer. To create a compelling and effective portfolio, consider the following key elements:

  • Quality over quantity
    Focus on presenting your best work, even if it means having fewer pieces in your portfolio. Including too many projects may dilute the impact of your strongest work, making it difficult for viewers to appreciate your skill and talent.
  • Consistent branding and presentation
    Establish a clear and consistent visual identity across your portfolio to create a cohesive and professional impression. This includes using a consistent color scheme, typography, and layout, which can help reinforce your personal brand and make your work more memorable.
  • Clear organization and navigation
    Ensure that your portfolio is easy to navigate, with a well-organized structure that allows viewers to quickly find and explore your work. Consider using categories or tags to group similar projects and make it easy for users to filter and browse through your content.
  • Showcasing your design process
    Highlight your problem-solving abilities and creative thinking by providing insights into your design process. This can include sketches, wireframes, or prototypes, as well as explanations of your design decisions and the challenges you faced during the project.
  • Providing context and background for projects
    Offer context for each project by including a brief description, client information, and the project's objectives. This helps viewers understand the goals and constraints you faced and can make your work more relatable and engaging.
  • Updating your portfolio regularly
    While it may seem obvious, there are numerous outdated portfolios out there. People who aren't actively seeking new opportunities can easily fall into the trap of neglecting their portfolios. However, it's crucial to keep your portfolio up to date, as an outdated or neglected portfolio can project a negative image of yourself. By maintaining a current and fresh portfolio, you demonstrate your ongoing growth as a designer.

Ways to create your portfolio

With various formats and platforms available for creating a design portfolio, it's essential to choose the one that best suits your needs and preferences. Here, we explore some popular options to help you decide on the ideal way to present your work.

Custom website

Creating a custom website allows you to design and build a unique online presence that reflects your personal brand and showcases your work in a tailored manner.

Rauno's portfolio website
Rauno's portfolio
Rauno's portfolio, built using Next.js - a popular React framework, places emphasis on his intentional and thoughtfully crafted interaction-design work.


  • Full control over the design and functionality

  • Flexibility to evolve with your work and style

  • Demonstrates your web design skills (if applicable)


  • Can be time-consuming and require technical skills

  • Maintenance and hosting costs

  • Steeper learning curve for those unfamiliar with web development


Website template

Using a website template is a great way to establish your online presence without investing too much time and effort into the design and development process.


  • Quick and easy to set up

  • Wide variety of design options to choose from

  • Reduced development time and cost


  • Limited customization options

  • Potential for a less unique or personal look

  • Dependency on template provider for updates and support


PDF format

The PDF document is the simplest and fastest option you can choose for creating your design portfolio.


  • Easy to create and distribute

  • Accessible on most devices without additional software

  • Ideal for offline presentations or email attachments


  • Limited interactivity compared to a website

  • Simplicity might not capture the full extent of your capabilities

  • Limited SEO and discoverability

Figma prototype

A Figma prototype can be an excellent way to showcase your expertise and proficiency in design software, particularly if you're a UI/UX designer.

Lorant Toth's portfolio website
Lorant Toth's portfolio
My personal portfolio, created in Figma, was designed primarily for self-exploration and improvement, rather than targeting job opportunities or client acquisition. It equally showcases both my professional projects and hobbies, giving equal importance to my passion projects.


  • Easy to create and update

  • Showcases your UX/UI design skills

  • Can be shared and viewed on any device with a web browser


  • Poor accessibility and lack of capabilities compared to a website

  • Requires extra time and workarounds for responsiveness

  • Limited SEO and discoverability

By considering the advantages and disadvantages of each option, you can select the best format for your design portfolio and create a compelling showcase that highlights your skills and achievements. For more UX-oriented designers, a PDF or website template can be an effective choice. On the other hand, for designers specializing in both UX and UI, a custom website or Figma prototype may better showcase your skills and expertise, as these formats allow for more creative freedom and the integration of interactive elements and visual design components.

🎁 Portfolio template for your inspiration

I opted for the Figma prototype option for two main reasons. First, I didn't have the time or capacity to create a custom-coded website, and I didn't want to settle for a template, as I felt it wouldn't represent me well. Second, I was eager to create a high-fidelity prototype that I could push to its full potential.

Once I completed my own portfolio, I created a template version that you can download from the Figma Community. You can also reference my portfolio to see what you can achieve with this template.

Free Figma portfolio template

Image caption of Download the free portfolio template from the Figma community

Download the free portfolio template from the Figma community


I designed tablet and mobile versions as well, but they are not included in the prototype. This decision was made to avoid overcomplicating the structure and because Figma doesn't support breakpoints, requiring a workaround for this feature.

Handling responsiveness

To implement this workaround, you can host the prototype on a custom domain and write a script that loads a different prototype for each breakpoint. This way, you can still ensure a responsive experience for viewers accessing your portfolio from various devices, while taking advantage of the flexibility and design capabilities of a Figma prototype.


Creating a compelling design portfolio is essential for any designer looking to showcase their skills, attract new clients, or secure job opportunities. By considering your unique strengths, preferences, and target audience, you can choose the right format and approach for your portfolio, whether it's a custom website, template-based site, Figma prototype, or PDF document.

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