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Developing your portfolio....

Hey guys,

I'm just starting out in web design. I've pretty much got enough html and CSS under my belt to put together a site. My Photoshop skills aren't top notch but I've been using the program for a few years now and know my way around.

Anyways, my question is, when you're first starting out as a web designer, how do you go about developing your portfolio? I don't mean in the sense of designing your own portfolio, but actually creating work to put in your portfolio.

Now I would presume that you must have some type of portfolio to showcase before you can get your first client (generally), but what would you put in your portfolio if you haven't had any clients yet? Should I just create some random web templates (ex: business, personal, nonprofit, etc.) first and use them to showcase my capabilities?

Basically in a nutshell, how do you begin crafting the contents of your portfolio before your first client arrives?

Thanks in advance for your help.

PS Sorry if this is in the wrong forum, it seemed the most fitting...


Senior Member
Many different ways

Mockup briefs for yourself
It's good to create actual briefs instead of just creating sites
then complete the sites and have the briefs ready to show along side the site

Contact local charities

Make sites for your hobbies

Make sites for friends and family

I would avoid making free sites for other people who don't fall under friends / family / charities, it can lead to them expecting free work in the future when you want them to pay you..

Otherwise it's just a case of getting determined to create work :)


Staff member
As much as most of us scorn 99designs and the likes it might be worth entering a couple of their contests as they have a set brief and you can sometimes get some feedback from a client.

Having your own brief can often bring in the issue that you're the one critiquing it and that can lead to poor design decisions.
Thanks for the replies. What is the difference between a brief and a site? I haven't come across the term "brief" in this context before.
OK I see. So instead of simply creating a free web template, I should instead create a mock brief describing the purpose and aim of the website and some ideas for its general appearance and then create the website according to the brief. Right?


Senior Member
Exactly :)

Or like Levi said, get onto some contest sites and find briefs they've created. That way pleasing a client

Don't create designs to win the contests, instead create solutions to the brief. Always remember that you will inevitably have to create work for a client, but in real life situations you can advise and explain why you've made choices, and why the work created is not for you or the owner to "like" it is created to serve a purpose. (Though it helps if you both like the designs)
Makes perfect sense. I have one more question, it might be a tad unrelated but, which of these two methods is more effective for web design?

1. Creating the layout in html/CSS and then creating the images in Photoshop and implementing them into the layout via IMG SRC.


2. Creating the entire layout in Photoshop and then slice it and code it in html/CSS.