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Designing a successful one-page portfolio

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There are countless approaches you can take when creating your own design portfolio.

Every designer is unique and should, therefore, have a unique portfolio.

PS: Do you know what potential clients really think of your portfolio? If not, click here.

You'll also enjoy this episode of our new podcast...

But when it comes to designing a successful one-page portfolio, there are a few key ingredients you’ll want to be sure to include. After reading through a few of my suggestions, be sure to suggest your own tips, share what has worked for you, and help us all be better and more successful designers.

Reasons why you might want a one-page portfolio

First, it might be good to answer the question of designing a one-page portfolio versus an entire site dedicated to your work. (Keep in mind, when we say “one-page” here, we are referring to your online portfolio. A one-page print portfolio is just an overcrowded resume.)

There are multiple reasons you may want to design a one-page portfolio. Some of them include:

  • It doesn’t take as long. Working as a designer, you have clients, you have paperwork, you have other projects that, sadly, take precedence over your personal material. Sometimes it’s hard to find the time necessary to craft a perfect design portfolio web site extraordinaire. When you feel swamped with other work, designing a one-page portfolio can be sufficient to satisfy your business needs without destroying your other projects.
  • It’s simple. There are thousands of design businesses out there. Imagine how your potential clients must feel when they are searching the web for a designer. If they happen to stumble on to your one-page portfolio site, think how refreshing it could be for them to not be overwhelmed with a bunch of fluff. They can get all the material they need in one page, contact you from that same page, and be on their way.
  • Conversion rates increase. In conjunction with the point mentioned above, it’s much more likely that a potential client contacts you if your contact form is on the same page as your portfolio, testimonials, etc. Every time you make a user click through to a new page (clicking the “contact me” or “get a free quote” button, for example) you risk losing potential clients.

While a one-page portfolio site may not be ideal in all situations. It definitely offers some clear advantages. Stay tuned to Millo (RSS, Email, Twitter) for an upcoming article on the disadvantages of one-page portfolio sites. Once you have all the information, you make the call.

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Elements of a successful one-page portfolio

I’ll not attempt to create an exhaustive list of essential elements here, so please feel free to add to the list and make it better. There are a few elements that I have seen on one-page portfolio sites that really make them stand-out. They say to your client, “Although there’s only one page of content here, I am serious about design and I am anxious to help your business grow”.

It’s always tempting to include every project you have ever worked on in your portfolio. After all, you never know what projects your potential clients will like the most, right? Wrong.

Avoid the temptation of including too many sample works in your portfolio. Take time to choose 5-10 of your best pieces at most. Write a nice summary of the project, include a nice image, and a link (if applicable).

Take a look at the wide selection of original paintings at saatchi uk to get an idea of what I mean when it comes to visually sharing your design and art with your clients. They balance quantity with quality: a fine balance you’ll need to learn as well.

Sometimes it’s tempting to write an extensive “about me” our “about my work” section. Keep in mind, the more content you have on your one-page portfolio, the more scrolling the user will have to do. The more simple you keep the “about” section, the better. Instead of writing 1,000 words on your past experiences, skillset, and prior projects, try summing it all up in 100 words or even less.

One tip for writing a successful “about me” section: Write a paragraph, then take out half the words and repeat until you can’t take out any more words. Once you can communicate who you are and what you do in the shortest possible number of words, you are well on your way to grabbing a potential client’s attention.

Just as with each section mentioned previously, this section should not be lengthy. Although you may have tons of clients who have become raving fans of your work, choose the best testimonials only and include one or two on your one-page portfolio. If you just can’t live without all of your client testimonials, you could always write some simple javascript or PHP code to randomize the testimonials. That way, every time the page loads, a new testimonial is displayed is random order.

The contact form could possibly be the most important section of your one-page design portfolio. Why? Because your site is pointless unless your users convert into clients. Otherwise, you are paying for hosting, domain registration, etc. for no redeeming reason.

When designing your contact form, make it easy to understand. If you have a captcha (the image of text usually used for spam control) make sure it is easy to use and won’t deter any potential clients. Keep fields to a minimum: I would suggest only requesting their name, email address, and a message the first time around. Don’t ask them to fill out a marketing survey, or ask them how they heard about you. There will be ample time for that later.

Keep it simple! The site’s whole purpose is to get people to use the contact form.

I’m going to repeat myself because I feel like this may be one of the most overlooked aspects of a successful design portfolio. Use strong calls to action. A call to action can be anything from “Follow me on twitter” to “Contact me for a free quote today!”. Good calls to action will exhibit urgency (call today! -or- get a free quote now!), should explain the benefit of acting (call now for a free consultation -or- email me today and get 10% off your order), and be easily seen and hard to ignore.

Never miss an opportunity to get your portfolio site visitors to take action.

Lastly, but certainly not least, make sure to give your site visitors sufficient opportunity to connect with you. Provide links to your twitter feed, design blog, flickr stream, facebook account, and more. The more they feel a genuine connection with you, the more likely they are to begin a professional relationship with you.

What else makes your portfolio successful? Share with us.

I know that my list is incomplete and that you have a lot of ideas to add to the article. What other suggestions can you offer to make your one-page portfolio really stand out? What has worked for you? What hasn’t? I look forward to reading your thoughts on the matter.

This article brought to you by:Looking to redesign your printed business cards? Consider trying a vertical business card layout, or perhaps a die cut to make your business card really stand out from the others.

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About Preston D Lee

Preston is an entrepreneur, writer, podcaster, and the founder of this blog. You can contact him via twitter at @prestondlee.

Leave a Comment



  1. I think that near to the contact form should be an active email link, because even if the form is hyper-usable people of human resources feel always more confortable in their email-clients.

    (see also at http://andreacanton.com/design/most-annoying-things-that-still-stay-around-the-internet/)

    PS: anyway good post. 🙂

  2. I’d agree with Andrea, I think the active email link is a good idea. Nice post.

  3. I think if your going to make quite a long single page site, change the styling to differentiate on the sections you come to, maybe different colours or a totally different themed section but have it still tie in with the overall theme of the site. Also make sure there is some click “Back to top” or “Up” links for the user to click on to be magically transported back up to the top of the page, your user doesn’t even have to break a sweat when reaching the bottom and going back up!

  4. This is a great article, thanks for tips!

  5. HUH nice point to think on.

  6. Brilliant tips noted, and bookmarking this page for my re-design over the next few weeks.

  7. Nice article. Lots of good points to follow. Creativity with presentation of the site is important too.

  8. Great article =)

    I have a one-page portfolio, I use a javascript to show my jobs, I think is much simpler for the user point of view. Imagine someone recruting and visiting a bunch of portfolios, it’s easier when things are just right in front of them

  9. Agree, that’s all point are very important. But for beginners, we didn’t have a testimonial section.

  10. Thanks for the tips, I’m a freelance Illustrator and this will come in handy.

  11. agreed

  12. These are so helpful!
    I used these as a guide to design my one page portfolio!



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