A strong design portfolio is vital for creatives as it could mean the difference between getting a job or not. With so many amazing designers out there, it can be hard to make your work stand out, but with a bit of thought, attention and inspiration, you’re sure to create a glowing portfolio. To fuel your genius, we have devised a list of our favourite online design portfolios.
We have chosen a bunch of portfolios from both freelance designers and studios. Each of these portfolios is different in its own wonderful way, from brilliant animations, to divine aesthetics, to engaging user experiences (see our WordPress portfolio themes). This vibrant and innovative collection proves just how far ingenuity and creative flair can take you, and the impact a strong design portfolio can have on potential clients. If you don’t fancy creating your portfolio from scratch then check out our list of the best portfolio templates.
If you aren’t quite sure where to start with your online portfolio then check out our guides to the best website builders and the best alternative portfolio sites. Once you have finished building your design portfolio then take a look at our roundup of the best web hosting services to make sure you're getting the best deal.
But in the meantime, gather up some inspiration from our favourite design portfolio examples.
17 design portfolios for inspiration
01. Hiffy Ulrich
The Hiffy Ulrich portfolio is a simple yet playful design bursting with colour and energy. Ulrich is an illustrator and designer who has been working with a number of mediums from print making to stop motion animation.
Not only is her portfolio unique and vibrant, but Ulrich has managed to incorporate moving gifs into her site, making it engaging and easy to navigate. We love the clever use of the white space that draws your attention directly to her work positioned in the centre of the page. The geometric shapes featured throughout the site complement the bold colour palette based around the primary colours, creating a naïve and friendly aesthetic.
02. Studio Feixen
Studio Feixen is a design studio based in Switzerland. It's deliberately abstained from the prevalent 'less is more' look for its design portfolio, and the decision works. Normally, we'd recommend strict curation of design portfolios, but we love the explosion of colour and range of projects showcased on this site. It's all kept in order because projects are divided into Space, Surface and Time. We also like the 'talk' section, which allows you to ask Studio Feixen a question. It's fun, interactive and it makes us want to know more about the studio.
Founded by creative director Roanne Adams, NYC-based RoAndCo offers beautifully crafted design, branding and creative direction solutions to a roster of clients predominantly in fashion, beauty, tech and lifestyle.
Viewing RoAndCo’s portfolio is an experience in itself, in keeping with the studio's work ethos. Projects are presented in an almost magazine-like fashion, allowing the viewer to flick through split-screen images, animated web presentations and full-screen video. It's is a carefully considered design portfolio and a pleasure to view, whether you're browsing on a computer or a mobile device.
The lack of any kind of information on the projects is an irritating element that we wouldn't recommend applying for most designers, but other than that RoAndCo has created a well-crafted portfolio that makes a memorable impression on the user.
04. Robin Mastromarino
Paris-based interface designer Robin Mastromarino employs some neat UI animation touches to keeps things fresh on his design portfolio site. An engaging effect makes his projects appear as though they're on a wheel, juddering into view. The images within each case study respond to scrolling by warping slightly. It's an effect that we wouldn't recommend for every creative, for a UI design specialist, this strikes the right note.
05. Active Theory
Entering Active Theory's portfolio website is like visiting a whole new world. It employs a moody, almost cyberpunk aesthetic throughout, and to great effect. From the atmospheric homepage animation with mouse-activated glitch effects, to the trippy About page, it all gels together to form a cohesive package. The studio keeps things clean for its project pages. Each example features a full-screen animation overlaid with a short blurb and relevant links to further information, including detailed case studies hosted on Medium.
06. Velvet Spectrum
Velvet Spectrum is the online moniker of visual artist and designer Luke Choice. He keeps things simple on his homepage with a montage of uber-colourful thumbnails, which lead through to visually arresting super-size examples of his work for maximum impact. The black background keeps things clean and helps the work stand out. It makes for a simple but highly effective design portfolio.
This impressive design portfolio from Locomotive, a studio based in Quebec, Canada. The studio specialises in crafting standout digital experiences, so it's ensured its own portfolio stands out. Playful, entertaining animations bring the whole site to life – not just on the homepage. It seems like thought and effort has been put into every detail, from the quirky treatment of the hamburger menu to the unexpected animations on the About page. Little surprises keep the viewer's interest while they browse through the site, making this a perfect example of how animated flourishes can be used effectively without them becoming gimmicky or distracting.
