There was a time when a resume was sufficient to get hired as a developer. However, those days are long gone. With dozens of technology stacks and an ever-expanding industry, the hiring process has become longer and more complex. Most web developers are looking for a way to stand out. Your LinkedIn profile is simply not enough.
First, let's look at the components of a strong web developer portfolio. Then we'll look at a number of excellent web developer portfolio examples.
If you're a developer you need to have a GitHub repository available for inspection by potential employers. That is separate and distinct from the portfolio site discussed here. GitHub is a convenient place to store, manage, and version your code. A portfolio site is where you sell yourself and your abilities.
Many portfolios link to individual GitHub repositories so that site visitors who want to view the code are able to do so.
Most people build a portfolio website to attract recruiters, hiring managers, or-- if they're a freelancer-- clients.
You also need to enable or even encourage, site visitors to contact you. Here are a few components of successful portfolio sites.
Some of the most powerful sites feature a personal introduction from the web developer. Writing your introduction in the first person can immediately make your site visitor feel more comfortable with you. A third-person biography can seem detached or overly formal.
Your introduction can be short and to the point, similar to Matt Farley's introduction below.
For others, a slightly more detailed introduction may work. Rafael Kfoiur's personal introduction is prominent on his site.
Some developers link to a longer introduction on an "About Me" or similar page, however, a short introduction similar to the examples above helps set the stage for your portfolio site.
Testimonials are instrumental in convincing a site visitor that you have credibility and experience. The most credible testimonials include a name, an image, as well as strong, positive affirmation.
If you haven't been in the habit of collecting testimonials, start a file. It will be critical as you grow in your career to have these short confirmations of your ability. If you're new to the industry, you can get testimonials from old co-workers about your creativity, reliability, or dependability. Even if not directly reflecting your web development ability, these are still important traits.
Colin Simpson collects all of his testimonials on a separate page of his portfolio site. Notice that everyone providing a testimonial is identified by name, title, and company. The images help validate that the testimonials are provided by real, living clients.
UK based developer Ian Lunn places the testimonials on the primary page on his site, right above the footer. Instead of using the individual photos of those providing testimonials, Ian uses their company logo.
A formal resume or CV can be an important component if you're searching for a job or hoping to get recruited. Hiring managers and recruiters will likely visit your resume, but those looking for a freelancer are more likely to do so.
Some argue that a formal resume is unnecessary in a portfolio site and that your work should speak for itself. That may be the case, however, some site visitors appreciate the formal list of skills and experiences.
Naiara Abbaroa used the CV style for her impressive list of accomplishments. Her portfolio site is a single page and the CV appears right on the page instead of as an attachment or link.
Fatima Burke has a link to a well-design resume on her primary portfolio site. This is convenient for anyone who may want to save or print a copy of your resume. (Yes, people still do this!)
If you're interested in more technical positions, it's important to list the tech stacks you're familiar with. List the frameworks and libraries that you work in most often.
Don't, however, list technologies that aren't familiar to pad your expertise. Just last week I was interviewing a candidate for a position here at Framework. He had listed "Heroku" on his portfolio site.
When I asked about it, he couldn't even describe the purpose of the platform. It was humiliating for him, and, needless to say, I hired someone else.
The UK based designer Diane Laidlaw, aka Design Creative, has a simple approach to displaying the technologies she works with. This fits in seamlessly with the rest of her site.
Rafael Caferati has an interesting approach to presenting his skillsets. Caferati lists them on this site, but also allows you to filter his projects by individual skill or library. Not only do you know which frameworks and libraries he uses, but, what he's already been able to do with them.
The work samples are the most important part of any portfolio. Anyone looking at your web developer portfolio examples is there to see exactly what you can do. They might be comparing your work to that of other developers, or simply trying to get a sense of your capabilities.
Regardless, you want to provide access to your work and provide a bit of background about each project. It's important to clearly state your role in each project. If you wrote all the code, but someone else came up with the design-- say so. You never want to misrepresent your capabilities. Doing so will almost come back to bite you later!
