How to Approach Your Front End Developer Portfolio (and Why It’s So Important)

Thomas Meehan

Thomas Meehan

6 min read
coding portfolio

A front end web developer portfolio is essential for every front end guru. It’s not just a place to showcase your work, but also an ideal example of what you can do. A great portfolio imparts your skills, your personality, and your passion. But how can you go about building a portfolio that does all that?

Here’s a deep dive into front end developer portfolios: why they’re so important and how you can approach building your own.

Why build a developer portfolio?

As with any specialist role, developers must know how to market themselves. Whether you’re on the hunt for a job, want to attract more freelance clients, or simply want to network with other developers, your portfolio is often their first point of contact – you have to make it count.

Your portfolio will showcase your best work, your personality, and your skill sets. It’s your best chance to put your money where your mouth is and demonstrate your talents, sharing your enthusiasm about the field as you go.

LinkedIn pages and resumes are also essential but a portfolio is just as important. It’s not just listing your previous employers, it’s demonstrating your skills in the industry in an easily accessed format.

Now you know just how important a developer portfolio is, let’s take a look at some tried and true approaches to the format you can pursue.

Consider your target audience

One of the first things every website must serve is its target market. Without a target audience, a website risks obscurity or alienation – and you want to be associated with neither.

Before you start to code, sit down and brainstorm who you want to speak to with your new website. Are you building it to attract new employers? Do you want to become an authority among developers? Do you want freelance clients contacting you through the site? The answer to these questions will dictate what you include and how you structure your site.

For instance, you wouldn’t drive people to contact you about work if you’re simply looking to network with other developers. Conversely, you wouldn’t make your portfolio examples overly technical if your goal is to target layman clients.

Whichever route you go, always keep your target market in mind.

Make it personal

When building a personal portfolio you want to make it just that: personal. Include an image of yourself on the home page and introduce yourself like you would at a first time meeting. Tell your audience a little about yourself and your skillset. In scanning your site, your audience should be able to tell who you are, what you do, and what you can do for them.

Keep all your content in the first person and position yourself as an authority in the industry. Talk about personal experiences in learning new code and what makes you excited about web development.

The more of yourself you put into your portfolio, the higher the chance someone will connect with you through it.

Make it responsive

This is a universal rule for all websites but is particularly important for a portfolio. Most people now browse the internet on their phones. To ensure you’re not alienating a good portion of your audience you have to ensure your site is responsive.

Building a responsive portfolio also proves to your audience that you know what you’re doing in the industry. No developer in their right mind would develop an unresponsive site in today’s mobile age.

Build responsive and ensure you test your site across multiple screens and devices. Your audience will thank you.

Make it accessible

Accessibility, like responsiveness, is an essential part of any good website. To impress people with your portfolio, you have to ensure you take measures to make it accessible for those with disabilities.

This means including alt tags on all your images, ensuring your colour palette is contrasted enough, and building your code semantically. The more attention you pay to accessibility, the more professional your portfolio site will be.

Showcase only your best work

Your portfolio isn’t a live archive of every project you’ve ever worked on. At its core, it’s a sales tool, meant to show off the best of what you’re capable of. You must be discerning when it comes to deciding what projects to showcase.

Particularly proud of a piece of code included in a client’s cake shop website? Include that and highlight the code in question. Have a project that got railroaded by the client too much for you to be entirely happy showcasing it? Leave that one out.

At the end of the day, you want people to look at your portfolio and be impressed. If you’re not proud of the work, that will come across and you’ll risk losing your audience.

Update regularly

Regularly updating your portfolio ensures your material is fresh, new, and relevant to your audience. It’s also an essential strategy to stay on top of your SEO – Google and other search engines like websites that update regularly.

At the very least you ought to be uploading new projects to your portfolio on a regular basis. If you want to go the extra mile (and help your SEO in the process) you might consider starting a front end development blog.

However you decide to update, just ensure the content is relevant and engaging.

Build your development portfolio today

Having a front end development portfolio is essential in today’s online world. You can’t just rely on word of mouth to get your skills noticed. Just make sure you consider your target audience, keep it professional, and update your content regularly.

Now you know everything there is to know about how to approach your own front end development portfolio.

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