7 Design Portfolio Mistakes That Send Your Clients Away

Appealing clients or new employers need proper preparation, including a spectacular portfolio. It happens in every line of work. However, the design realm pays more attention to the project detail. One will feel very frustrated if their hard work and skillset is going unnoticed. That is why a design portfolio takes a lot of consideration to prepare. 

From the personal information, details, project information, skills, the reviews should be on top to gain the best response. As a vital part for people to nail a project deal, no mistake is allowed. One wrong move, and their client might run away in a different direction. Thus, it ended with no project deal. 

To avoid the inconvenience and the worst-case scenario, you need to learn some common design portfolio mistakes. Sometimes, the mistakes are not something big. But when it is done over time, it can plummet your chance to secure a client project. So, below are mistakes that you should avoid and how to fix them. 

1. Unpolished Personal Branding

Underline the fact that your portfolio is your branding. You use it for marketing your skill, your ability, and expertise to work with a company or client’s project. However, if your branding is very disheveled, it will plummet the client's impression of you. People will think that you are not serious about the job and just making it as it is. 

In the design portfolio, many people make this mistake by not taking care of their portfolio interface or look. When you use a website as a portfolio, you need to consider the UI and UX. If you use a PDF or printed one, at least make sure you got every part, picture, and element right. Your client will not take you seriously if you build the portfolio carelessly. 

You can imagine an assortment jam-packed with projects all over the place. It can also include some bad grammar, low-fidelity images, inconsistent visuals, and a lack of context. When your client sees your design collection and finds these many mistakes, they will consider you as a not serious contender. In this case, you got three mistakes to take care of. 

1.1. Too Much 

One of the mistakes that not many people realize is too much work to show. The design portfolio mistakes are pretty much masked under the disguise of your vast skill. Indeed, you can and must showcase the work that you are proud of. However, it does not mean you have to include everything. Be selective, and only include the best or the related projects in it. 

The takeaway is that your client most likely does not have enough time to review all of your works. Clients won’t take every detail of your design catalog, especially if they see unrelated pieces in it. More likely, clients only take a glance at some of your workpieces and then take a quick decision for you. So, don’t bother to make an overkill portfolio. 

The mistake also makes your showcase look jumbled and overwhelming. At some point, you might miss the design purpose that gives you another mistake to take care of. Selecting and using several designs work to showcase also help you organize better. It makes your portfolio easier to understand and also relatable for future projects. 

1.2. Too Little 

The opposite mistake of too much content is too little. Your portfolio needs to entice the client's interest to seal a project deal. However, the mistake is mostly made by designers at the beginning of their careers. The lack of project or work done can lead to not enough commissioned work to showcase. 

However, it is not a thing that you should be discouraged about. In this case, the best way to counter the design portfolio mistakes is to include your student’s project. Make sure you put a proper brief explanation about the old project and tell that you are new in the career. Another idea to make your collection worth it is to do personal projects. 

Since you are lacking in working with real projects, you need to explain the work with brief yet detailed information. Explain the reason and the thinking behind the artwork to your client. Deliver all you can get or make as your portfolio. It is better to include some demonstrating skills such as an imaginary project than leaving a blank space portfolio.  

1.3. No Context

A mistake of an unpolished design portfolio that is easy to look at is the lack of context. If you already have a cool and professional-looking project to showcase, it won't mean anything without any explanation. Visuals can attract people's attention, but it does not help people to understand the idea. 

Don’t assume that your future employer can understand the design just by taking a look at it. It is a common mistake that makes people lose their potential job. At least you need to ensure your client knows about the work, and they won't make guesswork. At some point, a design project portfolio demands more than just a brief explanation. 

The best example is a UX design collection that can envelop a lot of information. In this case, make sure you can tell the bare minimum information about the project showcase. Tell your client the 4W1H of the project to avoid design portfolio mistakes. What is it? When is it created? Where did you use it? Who is the client? And how did you create it? 

But again, avoid making an overwhelming collection. Try to observe and learn about the client beforehand. Find out whether you need to show some writing about the case or not. It won't hurt you to prepare or include some small notes about the old project process, such as the sketches, concept, or even the rejected idea. 

 

2. Lacking Personality

The lack of personality in the portfolio can make people not feel attracted to seal a project deal. The mistake goes without reason if your client finds that you are not taking the design catalog seriously. So, try to make it look serious even with small little details such as your profile photos or social media comments. 

Many clients want to work with a designer that is confident and also suitable for their project. That is why personality and individual charm can help you gain a better chance to get the work. In this mistake, try to show that you want the project and you are the person the client will like. And how to do it? You can start with a smile. 

Your design portfolio showcases not only your skillset but also your personality. A little smile and accepting gestures in the photos help improve people's impression. You can also pay attention to your social media live, so your client can learn about your personality. Many people underestimate the design portfolio mistakes and make a boring catalog. 

Underline that if your work and skills are good, the next point that the client will check is your personality. Try to smite them with a heartwarming and welcoming gesture. At least it will help you mask the mistakes and gain trust. However, personality can also refer to how you build the portfolio. Some mistakes around it include these two points. 

2.1. Too Similar With Other 

One mistake that makes your client run away is a similar project with others. If you work with the same themes or ideas over time, at least you need to choose the best one and showcase your skill. But if you include the same or similar project over and over again, your client will think twice about your capability. 

