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A web design portfolio is to a web designer what an exhibition is to an artist: the chance to show off his or her work to the general public via a carefully selected cross–section of work. Just as artists’ exhibitions vary in quality so too do web design portfolios. So, here is how to spot a good web design portfolio.

Not too small

Although a good web designer will only show a sample of their best work a portfolio should not be too small. If there is only a handful of work on there then it’s likely the designer is new to the business and perhaps inexperienced. If in doubt ask to see some more links.

Variety of designs

Look for varied designs; if they all look the same you must ask yourself—do I want my site to look like all the others in this portfolio? If all the sites look very similar it may also be a warning to you that the designer bases all their designs on a single template (to save themselves time).

Variety of types

There are many types of websites. You can have simple brochureware websites, online shops, community sites, content–managed websites and many more. Does the portfolio demonstrate a range of skills in this area? If the designer has poor development skills you’ll find they’re all online brochures.

Variety of clients

Are the clients from different industries? If a designer has a niche market that’s fair enough if they’re not but be sure to check that you fall under that niche. Clients come in all shapes and sizes: creative people, tradespeople, small businesses, corporates, etc. Each one requires a different mind and skill set. Also, be wary of a designer who has done quite a few sites but all for the same client. You may find they are stuck in their ways.

Variety of skills

The are several facets to web design:

  1. Design—Making the sites look nice and easy to use
  2. Development—Programming the site to have interactive features such as news and shopping
  3. Marketing—Getting the site to appear on search engines, converting visitors into clients/customers
  4. Usability—Making the site intuitive and easy to use

Does the portfolio score highly on all counts?

Do the sites link to completed sites?

Make sure the sites in the portfolio are not just ‘concepts’. A concept is usually just a visual—a far cry from a finished site!


Also look around the site and see if the portfolio is backed up by testimonials. Check that the testimonials appear to be from legitimate companies and individuals.

You can view my web design portfolio here.

If you’d like to use me in a web project call me on 07843 483 078 or get a free quote online.

Tim Bennett is a web designer and developer. He has a First Class Honours degree in Computing from Leeds Metropolitan University and currently runs his own one-man web design company, Texelate.