what's in an experienced designer's portfolio? School me??

hopefully this isn’t too general a set of a obvious questions:

what things should be in/on a portfolio website of an experienced (8+ years) designer? what are good ways to show (design) competency? how much of the entire process is good to show, i.e. how much should the website work mirror a physical/presentation portfolio?

If you have 8 years of experience, I would expect to see a lot more finished products, with less process. Final product photography and beauty shots are important, along with a clear story outlining your role, your key contributions, and what problems this product solved in the competitive landscape.

Usually with professional work, you may be limited on the conceptual development you can publicly post. Many times sketches will show other ideas which may contain potentially valuable IP which you do not want to share. If that is not the case, then feel free to post at least 1-2 of the best examples of your process. Once I see one set of good sketches I’ll trust that with 8 years of experience you can sketch enough to hold down a job, and if I want to see more I’ll ask to see that during an in person interview.

Frankly I would spend less time on physical/print portfolio’s these days. I’m going to spend time looking at your digital portfolio before I ever call you in for a phone call or interview, and if you don’t have the chops displayed there you wouldn’t even make it in the door. Once you’re in the door I’m going to care more about your project management, engineering leadership, and decision making process as a Sr++ designer than I do about your ability to shave foam or do marker renderings.


appreciate the detailed response; yea print would have the least priority…

i guess my real question is how much is appropriate to show with a portfolio website? if it is all finished products, and some methodology, but without much process work (recently had a good portion of my work lost to a computer hard drive failure), especially in the niche of footwear design, i wonder if not having the things like mockups, sketches, & other process stuff that is would look like too much of an omission even for a website?

also given that i have lost so much of my previous work and have been out of work for almost 2 years now, i know i will need to do some current/new personal projects to show process but i worry that putting theoretical products/projects in a portfolio at this level would be kind of looked at as filler?

Stuff that shows their experience :wink:

aha yea, i feel a lil’ stupid asking but having not much exposure to how senior designers talk about their work in the context of seeking employment i’m just really unsure of what the expectation is…

How you think, how you work and what you can do is more important that what you have done. People should be hiring you for you can do for them in the future, not necessarily what you’ve done in the past.

If you can show this though “new” process, sketches, examples and a combination of go to market stuff you’ve done you should be OK.


PS. Always have a backup.

I think once you get beyond the 10 year mark, your reputation does a lot of the work for you. Other than that I usually show finished work (products, websites, branding, experiences) with a brief (3 sentence) description of my contribution, maybe a little process as back up.

the timeliness of the failure was hilariously poor, the hard drive literally went out during trying to do a backup! i thought i had a redundant drive but thought wrong…that one would be interested in how a person will fit in/perform instead of what they have previously done makes sense, i just want to try represent the work at least on the level expected

don’t know if i’ll ever be at the level where i have the type reputation that will create opportunities for me, but hopefully i will have done enough to where i can be useful…easier said than done but being concise is definitely something i need to work on

thanks to you both!

Just giving you a hard time - my wife only lets me have 1 smart ass answer a month - so i used it here :wink:

I really think you need to ask your self -

  1. what have i been doing
  2. what do i want to be doing
  3. what does the job im applying for want…

And when someone wants a portfolio - dont be afraid to ask - what are you looking to see samples of -

Like many on this forum - i have 20 + years of work - i need the company to tell me what they are looking for so i can provide them with a focused portfolio and not waste their time or mine.

ha, no worries! i won’t snitch on you, hate for you to waste the one opportunity on this!!

yea, most places tend to be relatively upfront about 3, i think 1 is mostly explainable, albeit shakily…2 is where i’m the cloudiest, in part because i’m not super confident about 1, more due to feeling like my knowledge is not where it maybe should be…eventually i’ll figure that part out…or not and i’ll have to do something else. so i’ve been trying to put together a decent portfolio site that shows enough to be interesting so i can possibly get to the those next steps

'preciate the words of wisdom greatly!

You probably know this already but just want to make sure.
Was the hard drive SSD or a spinner? because if it is an old spinner you can get people to get the info off it.

unfortunately it was apple’s fusion drive (the associate at the store actually told me when i brought it in to see what the issue was that the fusion drives are pretty #turrible, especially in terms of data retrieval) which merge an ssd on the motherboard with a larger capacity spinning drive through software…