How to Create a Standout Web Design Portfolio Site + 6 Inspiring Examples

by
Stephanie Corrigan
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How do you create a standout web design portfolio site? In this guide, we're breaking it down and taking a look at six example portfolios to use as inspiration for your own website.

There are many different ways to differentiate yourself from your competitors as a freelance web designer. And in a competitive field like web design, standing out in some way is essential if you want to get noticed by clients.

In this comprehensive guide, we're breaking down the top three things you need to do in order to make your freelance web design portfolio site stand out, so you can attract and book more clients. Plus, we'll take a look at a few award-winning portfolio websites for inspiration.

How to make your web design portfolio site stand out

As a web designer, your best asset is your own portfolio website; it's the gateway to your brand and offers a glimpse into your style, process, experience, competence, and even personality.

The truth is, your design skills and experience level are not unique enough in and of themselves to make you stand out. Even if your work is flawless and has earned you multiple rave reviews from your clients, you still need to differentiate your brand in some way. You need to position your brand so that it's the solution to your clients' problems, and not one of many comparable solutions. Easier said than done, right? We've got you covered.

Keep reading to discover three foolproof ways you can make your web design portfolio site stand out and in turn, book more clients who are dying to work with you.

1. Show off your unique style and abilities

Do you have a particular design style that you love to work within? Or how about a unique skill, like animation or video production, that adds extra "oomph" to your web design projects? Going all in on these unique qualities is a great way to differentiate your brand.

For instance, say you love creating colorful, vibrant, and playful websites. By designing your own brand and website in this way, you'll attract more clients who resonate with that vibe. You'll probably also turn off some potential clients who prefer a more minimalist aesthetic, but that's ok--they're not your ideal clients.

Compare the above example to a web designer whose portfolio is clean and professional but very simple; it doesn't show personality through colors, expressive fonts, and other visual elements. Many designers create their portfolio site this way because they want to show that they're adaptable to different styles. This can work if the designer stands out in another way, such as one of the two methods discussed below, but most of the time, this type of portfolio is not memorable enough to hold a client's attention.

Check out the video below to get Ran Segall’s take on five inspiring and unique portfolio websites.

2. Craft a strong value proposition

One of the best ways to differentiate yourself as a freelance web designer is to create a strong unique value proposition (UVP). This technique is at the core of what Ran Segall teaches in his popular course, The 6-Figure Freelancer. The importance of your UVP, especially if you're just starting out, cannot be overstated.

A strong UVP states, in simple terms, three things: who your ideal clients are, what they're struggling with, how you solve their problem, and what the end result looks like.

So what does your UVP have to do with your web design portfolio site? A lot, as it turns out! Once you've taken the time to craft a strong and compelling UVP, you'll want to plaster it front and center on your homepage. It should be the first thing prospective clients see when they land on your site. If they resonate with the problem, solution, and end result of your UVP, you may have just sold them on your brand right from the get-go. At the very least, you'll have enticed them to poke around your website and get in touch if they like what they see.

3. Create in-depth case studies

Last but not least, another way to create a standout web design portfolio site is by writing in-depth case studies for your projects. In doing so, you'll automatically position your brand head and shoulders above the many web designers who don't. Good case studies are time intensive to create, but are always worth the effort, especially if you don't yet have a lot of projects under your belt.

When you create case studies for your portfolio, focus on your best work first. They key to success here is to put your best forward. It's better to have a handful of strong and compelling case studies than a myriad of shallow portfolio pieces. Here are a few pointers on what to include in your case studies:

  • Project overview: Introduce the client, the objectives for the project, and your role.
  • Process: Through a combination of text and visuals, guide the reader through your design process. Explain any strategic decisions you made and how they align with the project objectives.
  • Mockups: Show off your beautiful work!
  • Results: If you have any tangible results you can share (such as increased sales or conversion), these stats are golden and a huge selling point for your work.

Want to learn more about building a thriving freelance web design brand that's irresistible to your dream clients? Ran Segall's course, The 6-Figure Freelancer, teaches everything you need to know about growing and scaling your freelance business--click here to learn more.

6 inspiring web design portfolio websites

Sometimes the best way to learn something is through examples. Now that we've covered a few key ways to create a standout web design portfolio site, let's look at some real-life portfolio websites for inspiration. In no particular order, here are six stunning and unique portfolio sites that all web designers can learn from.

1. SVZ

A screenshot of SVZ's awesome agency website
SVZ's awesome agency website

SVZ is a web design and development agency that specializes in Webflow. The first thing that draws our attention when we land on their site is the fun and colorful animation that scrolls across the screen from right to left. Although fairly abstract, the animation resembles machinery, or a systematic process. The next element that draws our attention is the headline, which states the agency's UVP: "We'll create an award winning website for you through our carefully crafted process." In the bottom right, we see an invitation to "talk Webflow," suggesting that this is their platform of choice. This specialization is confirmed as you scroll down the page and read more about the brand.

