10 Essential Tips for a Compelling Digital Portfolio
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 9 min read


  1. Select your best work
  2. Tailor your portfolio to your audience
  3. Use high-quality images
  4. Provide context for each piece
  5. Showcase a variety of projects
  6. Keep the design simple and clean
  7. Make it easy to navigate
  8. Update it regularly
  9. Include contact information and calls to action
  10. Show your personality

Getting your work out there in the vast digital world can be a bit daunting. One of the best practices for digital portfolios is to create one that not only showcases your skills but also tells your unique story. This guide will walk you through 10 essential tips to make your digital portfolio compelling and memorable. Let's dive right in!

Select Your Best Work

One of the biggest mistakes people make when creating their digital portfolio is trying to include everything they've ever created. Don't fall into this trap! Instead, be selective and only include your best pieces. Here's how to go about it:

  • Quality over quantity: It's better to have a few excellent pieces that represent your skills and creativity, rather than a large collection of average works. Remember, you're only as good as your worst piece.
  • Relevance: Only include work that is relevant to the kind of work you want to do in the future. If you want to be a graphic designer, for example, you don't need to include the poem you wrote in sixth grade.
  • Show progress: If you've been in the game for a while, it can be helpful to include some early work along with your more recent pieces. This can show how you've grown and developed as a professional over time.

Remember, the goal is not just to show that you can do the work, but that you can do it well. Think of your portfolio as your greatest hits album — only the best tracks make the cut. By selecting your best work, you'll be following one of the key best practices for digital portfolios.

Tailor Your Portfolio to Your Audience

One of the best practices for digital portfolios is understanding who you're creating it for. An effective portfolio isn't a one-size-fits-all solution; it's a tool that should be tailored to your audience's needs and expectations.

  • Understand your audience: Are you trying to impress potential employers, clients, or colleagues? What are their interests and what do they value? Try to anticipate their needs and expectations, and shape your portfolio accordingly.
  • Highlight relevant skills: If your audience is a group of web developers, they'll likely be more interested in your coding projects than your photography skills. Highlight the skills and projects that are most relevant to the audience you're trying to reach.
  • Speak their language: Every industry has its own jargon. If you can, use the language your audience uses. But remember to keep it simple — not everyone may be as familiar with the industry lingo as you are.

By tailoring your portfolio to your audience, you're more likely to catch their attention and make a lasting impression. Plus, it shows that you understand and value what they're looking for — a key aspect of building professional relationships.

Remember, your digital portfolio isn't just a showcase of your work; it's a communication tool. Make sure it speaks to the right people in the right way.

Use High-Quality Images

Images play a crucial role in digital portfolios. They're the visual representation of your work and skills, so they need to be top-notch.

  • High-resolution is key: Blurry or pixelated images can make your portfolio look unprofessional. Always use high-resolution images to showcase your work. It's one of the best practices for digital portfolios that never goes out of style.
  • Avoid stock images: Your portfolio is a reflection of your work, not someone else's. Avoid using stock images whenever possible. If you must use them, be sure to choose high-quality, relevant ones.
  • Optimize your images: High-quality doesn't have to mean large file sizes. Use image compression tools to optimize your images for the web. This can help your portfolio load faster, providing a better user experience.

High-quality images can make or break your digital portfolio. They can draw people in, showcase your attention to detail, and make your work stand out. So, make sure your images are as impressive as the work they represent.

Remember, using high-quality images isn't just about looking good — it's about creating a professional, credible image that reflects your skills and expertise.

Provide Context for Each Piece

So, you've chosen your best work and displayed them with high-quality images. But how do you make sure your audience understands what they're looking at? The answer lies in providing context for each piece.

  • Tell the story: Every project has a story. Share what inspired you, what challenges you faced, and how you overcame them. This not only makes your portfolio more engaging but also gives insight into your problem-solving skills.
  • Describe the project: Don't assume your audience knows everything about your field. Explain what the project is about, its purpose, and its impact. This is particularly important for complex or technical projects.
  • Highlight your role: If you worked as part of a team, make sure to clearly state your role in the project. This will help potential clients or employers understand your skills and contributions.

Providing context for each piece in your portfolio is a simple yet effective way to showcase your skills and experience. It helps your audience understand your work better, appreciate the effort behind it, and see the value you could bring to their projects.

Remember, your digital portfolio is more than just a collection of your work—it's a tool to communicate your abilities, your process, and your passion for your work. And providing context for each piece is a vital part of that communication.

Showcase a Variety of Projects

Imagine walking into an ice cream shop and finding only one flavor. Boring, right? The same principle applies to your digital portfolio. Showing a variety of projects is one of the best practices for digital portfolios, as it demonstrates your versatility and broad skill set.

Here's how you can do it:

  • Diversify your projects: Include different types of projects that you have worked on. This could range from individual assignments to collaborative works, from small, quick tasks to large, complex ones. This variety shows your ability to handle different roles and project sizes.
  • Display different skills: Don't just focus on your main skill. If you’re a graphic designer who also has experience in web design or illustration, make sure those are represented too. This shows you have a diverse range of abilities.
  • Show evolution: Include some early projects to show how much you've grown. This can give potential clients or employers an idea of your learning curve and your commitment to professional development.

Remember, variety is the spice of life—and of digital portfolios. It allows your potential clients or employers to see the full range of your talents, making your portfolio more engaging and appealing. So, make sure to mix it up!

Keep the Design Simple and Clean

It's easy to get carried away with design—especially if you're a creative professional. But when it comes to the best practices for digital portfolios, less is often more. A simple and clean design can make your work stand out and keep your audience's focus where it should be—on your projects.

