Experience Not Required

How to Create a Web Design Portfolio With No Job Experience

Template website
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How do you get a job if all the jobs require that you have experience? This is a catch-22 in most industries, but luckily in Web design you can create your own experience by doing projects for yourself. And if you use those projects in your portfolio, that can translate into paying jobs which mean more portfolio pieces. So, if you're just starting out as a freelancer, don't say you don't have a portfolio, instead use these suggestions to create a portfolio.

Your Website

If you've decided to become a Web designer professionaly, then you should have a website. And because you haven't had many or any paying jobs, you don't have the problem that many more experienced Web designers have: a website that's been ignored. When you spend time creating and improving your website, you're not only improving your business, you're improving your portfolio pieces.

And remember that your site doesn't have to be one portfolio piece. Think of all the different things you've built for your site, and make each one a portfolio piece. Be sure to include details like

  • The home page
  • Custom 404 pages
  • Contact forms
  • Any CMS templates you've built (such as customizing WordPress themes)
  • And even the portfolio page itself

Personal Web Projects

Before I got a job as a Web developer, I built a website commemorating my experiences in the Peace Corps. I also built a site for my cat and a site for my mom's art.

All of these personal projects were in my portfolio at one point or another, because they showcased what I was able to do. I did these sites for my own enjoyment, but they also helped get me some of my first paying Web design jobs.

Take a Class or Online Tutorial

There is no rule against using classwork as part of your portfolio.

And by taking the class you might learn how to do something new, and so improve your portfolio along with growing it.

Create Pages for Imaginary Clients

Many of the projects in my Portfolio Projects section are suggestions for imaginary clients. Things like an Annual Report or page to sell a product. As long as you make it clear to your prospective clients that these are samples and not live designs, there is nothing wrong with honing your skills and improving your portfolio with these types of projects.

Modify Web Design Templates

There are lots of free Web templates available for building Web pages, and posting one without modifying it wouldn't be a very good portfolio project. But using a template to get an idea flowing is a great portfolio idea. I don't recommend using the fully fleshed out templates with colors and images, as unless you do so much modification that the template is no longer there, you didn't do the design. But using a wireframe template, like the ones I provide on this site, give a good starting point for you to create a design from.

Whatever Portfolio Items You Choose They Should Be the Best

Remember that the point of a portfolio is to showcase your best work. Don't put something in it that you created simply to pad the portfolio.

If it's only mediocre, work on it until it really shines or leave it out. A portfolio of 2 or 3 items that are outstanding is much better than a portfolio of 10 mediocre items.