Takeaways

  • Process matters. SVZ's UVP revolves around their streamlined process. This is accentuated visually through the animations. They also have an entire page that lays out their process in detail, further cementing the value of it.
  • Webflow is a viable niche. Looking at SVZ's portfolio, you can see that their style is adaptable and they work with a range of industries. The one thing all their projects have in common is that they involved Webflow. They also have another full page that explains why Webflow is the best choice for them and their clients.

2. Tom Parkes

A screenshot of Tom Parkes' portfolio website
Tom Parkes' elegant portfolio website

Tom Parkes is a UI and branding designer based in London. His approach to his portfolio website was to draw attention to his work through large copy and full-width images. Each project is linked to a detailed case study that lays out the goals, process, and results of his work. Where Tom's portfolio shines is through engaging visuals that allow you to really immerse yourself in the project.

Takeaway

  • Strong visuals are key for effective case studies. Although the layout and design of Tom Parkes' portfolio website is relatively simple, it stands out nonetheless through his thoughtful copy and engaging visuals.

3. With Grace and Gold

A screenshot of a boutique branding and web design studio called With Grace and Gold.
With Grace and Gold's website is easy on the eyes

With Grace and Gold is a boutique branding and web design studio that works primarily with creative small businesses, particularly wedding industry professionals. Their website hits all the marks of an effective portfolio. More than just an online portfolio, With Grace and Gold's website also offers a blog, website templates, and various free resources for small business owners.

Takeaways

  • Social proof is king. With Grace and Gold's website is rife with social proof that speaks to the quality of their services. Their tagline, "award-winning brand and web design for small businesses," elevates the brand and is repeated multiple times across the website, including in the footer. In addition, they feature powerful testimonials on their home, services, and portfolio pages that speak to the results their clients have achieved after working with them.
  • Provide free value through educational content. Everyone likes free stuff. Through blogging and other free resources, you're not only providing value to your audience, you're also establishing your expertise and authority in your niche. Both of these benefits are good long-term strategies for attracting and converting clients who resonate with your brand.

4. Emanuele Milella

A screenshot of Emanuele Milella's portfolio website
Typography at its finest on Emanuele's portfolio website

Emanuele Milella is an Italian interactive designer and creative director based in Iceland. His portfolio website beautifully shows off his skill in his areas of expertise. He doesn't have a UVP, but he doesn't need one--his website and portfolio speak for themselves. Although he only has four projects in his portfolio, none of which include detailed case studies, Manu succeeded in creating a unique and memorable website by focusing in on his strengths.

Takeaway

  • Treat your own website like a portfolio piece. You don't need a ton of projects in your portfolio in order to wow potential clients. Create your portfolio website with the same care and attention to detail that you'd put into a paid project.

5. Driftime

A screenshot of Driftime's portfolio website
Driftime Media

Driftime is a group of digital designers who work with culture and lifestyle brands to impact social, environmental, and economic issues. Their UVP is strongly rooted in their values of empathy, inclusion, and advocacy. This is a strong selling point for brands with similar values. But where does Driftime's portfolio website really shine? In their case studies.

Takeaways

  • Case studies are kind of like sales pages. If you're looking for a gold standard case study example, look no further than Driftime. Scrolling through one of their case studies takes you on a step-by-step journey from beginning to end. No stone is left unturned. Mood boards, wireframes, handwritten flowcharts, every detail is beautifully and seamlessly presented. They even present concepts that didn't make the cut--a clever way to show off the depth and variety of their work. Clients who value attention to detail, which is most clients, are practically guaranteed to be impressed by these thoughtful case studies.

6. Outlab

A screenshot of Outlab's portfolio website (pink and blue)
Outlab's color-rich portfolio website

Outlab is a small but mighty design and development duo whose portfolio website received an honorable mention from the prestigious Awwwards. Outlab's self-proclaimed strength is the small size of their team, which means personalized attention and lower overheads for their clients. Not all clients are willing to work with freelancers, but the ones who value creating personal connections with their vendors are the type of clients Outlab intentionally attracts.

Takeaways

  • If you're struggling with your UVP, think outside the box. Not many people would immediately consider small size a strength, but it totally is if it's positioned the right way.
  • Details, details, details. Scrolling through Outlab's Adnams case study sort of feels like playing a video game, in a good way. The interactive elements, animations, and overall attention to detail are enchanting. The numerical results at the bottom of the page are nice touch, as well.

Learn how to create better websites, faster, with Webflow

Feeling inspired by those amazing web design portfolios? Honestly, same! Each of those brands did an amazing job playing to their strengths and positioning themselves to stand out among their competitors. No doubt, a lot of hard work went on behind the scenes for them to get where they are now.

The good news is, you too can create an amazing web design portfolio site that features stunning, thoughtful, and award-winning work. All you need is as proven process that's expertly taught by someone who's been there, done that. Ran Segall's Webflow Masterclass teaches everything you need to know about building pixel-perfect websites that demand high prices on Webflow.

Best of all, there's no coding required in order to build high-value, custom websites with Webflow. Click here to learn more about the transformative Webflow Masterclass.

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