In the web design industry, your portfolio can literally make your career. When potential clients look through your work, they want to see that you have design experience in something that they personally need for their business. Obviously, every client will be looking for different things, so it’s a good idea to diversify your portfolio as much as possible to appeal to as many different clients as possible. Here are some tips for unlocking the designs that will help you build an outstanding web design portfolio.
1. Design for a Wide Variety of Markets and Industries
To make sure that you appeal to as many potential clients as possible, you want to challenge yourself and try to get projects for a wide variety of markets and industries. You want to get a feel of how to design for different types of businesses and organizations. This will ensure that you’ll be able to tackle any project no matter what the market or industry is.
Even if one or two markets or industries are proving to be very lucrative for you, make sure you take on different projects in between your bread and butter projects. Things can shift very quickly in your career and you want to make sure that your portfolio can last through the changes. It’s going to be a hard sell trying to land a client in a new industry if you don’t have any work to show that you have the experience there.
2. Design for Different Platforms
Another thing you may want to do is to learn how to design for different platforms. The top CMS platforms include WordPress, Drupal, Joomla and Magento. Rather than focusing on just one like most designers, try to learn another platform until you’re familiar with it. This will allow you to target clients that want their website designed in a non WordPress CMS platform. The benefit of knowing other platforms is that you can typically charge a premium as there aren’t as many designers for the other platforms.
You want to start by getting familiar with the technical details of each platform to properly communicate to potential clients. For example, if you wanted to show clients that you understood WordPress, you have to know which WordPress hosting solutions are optimal, how to apply themes/templates to the platform, the best plugins for most types of sites, how to secure the admin back end, etc.
3. Focus on Trending Design Styles
There are many design styles that are trending right now. By building a portfolio that shows you can design using these styles, you’ll be adding a lot of credibility for yourself as a web designer. Some of the most popular design styles include minimalist, hero image, flat, illustrative, animated, transparent, vintage and typography-based design. Being well versed in different design styles means that you’re going to attract a lot of clients that are looking for a specific design style.
In fact, some design styles like parallax are becoming so popular that high-end WordPress hosting providers are giving away themes that allow you to customize parallax functions as an add-on to their service. So don’t stick to common design styles that make your skills look like a commodity. Show your potential clients that you specialize in unique design styles if you want their business.
4. Consider Specializing in Landing Page Design
Many clients approach design from an ROI perspective. They need their landing page designs to convert into leads and sales to make their marketing campaign a success. That’s why these clients will often pay more for a designer that knows how to design landing pages that convert. If you want regular high paying gigs, you should consider learning this area of design. From a designer’s perspective, the work is actually very simple but the skill sets it requires fall outside what most designers have.
If you don’t have any experience with designing landing pages and conversion rate optimization, you should look to partner with an online copywriter that has a good amount of experience in creating sales letters and writing for landing pages. You can focus on the design aspect of the project while the copywriter focuses on the message and the actual conversion rate optimization.
5. Design for Specific Business Models
Another area that you can focus on for your web design portfolio is specific online business models. For example, the blogging, affiliate and eCommerce business models have their own unique set of design standards and styles they follow. Improving the layout and web buttons on an eCommerce product page can result in significant conversion lifts. The right blog designs can lead to higher engagement numbers.
Building a portfolio that caters to these business models is a smart idea as these businesses are more than willing to pay a premium for great designers. With that said, you’ll need to have a lot of experience with analytics tools to back up your design work. Design changes are lead by performance more than aesthetics similar to landing pages. You can build experience in these business models by offering your design work in return for feedback and access to the analytics data.
These are some of the best ways to unlock designs that will help you build an outstanding web design portfolio. The strength of your portfolio will determine which clients you land. If you want to make your portfolio perform for you it’s important that you diversify your portfolio just enough to showcase your vast experience but still focus on specific areas that are lucrative to your career.