In this case, you need to build the design portfolio better. Try to redesign and showcase different projects even though it is a fictional one. You can start showing your skill when working with a UX project for a smartphone, creating branding with a mockup, or other visual design. The idea is to showcase your vast skill set.

2.2. No Common Sense

A big oops that you need to avoid is no common sense. It is a surprise that many people make design portfolio mistakes due to the lack of sense. It makes you appear like an amateur or unprofessional worker. The best example is to title yourself as a designer when you are just starting a design career. 

You don’t have enough experience or projects to showcase, which makes your design portfolio empty. Rather than boasting yourself with nonsense, you can call yourself a junior designer to make a genuine and sincere personality. The mistake can get worse if you steal people's work, not credit it, and call it yours. It is a worse mistake to pass. 

 

3. Low-Fidelity Images

Most design portfolios use visuals to showcase skills and projects. However, sadly many people make the common mistake of using low-fidelity or low-resolution images. Like a monitor with a bad or low-res background, it will look like crap. Pixelated images, blurry pictures, illegible fonts, and small visuals make your portfolio worthless. 

The design portfolio mistakes are pretty much a fundamental thing everyone needs to take care of. It is easy to avoid, but many people still do it. If you face a professional client, they will not see your project collection any further. It is such a shame if you have some good skills but makes such blunders. 

The mistake can also leave a very bad impression about your motive. Since you make a fundamental mistake, the client might see you not taking the project interview seriously. To avoid it, pay attention to how you take a screenshot or the visual representation of your project work. Ensure everything is clear and show it with confidence. 

 

4. Outdated Styles 

Client or design companies most likely choose a designer that opens with new trends and styles. So, the mistake that you need to avoid is showcasing an outdated project or style. Designers that bring out the old generation style hardly gain a better opportunity in securing a project deal. It is especially true if you are targeting a modern company or client. 

You need to underline the fact that design is changing every given time. Month or years, design can shift from a glam style to a minimalist aesthetic. It is a point that every designer needs to take into account. In this mistake of a design portfolio, you need to be selective in showcasing a work even though you are not doing brand new projects with current trends. 

You can do personal projects that embrace the new style. At least try to make your portfolio look like an updated version. You can put effort into your work catalog and design projects that keep up with the latest trend. If you can avoid the design portfolio mistakes flawlessly, it will improve your chance to secure the client project deal. 

One surprise consideration that highlights the mistake is projecting that it does not work in mobile. If you work for a UX or UI client project, at least show that you can make something that works with the new trend. Creating a mobile design is currently in demand. Showing an interest in working with the client through your portfolio might help you get the client and the job.  

 

5. Wrong Target 

Your design portfolio will not land you a project if it is targeted to the wrong person, like a postal mail that gone in the wild due to an address mistake. Your portfolio needs a proper desired client or company. Your attention is not the address but the sense of the client or the target itself. 

Your portfolio works as your branding, which means you need to offer a solution for your client. If you can pinpoint the problem and solve them with your portfolio, it will help you secure the project. However, many people make a mistake by not understanding the target. 

The design portfolio mistakes are pretty basic, but they can happen both subconsciously or consciously. It also can happen due to the natural impulse to tell your vast skill set. However, the mistake mostly ensues with the missing focus and project detail. The best example is UX, or UI design will not need your painting skill. 

It prefers relatable work, project detail, and skill. The mistake in the visual showcase also makes your portfolio appear like amateur work. You need to ensure the portfolio can give what the client is looking for. Another point of the wrong target is the gesture and language. If you want to nail a project with an international professional client, then mind your language. 

A thorough and professional brief within the design portfolio can suffice the client. Working with a pro client can make it easier to tell some details with design jargon. It will be the complete opposite with other clients or companies, which is why you need to learn about the target. If you can avoid the mistake, your portfolio will help you get the project. 

 

6. No Purpose

A good portfolio should have stated its purpose clearly. Most of the time, people can make everything look impressive and worth seeing. However, you can’t avoid the obvious lack of purpose design portfolio mistakes. Yes, what do you want from the portfolio? Ask yourself and see whether it can tell the intention or not.

Your client or company is not a mind reader. You are not merely showing off with your design portfolio, but you want something from it. Do you want to secure a project deal with the client?, Do you want to work to build a reputation and better portfolio?, Or do you want to get more commission?

Sometimes, the best way to avoid mistakes is to tell the purpose blatantly to your client. You can show it from the project visuals and the brief information. Give a bit of discussion with your client. So you can deliver the goal. It also helps to include some details in the form of a press review or testimonial as social proof.   

 

7. Incomplete Personal Information 

The last and the most fundamental mistake that you need to avoid is lacking personal information. Your design portfolio might help you showcase your skills and ability, but it also needs to give a clear explanation about yourself. What do you do? Who are you? Since when do you work as a designer? And how does the client reach you? 

Depending on the form, you can give personal information in different ways. You can avoid the design portfolio mistakes by providing a section about me. You can also tell some details at the end of the catalog. Another mistake is hard-to-find contact details. You can give details in an email address so the client can contact you for the projected deal. 

 

Final Words

As a vital part of client work, your design portfolio should be a perfect depiction of yourself. Needless to say, you need to build a personal branding that is polished and reviewed. Make it clear, simple, and timeless so you can use it again and again. However, always remember to make all details or information vibrant and acceptably targeted to the client. 

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