12 Essential Tips to Make Your Portfolio Stand Out
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 11 min read


  1. Showcase Your Best Works Only
  2. Keep the Portfolio Up-to-Date
  3. Tell a Story with Your Portfolio
  4. Show Breadth and Variety
  5. Highlight the Process, Not Just the Outcome
  6. Present Clean and Professional Layout
  7. Make Your Portfolio Easy to Navigate
  8. Include Testimonials and References
  9. Ensure Your Portfolio is Accessible
  10. Have a Mobile Version of Your Portfolio
  11. Include Contact Information and Call to Action
  12. Proofread and Review Your Portfolio

In the creative world, making your portfolio stand out is akin to making a great first impression. It's the first point of contact between you and potential clients or employers, and it's the perfect opportunity to show them what you're capable of. A top-notch portfolio can be the key that opens doors to opportunities. But how do you make sure your portfolio cuts through the noise and grabs attention? Here are twelve vital tips to enhance your portfolio and help you stand out from the crowd.

Showcase Your Best Works Only

When it comes to making your portfolio stand out, quality trumps quantity every time. It can be tempting to include every project you've ever worked on, but remember: your portfolio should be a highlight reel of your best work, not a comprehensive history of everything you've ever done.

So, how do you decide what makes the cut? Here's a quick guide:

  • Relevance: Include projects that are relevant to the type of work you want to do in the future. If you want to design logos, showcase your best logo projects.
  • Impact: Show work that had a significant impact. Did your design increase a client’s sales? Did your artwork win an award? These are the projects to highlight.
  • Creativity: Your portfolio is a chance to show off your creative chops. Choose projects that demonstrate your ability to think outside the box.
  • Skills: Ensure your projects demonstrate a range of skills. If you're a photographer, don't just include portraits; show that you can handle landscape, action shots, and still life too.

Remember, your portfolio is like a shop window—only display the best items that will make people want to come in and explore more. By showcasing only your best work, you're not just making your portfolio stand out—you're making a statement about your standards and what potential clients or employers can expect from you.

Keep the Portfolio Up-to-Date

Imagine walking into a store with the same items on display year after year. You'd likely lose interest and look elsewhere for something fresh and new. The same principle applies to your portfolio. Keeping your portfolio up-to-date is a vital step in making your portfolio stand out.

But what does it mean to keep your portfolio up-to-date? Here's what you need to consider:

  • Latest Projects: Regularly add your newest work. This shows you're actively creating and improving, which is always attractive to potential clients or employers.
  • Remove Outdated Work: As you add new pieces, consider removing older ones that no longer represent your best work or your current skills and style.
  • Reflect Changes in Your Career: If your focus or style has shifted, or you've acquired new skills, your portfolio should reflect these changes.
  • Check for Broken Links and Outdated Information: Nothing says "I don't care" like broken links or outdated contact information. Regular maintenance is part of keeping your portfolio up-to-date.

Think of your portfolio as a living document that evolves with you and your work. By regularly updating it, you're not only keeping it fresh and engaging, but you're also showing potential clients or employers that you're active, dedicated, and always pushing to improve—a powerful way of making your portfolio stand out.

Tell a Story with Your Portfolio

Every picture tells a story, they say. But did you know your portfolio can do the same? Yes, indeed! Making your portfolio stand out isn't just about showcasing your best work; it's also about weaving a compelling narrative that connects your projects and presents you as a unique, creative professional.

So, how can you tell a story with your portfolio? Let's break it down:

  • Chronological Order: One way to tell a story is to arrange your projects in chronological order. This allows viewers to see your growth and evolution as an artist or designer.
  • Thematic Order: Another approach is to group projects by theme, technique, or medium. This can help to illustrate your versatility and depth of experience in specific areas.
  • Personal Narratives: Don't shy away from sharing personal experiences or motivations behind your works. This can add a layer of intimacy and authenticity that sets you apart.
  • Client Stories: If applicable, share stories about how your work helped a client overcome a challenge or achieve a goal. This not only illustrates your effectiveness but also your understanding of client needs.

Remember, your portfolio isn't just a collection of random works—it's the story of your creative journey. By thoughtfully curating and presenting your projects, you can transform your portfolio into a captivating narrative that keeps viewers engaged and makes your portfolio stand out.

Show Breadth and Variety

When it comes to making your portfolio stand out, showcasing a range of work can make all the difference. Breadth and variety in your portfolio don't just demonstrate your versatility—it also shows potential clients or employers that you can handle a wide array of projects and adapt to different styles or mediums.

