Redesign Your Portfolio Site: 4 Tips To Make It Better And Get More Business

Redesigning Your Portfolio?If you’re thinking about redesigning your portfolio site, it’s probably for some pretty good reasons.

Maybe you’re not getting enough business out of it, maybe you want to add more features but you can’t because of a restricting layout, or maybe you’re just tired of the current design.

No matter the reasons, there are some basic steps and guidelines you should follow when redesigning a portfolio site. These four tips will help you make the most out of it:

First, Figure Out If A Redesign Is Necessary

I’m all for innovation and making things pretty but sometimes you simply don’t need to redesign. Remember that the time you take to work on your new design is time away from working on projects for clients. If giving your portfolio site a facelift means you’re going to get more business, then by all means do it! If on the other hand you’re not sure, here are some questions you might want to ask yourself (before you even fire up Photoshop):

  • What is it that you don’t like about your current design?
  • Is it just you or have other people (clients, other designers, etc…) told you it could use a facelift?
  • Are you more skilled now than you were when you put together your current design?
  • Does it still represent you? Maybe your design style changed.
  • Are you loosing business because of the current design?
  • Will a redesign bring you more clients? How?
  • Is it standard compliant?
  • Do you want to add new features? (blog, forum, etc…)
  • Are you currently using a CMS? Do you want to use one?
  • And so on…

Basically, you have to really question yourself as to why you want to redesign. If you just want to redesign, I say it’s not good enough. If you need to redesign, then keep reading! :)

Step 1 – Showcase Your Skills

Maybe one of the reasons you need to redesign is because you’re better at what you do now than you were 3 years ago! People come to your portfolio site because they are looking to hire someone to work on a project with or for them. If you claim to be an experienced graphic designer and Photoshop expert but your own site design doesn’t show you’ve got the skills, people will most probably leave and hire someone else. Focus on your strengths.

Step 2 – Common Sense Usability

Usability really is just pure common sense. Just try putting yourself in your visitor’s shoes. Can you quickly find what the average visitor would look for first? Here’s a quick checklist:

  • Why can’t I click that logo? A lot of the portfolio sites I’ve visited had a ‘home’ link or button in their navigation bars, but I couldn’t click on the logo to go back to the homepage. Most people expect your logo to be linked to your home, and it’s easy to do.
  • My eyes hurt! Red text on a blue background gives me headaches! Ok, now what about very light grey on a white background? I’m fine with that but If some potential clients can’t read your website you probably won’t get the gig. if your eyesight is 20/20, great! But it’s not the case for everyone.
  • is that a link? No need to reinvent the wheel here. Make sure links can be identified easily, whether it’s by using a contrasting color or by underlining them. You want people to click on those, don’t you?
  • What page am I on? It is common practice to highlight the page the user is currently on in the navigation. You can see this in action right here on Freelance Folder. Just click a link in the top navigation bar.
  • How do I contact this guy? Make it easy for people to email you. Maybe you don’t want to list your phone number on your site, but at least make it apparent that you want people to get in touch with you. Don’t scream it but don’t make people search for your contact page either.

Step 3 – Getting Traffic

Of course if you redesign your portfolio site with web standards in mind you won’t have any problems having it featured on most of the CSS Galleries out there. This alone can get you some pretty good traffic!

Also, I strongly suggest adding a blog to your portfolio site! For 3 reasons:

  • Connect with potential clients You do not need to write mile long Illustrator tutorials on your blog – I know for a fact that blogging can quickly become very time-consuming and we’re all busy with projects and clients. But it happened to me countless times that I got hired because of blog posts I wrote! Of course if you’re a freelance writer, this is a no-brainer!
  • SEO: Once the traffic you got from the CSS galleries has died out, are there other ways of getting traffic? Sure! Blogs are great for SEO. Google loves indexing fresh new content on a regular basis!
  • Social Media and social networking: There are many design related social media sites like DesignFloat and DesignBump that can drive quite a lot of traffic to your online portfolio! Thing is, these social media sites won’t send traffic to your homepage, but rather to blog posts you wrote. This is a great way to get traffic. And of course Twitter is always there for networking! :)

Step 4 – Planning For The Future

Now before you go ahead and start designing there’s one more thing: You need to think ahead and plan for the future!

