Portfolio/website feedback

Hi guys,

So I’ve been applying for co-ops for Spring 2019 and I haven’t been getting as many responses from employers as I’ve gotten from my previous co-op searches. I feel like my portfolio might not seem that great for someone in my year and I’m looking for advice and critiquing. Please don’t hold back, if it’s not good say something.

For my design program I have to have five co-ops, so I have two more (Spring and Fall 2019) before I graduate in 2020. I’ve co-oped at a consultancy and two medical companies, and I’m trying to go away a bit from medical so I have a wider range of skills. Also because I have a interest in technology and a degree in engineering, my ideal jobs would be a place where I could use new technology for creative design solutions.

I have a link to my portfolio on my website here DVAN | DESIGN and feel free to check stuff out on the site as well.

edit Michael pointed out that it could be inconvenient to go to my site and download the portfolio so here is a google drive link

Also here’s my old portfolio from last year

The attachment is a new short project I worked on early this semester in Japan


I think that it’s currently lacking breadth of problem solving, and I want to see more brainstorming and conceptual development. I.e. did you think about a wide variety of ways to solve the problem?

The technical process content (sketch, CAD, proto etc.) seems to be there, particularly for the spray gun, but you haven’t given it enough dominance or air-time. For example, on page 16 in the bottom right corner, if I zoom right in, do I see a functioning prototype with all of the components? Definitely show this! If you can show me the how and why your gun is the way it is, informed by a potentially working example, it makes the project way more interesting to me to look at. Show the journey as much as the final design.

The chess project is fun, and I feel like it would be a much stronger opener if it included some form or brand exploration with the interactive concept. Same comments as above.

The lamp and clock aren’t particularly strong projects in my opinion. Do you have any snippets from your co-ops that you have permission to show instead?

Welcome D’Van! Thanks for joining and going straight to posting your work.

I’ve got a few simple structural things for you to consider. A portfolio is a design problem. Your target user is an overworked, frantically busy, caffeine addicted studio design director that needs to hire someone. So think of every decision from their point of view. Think of how amazon has removed as many Barries as possible to get people to fluidly purchase. They have it down to one click in some cases. How can that thinking inform your portfolio? In a few ways I see right away:

  1. delivery. I have to click a link, and then download a file? I know it seems like a small thing, but it is an immediate barrier. Make it simpler. Even if you export all the pages in your PDF as jpegs and post them in a long blog scroll style.

  2. timing. So now I clicked your link and downloaded you file and I have to go 5 pages until I get to some of your work and that first introduction to your work is a couple of traditional looking chess pawns. I think this would have been a more compelling image and I would make it full bleed and get to it faster.

  3. strongest image. This image is probably the strongest visually in the pdf and it is 28 pages deep. You may want to consider moving that project up to the front.

  4. clarity. Do you talk to this thing? I think it could be a bit more clear with a simple speech bubble “hey wall clock, do this for me…” kind of thing. Maybe I misunderstood what it does?

  5. info. I would move the resume to the end of the portfolio. In general I don’t read any of that stuff until the end if I liked the work enough to actually read about the candidate. :slight_smile:

  6. surfacing. One last point, I think it would be good to have a project that shows a bit more complex surfacing

I hope these points help you think about the portfolio a bit. Please take it as input from my particular point of view and do what you will with it.

Do you have any tips or examples of ways to show your brainstorming? Because I do that for my projects, but not always in the most presentable manner, so when it comes portfolio time, it looks like I didn’t think about anything I suppose

During my first co-op, I only worked on one packaging project where I did a lot of hand model prototypes and some client presentation photoshop work. My next two were with Johnson and Johnson Medical devices, and because of the medical industry some of that work in still ongoing. Ideally I’d like my next co-op have give something that I could put in my portfolio sooner than later.

Thank you.

  1. I edited the post and added a google drive link instead.

  2. & 3) I’ll shuffle some things around.

  3. Sort of. The clock is basically a Google Home/Alexa but with a special function to remind you of events in a less obtrusive way. The picture shows you adding an event to your calendar app, then later after you have forgotten, the pendulum lights up, which catches your attention, and then you remember the event and attend.

  4. Good point to consider when applying directly to companies. Generally with the system we have at school, employers who are in our job board receive all of our portfolios in one batch, so our adviser has us follow sort of a general title/resume/aboutme format in the beginning.

  5. Thanks. I had a hand shears project that had some surfacing in my old portfolio from last year, but I took it out because I didn’t think it was that great. It would probably be best for me to do surfacing for the knight of my chess project because that’s something I didn’t have time to work on when I first did the project two years ago.

Hi D’van, thanks for posting. I like the presentation style of your portfolio, clean and simple, telling a small story for each project.
However on entry of the page I get two download links - any hiring manager would want to see your work there immediately.
Also in your PDF portfolio you go much more into depth so where you can show your industrial designership. I mean, foam models, context renderings, ideations, 3d printing, this is what makes your work believable so emphasize that also in your web portfolio.
Also it is a bit heavy on the side projects and many of the renders are flat while others do show good quality.

Designwise go into more depth - a new product is not an incremental improvement with a new feature, it has to make a real difference to the market. A smart clock for example can be much more, think of it in different ways - a digital information system, a manager, an artwork, entertainment? You do have a good sense for branding and positioning so exploit that.

I like your chess set, phone case idea and adidas abstraction exercise the most.

Have a look through Behance and Coroflot for examples. I don’t think there is anything wrong with showing ‘raw’ work like basic mock ups and sketches, even if it doesn’t feel presentable. Not everything has to be a polished render, just make sure that it helps tell your story and is understandable.

You have a lot of great prototyping work where you’ve clearly been thinking about how the product was going to work, so I know that you’ve come up with a number of ideas, but in the folio you’ve condensed all of that work into a single little thumbnail on a page. I think it would benefit from showing more of the hard work than the finished product.

For example, on the spray gun, I would condense pages 14 and 15 together, drop page 19 and 20 altogether and use the painter image as the money shot backdrop for the project intro on page 13. Then use the 3 pages that you’ve saved to really show all of the work you’ve done with larger and more dynamic images.

As Yo has said, this is also just my opinion and my particular point of view. I hope that it is helpful.

Second on the painter image - it clarifies and presents the entire project, making it believable as an industrial design enterprise.

On ideation, I run into the same thing - thinking for yourself while exploring concepts. The best advice is to take note everytime you have an idea that counts as novel in terms of form and/or functionality, and make a sketch that is immediately presentable - not stamp-sized, colorized, clean lines, like that. Also take good photos of mock-ups and prototypes, get them off the work floor and into the photo studio.