Investing in Your Design Portfolio

medium.muz.li medium.muz.li3 years ago in #UX Love213

Ask almost any designer about their portfolio and they will tell you they are too busy to create, update or launch it. I was asked recently by one of the freelancer I work with about the importance of having a portfolio in the first place: How critical do you reckon case studies are for freelancers and independent contractors? Would you expect a contractor you hire to have written case studies on their portfolios? Would images only be a red flag? In short — I think they are super important and not just for showing off your visual design talents to your next employer. Your portfolio is arguably your greatest ambassador — it tells your story, showcases your work and closes leads while you are busy doing other things. So, here is my full answer to that question. Freelancing and agencies are a sales-based business where brand is everything. First impressions count for a lot, and the rest comes through in your case studies. Put yourself in the shoes of a cold lead — a visitor to your portfolio can only really judge you on your brand and case studies, so make them count. Once you have enough great case studies, clients don’t hesitate to reach out, or compare you with other agencies, as they can see that they will get a great results. Although it sucks, while some clients are interested in creating something new and bold, many clients tend to “want what they’re having”, so a portfolio ripe with versatile, high-quality content can make that initial conversation a lot easier. If it helps, think of it like a SaaS product: investing in Google Ads won’t help if your homepage doesn’t communicate that you can solve the problem they have. Your sales funnel becomes that of a leaky bucket — good marketing will fill it with more water (pushing more people through top-of-funnel) but you will lose them where it matters — deeper down in your sales funnel, near conversion or activation (which for us, means getting in touch or hiring us). Stories are the foundation of how we communicate as a species. The insights and things we learn from stories we hear, tell and experience form who we are as a person. If you can tell a brilliant story, you will have your audience hooked. This is the power of a case study — not showing a finished, polished product but taking your reader on a journey, explaining the highs and lows, trials and tribulations, of a project. But, if that is not measurable enough: long case studies are fantastic for SEO. At Jellypepper, case studies are the primary way we receive new visitors. The in-depth storytelling around how we created a brand, designed a website or built an app frequently contain popular keywords for Google searches. Also, it is great when potential clients are searching for “who redesigned X”. It’s not a UX portfolio without one of these photos At the end of the day, your brand is all you have as a creative. Your name, reputation and body of work is definitively what positions you in the hierarchy of your competition and makes clients want to hire you to work on their products. Having confidence in your online portfolio can make talking to people much easier to sell yourself as you are not apologising or hiding it. I talked a bit about the ROI of design in a previous article. The long-term effects of having an up-to-date portfolio are compounding and distinct. Over time, it can also help position you as an industry expert if your case…

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