A good portfolio website should showcase the best parts of your work front and center for visitors to see. It should also be easy to navigate and designed with your unique branding. Think of your portfolio as an exhibition space for your work, but online: you’ll need to highlight the best parts of what you do while giving visitors a pleasant experience throughout their visit. For inspiration, we’ve listed the nine best portfolio websites and why they work.
What a Portfolio Website Is & Why It’s Important
Before taking a closer look at the best portfolio website examples, you’ll first need to understand what portfolio websites are and why they’re valuable to growing your brand. At its core, a portfolio website is an online version of a portfolio. It’s an online space for your work that visitors and interested clients can easily access to get a general idea of your work’s style and characteristics, whether you’re a graphic designer, writer, or another type of creative.
Take, for example, this portfolio website from Collard Design Studio, a London-based design studio:
You’ll notice that it showcases all its past work for clients in an easy-to-follow grid format, while still keeping its unique branding. It also has an easily accessible “Contact” button on the upper-right corner. Altogether, this portfolio makes it easy for potential clients to decide whether or not they want to partner with the studio and provides them the avenues to do so.
It’s overall an excellent example of effective portfolio website design. When creating your portfolio website, you want visitors’ main focus to be on your work, but your overall design should also be memorable and unique enough to build your brand presence. Considering these factors will ultimately help you gain more leads and clients.
Key takeaway: A portfolio website is a digital version of a portfolio for interested clients to see examples of your past work, anywhere and anytime. Portfolio websites build your credibility and are essential for anyone in the creative industry to gain new clients and customers.
Ready to be inspired by the best portfolio websites? Keep reading to understand why these portfolios work and how to incorporate their best qualities into your own portfolio.
1. Graphic Design Portfolio: Diogo China Moreira
Industry: Graphic design
Platform: Adobe Portfolio
Overview: Diogo China Moreira is a freelance graphic designer who also does creative branding for small businesses. Their portfolio website uses a full-screen grid format that places their creative work front and center. It doesn’t have any extra copies or website elements, instead pulling viewers’ focus on the graphic designs themselves.
What works: This portfolio is one of the best portfolio websites around mainly because of its simplicity—it’s a digital portfolio in every sense of the word. However, it’s also effective because all the images are clickable. When clicked, they lead viewers to more details about each project, along with more high-quality images. It’s one of the simplest digital portfolio examples anyone can easily look through, therefore making it one of the best.
Room for improvement: Diogo China Moreira’s portfolio website is simple—almost too simple. While it’s great for highlighting the work front and center, its call-to-action buttons are hidden in the upper-right corner, which makes them easy to miss even for clients who want to book a call. Placing a more noticeable button below the graphic design gallery could potentially encourage more visitors to make contact.
Pro tip: When creating your portfolio website (or any website), be sure to make it easy for visitors to reach out to you, whether that’s by adding a click-to-call button, an online contact form, or an on-page chatbot. Find out more about how to create a small business website effectively, or read our guide to the best website builder platforms for small businesses.
2. Photography Portfolio: Shira Bar
Industry: Creative services
Overview: Shira Bar is a freelance studio photographer. Their portfolio website uses a simple, minimalist design with lots of white space, which also highlights their photography work. It also stands out for using a gallery layout highlighting each photo individually instead of the usual grid-style pattern.
What works: For photography portfolios, you’ll ideally want your images to do all the talking. One of the best website portfolio examples that exemplifies this is Shira Bar’s photography portfolio. Instead of the standard grid format, it uses a larger frame that highlights each photo individually, with the other images in thumbnails just below. This allows visitors to get a good look at each image, which is pertinent in highlighting your skills as a photographer.
Room for improvement: While Shira Bar’s portfolio is well-structured and easy to navigate, it lacks context about each photography project. Adding context—even a short caption—to each photograph can help visitors better understand each photoshoot project better.
3. Artist Portfolio: Rayhart
Overview: Rayhart is an abstract painter who exhibits their work in various art galleries. Their portfolio website features many of their previous paintings, information on each, along with details of upcoming shows and exhibitions.
What works: If you’re an artist, what better way to design and brand your website than with your original artwork? This is particularly what makes abstract painter Rayhart’s website one of the best portfolio websites for artists. The home page features full-screen images of their best work, along with quotes that tell users more about the artist’s art style and outlook. It also has a navigation bar that leads to more paintings and more in-depth information.
Room for improvement: While Rayhart’s portfolio website has all the essentials, it doesn’t have the most modern or user-friendly design. While this is a minor issue at most, it can deter potential clients from staying on the website longer or even coming back for a second visit. The best portfolio website examples have a good balance of function and form to create the best possible user experience.
