How to Create a Killer Web Design Portfolio with No Job Experience

Written by
Rebecca Smith

Jan 16, 2019

Jan 16, 2019 • by Rebecca Smith

Web design and development is a booming market. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a projection of 15% growth in the job market for web development between 2016 and 2026, equating to nearly 25,000 new jobs in the United States alone.

Yet it's a competitive market. Many companies are seeking experience, but newcomers in the industry can't gain experience without being given the opportunity.  

Learn how to create a web design portfolio with no job experience so you can break into the job market through sheer talent.

How to Create a Web Design Portfolio with No Job Experience

Just because you don't have experience on the job doesn't mean you don't have experience in web design and development. Showcase what you can and have done with an online portfolio that turns heads. 

Here's how it's done:

It All Starts with a Website

Every web designer and developer should have an online portfolio, and it should showcase not only project samples but also what your capabilities. Like an artist, the way you present yourself through your website can speak volumes.

After all, you specialize in designing websites! This is your forte, so put your best foot forward. Create your portfolio like you would a client project. Ask yourself:

  • How can I use my web design to highlight my skills?
  • What is the primary message or impression I want to convey?
  • What kind of design will align with the type of job I want?

Don't compromise on the quality. Follow every step of the process, from conception to quality control and launch. 

Your website design is your resume and your first impression. Your portfolio will always take "second notice", so making your personal design the shining star of your work is important.  

Not sure where to start? If the pressure is causing you to draw a blank on your self-project, click here for a guide to help kickstart your inspiration.

Showcase Personal Projects

You didn't wake up one day and know how to design websites. It comes with education and practice. Showcase your personal projects as part of your portfolio.

There is no rule that says your portfolio has to showcase the results of real, paying clients. It's a window into what you're capable of creating, making your personal projects 100 percent valid.

If you haven't already, offer to create websites for friends and family members. Live sites potential employers can interact with are always better than a mockup. They demonstrate you can take an idea and translate it into a functional end product. 

Also, take the time to put together a summary pinpointing the objective of the project, any challenges it may have presented, and how the end result is a solution to both. This demonstrates your ability to comprehend a client's needs, problem solve, and deliver a satisfying result. 

Use Assignments or Tutorial Projects

Are you just out of school? Or perhaps you recently took a class or tutorial on a new web design skill? Use your assignments or experimental work as part of your portfolio. 

Again, while these may not be the products of paying clients, they are true representations of your skills. This is especially helpful if what you learned is a more current or efficient approach to more outdated practices. 

You always want your portfolio to show you're "with the times". Whether it's the latest visual design trends or important web development practices, such as mobile responsive design, you want to stay current with the industry.

Create Living Websites for Faux Clients

If your school work or pro bono work is light, don't wait on an opportunity to present itself. Create your own by designing live, faux client websites.

This doesn't mean impersonate a real business. Rather, it's a live template that you create as a model for a specific type of client. For example, you can create an air conditioning website template, an e-commerce website template, or a freelance portfolio template. 

When you create an actual website to showcase these designs, you give potential employers to see how well you bring your designs to life. They can interact with not only the various pages and forms, but also widgets or other features. 

Focus on Designs that Align with the Job You Want

Not all web design companies are the same. Each company has a niche, whether it's medical, B2B, small business, government entities, or something else. 

If you are looking to apply for a specific job with a specific company, know it's niche. Create content for your portfolio that will appeal to what the business is focused on.

For example, you can create a local medical practice web design mockup for a company that specializes in medical websites. 

But don't just capture the niche. Know the company's brand and align your work with what they offer clients. For example, if their message is they create professional, clean, and mobile responsive designs for medical practices, aim to capture that.

While creativity is great, you want to avoid deviating from the brand's objective. You may be a fantastic designer, but if you can't match the type of product they sell, you won't be considered a good fit.

Create Stock Themes for WordPress

WordPress is the hottest CMS on the market today. It's communal nature allows web developers to offer stock themes to its library. You can even sell them as a premium design!

It's a great way to not only promote yourself but also add to the value of your portfolio. If you have several hot themes on the market, it shows people gravitate to your design.

Explore Resources and Jobs for Web Design

Now that you know how to create a web design portfolio with no job experience, you'll probably want to dig deeper into various aspects of today's web design industry. 

Dig into our archive of web design articles for more tips, insights, and trends. Our National Job Page articles are written to help you enhance your career path.

Or are you ready to start your job search now? There are thousands of jobs here on the Washington Post waiting for the perfect applicant to submit their resume. Start your job search now.