How to Create a Bangin' Online Portfolio

By Melissa Duko, May 02, 2018

Having a digital portfolio has become more than just a novelty. It’s evolved into a requirement when applying for a new position, particularly one in a creative field. Content writers, graphic designers, and digital marketers are all required to submit samples as part of the job application process.

A portfolio not only proves you’ve done what your resume says, but it gives a potential employer a peek into your skill set. It can also be the determining factor between you and another candidate. If the two of you are eveningly matched in terms of education and experience, the individual with the better portfolio may edge out the other person.

To ensure your online portfolio is top notch, here are a few tips.

Make Your Site Easy to Navigate

It’s no secret most of us have the attention span of a goldfish. If a potential employer has to hunt for samples, the likelihood of that happening is slim to none. That’s why it’s crucial to make sure your online site is easy to navigate.

Here’s an example of an easy to navigate Writing Sample Page. Viewers have two categories to choose from: Professional and Personal. To avoid clutter (and distraction), there is a toggle option under each section. Simply toggle through until you see an article that interests you, then click.


Source: Alana Domingo

To increase ease of navigation, also keep your overall aesthetic clean, too.

Keep Your Aesthetic Clean  

A proper balance of white space, color, images, and text goes a long way. It makes your digital portfolio eye-catching and easy to find what you’re looking for. To make yours aesthetically pleasing, be sure to:

Add Some Color. The key word here is some. It’s okay to add a bit of color, but keep it professional and relevant to your industry. A more creative industry will allow you to get away with a more vibrant palette (e.g. magenta). But for others, play it safe with subdued tones and neutrals.

Use Parallax or Scrolling Features. Consider using parallax scrolling. By allowing the viewer to click through at their pace, they’ll appreciate your site more.

Source: Canva

High Resolution Images. Make sure your images are uploaded to the optimum resolution to avoid pixelation and blurriness.

By keeping your aesthetic clean, you’ll be helping your site’s load time, too. The longer it takes your site to load, the higher the chances your visitors will bounce before your page is viewable.

Be Selective With Your Samples

If you have a vast collection of samples, it may be tempting to show off the entire breadth of your work. Instead curate for your ideal job, highlighting the pieces that support the skills needed for the position. It’s better to be selective with your portfolio samples. Here’s why.

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Let’s say you’re applying for a graphic design job in the food industry. By featuring relevant samples such as graphics, marketing collateral, web design that feature food (and related items), you’re saving the company from having to review all of your work which includes other industries. Your potential employer may lose interest before coming across the sample that seals the deal.

Employers also appreciate samples that are downloadable, particularly for written content. Not only is it easier to read longform content in PDF format, but the employer can print it out and put it into your file, too.

Feature Personal Work (If You Don’t Have Samples Yet)

If you’re a new college grad, or pivoting careers, it’s not unusual to lack samples. Don’t let that deter you! You can create writing samples for your personal blog, or perhaps mock design work for a potential client.

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Here, soon-to-be college grad Alexis has created an amazing blog recapping her study abroad semester in Paris. Her site showcases her own photography plus writing.

Source: Alexis Abroad

Now she has top notch samples for any content writing or photography jobs she applies for.   

Don’t Forget to Optimize, Too!

We’re a mobile society, so it’s a safe bet that your portfolio will not only be viewed on desktop, but by tablet and smartphone, too. Make sure your site is optimized so potential employers can view your materials at their desk or on-the-go.

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By employing all of these tips, you’ll be well on your way to a stellar digital portfolio, and hopefully a new job!

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Melissa Duko

Melissa Duko

Melissa Duko is the Senior Editor and Digital Specialist for Anura. She brings to her role more than a decade of journalism and editing experience. A graduate of the University of Delaware, she holds a Bachelor of Arts in English, concentration business and technical writing, minor Art History. She also has a Master of Science in professional writing for the public and private sector from Towson University. She isn’t afraid to admit that her love for Starbucks is at gold member status. (Since 2011!) More Articles by Melissa Duko