Portfolio templates are a shortcut to creating a standout portfolio. And portfolios are, of course, an essential self-promotion tool for any freelance designer or creative. They're a shop window to show off your work, as well as yourself – and you need to get it right.
A professional-looking layout is a must. If front end web design is one of your skills, then you should practice what you preach and create something bespoke. But for illustrators, graphic designers, artists, 3D designers and photographers, there are a wide array of off-the-shelf portfolio templates and website themes to choose from, which can be customised into an original design with little – or no – CSS tinkering.
Read on for our pick of some of the very best portfolio templates to choose from, representing five of the most popular portfolio website platforms. For more portfolio inspiration, see some of our favourite design portfolios.
01. Adobe Portfolio: Thomas
One of a fine selection of portfolio website themes for Adobe Portfolio, this popular portfolio template, Thomas, really lets your work shine.
Its minimal layout is ideal for showcasing your work as a large hero image reveals more information and/images about a project when clicked.
Given that Adobe Portfolio is bundled with Creative Cloud, existing subscribers may well find this option attractive. And judging by the range of examples on the Adobe Portfolio website, there are plenty of creatives using templates like Thomas to brilliant effect.
02. Squarespace: Flatiron
Flatiron is a Squarespace template with a particularly eye-catching gallery display, which locks together images of different aspect ratios in a visually pleasing grid.
The site navigation is simple and unobtrusive at the top left of the page, making sure your work is the star of the show.
03. WordPress: Helium
As a platform, WordPress gives you plenty of versatility when it comes to customisation – particularly if you have some coding skills. Helium is a strong choice for a portfolio template, as it's much richer in features than many of the other examples on this list.
The theme costs $48 for a regular license. It includes a built-in blog, as well as the option to add a fully functional online store if you choose, and the support is excellent.
If you know you want a WordPress theme, you can also check these other WordPress portfolio examples.
04. Cargo Collective: Malken-Hill
Cargo Collective has various templates on offer, but we like the clean simplicity of Malken-Hill. It enables you to show off your work or ware on a crisp white background, with the option to click through for more information or images. A simple navigation bar at the top adds to the sparse feel. Less is indeed more.
05. Wix: 3D designer portfolio
We just love the style of this portfolio template for 3D designers from Wix. It could arguably be used to showcase any creative's work, but is particularly suited to moving images. Parallax scrolling allows you to show off your top two or three images by making them full-screen, and users can then scroll down to see more examples of your work in grid format. This is a clean template that has everything you need.
06. Adobe Portfolio: Marta
Its fixed navigation can change colour when you scroll, and keeps your core details visible while visitors browse the site.
Your logo is centred, with navigation options to the left-hand side – and the whole site is built on a responsive grid with fixed gutters. It's a slick, colourful and eye-catching option for any creative.
07. Squarespace: York
Created specifically with designers in mind, the York template for Squarespace is refreshingly minimal compared to more thumbnail-led approaches.
The main area above the fold is reserved for a large, punchy introductory statement, while large project images are either full-width or half-width.
It's a simple portfolio template that exudes confidence, and you need the work to support it. It's all about picking a handful of killer projects and letting them shine.
08. Wordpress: Throne
Another ultra-versatile Wordpress template, Throne is as suitable for a freelance creative as it is for a fully fledged design studio. It's particularly well suited to those with a deep and broad portfolio across multiple disciplines, as the navigation filters your work by category.
It'll set you back $39 – but it comes equipped with plenty of widgets, icons, fonts, CSS3 animations, video support and a wide range of page layout options.
09. Wix: Emma Brewer
Many of the portfolios templates available for the Wix platform are pretty versatile in terms of end use, but there's usually a suggested discipline that each would suit best.
Pitched at art directors and graphic designers, this Emma Brewer theme features large, half-page-width thumbnails on the homepage, which click through to expansive project galleries.
Each has a killer screen-filling hero image at the top, a paragraph of info, and a selection of secondary images beneath – an ideal way to show branding and design projects with multiple touchpoints.