25 Effective Design Portfolio Websites

The portfolio websites of designers are often excellent sources of inspiration. Portfolio sites frequently demonstrate exceptional creativity and attention to detail, and they often showcase creativity and take some risks that may not be possible with other types of websites. In this post, we’ll take a look at what makes a portfolio site successful and we’ll feature 25 outstanding portfolio sites that are worth a look. You’ll find designs from a variety of styles here, including minimal, illustrated, nature-inspired, textured, brightly colored, and more. Whether you’re looking for inspiration to put to use in the design of your own portfolio site, or just want to browse some excellent websites, you’ll find something to like in this collection. For more inspiration, be sure to visit this post for free jQuery slider plugins.
If you’re looking to create your own design portfolio, we recommend Shopify.

Characteristics of Effective Portfolio Websites:

Here is a look at some of the things that can be said of effective portfolio websites.

Excellent Visual Design

Since a design portfolio website exists to show off the work of a designer or agency and to attract new clients, it only makes sense that the portfolio site itself should also be well designed. Visitors who are looking to find the right designer will be judging the quality of the portfolio site in addition to the items that are showcased within the portfolio.

Just because a portfolio site needs to be well designed doesn’t mean that it must be extravagant. In fact, many effective portfolio sites take more of a minimalist approach to the design of the portfolio site itself, which can allow the images from items being showcased to take center stage. For some good examples, see this collection of minimal WordPress themes, which includes many portfolio themes.

Creative

Many of the best portfolio sites, but not all, will showcase the creativity of the designer. Portfolio sites provide an opportunity for designers to take more creative risks and push the boundaries more than some other types of websites, like corporate sites for example.

Potential clients may appreciate some creativity in the design of the portfolio site, so this can be an excellent approach to make a site stand out. You may also want to check out this post: 101 Ways to Boost Your Creativity

Showcase the Best Work of the Designer

The portfolio site should not showcase every project the designer or agency has ever completed. Instead, it should showcase only the best work. Don’t let your best work get drowned out by a lot of other projects that don’t demonstrate your potential and ability.

As a designer, you are working for the client, and there will be times when you may not agree with the decisions and choices made by clients. The result could be something that you’re not particularly proud of, but it is what the client wants. Make sure that the items you showcase in your portfolio only include the work that you are truly proud of.

Information on Services Offered

Ideally, your portfolio site should also provide some details about the types of services that you offer. There are all kinds of different designers out there, and some potential clients may want to know more about what you offer before contacting you.

Most portfolio sites include a “Services” page or something similar where the descriptions of different services are provided. However, you decide to do it, be sure that potential clients are able to get an accurate idea of what you have to offer by quickly browsing your site.

Easy Contact Information

The main purpose of the portfolio website is to get inquiries from potential clients, so, of course, it should be easy for website visitors to contact you. Typically this is done with a contact form that can be completed right on the page. Some designers and agencies choose to also list a phone number and mailing address, but at the very least you should have a contact form or email address. This information and/or form can often be found on a “Contact” page, but sometimes it is just included as part of the “About” page.

Able to Be Found

In order for a portfolio site to be effective, it will need to get the necessary exposure. If it is not seen by the right audience it cannot be effective at generating new business. There are a number of different ways that you can get exposure for a portfolio site, including being showcased in galleries like CSS Mania, social media sharing, blogging, and paid advertising.  Maintaining a blog at the portfolio site will require some extra work, but it can be a great way to get traffic and to reach potential clients.

Showcase of Design Portfolio Websites

Now that we have taken a look at some of the specifics of what makes a portfolio site successful, let’s look at some examples.

Box Clever

Box Clever

Why it works:

  • The blue and white color scheme is somewhat simple but very pleasing.
  • The icons add a nice visual touch, and also help to show the types of services that they offer.
  • Bio, portfolio items, and contact information are easy to find through the navigation menu.
  • The responsive design looks great regardless of the screen’s width.

Active Media

Active Media

Why it works:

  • The color scheme is appealing and it also stands out.
  • Interesting illustrations are featured throughout the site.
  • The design and layout is responsive, so the site looks great on any device.
  • The services are clearly described and the “Services” page is included in the main navigation.
  • Contact information included address, email, and phone number are easy to find.

84colors

84colors

Why it works:

  • The design incorporates illustration and textures to create a very attractive look.
  • The “Portfolio” page showcases several excellent projects, as well as details about specific services that were provided to each client.
  • Contact information including an email address, contact form, and Skype handle are easily found. Links are also provided to social media profiles.

Tilted Square

Tilted Square

Why it works:

  • This clean and somewhat minimal design looks great and keeps the portfolio items as the focus.
  • All of the necessary information can be easily found through the main navigational items like “Portfolio”, “About”, and “Services”. The “Get in Touch” link also stands out.
  • The design and layout are responsive, providing an excellent user experience on any device.

