8 Mistakes Designers Should Avoid When Designing Their Portfolio

March 1, 2021

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Often, talented guys miss great opportunities because of their carelessness or because they consistently make non-design-related mistakes.

Several years ago I began my design journey, and I remember how hard it was. Compiling a portfolio is a challenge, but making it great is even harder.

In this article, I collected a list of the main first impression killers to help junior designers to make their portfolios perfect and increase their chances of getting employed.

1. Too many mockups

Complicated templates, decorative surroundings, and complex angles distract attention from the work itself. The employer is looking for creative solutions, not the ability to work with downloaded mockups. An unusual presentation is cool, but don’t forget that the actual design is always more important. Remember: design first, mockups second.

woman picking shells

2. Links

Forgot to give access or attached a broken link? Consider this the end. In 90% of cases, the client will move on to the next candidate. He also will not want to search for files in hundreds of folders.

To avoid this, simplify the folder navigation, or use special design platforms for posting your artwork. Behance, Dribbble, or any other freelance site is fine for this. Every client is familiar with these sites and it is definitely harder to make a mistake there. One proper portfolio is enough. There is no need to send a link to Behance, social networks, and Google Drive, where the same artworks are located.

two hands linking

3. Too many works

This is both a plus and a minus. On the one hand, it helps to understand the background of the designer. On the other hand, pencil drawings from the first year of school are not very impressive. Such works have nothing to do with your current projects. Select 20 of your best projects, otherwise, the impression will be blurred.

Bird on a branch with a fruit

4. The works are too different

We appreciate people with a wide background, but a portfolio without a general concept is not the best way to present your experience. When a designer adds a rock album cover, a poster for a children’s party, and branding for a futuristic art project to a portfolio, it is not clear what exactly is his or her priority. Choose works that represent your style and main area of expertise.

Bear in the water

5. Low resolution

Low image quality is a visual representation of your technical knowledge or rather its lack. A designer is a creative profession, but you should also have a basic technical skillset. Showing the design in the correct resolution and format shouldn’t be a problem. Before sending images, check the quality of the upload. Imagine that you are handing in the final version to the customer: everything must be perfect.

Hand holding a leaf

6. Images are too big

Don’t add files in the highest resolution. It is impossible to look at a huge image as a whole. You have to scroll to check all parts. An employer can check out the details, but will not obtain a holistic impression.


7. Mistakes and typos

A couple of small mistakes are ok. But when the candidate points out attentiveness and perfectionism in the CV and the cover letter has a lot of typos and mistakes, that is not acceptable.

typing machine

8. Too conceptual projects

Original projects are a great addition to any portfolio. But even the most creative concepts should not be disconnected from the market’s needs. Be prepared, that at an agency you will have to work with real business projects. To succeed, you will have to follow some guidelines and listen to the client, and not just follow the creative flow. It is important that the portfolio shows that you can do both creative and routine tasks.



Remember that a portfolio is a short biography of a designer and a chance to show your best work to a potential client. Choose the best projects and present them in a convenient format. But before submitting your portfolio, check the “killers”, so the end of the story will be a happy one!

About the author

Hi! I’m Anastasya Astashova, the art director of Go Mobile.  weekly review dozens of job candidates’ portfolios. Anastasya is an Experienced Art Director with a demonstrated history of working in the mobile marketing and advertising industry. Skilled in Media Buying, Art Direction, Branding, Marketing, and Analytics. Strong arts and design professional with an Art Direction focused on Art direction. 
Anastasiya Astashova

Anastasiya Astashova

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