Create a portfolio site that shows who you are, not what you do

Creating your own portfolio site is tough for any web designer.

As web designers, we know what it takes to create a website from concept to launch—we know what does and doesn’t look good, and we also know how to put in our own creative style on a client’s website.

But what happens when you start to create your own portfolio site where you don’t have a due date, and there are absolutely no creative constraints?

Anything and everything is possible!

You are able to go balls out without anyone getting in your way! You’re going to change the world, blow people’s minds with your design, solve world hunger…but then reality sets in, and you start to realize, “Well shit, what am I going to do? I know I’m going to create something awesome, but what the hell is it going to look like?” You’re practically starting from nothing, and before you know it, you start second guessing yourself—nothing is good enough, and you start hating yourself and the world! And at that moment, you my friend transformed yourself into your own worst critic.

When you start looking for your concept, there may be a time when it starts to feel more like a chore than a truly creative outlet, which is what web design is supposed to be.

Don’t start by looking at other designer’s portfolios.

This was my first mistake when trying to redesign my own portfolio site and I’m here to try and stop you from doing the same.

Don’t go to those web design award sites to look for inspiration as your first step. Don’t go to forums or sub-reddits to see what is already out there and how you can copy it. Those portfolios are already done and reflect that designer. You’re not a lemming, so don’t follow them step-by-step, got that?!

Why do you want to copy them anyway? Isn’t the whole point of a personal portfolio a way to show off your unique style? So before you begin wireframing, you need to start understanding yourself first.

Start by writing down your story.

Open up your favorite text editor and start answering the following questions: what interested you in web design in the first place, why do you still continue working as a web designer, and what are the things that inspire you to be so passionate and creative.

Once you’re done, you’ll notice that your story is different from others and you are unique. Your skill set shouldn’t be the main focus of your website, your story should be.

Besides, no good company will hire you just based on your skill set alone. A good company will actually want to get to know you as a person and not just some production robot.Now that your story is ready, go and visually communicate it. This is where your design skills and experience comes in.

Have fun with the web design process and take your time. This is your own little playground on the internet. You build the slides and swings. You supply the sand and monkey bars. This is your home. There is no right or wrong answer in your design as long as you can back up reasons why you did what you did.

In the end, you want to create a place where others can have fun while still learning about you, your passion, your skills and of course your creativity.

This is what will make your portfolio stand out from the rest and hopefully help you land your dream job or gain more clients.

Nelson Abalos Jr
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