2nd Floor

2nd Floor

Why it works:

  • The top of the homepage tells visitors exactly what services 2nd Floor offers.
  • A sticky navigation menu keeps the most important links easy to access as you scroll down the page.
  • The design and layout is responsive and mobile friendly.
  • The portfolio shows a good selection of past projects without including too many (Currently, there are 14 items shown).

BrightByte

brightbyte

Why it works:

  • This site has an attractive design that features a large blurred photo background, plenty of white space, a sticky and a sticky header.
  • The portfolio gets plenty of attention with the red “See Our Work” button on the homepage.
  • Services offered, bio information, and contact information are all easy to find from the primary navigation menu.
  • The responsive layout adapts well to screens of various sizes.

Nic Stauber

nickstauber

  • The header of this portfolio site is pretty unique and helps it to stand out from other portfolios.
  • The work takes center stage and is really the only focus of the site.

Made by Vadim

Made by Vadim

Why it works:

  • The portfolio is sorted by different types of projects (websites, interfaces, logos & icons.
  • Contact information can be easily found through the main navigation.

Alee Foroughi

Alee Foroughi

Why it works:

  • The scrolling effects are the element that stands out the most. The “Scroll Down” and arrow on the homepage make it clear to visitors what they should do.
  • The blurred background photo and the images throughout the page all work well with the design.
  • Bio and contact information are easily found when scrolling down.

Chanified

Chanified

Why it works:

  • This dark, illustrated design is very memorable and distinct.
  • The designer bio and portfolio items are easy to find through the main navigation.
  • Links to social media profiles are also easy to find in the site header.

Spry

Spry

Why it works:

  • The homepage video helps this site to stand out from other portfolios.
  • Instead of simply displaying work samples, they provide case studies with more details on each client project.
  • Contact information is easy to find.
  • The design is responsive.

Rafal Tomal

rafal

Why it works:

  • Bio information, work samples, and contact information can all be easily found through the navigation menu.
  • This site’s layout is responsive.

Alchemy

alchemy

Why it works:

  • The sticky header makes navigation easy.
  • Contact information is easy to find

DrawHistory

draw

Why it works:

  • Bio information and portfolio items are easy to find through the main navigation.
  • They showcase several non-profit organizations that the company supports. This isn’t something that you’ll see on most portfolio sites, but it can help potential clients to look favorably on the company.
  • The responsive design makes it easy to navigate on any device.

Littlelines

Littlelines

Why it works:

  • The photos, graphics, and illustrations used throughout the site look great.
  • The sticky header helps to make navigation easier.
  • Bio, portfolio items, and service details can be easily found.
  • The “Start a Project” link provides a clear way for visitors to contact the company.

Octopus Creative

Octopus

Why it works:

  • This layout is pretty clean
  • Case studies are provided to give detailed information about some client projects.
  • Contact information is easy to find.
  • The design is responsive.

Worry Free Labs

WorryFreeLabs

Why it works:

  • Bright colors are one of the distinguishing features of this design.
  • Services offered, work samples, and bio are easy to find.
  • The responsive design looks great on any device.

Build in Amsterdam

Build in Amsterdam

Why it works:

  • This site uses an interesting design and layout that is rather unique.
  • Scrolling through the portfolio items using the up and down arrows proves to be a pleasant way to view the work samples.
  • Contact information is easy to find.

More Inspiring Sites:

Simple as Milk

simple-as-milk

Theory

theory-portfolio

Formfett

formfett

Sallee Design

jeremy-sallee-design

Glamour.biz

glamour-biz

Guided Creative

guided-creative

Mike Ingram

mike-ingham

Helpful Resources for Portfolio Design

One of the most important things a designer can do for his or her business is to create an attractive portfolio site that communicates effectively with visitors and draws in potential clients. We will look at various resources and articles that can help you to create the right portfolio site for you. We will look at several sources of portfolio design inspiration, tutorials that will lead you through the process of designing a portfolio, scripts that can be used, helpful articles and tips for portfolio design, and WordPress themes and HTML/CSS templates.

1. Inspiration for Portfolio Design:

Checking out examples of creative, effective portfolio sites from other designers can help to give you some ideas that you may be able to use in the design of your own portfolio. While many web design/CSS galleries include a lot of portfolio sites, there are some galleries that are focused exclusively on showcasing well-designed portfolios.

Folio Focus

FolioFocus

Pixel Perfect Portfolios

Pixel Perfect Portfolios

Blog posts that provide inspirational roundups of portfolios:

2. Tutorials for Designing a Portfolio Site:

There are a number of excellent tutorials that can help you by walking through the design of an example portfolio site. Many f these tutorials cover the design and layout work in Photoshop. Others involve coding or development.

