In today’s global workplace, a paper resume just doesn’t cut it anymore. Whether you’re looking for a new career, side project collaborations, or are just trying to stay visible in your industry, it’s often necessary to have an online website that outlines who you are and the work you do. At a minimum, it’ll keep you searchable and allow you to control the SEO around your name.
Polywork provides a great place to build out and share your online resume—and there are a ton of examples of how to craft effective resumes there (like the pages of software engineer Nick Taylor or UX designer Manny Ikomi, for instance)—but your Polywork profile is also a great place to link out to a site where you can dive deeper into the work you do, sharing an aesthetic, style, and voice that is uniquely your own.
But what should your website look like?
The short answer: it depends. The design and aesthetic of one’s portfolio should cater to one’s career. Photographers’ sites should lean heavily on photos; UX developers’ should be easily navigable; designers’ should focus on aesthetics; writers’ should be well-written.
10 examples of beautifully curated portfolio websites to inspire you
Portfolio website inspiration for designers
Once freelance designer Manon Jouet’s website loads (after displaying an utterly charming loading page), her portfolio of projects dance across the homepage, tempting the website visitor to click. The clean theme angles her as a true multi-hyphenate, relying on the motif of refresh arrows that allow the viewer to not only see various descriptions of each project, but also more information about Manon herself.
On his online portfolio, the California-based interface designer Mike Matas brings each of his projects to life by depicting them on their respective devices—a laptop, an iPhone, a Nest thermostat—with a scrolling timeline that places each in chronological order. The minimalist design and large-scale cursor entices visitors to take their time exploring.
Manuel Tocanne, a designer and creative director, has a decidedly light and airy touch when it comes to his designs, an ethos that shows on his personal website, as well. A greeting—typed simply in a serif font on a white background—feels like a warm welcome. Scroll past his understated contact info to see crisp photo links to a handful of his favorite projects, which open up into well-curated highlights of the work he’s done. It’s simple, yet highly effective.
Personal website inspiration for developers
Very few people do just one thing. And just as Polywork is designed to highlight that, so can one’s online portfolio. Luke Shiro for instance, is not just a web developer. He’s also a DJ, a gamer, a VR enthusiast, a millennial, a libra, a cat lover; and if you click his bio at the top of his homepage, you’ll cycle through even more descriptions that reveal not just how Luke sees himself, but also his witty and engaging personality. Recently, he redesigned his website to appeal to the professional world, while maintaining his “personal touch.” The finished product, which clearly shows off his skills, experience, and charisma, certainly hits the mark.
Some developers craft their portfolios to be a living example of the kind of work they can do. Take Bruno Simon, for instance, who created an interactive resume that acts more like a video game than a portfolio. Viewers use keyboard arrows to drive a truck over an orange field of information, like a selection of past projects, skills, and contact information. There’s even a “playground” where viewers can just hang out, driving the truck through bowling pins, over ramps, and through field goals. Importantly, Bruno also made the landscape grab-and-draggable, so if you don’t feel like playing—or can’t figure out the controls—you can still see the website.
As fun and eye-catching as some personal websites are, there is something to be said for keeping it clean and simple, which is exactly what the UX designer and front-end developer Cigàr Tang accomplishes with his portfolio. He chooses his pops of color and animation carefully, drawing the eye across the page and making it easy for the reader to gather all the information. At the bottom of the site, he sums up the ethos of both his career and his personal website perfectly: “The mission of design is to make business beautiful and simple.”
Web portfolio inspiration for all types of creators
It makes sense that the photographer William Abranowicz would use his portfolio to draw visitors to, well, his photography. In fact, the homepage is so focused on photography (a selection of beautiful, high-res images automatically slide across the screen of the landing page) that a viewer feels captivated immediately, lingering on his work before even having time to figure out how to navigate to more information.
In addition to having a well-curated Polywork profile, the 3D artist, illustrator, and designer Ben Fryc has designed his online portfolio to succinctly showcase his work. Beneath a smiling animation of Ben himself acting as a friendly welcome to the site, photos of and links to his work show his range, and a pop-up window pointing to his demo reel usher visitors to the projects he’s most proud of.
As an animator, DeeKay Kwon naturally crafted the homepage of his online portfolio to stay in constant motion. But he also understands that movement coupled with an elaborate design could easily distract from the important work of showcasing his past projects and resume. Instead, he keeps it simple. As images dance, bounce, swing, and jump across the page, white spaces, simple links, and easy-to-read text keep the information accessible and the viewer neither over- nor under-stimulated.
Since writers are responsible for providing the copy for websites rather than the design itself, they have a bit more leeway when it comes to the aesthetic of their own personal pages. But that doesn’t mean style isn’t important; an ill-designed website can send potential collaborators running. Ryan Krogh’s portfolio is a good example of how to balance both. The writer and editor uses photos that indicate the subject matter he’s most attracted to, and rather than merely telling website visitors where his writing has appeared, he includes photos of the beautifully-designed magazine spreads. Two birds; one stone.
Design your portfolio with you in mind
Creating a digital portfolio may be a lot more work than typing up a paper resume, but doing so allows you more freedom and space to be yourself. Use it as an opportunity to flash your sense of style to the world. The majority of portfolios on the internet are threadbare and cookie-cutter, so infusing even a little life and personality into yours will help you stand out above the crowd.