What happens with your new design if in 6 months from now you want to hire other freelancers to work with you, expand your business and offer more services? Will you have to go through all that again? Or will you be able to easily adapt your new design as your business grows? Is it going to be easy and fast to add new features to your site?

Your Turn To Talk

I hope you found these tips useful! If you’re in the process of redesigning your portfolio site it’d be nice if you could share with us your design process and the reasons why you decided to go ahead and give your business a facelift. Did you or will you do a completely new design, or adjust the curent design to fit your needs? See ya in the comment section! :)

Image in this post: tricky


  1. says

    I think that blogging can be a huge boon to a freelance career. Outside of the obvious benefits of castin a wider net in teh search engines for people to find you, writing about what you do can have enormous benefits.
    First and foremost, it requires you to think about what you do, and why you do it that way. Trying to teach someone something is a great way to understand it better yourself.
    The other huge benefit I see is that its a great way to connect with other people in your field. Much of the traffic you’ll get on a blog about what you do will be from people just like you – but that’s ok. Getting your name out there to them means that they can recommend you to a client if they’re too busy and also that you’ll be held more accountable for the type of work you put out – and everyone can benefit from that.

  2. says

    One of the better decisions I made this year was the learn PHP and design a new portfolio website/blog from scratch, replacing my old, tired, all-Flash site. Not only did I increase the SEO of the site SIGNIFICANTLY, but because I built the new site on a CMS (WordPress), I am now able to update my portfolio and blog much more frequently and with effortless ease.

  3. says

    For an artist/designer/photographer etc (ok, anyone who needs a portfolio) the simpler the better. I’ve seen lots of illustration portfolios where the navigation is so complicated, you can’t see the forest for the trees.
    If you’re a coder, there’s nothing immoral with using pre-existing code (used legally of course). Nobody cares if an illustrator can program in AJAX, just show em the goods!

  4. Abdurrahman Gemei says

    As a web designer, what topics are expected of me to write on my blog/portfolio if I’m addressing my clients?

  5. says

    Those tips are great and remind me how pleased I am with my portfolio right now. I believe it’s my style and gives enough information about myself just by the design itself.

    Also, blogging is very important for every freelancer. In your blog you should talk about designing, coding, photography or whatever you do. Make an article or make a list of the “Top 10 Web Design Inspiration Sites”. Offer something unique to your readers and you should be fine. Currently, I am in the process of making a blog for myself that will talk about my daily antics, designing, developing and anything else on my mind. I plan to have a weekly list of useful resources, a different category of resources each time.

    Look at my list of things I’m done and come up with something for your own blog if you are making one. Don’t copy off me though :P

  6. says

    I am not redesigning the portfolio instead I am designing my first ever portfolio. Of course this blog is very helpful for me to make my portfolio attractive, simple.
    Thanks for the Post.

  7. says

    Talk to your clients and find out what they really want in a site. Often we have real misconceptions about what is important! I redesigned my photography site after I found out photo buyers wanted to see lots of smaller thumbnails that they can then enlarge rather than seeing large photos right away in a slide show. Talk to those clients!

  8. says

    This is a clear process for evaluating whether on not to change a site. I have this discussion with myself regularly, and found good questions right at the top under #1. Despite loving some of the newer site designs, I get great feedback from my site for a number of reasons. 1: Visitors can find what they’re looking for; 2: it suits my style. As a print, not web, designer I can manage my own site as it’s set up, which is crucial. Keeps me from changing up the entire site, but instead I constantly do fine tweaks and tuning.

    Seems to be a lot of designers working overtime to impress each other with overdesigned sites that, while beautiful, are impossible to navigate. How does that serve the client?

    Thanks for this breakdown. Most helpful!

  9. says

    I’m re-designing my site at the moment becuase the current one is actually a modified template (the shame!). This may be a rather arbitrary question but how long should it take to create a beautiful portfolio website? I’ve been in photoshop for 3 days now but the end of the design is in sight at least!

    I’m building it in wordpress so this time I’ll have a blog too – something which is definately needed for a SEO bump :)

  10. says

    You actually make it seem sso easy with your presentation but I find this topic to be really
    something which I think I would never understand. It seems too complex
    and very broad foor me. I am looking forward for your next post,
    I’ll try to get the hang of it!


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