It's worth remembering that your portfolio site itself is a part of the capabilities statement that you're making. If the experience is poor, the site has errors, or the design is awkward, that's going to reflect more poorly on you than any other individual portfolio piece.
Seb Kay, based in Southampton, UK, features each of his portfolio projects prominently and provides a click-through for those who want more information. Seb also clearly states his individual role in each project.
San Francisco based Taylor Ho displays the brands that he has worked with and allows the user to click through for additional detail. Because Taylor has worked with so many recognizable brands, this is a strong strategy.
Boston based software engineer Brittany Chiang includes a wide variety of coding projects in her portfolio. She clearly lists the technologies used in each project and provides links to the Github repositories.
I am amazed at how many portfolios I see that don't have an easy way to contact the developer. It's easy to go on to the next portfolio, so why not make contacting you as easy as humanly possible. Along with an email address and phone number, it's not a bad idea to have a contact form that can be used to send a question, comment, or request for a web development quote right away.
Robby Leonardi's portfolio site is reminiscent of the days of 8-bit side-scrolling adventure games. At the end of the adventure? A Contact Us form that makes it easy to get in touch with Robby.
Many of the examples so far have had complex designs. However, you want to make sure that a complex design doesn't get in the way of your visitor having a good experience with your portfolio site. It is almost always better to have a clean, easy-to-navigate site than one that is complex.
Master designers can make complexity work for them by creating a thematic design that reinforces the site messaging. However, if you're a developer, your audience likely wants to see a more simple design that shows what you can do. That is not to say your design can be poor-- It should stand up as a contemporary, clean design that enhances your overall credibility.
These curate examples show you portfolio sites from a number of different developers. These web developers have roles, experience levels, and geography. The common thread is that they all have excellent web developer portfolios that have been instrumental in getting them jobs or freelance work.
Naiara Abaroa is a front-end designer at UK-based Transferwise. Her portfolio site is visually stunning and extraordinarily creative. The design of the Projects portion of Abaroa's site is, in a word, stunning.
Ryan Laurie, a Chicago-area developer currently working for Moonrise, has an unusual educational background for a web developer. Before becoming a web developer he was a trial lawyer!
Ryan's web developer portfolio uses a simple, single-column, centered design that looks great on any sized monitor.
Ryan includes a number of interesting projects in his portfolio page including a fraud sentencing database (once a lawyer... ), and a game for his son. The portfolio site does an excellent job of showcasing Ryan's diverse exposure to libraries and frameworks. Ryan also features his GitHub and other social links prominently at the top of his site.
Keanan Koppenhaver, another Chicago-based developer, features a multi-page portfolio site. Keanan is the CTO of Alpha Particle, a digital agency whose mission is to build out digital teams and shape digital strategy.
With a clean, readable design, the focal point of the landing page is a smiling photo of Keanan himself. Keanan's overview page also contains a few convincing testimonials.
Keanan's project page contains a number of sites and brands that he's impacted. In addition to providing an image and background on each site, Kenan lists his key accomplishments with each brand.
Keanan is a frequent speaker and includes the slides and videos from a number of his appearance.
New York City-based developer Robby Leonardi is obviously talented. Leonardi's portfolio is an interactive adventure that takes you on our tour of his skills, experience, and numerous awards and publications.
Leonardi's highly immersive portfolio experience is built on top of a skillset that is demonstrated not just by the site copy, but the design of the experience itself.
Ben Adam, an engineer at GoDaddy, uses a simple, clean design to great effect. Ben makes great use of negative space in his design and the image provides a great focal point of the design. From his projects page, you can get a real sense of Adam's capabilities and work. Check out this page on Adam's redesign of JDA.com.
Developer Jack Jeznach, from Poland, provides a true multimedia experience with his site. From sound to animation, this site provides an experience that will leave you with a strong positive opinion of Jack and his abilities.
Jack even continues the theme of his site on to his social medial, like LinkedIn. This is a site that is based on a true personal brand.
Do you have any favorite portfolio sites or, perhaps, you want to show off your own! List your sites down below along with your suggestions for a great web developer portfolio site.
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