5 web design projects that are a strict “No” for your portfolio

Your web design portfolio can make or break your business. Take it as your best man before your potential employers or clients. A best man is someone who projects you in the best light possible and hence is your ideal representative. The same goes for your web design portfolio. The design portfolio should bear testimony to your seasoned expertise, vast design know-how, dynamic design skills and absolute professionalism. It must be compelling enough to make your potential clients and employers look forward to meeting you. Put simply, your design portfolio should be able to generate business.

Needless to mention, your projects will command a lion’s share of real estate across your design portfolio. If you have been in the design space for quite some time now, there is certainly a long list of projects to talk about. But, there are two golden rules of an ideal design portfolio-

  1. Bigger isn’t always better
  2. You just can’t list every single project that you have done to date as that can be counterproductive

You have to be really strategic about the listing of projects when it comes to something as crucial as your design portfolio. Too short a list would be misleading while a list too big would only overwhelm your clients or employers. The tip is to come up with a balanced list of projects. Now, it’s easy to find resources that talk about the right projects to include in a portfolio. But, what many don’t stress on is what kind of projects you “mustn’t” include in the design portfolio. And this is what this post is all about.

Here is a pro guide on the kinds of projects that you should leave out while building up your design portfolio.

17th-century projects with medieval design

Your old projects might hum a ring of nostalgia for you but they aren’t for your current design portfolio. There are two reasons behind it.

First reason

The first one is, that web design is a constantly evolving space. Over time, design trends, preferences and expectations have been through massive alterations and modifications. A design trend that was the most “in-thing” 7 years back is considered to be dated at present. So, if you list old projects past their prime, you would only be losing out on business for yourself.

Second reason

The other reason is listing old projects might mislead your clients or employers about your experience and skills as a modern dynamic web designer. Your old projects reflect those times when you were just an aspiring designer- an amateur who was just starting in the field. Naturally, those old designs don’t have those polished nuances that leverage your latest projects after you have spent years in the industry. So, if you list your old-dated projects, your portfolio will only echo your amateur day. Most importantly, it would fail to convey the seasoned expertise that you have gathered over time which makes you eligible to take on challenging projects today.
The bottom line is- your portfolio will be better sans the old medieval projects. Unless an old project features something a breakthrough, keep those oldies out.

Projects you weren’t “at home” with

When we take up a field as a profession, we have to work on certain projects at times that do not define our forte or our speciality. For example, Tom Cruise wasn’t certainly as comfortable doing “Legend” as he is always cool donning that dashing hunk in the “Mission Impossible” franchise. Why do you think he did that god-forsaken fantasy movie? Well, acting is his profession and at times actors have to take up roles and films just for the sake of work and money. But does that mean “Legend” will get a berth in his list of movie portfolios? Certainly not. The same goes for a web designer.

When you choose web design as a profession- something that earns you your bread- you might have to take up certain projects that you aren’t exactly comfortable with. In other words, projects that don’t define your expertise or speciality.

For instance, let’s say your speciality lies in developing non-WordPress websites. But, at some point, you used WordPress for one of your projects. You had a nice experience but you would prefer not to utilize WP again.

Don’t stress about what you don’t wish to work on

Sometimes, it is absolutely okay to dabble in projects that don’t belong to your particular niche. But if it’s something you aren’t at home with, it’s better not to list it in your portfolio. It’s because, once again, your portfolio is representative of the professional you are. If you list something that you aren’t comfortable doing, it would misguide your employer or client into considering you are looking forward to working more on such projects.

Projects where you have been a sleeping partner

Have you ever done any web design project where you were hired for just 7% of the whole design work? Well, almost every designer out there has had a similar experience. This is nothing uncommon, especially in the freelancing world. Now, there could be plenty of reasons behind that. It could be that the project offered you a chance to work for a big brand or with a bunch of leading designers and you took it as a learning opportunity.
Fair enough- possibly those projects helped you to learn and grow. But, that doesn’t mean you will include such projects in your portfolio. Why? The prime reason is since your contribution in the project is negligible, the design doesn’t exactly define “your” skills or expertise. Listing these kinds of projects would mislead your potential employer or client into thinking that it’s you who have performed the work while in reality, it isn’t- and that’s unethical. On the flip side, if the project has not fared well, it would also cast a wrong impression on your experience and expertise. Put simply, it would be inappropriate to include a project in your portfolio where you have been a mere silent partner.
However, you can mention the great learning opportunity you have received while working on these projects during your interview.

Projects that had only offered peanuts

Do not include a project in your portfolio that paid below your regular price point. And these include even those projects that you were in your niche.

Now, nobody is saying that low-budget or small projects aren’t exactly valuable. Sometimes, they could offer an excellent opportunity for a designer to learn and gain experience. Low-budget projects could be handy when you are trying to pull in smaller gigs. Read why and how in our previous blog post here. But they are certainly not the ones that you would include in your portfolio.

Your price point defines your expertise

Every professional has the basic right to get “adequately” paid for his or her skill and expertise. Very simply, a website developed by a seasoned designer will always cost more than a site built by a talented yet newbie designer. It’s because an amateur designer doesn’t have the premier skills and know-how that a veteran designer has. Likewise, the website developed by the new designer won’t have that advanced outlook or appeal that the one developed by a leading designer would boast. Thus, it makes perfect sense for an expert designer to charge reasonably more than that a debutante professional in the field.

Let your portfolio justify your stature

You had had your tryst with low-budget projects previously but now you have evolved into better and bigger stuff. You have attained the right to ask for a higher price point for your dynamic design-development skills. Your portfolio should echo that to justify your stature as an industry-leading designer. At this juncture, if you list those low-budget projects from yesteryears they would only downplay your huge experience and expertise. And that would only make you miss out on the high-profile projects that are meant for you.

Projects that bombed out

Not every project you have done churns out a good memory. There have been some projects in your career that had ended in a fiasco. You might have had a bitter fight with your client over a project that you don’t wish to talk about ever. Or it could be that you were really happy with a previous project but unwanted misunderstandings spoilt an otherwise healthy rapport with your old client. And now both of you loathe each other after that project was doomed.
You should not certainly include those disastrous projects in your portfolio. These projects are like those old futile love letters that won’t take you anywhere and it’s better to trash them out of your life. Your portfolio must showcase those projects which you are happy and proud to talk about.

Your takeaway

Do not include any project in your portfolio that could put you in a somewhat messy situation. Never present a portfolio that conveys a wrong message about your talent, abilities, expertise and niche. So, be extremely strategic and picky when it comes to choosing projects for the portfolio.
Go for the ones that can boast your advanced skills, USP, speciality and the enormous experience you have gathered over the years. Focus on the ones that reflect your updated know-how on the current web design-development trends and expectations. Count on the works which have achieved rave reviews from your clients and their end-users. Bank on those projects that can leverage your true worth in the modern highly competitive job market and enable you to stand out in the crowd.

Hexadesigns is a web design company located in Kolkata, India. We take advantage of the latest trend and technologies to design, redesign and develop websites. This is our blog where we publish information for the general people and web developers for their knowledge enhancement.

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