4. Illustrator Portfolio: Rafael Varona
Industry: Creative services
Overview: There are few portfolio website examples that better encapsulate a modern and eye-catching portfolio than illustrator Rafael Varona’s. While the portfolio itself uses a simple layout, it keeps viewers engaged by placing Varona’s illustrations and motion graphics front and center, but with lots of white space in between so it doesn’t look too crowded. Clicking on each illustration also leads to more context and images of each project.
What works: This portfolio works because it highlights not only the illustration work itself, but also Varona’s expert eye for creative design. The portfolio is one of the best sample portfolio websites around in terms of website design—it’s well-balanced, captivating, and customized with the artist’s unique branding. Plus, it’s also informative and easy to navigate, overall creating a positive and memorable visitor experience.
Room for improvement: One action item that would elevate its user experience even further is a contact form, instead of simply a click-to-email function. Doing so would make it much easier for interested clients to get in touch for a project, as well as prevent potential spammers to the email address listed.
5. Video Portfolio: Courtney Holmes
Industry: Creative services
Overview: Courtney Holmes is a documentary filmmaker who makes professional-quality home documentary films for families. Their portfolio website also uses a grid pattern, but it’s filled with videos instead of images. The site also functions as their all-around business website—it also has an “About” page and appointment booking for clients.
What works: Courtney Holmes’ showreel takes portfolio website examples to a new level. While it uses a similar grid pattern, it immediately catches viewers’ attention by using GIFs that play as videos when clicked instead of static images. This way, visitors immediately get a preview of their films and a sense of their filming style.
Room for improvement: Courtney Holmes’ video portfolio has high visual value, but it also takes a while to load, which docks it a few points. Fast site loading times are an essential part of technical SEO, as it’s key to providing a good user experience. Plus, slow websites also often lead to high bounce rates—that is visitors hopping off your site very quickly. This significantly lowers your chances of gaining more traffic and leads.
6. Musician Portfolio: John Watson
Overview: John Watson is a musician-for-hire who also composes original music available to stream. Their website gives visitors a brief intro of their music background, links to their latest releases, and embeds from Spotify and YouTube of their past releases and performances. It also has a calendar for upcoming gigs and links to social media profiles.
What works: Musician portfolios can be tricky, as you’re showcasing sound instead of visuals. However, this is one of the best music portfolio website examples that makes it work seamlessly. It includes background info about the artist, along with links to their releases on various streaming platforms, and even music embeds that let visitors listen directly on the website—effectively giving visitors a well-rounded impression of the musician’s abilities.
Room for improvement: John Watson’s website is one of the best web portfolio examples, but falls short in terms of branding. Musicians need to stand out among thousands of others, and a unique, well-branded, and memorable website can substantially boost those chances.
7. Writer Portfolio: Ann Friedman
Overview: Ann Friedman is a published author and essayist covering topics on culture and society for multiple national magazines. Their portfolio website is reflective of this, showcasing links to their published work online and in print along with podcasts, newsletters, and other work, all in an organized, easy-to-follow format.
What works: Ann Friedman’s writing portfolio is simple, modern, professional, and tailored to their branding—everything a writing portfolio should be. It’s also well-organized, with separate sections for full-length books, articles, personality profiles, and anthologies. This gives visitors a well-rounded idea of Ann’s overall writing expertise and topic coverage while allowing them a seamless site navigation experience.
Room for improvement: Ann Friedman has one of the best portfolio website designs around. However, while it showcases a varied body of work, it could be more informative about the type of services they have to offer. When creating your portfolio, it’s helpful to be clear about the specific services clients can expect from you.
8. Branding Agency Portfolio: RP Studios Branding Consultants
Overview: RP Studios is a branding consultancy that provides branding services, website design, and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses. Its website features bold, bright colors and plenty of eye candy to engage the reader. It’s also simple to navigate.
What works: Despite a graphics-heavy design, the site loads quickly. Also, RP Studios’ website is easy to navigate, with just a handful of links in the navigation bar and excellent resources to help guide potential clients through what the company does. What really works is its simple, easy-to-browse selection of case studies.
Room for improvement: While the case studies are relatively easy to locate and browse, they’re still buried either in the body of the homepage or tucked away in the navigation menu. Moving the case studies higher up in the main body would help improve accessibility and browsability for potential clients.
