10 brilliant image-led portfolio sites for 2017

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If you have beautiful imagery associated with your creative projects, showcasing it on your portfolio is by far and away the best way to grab attention and interest. The stellar success of image-heavy platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat attest to the fact that most people have time for images, even if they're too busy to read a lot.

How you present that imagery, though, is almost as important as the imagery itself. Here we look at 10 portfolio sites, all new for 2017, which pull off this task creatively and effectively.

01. Verde

That’s not a screengrab in the centre, it’s the full site

You may love or loathe the way this studio presents its visuals on this portfolio, but it’s certainly different – using lush, quivering moving images of foliage as a backdrop to interactive image case studies in the centre. Verde is a digital design and development studio based in Bucharest, Romania, that works with global clients in the fields of art, design and fashion.

Its homepage looks like a pretty simple slideshow, but on closer inspection, what you’re seeing isn’t just static screengrabs. In fact, they’re actual live sites, placed in an iframe and fully navigable within the slideshow. We’re not sure how useful this approach actually is, but it certainly got us talking.

02. Caava Design

One of the most alluring agency portfolios we’ve seen in a long while

You start to think that every design agency website looks the same, and then you come across that of Caava Design. A multi-disciplinary studio based out of San Diego, it has created something truly unique with the design of its online portfolio.

Put simply, it combines some quite stunning photography of client projects with an energetic layout and dynamic use of typography that’s as alluring as any editorial site we’ve seen of late.

03. Erminando Aliaj

An original way to frame a hero image

Here’s a great way to draw attention to the work in your portfolio: form the main navigation into a rectangle that frames the central image. This eye-catching device works brilliantly on the portfolio homepage of Erminando Aliaj, a photographer based in Brescia, Italy.

Click on each menu item and the hero image changes appropriately. Essentially, it’s a website as slideshow, but done in an artful and considered way that’s ultimately successful in showcasing Aliaj’s talents.

04. Roger Burkhard

Shades of grey help the colourful main image to pop out

Another original way to frame visual work can be seen on the portfolio of Roger Burkhard, a developer and interaction designer based in Bern, Switzerland.

His site takes the horizontal scrolling trend and does something delightfully original with it, greying out the background and bringing each project to the fore in a colourful and aesthetically pleasing fashion. The typography adds to the sense of the austere, and further helps Burkhard’s hero visuals pop.

05. Flavien Guilbaud

A cool use of transitions that never detracts from the professional feel

Collage-style layouts can sometimes come across as contrived and overly hip, as can the use of transitions and animations. But Flavien Guilbaud, a digital art director and designer based in Nantes, France, manages to combine both in a way that looks refined, sophisticated and professional.

With each project, two images glide on to the screen and respond playfully when you hover over them. That might sound a little OTT, but the effect is beautifully subtle and never takes away from your appreciation of Guilbaud’s work itself.

06. L’Éloi

Ultra-minimalism can be fun, as this agency portfolio shows

Ultra-minimalism can sometimes be ultra-boring. But the stark simplicity of this portfolio site for L'Éloi, a "boutique" style production agency based in Montreal, Canada, doesn’t stop it being endlessly alluring and fascinating.

Presenting large, quirky and hugely colourful images in a highly original, asymmetrical layout, the effect is reminiscent of a hip fashion magazine. A great example of how much you can achieve with surprisingly little.

07. Julia Chistiakova

This Russian creative’s personality shines out of her quirky portfolio site

Julia Chistiakova is a Russian designer and illustrator now living in Philadelphia and working at HootBoard. Her illustration and web design work is bright, colourful and full of energy, and her portfolio website matches that approach perfectly. 

Its gallery style is almost retro in its basic simplicity, but its quirky individuality conveys Chistiakova’s artistic personality perfectly. 

08. Alexis Facca

This asymmetrical collage is visually enticing without being OTT

If you don’t want to use a boringly regular grid layout on your portfolio site, how about an asymmetrical collage? That’s the approach Alexis Facca, a French director, set and paper designer, has taken on his site – and it works a treat. 

Facca uses a muted pastel background to great effect. Also, while transitions can be overused on portfolio sites, you can’t help but admire the technique he’s employed to get you to explore his work more: hover over an image and a fun set of cartoon eyes pop up. Yes, it’s a little cheesy, but it’s also very effective in getting you to click through to the main case study.

09. Laura Makabresku

This portfolio uses a simple image grid to focus attention on the beautiful photography

When you create a custom-design for your portfolio, you don’t want it to look like it was made with a standard portfolio service. But there’s a danger of throwing out the baby with the bathwater. The mere fact that cookie-cutter portfolio templates are based on simple image grids doesn’t mean that simple image grids are bad in themselves.

If designed thoughtfully, and combined with a careful curation of your best work, a simple grid can be highly effective in showcasing your work. And that’s definitely the case with this portfolio by Laura Makabresku, a visual artist and photographer based in Krakow, Poland.

Keeping the presentation as simple as possible helps to focus attention where she ultimately wants it to be: on her delightfully provocative, fairytale-esque photography. We also love how she’s used a pastel background rather than plain white, adding an extra touch of sophistication to it all.

10. Nahel Moussi

This effortlessly elegant portfolio is a joy to peruse

We end with another vertical-scrolling, slideshow-based presentation of work. This portfolio of Nahel Moussi, a French interactive and motion designer based in Paris, doesn’t really do anything that original.

But what it does do, it does incredibly well. The images are all incredibly beautiful. The title overlays are elegant and inspired. And the generous use of whitespace does wonders in focusing your attention on her images.