Preferred format/delivery method for portfolios?

Just wondering what folks are using, and what reviewers prefer. I have been going with a PDF that I put on ( The PDF, generated from illustrator is over 200M at my best efforts of compressing it, so the issuu thing was a solution. (admittedly, it’s seeming like illustrator isn’t the right tool for this job)

Still the quality on issuu is degraded, and I recently found out that when viewed with some browsers (versions of ie and firefox) it either says “Sorry, this publication is not available” or only shows the first two pages with no navigation of any kind. Really a bummer to think of how many people probably skipped over me because the viewer didn’t work.

Most job applications ask for a work sample <5M, so I’m thinking maybe I just send them one project? The other option is to put it all on a website… is this the standard now? …just sending them the link? or is an attached file of some kind preferred?

Hey there,

I’d have a PDF and an online version too.

I wouldn’t use ISSUU at all. If I were you I’d buy a domain and install wordpress on it, then buy a premium theme and do it that way. There’s indexhibit too, although that requires some CSS know-how. Try Cargo Collective, or Orman Clark has just released a great platform called Either way, any of those are better than ISSUU in my opinion.

As you already know 200MB is far too big, it is possible to get it down to under 5MB, I have about a 25 page portfolio sample that is 3MB for applications that only ask for 3MB and under. I wouldn’t just send one project as an application. I worked my portfolio up in Photoshop and saved each image as a jpeg and then compressed it into a PDF to keep the file size down. Each slide is A3 and 72dpi.

Hope that helps.


Thanks for all the recommendations David!

Squarespace is also a viable option, I’ve just got my portfolio website up and running. It’s relatively cheap for what they offer which includes support and a free custom domain. As for layout etc there are portfolio specific themes or you can select any theme and get in the nuts and bolts of it and customise how you like it. I’ve been really impressed with it so far.

Another option for you to ponder, hope it helps!

Yeah, your illustrator sizes are huge because of the drop shadows, effects, filters, etc.

If you rasterize your files in PS after you get them where you want, you’ll have a much better time compressing it under 5MB.

Also, Coroflot is pretty sweet now for online, and it’s free…

(Feel like this has been covered a few times before)

Issuu should be banned. I’ve never seen a good application of it, and it affects my perception of the work. Who the heck cares about making it look like pages are turning?

Cargo Collective or Wordpress running a Graph Paper Press theme are fine. For submitted portfolios a PDF is best. Unless you are applying for a IxD job where I’m supposed to evaluate motion or interaction, keeping it simple and familiar is best. Remember you are a designer and your goal is satisfying the user. If your user is a harried design professional going through books, make something he or she can use easily. Most of the time that’s a PDF. I’d say 5MB isn’t an absolute but between 5-10 is OK. Some email filters will block bigger ones though.

I previously had PDFs at Issu, though only so I could embed on a blog based portfolio. I have been using a custom coded Blogger template to do the trick up to this point with very good results (easy to use, customize with almost no coding knowledge, looks clean and easy to use, have got good comments on the format).

I’m now transitioning as we speak to a Behance Prosite web portfolio. From my experience so far (in the middle of layout and adding content), the format is great. Allows you to have a “real” looking website, easily add content and not have to worry about hosting or other technical issue. Thus far, highly recommended.

PDF portfolio/teaser I think is still important. Easy to look at on all devices, easy to print if need be, easy to forward to someone. Larger PDF can be uploaded to Dropbox and a link sent instead of an attachment with a note about file size/format (ie. “PDF Link, 12.8Mb”)

Optimization is key, but depending on content, sometimes hard to compress. I have a 24 page (spreads) portfolio that I can’t get below 12.8Mb, and that is using Indesign with customized settings. Running through Distiller sometimes helps, but even then can be difficult to reduce.


I’ll go out on a limb here and suggest that a web portfolio should be your first priority, and if you have time… worry about the paper/PDF version later. That usually gets mixed reactions, especially from old-school ID guys, but web/digital portfolios have a lot of benefits to them. Primarily, it never sleeps, it’s ubiquitous and mobile, and it’s a tool for people to share your work. (That and you’re not expected to compress 16 hi-res11x17" pages down to 2MB to fit with some ridiculous HR submission form.)

I’ll also admit I haven’t had a paper portfolio in 2 years, and absolutely prefer a digital presentation for any style of interview. Even for in person interviews, a web/digital portfolio is more flexible and scalable and can be on a laptop, a phone, and a conference room screen at the same time.

Plus, web portfolios allow you richer media–which ID and product marketing is already swaying towards.

That the web based portfolio is essential in that it is always, anywhere accessible is a very good point.
Being able to pull out an iPad and show your work at any time is a great benefit.
Also being represented online at all times with the possibility to have other people and blogs share your work is great.

However, personally, in a face to face situation, I would always prefer a printed portfolio over a digital presentation.
To huddle over a physical portfolio has, at least to me, always felt like it encouraged more discourse. We were able to easily flip back and forth, relate projects to one another easily.

This might just be me, but I also very much enjoy to have something physical to bring, to hold onto and to leave behind if need be.
Somehow I feel more confident in having a physical manifestation of my work with me.

What does the URL look like? Is it like “”?

I’m all for the relatively simple, ready to go option, but do you think being ‘virtually close’ to other designer’s websites is a good or bad thing? If done well, there’s the opportunity to stand out, in a sea of mediocrity.

You can use it with a custom domain so it’s just No way to tell its on behance. No logos, ads or anything.


When reviewing portfolios, I prefer a weblink or a pdf. Personally I find ISSUUs interface and lag a real pain, I wouldn’t use it.

When interviewing someone, we always have a projector ready to go so the person can project from a laptop or show printed examples. A personal pet peeve that I notice happing a lot lately is when candidates come in with nothing more than is on their website or in the sample PDF they sent. I’ve seen that already. That got you in the door. Now you have to blow me away to get the job. When I interviewed as a young design I would try to bring enough to annihilate people and then some. If an interview goes well, it will usually run long. Have enough to keep it going.