9. Stationery Design Portfolio: Kirsten Lucia Design
Industry: Wedding and Lifestyle
Platform: Adobe Portfolio
Overview: Kirsten Lucia Design is an independent designer who creates bespoke stationery for weddings. Their portfolio website uses simple grid-style blocks with images of their past work, and a short blurb about who they are and what they do, all in a minimalist layout and monochrome color palette.
What works: Kirsten Lucia Design’s portfolio website works because it also doubles as their main business website. While its home page showcases grid-style images of Kirsten’s previous work, the image blocks also function as buttons leading to other parts of the website, including the “About” page and FAQs. This keeps the website’s overall design sleek, minimalist, and very easy to navigate.
Room for improvement: While Kirsten Lucia Design’s website is easy to navigate, it only has six images in its portfolio, which is barely enough to give interested clients a well-rounded idea of their work. It also doesn’t provide multiple high-quality photos of each design—doing so would significantly be more helpful to visitors.
Portfolio Websites Do’s & Don’ts
Building an effective portfolio website is just like building any other professional business website: it needs to be engaging, well-designed, and informative while showcasing the best parts of your work to get more leads and clients. Creating your portfolio website also means following all the principles of effective website-building, as the example portfolio websites above show. Here are some more do’s and don’ts to keep in mind when building your digital portfolio:
- Do include varied examples. Showcase the variety of your works by using diverse samples of your product, service, or art.
- Do include a call to action (CTA): Just because your portfolio’s main purpose is to showcase your work doesn’t mean it can’t also have other functions. The best portfolio websites also have avenues for interested clients to get in touch with you, whether via contact form, email, chatbot, or phone call.
- Do customize your portfolio with your branding: There are hundreds of portfolios in any given field, and yours will need to stand out to get any leads. Be sure to customize your website with your own brand logo, colors, favicon, and so on, so visitors remember you more easily.
- Do follow web design principles: Like any other website, your portfolio should also provide a good visitor experience. Even your best, most polished work won’t make an impression if your portfolio isn’t well-designed. Make sure to have enough spacing between images, use proper visual hierarchy, and write effective copy. Find out more website design tips and best practices.
- Don’t stuff too many examples into your portfolio. Your portfolio is to showcase your best work, not catalog everything you’ve ever completed. Don’t try to shove more projects than are necessary to display the kinds of work you do. Select a few of your best work to highlight.
- Don’t neglect your site speed: Website loading speed is an important yet often overlooked aspect of effective online portfolios. Your portfolio will likely contain lots of high-quality images or video, which can significantly impact the speed of your site, and slow websites can often lead to audiences leaving quickly. Make sure to reduce your media file sizes and test your site speeds regularly to ensure it stays fast.
Best Tools for Building a Portfolio Website
If there’s anything the portfolio website examples above show, it’s that great website portfolios are well-designed, informative, and provide visitors with a good and memorable experience that encourages them to get in touch. The good news is that building one is easier than ever now even if you have no website-building experience, thanks to the dozens of beginner-friendly portfolio website builders available.
These platforms allow you to start with a template (or build from scratch) and then add dozens of images, video, or audio files, customize it with your branding, and even add features like contact forms or appointment-booking tools. Here are some of the best websites for portfolios:
Unlimited on paid plans
Unlimited on Professional and Performance plans
Unlimited on all paid plans
Free Plan Available
Starting Cost of Paid Plans*
*With annual billing
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
The best platforms for building a portfolio website are Wix, Weebly, and GoDaddy. All these platforms have dozens of well-designed portfolio templates for various professions, image and video galleries, and helpful features like contact forms and appointment-booking tools. They’re also easy to use even for beginners, have substantial storage capacity, and have free-forever plans to start with as well as budget-friendly paid plans.
Yes—you can definitely build a professional-level portfolio website for free using free website builders like Wix, Weebly, GoDaddy, or Mozello. These platforms all have free-forever plans that let you build a portfolio website complete with image galleries, videos, and even contact forms, blogs, and appointment booking.
A portfolio website is important for professionals in the creative industry to gain more clients and customers. Portfolios are also valuable for design or branding agencies to showcase their previous work to potential clients. Portfolio websites establish your credibility and professionalism, and give clients a clearer idea of the type of work you create and whether it fits their needs. They’re overall a valuable tool to market your creative services to the world.
Portfolio websites are a valuable and effective way to share your work with the world and help you gain more clients. The best portfolio websites help grow your audience and can even form a dedicated follower base for your work. In short, they’re a must-have for anyone in the creative industry. Use the portfolio website examples above as inspiration, then get started building yours using one of these best website builders for artists and photographers.