Here are some ways to embody breadth and variety in your portfolio:

  • Explore Different Styles: Don't limit yourself to one style. Show that you can work with different aesthetics—from minimalist to maximalist, traditional to contemporary, and everything in between.
  • Experiment with Mediums: If you're an artist or designer, consider showcasing works in various mediums. This could include digital art, traditional paintings, sculptures, or even mixed media pieces.
  • Present a Range of Projects: From personal passion projects to professional assignments, include a diverse collection of works. This not only demonstrates your creative capacity but also your ability to deliver in a professional context.

Ultimately, your portfolio should reflect your creative versatility and adaptability. By showcasing a breadth of work, you're sending a clear message: no matter the project, you have the skills and creativity necessary to deliver excellent results.

Highlight the Process, Not Just the Outcome

When making your portfolio stand out, it's easy to focus solely on the final product. However, the process you followed to reach that outcome is equally important. It's like a behind-the-scenes tour that allows potential clients or employers to see how you work, solve problems, and handle challenges along the way.

Here are a few ways you can put the spotlight on your process:

  • Show Early Sketches or Drafts: It's fascinating to see how a project evolves from a rough sketch to a polished piece. Include initial drafts or sketches, wireframes, or mood boards to give viewers a glimpse into your creative process.
  • Explain Your Choices: Give a brief explanation about why you made certain decisions. Did you choose a particular color scheme to evoke certain emotions? Or select a specific font to match the brand's personality? Sharing this information can offer valuable insights into your thought process.
  • Discuss Challenges and Solutions: Every project comes with its own set of challenges. Discussing how you overcame these challenges can demonstrate your problem-solving skills and resilience.

Remember, the goal here is not just to show off the final product, but also to showcase your journey in getting there. By giving insight into your process, you're adding another layer of depth to your portfolio that can make it stand out in a sea of others.

Present Clean and Professional Layout

Think of your portfolio as your online storefront. Just as you would keep a physical storefront clean, neat, and appealing, your portfolio should also present a clean and professional layout. This makes it easier for viewers to navigate through your work and leaves a positive, lasting impression.

Here are a few tips to achieve a clean and professional layout:

  • Use a Simple and Consistent Design: You want your work to be the center of attention, not the design of your portfolio. Use a consistent color scheme, font, and layout throughout your portfolio. This not only looks professional, but also makes it easier for viewers to focus on your work.
  • Use High-Quality Images: Blurry or pixelated images can detract from your work. Always use high-quality images to showcase your projects. If possible, consider hiring a professional photographer to capture your work in the best light.
  • Break Up Text with Images: Large blocks of text can be overwhelming and may discourage viewers from reading. Break up your text with relevant images to create a more engaging and visually pleasing experience.

Remember, the aim is to make your portfolio a joy to look at and easy to navigate. By keeping your layout clean and professional, you're taking a crucial step towards making your portfolio stand out from the crowd.

Make Your Portfolio Easy to Navigate

Imagine you're visiting a new city, but the street signs are confusing, and you can't find your way around. Frustrating, isn't it? The same principle applies to your portfolio. If your visitors can't find what they're looking for, they may leave and never return. That's why making your portfolio easy to navigate is so important.

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

  • Clear Navigation Menu: Your portfolio should have a clear and simple navigation menu. This could be a list of categories or a single page with anchor links leading to each section. The goal is to ensure that viewers can easily find what they're looking for.
  • Use Descriptive Headings: Each section of your portfolio should have a descriptive heading. This helps visitors understand what they're looking at and makes it easier for them to find relevant work.
  • Include a Search Function: If your portfolio has a large number of projects, consider including a search function. This allows visitors to quickly find specific projects without having to scroll through your entire portfolio.

By making your portfolio easy to navigate, you're not just improving the user experience — you're also making your portfolio stand out. After all, a user-friendly portfolio is a memorable one.

Include Testimonials and References

Picture this: you're at a store deciding between two similar products. One has glowing reviews and the other doesn't. Which one would you choose? The answer is pretty clear, right? The same logic applies when you're making your portfolio stand out.

Testimonials and references are like those positive reviews. They add credibility to your work and reassure potential clients that you're reliable and professional. But how can you include them in your portfolio? Here are a few tips:

  • Gather Testimonials: Reach out to your past clients or colleagues and ask them for a short testimonial. It could be about your work ethic, the quality of your work, or your skills and expertise. Remember, the more specific the praise, the more impactful it'll be.
  • Include References: If you've collaborated with other professionals or companies, ask them if they're comfortable being a reference. This could be particularly useful if potential clients want to know more about you and your work.
  • Present Them Well: Don't just slap the testimonials and references anywhere on your portfolio. Dedicate a section to them and present them in an appealing way. This could be through creative typography, eye-catching graphics, or even video testimonials.

Everyone loves a good recommendation. By including testimonials and references, you're not just making your portfolio stand out — you're also building trust with potential clients.

