An impressive design portfolio could be the difference between getting a job or an interview or not. It's not easy standing out amongst the mountains of portfolios out there, so it's crucial to put some real thought into your online presence.
To inspire you, we've picked some of the best design portfolios on the web, from both freelance designers and studios. Though these examples are all different, they all stand out through the unique use of features such as clever animation, a quirky and memorable aesthetic, or an entertaining user experience – a touch of creativity and innovative thinking will take you a long way.
For those that aren't super tech-savvy, our guide to the best website builders, the best portfolio templates and our favourite WordPress portfolio themes will help you on your way. Or if you are confident building your own design portfolio, explore our roundup of the best web hosting services to make sure you're getting the best deal.
So, explore these inspirational examples of online design portfolios, and then get started with your own ideas. And once you get job hunting, don't miss our curated list of the best design jobs right now.
01. Studio Feixen
Studio Feixen is a design studio based in Switzerland, and it has eschewed the 'less is more' look for its website. Normally, we say design portfolios are all about curation, but we love the explosion of colour and projects showcased on this site. Another of our favourite elements is the 'talk' section where you can ask Studio Feixen a question. It's fun, interactive and it makes us want to know more about the studio.
RoAndCo is the NYC-based studio founded by creative director Roanne Adams. The team offer beautifully crafted design, branding and creative direction solutions to a roster of clients predominantly in the fashion, beauty, tech and lifestyle sectors.
In line with the studio's work ethos, viewing RoAndCo’s website is an experience in itself. The projects are presented in an almost magazine-like fashion. Allowing the viewer to cycle through split screen images, animated web presentations and full screen video, RoAndCo’s website is a carefully considered portfolio that is a pleasure to view in browser and on mobile devices.
The complete lack of information on any project is a little irritating, but RoAndCo has created a well-crafted, memorable user experience nonetheless.
03. Robin Mastromarino
Paris-based interface designer Robin Mastromarino keeps things fresh on his design portfolio site. An intriguing effect on his homepage makes the projects appear as though they're on a wheel, juddering into view with some satisfying UI animation touches. Within each case study, images also respond by warping slightly when you scroll. Although not appropriate for every creative, given that Mastromarino specialises in UI design this strikes all the right notes.
04. Active Theory
Visiting Active Theory's portfolio website is like entering a whole new world. The design embraces a moody, Blade Runner-ish aesthetic throughout – and very successfully, too. From the mood-setting homepage animation with mouse-activated glitch effects, to the trippy About page, everything works together beautifully. The studio keeps things clean for its project pages, with each example featuring a full-screen animation overlaid with short blurb and relevant links to further information, including detailed case studies hosted on Medium.
05. Velvet Spectrum
Velvet Spectrum is the online moniker of visual artist and designer Luke Choice. Choice has kept things simple on his homepage with a montage of uber-colourful thumbnails, which lead through to the visually arresting examples of his work displayed super-size for maximum impact. The black background keeps things clean and helps the work shine. This is a simple but super-effective design portfolio.
This impressive design portfolio comes from Locomotive, a studio based in Quebec, Canada. With a team that specialise in crafting standout digital experiences, it makes sense that this portfolio site really shines. Playful animations bring the design to life throughout the site (not just on the homepage). It feels like effort and thought have gone into every element, from the quirky treatment of the hamburger menu to the unexpected animations on the About page.
07. 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 physical and digital worlds, and its site perfectly reflects its explorative and experimental attitude. It is a splendid example of Brutalist web design with plenty of swish touches; we particularly love the 3D wireframe model of Pamban Cafe that you can navigate with the mouse.
08. Buzzworthy Studio
Buzzworthy Studio describes itself as a badass digital studio in Brooklyn, and its site is one hell of a calling card, showcasing dazzling web techniques from the off. Great typography and animation combine to grab your attention, and a strong eye for aesthetics means that you'll stick around to explore all Buzzworthy's projects.
09. Xavier Cussó
Barcelona-based designer Xavier Cussó has a stunning portfolio site – built by Burundanga Studio – to show off his work using bold colours, in-your-face typography and practically every animation and parallax scrolling trick in the book.
10. Merijn Hoss
This next design portfolio isn't nearly as flashy as the examples we've explore so far, but it's still highly effective. Illustrator and artist Merijn Hoss creates beautifully detailed psychedelic works of art, but has taken an altogether more pared back and traditional approach to displaying his work on his online design portfolio.
Colourful thumbnails pop out of a clean gallery-like white background that once clicked on reveal large project images and a short description. Proof that you don't need all the bells and whistles to create a great user experience.
Manchester-based studio ToyFight utilises a number of whizzy effects – from parallax scrolling to animated transitions and even 3D rendered versions of the founders fighting one another. All of this could threaten to overwhelm the actual work on show, but seeing as it's been executed with such visual humour and panache, it's a joy to explore.
12. Made Thought
Contemporary design powerhouse Made Thought 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 has replaced this solution with something calmer, less frenetic, and a lot more pleasant to explore.
The newer homepage scrolls (slowly) through beautiful stills of recent projects, with a tagline to sum each one up. Visitors can then delve into other work samples via a striking typographic navigation page found under the 'explore' tab.
13. Marleigh Culver
The website of designer and artist Marleigh Culver is a simple affair, but one that demonstrates how carefully considered colour and type choices, combined with a simple layout and navigation, are key to any successful online design portfolio.
Although simple in nature, Marleigh’s work is displayed to great effect through the use of large, fast loading images, making it a breeze to quickly navigate through.
14. Malika Favre
Illustrator Malika Favre’s bold and beautiful work is showcased to great effect in her online design portfolio. She makes use of a full screen edge-to-edge tapestry of thumbnails (some of which are animated) to entice visitors into viewing the work in further detail. Once clicked, the thumbnails reveal a full screen gallery presentation of the work featured on complimentary coloured backgrounds that show off the work to great effect.
For an all-out immersive experience, take a look at Lusion's design portfolio. The site is full of delightful design touches, including a glowing dot that follows your cursor around, and an About page that overlays a running figure that responds to mouse events. It's a little disorienting at times, but entirely appropriate to showcase this tech-focused creative studio's work.
16. 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. The single-pager site does a brilliant job of showcasing the art director's work, combining video, images and clever scroll effects to show everything off nicely.
17. Tim Smith
Boasting 'Brain-powered graphics fun', Tim Smith's portfolio site uses CSS3 to mix a spotlessly clean look with some clever HTML5 tricks such as the cut-out titles for each piece, which disappear as you mouse over. We love the sidebar as well, featuring social links on the front page and then used for navigation between portfolio pages.