Online Portfolios: Who, What, How & Why

An online portfolio (may also be called a digital portfolio or e-portfolio) is an online representation of work you have created, as well as your skills and experiences. It could be a website, blog, or even a video channel.  It could include your resume, a summary of qualifications and skills, images of class projects or design samples, audio and video, charts and schematics, process flows, and more.

Who Uses Portfolios and Why?

It is becoming increasingly important for artists, engineers, computer scientists, photographers, designers, filmmakers, and other creative people to have a way to showcase and promote their work. Regardless of the medium(s) you work with, a portfolio will give more people access to your work and a better idea of your abilities. They display skills and projects in a robust and visual way that complements the information in your resume and cover letter. They also allow you to organize your work in one place – even if that work spans different disciplines.

Note: In some cases, having a concise and compelling hard copy portfolio that you can bring to interviews is another great way to showcase your work.

Top 10 Tips for Creating Your Portfolio

  1. Curate. Choose the best samples of your work (not ALL your work) and make sure it’s photographed well and/or you’re using high-resolution images.
  2. Start and end strong. Use strong, clear images for your portfolio pages. Stay positive in all aspects of the portfolio.
  3. Know your audience. When sharing a portfolio with a potential employer or client, do your research and include work that is directly related to what the employer/client/organization/gallery needs.
  4. Make it cohesive and easy to navigate. Ensure that your viewers can find what they need quickly and easily. Include contact information and a resume/CV/bio, use clearly named tabs (e.g., UI/UX vs. photography), and list your social media channels if more work is featured there. Make sure your portfolio works well across various browsers.
  5. Seek feedback. Ask faculty, Career Center staff, peers, and professionals you trust to review your portfolio and offer constructive criticism.
  6. “Collect, select, reflect.” Continually revisit your content. Make regular updates and think about if your portfolio is effectively highlighting your work and abilities.
  7. Illustrate growth. Document your progress by recording projects as you are doing them (e.g., design notebooks, process outlines, photographs of various stages of work, videos of project testing). Remember that it’s helpful to show not only your most recent work but also the evolution of your skills.
  8. Stay current. Keep an eye on industry trends (and other portfolios) to make sure your info stays fresh.
  9. Create a master portfolio and an external portfolio. Consider having a portfolio that stores all your images/projects (for you to work from) and one that is client-facing or that you’ll share with employers.
  10. Promote your brand. Your portfolio does more work for you when you drive traffic to it. Add the URL to your resume, business cards, social media, LinkedIn, etc.

Tools for Building Portfolios

There are many tools out there to help you create your site. Some sites offer a free option, while others are fee-based.

Note: If you are a computer programmer, it might be expected that you build the site from scratch to show that capability.

Articles and Additional Resources

Portfolio Examples from Tufts Students and Alumni

Stay tuned … more sample portfolios coming soon!