Ensure Your Portfolio is Accessible

Imagine walking into a store only to find that the doors are locked, or trying to read a book that's been printed in a font too small to see. Frustrating, isn't it? Similarly, if your portfolio isn't accessible, it might as well be locked behind a door. You want everyone to be able to appreciate your work, right? That's why making your portfolio accessible is so important.

Here are some ways to ensure your portfolio is open to all:

  • Alt Text for Images: Adding alternative text to your images isn't just for search engine optimization. It helps visually impaired people understand your work through screen readers. So, when you're uploading your projects, take a moment to describe them in the alt text field.
  • Contrast and Font Size: Make sure the text on your portfolio is easy to read. Light grey text on a white background? That's a no-go. Stick to high contrast colors and choose font sizes that are easy on the eyes.
  • Easy Navigation: A complex or confusing layout can be a barrier to some people. Keep your navigation simple and intuitive. That way, everyone can easily move through your portfolio and admire your work.

By making your portfolio stand out with accessibility, you're not only opening up your work to a wider audience, but you're also showing potential clients that you're considerate and inclusive. And that's a big win!

Have a Mobile Version of Your Portfolio

Think about this: how often do you use your phone or tablet to surf the web? Probably quite a bit, right? You're not alone. These days, more people are using mobile devices to browse the internet than desktop computers. That's why having a mobile version of your portfolio is like having a secret weapon in making your portfolio stand out.

Here are a few tips to make your portfolio shine on smaller screens:

  • Responsive Design: A responsive design automatically adjusts to fit any screen size. This means your portfolio will look great whether it's viewed on a phone, tablet, or a 27-inch monitor. It's all about giving your viewers the best experience possible, no matter what device they're using.
  • Touch-Friendly Navigation: On mobile devices, the mouse is replaced by the human finger. Make sure your buttons and links are big enough to tap and that they're spaced out enough to prevent accidental clicks.
  • Fast Load Times: Mobile users are often on the go, which means they may not have the strongest internet connection. Keep your image files small and your code clean to ensure your portfolio loads quickly and smoothly.

By making your portfolio mobile-friendly, you're showing potential clients that you understand and cater to their needs. Plus, it's another way to make your portfolio stand out from the crowd. So, go ahead, embrace the power of mobile!

Include Contact Information and Call to Action

Imagine this: Someone stumbles upon your portfolio, loves your work, and wants to hire you. But there's one problem—they can't find your contact info. Frustrating, isn't it? That's why including your contact information is a simple yet powerful step in making your portfolio stand out.

Here are a few tips to make sure potential clients can easily get in touch with you:

  • Visibility: Your contact information should be easy to spot. Consider placing it on every page, in the header or footer, for example. Let's face it, people are busy, and you don't want them to spend precious time hunting for your email address or phone number.
  • Multiple Contact Methods: Everyone has a preferred way of communicating. Some might prefer email, while others like phone calls or even social media messages. Try to cater to everyone by providing multiple ways to get in touch.
  • Professionalism: This might seem obvious, but it's important to keep it professional. That means using a professional email address (like yourname@yourwebsite.com), not your old hotmail or yahoo account.

But don't stop there. Including a call to action (CTA) can guide your visitors towards the next step. A CTA could be a simple sentence inviting them to get in touch for a project, like "Interested in working together? Let's talk!" Use your CTA to guide your visitors, and you're one step closer to making your portfolio stand out.

Proofread and Review Your Portfolio

Now, let's talk about something that can really make or break your portfolio's impression—proofreading. Yes, that's right. It's not just about showcasing your work. You also want to present yourself as someone who pays attention to details.

First off, typos and grammar mistakes can be distracting. They can make you look unprofessional, and that's not the impression you want to leave. So, don't forget to proofread your portfolio. And when you're done, proofread it again. And then, have someone else proofread it. It's always a good idea to have a fresh pair of eyes to catch any mistakes you might have missed.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when proofreading:

  • Consistency: Are you using the same font and color scheme throughout your portfolio? Are your headlines and subheadlines consistent in style and size? Consistency helps your portfolio look organized and professional.
  • Clarity: Are your descriptions and explanations clear and easy to understand? Remember, not everyone who visits your portfolio will be an expert in your field. You want to make sure your work is accessible to everyone.
  • Accuracy: Double check your dates, project details, and client names. The last thing you want is to mix up details or provide incorrect information.

Lastly, remember to regularly review your portfolio. As you grow and improve in your craft, your portfolio should reflect that. Regular updates and reviews will ensure your portfolio continues to represent your best work and stays on track in making your portfolio stand out.

If you're eager to create a standout portfolio after reading these 12 essential tips, we highly recommend George Dyson's workshop, 'Making an Amazing Portfolio.' This workshop will provide you with actionable insights and advice on how to further enhance your portfolio, making it truly unforgettable in the eyes of potential clients and collaborators.