How to Build Your Own Single Page Portfolio Website

How to Build Your Own Single Page Portfolio Website

Create a Clean Modern Website Design in Photoshop

Create a Clean Modern Website Design in Photoshop

Create a Dark and Sleek Web Layout Using Photoshop

DarkSleek

Design a Beautiful Website from Scratch

Design a Beautiful Website from Scratch

How to Create a Great Web Design CV and Resume

How to Create a Great Web Design CV and Resume

Create a Webdesign Layout in Photoshop

Create a Webdesign Layout in Photoshop

Create a Grid Based Resume/CV Layout in InDesign

Create a Grid Based Resume/CV Layout in InDesign

Design a Portfolio Site with a Textured Background

Design a Portfolio Site with a Textured Background

Creating a Flash Portfolio Website

Creating a Flash Portfolio Website

Design Studio Layout

Design Studio Layout

Create a Professional Portfolio Design in 17 Easy Steps

Create a Professional Portfolio Design in 17 Easy Steps

How to Create a Grunge Web Design Using Photoshop

How to Create a Grunge Web Design Using Photoshop

Create an Image Rotator with Description (CSS/jQuery)

Create an Image Rotator with Description (CSS/jQuery)

3. Sliders and Galleries to Use in Your Portfolio:

Sliders and image galleries are very common for use with portfolios. Adding one to your site can be very easy because there are many scripts available that you can implement very quickly into your own website.

jQuery Multimedia Portfolio

jQuery Multimedia Portfolio

For more see 25 jQuery Image Gallery/Slider Tutorials

Rather than listing all of the various sliders and galleries here, we recently published a post that featured 25 of them. Please refer to this post if you are looking for more options.

25 jQuery Image Gallery/Slider Tutorials

4. Helpful Articles on Portfolio Design:

The articles listed below will provide tips, advice, and information that can be very useful while you are working on creating a portfolio that will attract clients. For any designer who is looking to get more out of their portfolio, the articles on this list are must-reads.

10 Steps to the Perfect Portfolio Website – Smashing Magazine

Creating the “Perfect” Portfolio – Webdesigner Depot

The One Page Graphic Design Portfolio Guide – You the Designer

Seven Ways to Build Trust on a Portfolio Site – You the Designer

10 Characteristics of Excellent Portfolio Sites – Webdesigner Depot

Ultimate Guide to Using WordPress for a Portfolio Site – Smashing Magazine

Creating a Successful Online Portfolio – Smashing Magazine

50 Excellent Image Galleries You Can Use Today – NETTUTS

Build a Killer Online Portfolio in 9 Easy Steps – Freelance Switch

Alternative Ideas for Designing a Web Portfolio – Fuel Your Creativity

18 jQuery Scripts and Tutorials to Improve Your Portfolio – Designer Daily

5. WordPress Portfolio Themes:

Many designers have chosen to use WordPress as a content management system to power their portfolio site. WordPress is a great option for a portfolio because it’s easy to work with and design for, it can power a blog as part of the portfolio site, there are tons of great plugins available for portfolio sites, and there are also a lot of themes that can be purchased that were created specifically with portfolios in mind.

MagFolio

MagFolio

Sharpfolio

Sharpfolio

YourFolio

YourFolio

Cassiopeia

Cassiopeia

Aquila

Aquila

6. HTML Templates for Portfolios:

For those who do not want to use WordPress for their portfolio, there are also a number of HTML/CSS templates available.

One-Page Portfolio Template

Minimal HTML Portfolio Site

Minimal HTML Portfolio Site

Minimo

Minimo

Great Portfolio

Great Portfolio

For more design resources please see:

Free Download! Interactive Portfolio PDF (InDesign Template)

If you find yourself frequently exchanging emails with potential clients, you may be interested in sending them a PDF file that shows off your work. This free InDesign file will allow you to do just that. You can customize the file to include your own details and samples from your own portfolio, save it as an interactive PDF and email it to potential clients.

Portfolio PDF

This InDesign file has been created by The NetMen Corp and it can be downloaded for free.

Here are some basics details and instructions for editing the file:

  • It comes in InDesign CS5 format, as well as an IDML file to convert it for InDesign CS4.
  • The free font Expressway is used.
  • To add your own portfolio items, save the .jpg files in the same folder as the InDesign file, select one of the existing thumbnails, open the links panel and click on re-link, then select your image.
  • The social networking icons at the bottom can be linked to your own profiles. Select one of the icons and open the hyperlinks panel (Window > Interactive > Hyperlinks).
  • When you are ready to save it as a PDF, go to File > Export and select Adobe PDF (Interactive). Exporting it at 300 ppi will give you the best image quality.

Download the file (13.2 MB zip file)

For more design inspiration please see:

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