I made my very first portfolio website in 2013. Since then, I’ve pushed myself to redesign my portfolio every summer, looking back on the lessons, documenting new projects, and applying new skills.
Yes, it’s a lot of work–I spend an entire summer for each portfolio redesign. But the annual portfolio redesign is one of the major reasons why I grew as a designer over the past five years, and I’d highly encourage other designers to give it a try as well. Here what I’ve learned over the course of my six years of annual portfolio redesign.
It helps me reflect what I’ve learned in the past year
I learn so many new things each year, from new tech and design skills to even how I approach product design process. I then apply these learnings to my annual portfolio redesign. In the last year’s redesign, for example, I used React.js, which was my biggest learning from the year before. Using React makes it easy to reuse commonly used components like carousels, keeping the code more modular and making the user experience consistent across the site.
It lets me share updates on what I’ve been doing
Every year, I keep my portfolio updated with new projects from work, freelance, and side projects. This is important especially because I work at the fast-changing startup Blitz. Blitz has changed its focus from a mobile news app (2016) and an e-sports publication (2017) to a desktop gaming insights app (2018). That’s why it’s important to keep my portfolio updated, in order to document my journey at Blitz and create the best representation of where I am at in my career.
It lets me get creative without constraints
Working on my portfolio redesign is one of the rare opportunities where I can be 100% creative with my work. It’s my website–I am the only stakeholder in this project. As such, I can focus on creating a design that’s unique to myself and try something unconventional without worrying about anyone else’s opinions. Sometimes as a product designer, you resort to conventional, safe methodologies as you design interfaces that meet business and product goals. That’s why you should still dedicate some time to flex your creative muscle. Your portfolio is a perfect workout.
Tips for redesigning your portfolio
1. Make it unique to yourself
Take a moment to think about how you can make your portfolio website unlike anyone else’s. In particular, the header of your home page above the fold is the area where you can be 100% you and land a striking first impression. Don’t be basic and just write “I’m John Smith. Product Designer at Facebook” in Helvetica or Noe Display. Think about what makes you unique–you could use your cultural heritage, or maybe your background, like a physicist who became a designer–as an inspiration for your design direction.
2. It needs to serve a purpose
You should still treat your portfolio just like any other product–you should think about who’s your audience and define the goals of your website.