Getting started on your portfolio

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Following my last post which I went through a few pointers for a successful online portfolio, I want elaborate further on how you go about building a successful portfolio.

When you’re getting started as a designer and don’t have any work or any clients, what you want to do is not necessary design your portfolio but you want to focus primarily on a single project for your portfolio. What I mean by project is a personal project – a fictitious concept that you can concept up and think about to produce visual screenshots of the design for that project.

For example, a lot of my friends and family use BlackBerry’s BBM instant messaging service app to keep in touch. However, the app on the iPhone looks like a lift and shift job from BlackBerry’s OS. It just feels sluggish to use. So what I decided to do was a small redesign of the core screens of how I envisioned it. This was a nice personal project for me because I had real life experience using the app and I could really speak in terms of how I would like to make it better.

Now, concept for up a personal project is easier said than done. I know because its hard coming up with a really good idea that you can work off as a concept. So, what I like to do is think about websites you visit a lot, whether its Facebook, Twitter, YouTube etc. and maybe you want to take a stab at re-designing these sites as a concept – what’s your ideal look for these sites?

The best types of projects are the sites you really have some sort of equity in, that you really know about and would want to change. This could be in a form of a concept website, a web app for mobile or a native tablet app, it doesn’t matter. What matters is the level of detail, the level of design work and the level of detail in-states within that project. What I mean by that is not just showing a single screen but showing multiple screens, maybe five to eight different screenshots of different states within that app.

Take a weekend and really brainstorm on some nice personal projects and really put a good effort into. As I mentioned, just don’t stop at the first screen, show multiple screens of that project and it will give your project more value and it will also get more engagement meaning more people would want to view that project versus one screen shot. You want to go deeper, not just that one single page/screen. It will also help you out whether you’re out there landing jobs, getting recruiters and getting people to look at work.

Basically, that’s what you want to do first and foremost. You don’t want to start designing your portfolio per say, you want to start designing a project within your portfolio. Once you get one project out there you can you build your portfolio based on one project – just use that one project as your page showing your screenshot vertically aligned. Once you get two to three projects, that’s when you can go to a thumbnail view.

So, work on the project itself, not the portfolio first. Work on the projects and that’s how you start building up your portfolio.

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