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20 standout design portfolios to inspire you

Design portfolio: ToyFight
(Image credit: ToyFight)

An impressive design portfolio can be a key factor in landing you that next job. In order to stand out amongst the mountains of portfolios out there, it's crucial to put some real thought into your online presence. 

To inspire you, we've picked some of the best design portfolios around, from 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, and our favourite WordPress portfolio themes will help you on your way. Plus, here are some top tips for content on your portfolio website. 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.

01. RoAndCo

Design portfolio: RoAndCo

Lacking in information but stunning presentation (Image credit: Ro and Co)

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.

02. Amber Xu

Design portfolio: Amber Xu

Beautiful and informative (Image credit: Amber Xu)

Motion graphics designer and illustrator Amber Xu's portfolio is beautiful to look at and, crucially, easy to navigate. High quality images adorn the page, enticingly set out, and hovering over each one gifts you a tagline sharing information about the project. Clicking through displays more information and well-curated images, giving you a real insight into her achievements and style.

03. Robin Mastromarino

Design portfolios: Robin Mastromarino

This portfolio keeps thing fresh (Image credit: 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

Design portfolios: Active Theory

It's like entering a whole new world (Image credit: 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

Design portfolios: Velvet Spectrum

Uber-colourful thumbnails make this portfolio a visual treat (Image credit: Velvet Spectrum)

Velvet Spectrum is the online moniker of visual artist and designer Luke Choice. Luke 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. A simple but super-effective design portfolio.

06. Locomotive

Design portfolios: Locomotive

Locomotive provides surprises throughout its portfolio (Image credit: Locomotive)

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 was until recently a senior art director at Vasava, but he's now freelancing full-time with 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

Design portfolios: Merijn Hoss

Hoss takes a pared back approach (Image credit: Merijn Hos)

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.

11. ToyFight

Design portfolio: ToyFight

This portfolio is executed with humour and panache

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

Design portfolios: Made Thought

The site cycles through images with taglines (Image credit: 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 new 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

Design portfolio: Marleigh Culver

Culver's website is simple but considered (Image credit: 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

Design portfolios: Malika Favre

Bold and beautiful (Image credit: 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.

15. Studio Myerscough

Studio Myerscough design portfolio

An online business card

The online presence of design luminary Morag Myersough acts as more of an online business card than a website. It consists of one simple landing page with three icons linking to her email, Instagram and Twitter accounts. 

This is a truly modern approach from a very established and respected industry veteran, who uses social media to great effect to get her work and the process behind it out there. 

Although this is quite an extreme example, many creatives are now using social media as their primary vehicle for not only promoting but also showcasing their work.

Next page: 20-28 on our list of brilliant design portfolios