PDF Portfolios for Web Design

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When you’re building a web design portfolio, you should first create it as a website. Most clients will expect to see your web design work on the web, and that is where your skills in things like web programming and scripting will show up to best effect. Image rollovers, Ajax, and other DHTML don’t show up in print.

Portfolio That Is More Portable

In this case, most designers rely on printouts of their designs and often simply hope that they can get access to the internet to show off their designs online. But with a PDF portfolio you can create a portfolio that can be printed, but also includes features like links and some animation to better show off your pages.

With a PDF portfolio, you have a portfolio that can be customized to showcase your best work and focus on the needs of the client you are mailing it to. And because it is a stand-alone document, you can simply email the portfolio to your prospects. It is extremely rare that someone can’t open a PDF document.

Building a PDF Portfolio

The easiest way is to start in a program that you are already comfortable in, like Dreamweaver or a graphics program. If you think of your portfolio as a website (or you already have it built as a website), you can create a design that works for your needs and showcases your best work. Remember that the portfolio is an example of your work too, so don’t skimp on the design. You will get more offers from a good portfolio than a bad one, so take the time to make it good.

Choose your best work to include in the portfolio. Don’t include everything. Leaving in an example of less than stellar work just because it’s the only example you have of that skill will have a larger negative effect than leaving it out and just including those skills in your resume instead.

Include informative details about the pieces you do choose, including:

  • Client name and date it was created.
  • Project description and URL of the live site (if it’s still live).
  • Your role on the project.
  • Any awards or industry recognition the project received.

Finally, your portfolio should include details about yourself such as:

  • Your name, contact information, and a short biography.
  • Your website URL including where to find the full portfolio online.
  • A list of your previous and current clients.
  • Services you offer or an extended list of skills that might not be showcased in the portfolio.
  • A cover letter including your goal or mission statement.

If you including nothing else, you must include your name and contact information in the PDF. The goal of a portfolio is to help you get a job or more clients, and it can’t do that if the prospective employer or client can’t contact you.

Saving Your PDF Portfolio

Many software programs offer the ability to save files as PDF. And you can also print web pages to PDF with tools like these 5 Great Tools for Converting HTML to PDF. For the best portfolios, however, you should use a program like Photoshop or Illustrator to design your PDF and then modify it with links and additional pages using a PDF tool like Acrobat Pro.

Make sure you save your PDF so that it’s got a small file size, but not so small that the quality of your designs is affected. If you are planning to email your PDF you should limit the size to less than 25 MB. Some email clients (like Gmail and Hotmail) have attachment size limits. And even if you’re sending it directly to a business address, remember that no one likes to wait for files to download.

Using Your PDF Portfolio

Once you have your portfolio in a PDF format you can use it in many different ways.

  • Send it by email to potential clients and employers along with your resume.
  • Include it as an attachment on your portfolio website.
  • Print it out to bring to in-person meetings and events.
  • If it’s small, you could keep a copy on your cell phone to transfer to other people you meet.