08. Studio Thomas
Named after its two creative directors, Thomas Austin and Thomas Coombes, Studio Thomas is an East London studio that makes visual communication for both physical and digital worlds. Its portfolio is a superb example of Brutalist web design with plenty of swish touches. Projects are neatly but boldly presented with clear visuals and wireframe models. The site perfectly reflects the studio's explorative and experimental attitude, and it backs up the studio's claim to offer "design for bold brands."
09. Buzzworthy Studio
Describing itself as a "badass digital studio in Brooklyn", Buzzworthy Studio had to come up with the goods to back that up, and this portfolio site does it. It features dazzling web techniques from the off. Bold typography and animation combine to grab your attention, and a strong eye for aesthetics ensures that viewers stick around to explore all of Buzzworthy's projects. It's one hell of a calling card.
10. Xavier Cussó
this stunning portfolio site for Barcelona-based designer Xavier Cussó was built by Burundanga Studio. It shows off Cussó's work with bold colours, in-your-face typography and practically every animation and parallax scrolling trick in the book. But that doesn't make it feel overloaded. The animation makes and impact and maintains the viewer's attention throughout.
11. Merijn Hoss
Illustrator and artist Merijn Hoss takes a much more pared-back approach, but his design portfolio is still very effective. Hoss creates beautifully detailed psychedelic works of art, but his profile presents his work in quite a simple, clean format. It's one of the most traditional approaches we've included on this list of design portfolios and isn't nearly as flashy as some of the previous examples, but it works well because the colourful thumbnails pop out of the gallery's white background, putting the focus on the work. Once clicked, large project images and a short description are revealed. Hoss's design portfolio is proof that you don't need all the bells and whistles to make an impact.
Manchester-based studio ToyFight uses a number of whizzy effects – from parallax scrolling to animated transitions and even 3D rendered versions of the studio's founders fighting each other. All of this could threaten to overwhelm the work on show, but seeing as it's been executed with such visual humour and panache, the site is a joy to explore. This is a good lesson in how personality can also sell creatives' work.
13. Made Thought
Contemporary design powerhouse Made Thought shows how portfolio design evolves and leads where others follow. The studio originally opted for a homepage displaying a video that cycled through work samples at an ultra-fast pace, but it's replaced that solution with something a lot calmer, less frenetic, and more pleasant to explore. The newer homepage opts for a video slider above the fold offering glimpses of some of its latest work. Scrolls down and you find beautiful stills of work, with a tagline summarising each project, almost as if they were news stories.
14. Marleigh Culver
The website of designer and artist Marleigh Culver is another more simple affair, but one that demonstrates how carefully chosen colour and type combined with a simple layout and navigation are key to any successful online design portfolio.
Marleigh’s work is displayed very effectively through the use of large, fast loading images, which make it a breeze to navigate the portfolio and take in her work.
15. Malika Favre
Illustrator Malika Favre makes use of a full-screen edge-to-edge tapestry of thumbnails (some of which are animated) to entice visitors into viewing her work in further detail. Once clicked, the thumbnails reveal a full-screen gallery presentation of the work featured. It's displayed on complimentary coloured backgrounds that show off her work to great effect. It makes a bold, colourful presentation that grabs the viewer's attention.
For a completely immersive experience, Lusion's design portfolio provides great inspiration. The site is full of delightful design touches, including a glowing dot that follows your cursor around. The About page overlays a running figure that responds to mouse events, which is entertaining. It might be a little disorienting at times, but it seems a well-considered approach to showcase this tech-focused creative studio's work.
17. Yul Moreau
Born in Seoul, based in Paris and "raised by the '80s", Yul Moreau has a portfolio site that grabs your attention from the off with its splendidly garish background montage of retro video. This single-pager does a brilliant job of showcasing the art director's work, combining video, images, clever scroll effects and detailed text explanations to give a complete overview of his work.
18. Tim Smith
Boasting 'brain-powered graphics fun', Tim Smith's portfolio site uses CSS3 to throw in some clever HTML5 tricks on a spotlessly clean look. For each piece, there are cut-out titles that disappear as you mouse over them. The sidebar is also very nifty, switching from displaying social links on the front page and then navigation buttons for the portfolio pages. It makes for a snappy, swish and highly professional-looking presentation.