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portfolio tips

10 portfolio tips for web design students

By DeVry University


Earning a degree or certification in web design is only half the battle. Now it’s time to show your work to a prospective employer and prove your skills. With creative hands-on work such as web design, many employers require more than just a resume for you to land the job. Often they may want to see design samples.

A portfolio of web design samples is a “crucial piece of the hiring process,” says Martin Eggert, director of interactive at HCK2 Partners in Dallas. “I wouldn’t hire anyone who didn’t have a portfolio” and couldn’t explain what they were trying to achieve with each piece they designed and how they approached the work.

Here Eggert offers 10 tips for creating a strong portfolio that could impress potential employers.

 

TOUT YOUR DEGREE OR CERTIFICATION
Like many firms, HCK2 Partners won’t hire anyone without a degree or certification, Eggert says.

A certification shows prospective employers that candidates possess a specific skill set that’s valuable to the company. Candidates with certifications are often able to start working on design projects immediately. For businesses, that means there is no down time, as a skilled and confident employee is put in place.

 

BE READY TO PRESENT YOUR WORK
“In our office, every conference room has an Internet connection and display,” Eggert says. “Whenever I’m interviewing a candidate, I will hand them the keyboard and tell them to walk me through their stuff.”

Eggert says he wants to see a variety of samples that will show the progression of the candidate’s work. It’s not just about seeing the visuals, he says, but also about having an open-ended conversation about the candidate’s work.

It’s best to bring your laptop, too, just in case you’re not in a conference room with Internet access.

 

FOCUS ON TWO TO FOUR LINKS
Be prepared to show a potential employer two to four links that represent your work.

“If you don’t know what you want to show, that shows a lack of presentation skills," he says. Don’t present printouts of your webpages or a printed list of URLs, Eggert adds.

 

IT'S OK TO SHOW COURSE WORK
If you are applying for an internship or junior designer position, it’s OK to show coursework, Eggert says. But if you’re applying for an art director position, Eggert expects to see client work.

 

SHOWING DESIGN VERSUS FRONT-END DEVELOPMENT WORK 
Although the line between design and front-end development is getting more blurred, if someone is applying for a design position, Eggert wants to see .jpg files and layouts, and he will ask the candidate to discuss how he or she developed and approached the design.

If the position is more focused on front-end development, Eggert prefers the candidate send him the webpage in an email after the interview so he can click through it and test its functionality.

 

DEMONSRATE SOFTWARE KNOWLEDGE
Any candidate must have a good knowledge of the software he or she will be using to create web pages and designs, Eggert says. If a candidate doesn’t understand Photoshop or InDesign, that’s an immediate red flag.

 

HAVE A WEB PRESENCE
Eggert does a web search on every candidate he interviews. Not having a social media or web presence is a red flag, he says, because if you are seeking a job in web design you should be active on the Internet. Beyond Twitter or Instagram, which designers often use to showcase samples of their work, Eggert expects each candidate to have a personal website.

 

SHOW CONFIDENCE IN YOUR WORK
Since web design is a client-facing business, he pays careful attention to how candidates talk and present themselves during the interview. Beyond showcasing attractive designs, Eggert says he wants each candidate to demonstrate how they will handle themselves in tough situations.

 

KEEP YOUR LINKEDIN PROFILE UP TO DATE
Eggert will search LinkedIn if he is looking for someone with specific skills. There is value in keeping your profile up to date, he says. “It’s one of the easier methods for me to go on the web to get a pulse on people’s skill sets,” he says.

 

KNOW DESIGN AND SOFTWARE TRENDS
Demonstrate you are up to date on industry trends and software. Eggert asks candidates what designers they follow and admire, and how they keep up on the latest trends.

The best way to demonstrate these skills is to tout the knowledge obtained in a college course, like those offered at DeVry University, which prepares students for careers in this field.

DeVry University offers a range of career-focused programs including those in Media Arts & Technology, taught by supportive faculty with real-world experience. At DeVry, you can build your schedule to fit your life with classes offered in eight-week academic sessions year round on campus, online or in one of our innovative extended classrooms.*

DeVry University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission (HLC), www.hlcommission.org. To learn more, visit devry.edu.

* Program, course, and connected classroom availability varies by location.