Here's how you can achieve a simple and clean design:

  • Avoid clutter: Each project needs some breathing room. Too many elements can distract your audience from the main attraction—your work. Keep the design elements to a minimum and let your projects take the limelight.
  • Choose a simple color scheme: A well-chosen color scheme can enhance your portfolio without overwhelming your work. Stick to a small palette of complementary colors and remember, white space is your friend.
  • Use clean typography: Your text should be easy to read and shouldn't compete with your projects for attention. Stick to a few well-paired fonts and keep your font sizes consistent.

A simple and clean design can make your digital portfolio look professional and easy to navigate. It's like having a well-organized workspace—you know where everything is, and so does everyone else. So, keep it simple, keep it clean, and let your work do the talking.

Make it Easy to Navigate

Imagine walking into a store with your favorite items hidden away in corners, and there are no signs to guide you. Frustrating, isn't it? The same goes for your digital portfolio. One of the best practices for digital portfolios is ensuring that it's easy for your audience to navigate.

Here are a few tips to make your digital portfolio user-friendly:

  • Logical layout: Arrange your work logically. You could consider arranging your projects chronologically, or by the type of work. The idea is to make it intuitive for the visitor to move through your portfolio.
  • Clear navigation: Have clear menus or buttons to guide your audience to different sections of your portfolio. Whether it's a simple top bar menu or a sidebar, make sure it's easy to find and use.
  • Accessible content: Make sure your portfolio is accessible on different devices and browsers. Also, ensure your website loads quickly; a slow-loading site may deter visitors from sticking around.

Remember, if a visitor can't find what they're looking for, they can't appreciate your work. Make it as easy as possible for them to explore your portfolio and discover all the amazing work you've done. After all, your portfolio is there to showcase your work, not to test your visitors' patience or detective skills.

Update It Regularly

Okay, so you've crafted an awesome digital portfolio. You've selected your best work, tailored it to your audience, and made it super easy to navigate. Great job! But hold on, the work isn't over yet. Now comes an important part of the best practices for digital portfolios—regular updates.

Think of your portfolio as a living document. It's not a "set it and forget it" type of project. As your skills grow, as you complete more projects, your portfolio should reflect that. Here's why:

  • Show growth: Regular updates show that you're constantly learning and improving. It's a great way to show your professional growth and development over time.
  • Stay relevant: Updating your portfolio ensures that it stays fresh and relevant. It helps to demonstrate that you're in touch with current trends and technologies in your field.
  • Engage visitors: A regularly updated portfolio gives visitors a reason to come back. They'll be interested to see what new projects you've added or what skills you've acquired.

So, dust off that digital portfolio every now and then. Add new projects, prune outdated ones, and keep it representative of your current skills and experiences. Your digital portfolio should be a clear reflection of your abilities right now, not just a snapshot of who you were when you first created it.

Include Contact Information and Calls to Action

While showcasing your amazing work, let's not forget another crucial step in best practices for digital portfolios: including your contact information and clear calls to action (CTA). Imagine someone loves your work and wants to hire you or collaborate on a project. How frustrated would they be if they couldn't find a way to reach you?

Here's where the magic of CTAs comes into play. A call to action is a prompt that tells the viewer what you want them to do next. It could be as simple as "Want to discuss a project? Email me!" or "Interested in my work? Let's connect!". CTAs make sure that your portfolio isn't a one-way street. They invite interaction, engagement, and—hopefully—business opportunities.

Here are some tips to make sure your contact information and CTAs are doing their job:

  • Make it visible: Your contact information should be easy to find. Don't make visitors hunt for it. It could be in the header, footer, or a dedicated 'Contact Me' page.
  • Be direct: When it comes to CTAs, clarity trumps cleverness. Be clear about what action you want the viewer to take.
  • Keep it professional: While it's important to show personality, remember to keep your contact details and CTAs professional. You want to be approachable, but also taken seriously.

In the end, your digital portfolio isn't just about showing off your work—it's about making connections. So, don't underestimate the importance of straightforward contact information and compelling CTAs as part of your portfolio's best practices.

Show Your Personality

One of the most impactful best practices for digital portfolios is to infuse your personality into your work. Sure, showcasing your skills and projects is essential, but your portfolio should also reflect who you are as an individual and as a creative professional. Remember, your portfolio is not just a collection of your projects; it's a reflection of you.

Consider this: when hiring managers or potential clients go through dozens of portfolios, what will make yours stand out? Your unique personality and style might be the differentiating factor. It's about making an impression that lasts longer than the few minutes they spend scrolling through your work.

Here are a few easy ways to showcase your personality:

  1. Tell your story: Include an 'About Me' section where you share a bit about your background, your journey, your inspiration, and your aspirations. Make it relatable, not a formal resume.
  2. Use your voice: Write descriptions and captions in a tone that reflects you. If you're naturally funny, let it shine through your words. If you're more serious and introspective, that's fine too. Just be you.
  3. Visualize your personality: Use colors, fonts, and design elements that reflect your style and personality. If you love minimalism, let your portfolio reflect that. If you're all about bold colors and quirky designs, let your portfolio scream that.

Remember, people connect with people. So, let your personality shine in your digital portfolio. It might just be the secret sauce that gets you that dream project or job.

If you enjoyed our "10 Essential Tips for a Compelling Digital Portfolio" blog post and want to further improve your portfolio, don't miss Jasmine MacPhee's workshop, 'The Ultimate Role-Getting Portfolio Layout.' This workshop will help you create a portfolio layout that is not only visually appealing but also highly effective in landing your dream role.