Portfolio Basics for Web Design Students: Writing Effective & Convincing Copy


Writing effective copy for your portfolio can help turn it into an effective lead generation tool. Usually, your portfolio will be viewed by others without you present, meaning the viewer will have to make assumptions about you without any other outside information. Writing copy for your portfolio can be hard, but if you understand the target market you are trying to attract with your web design portfolio, you can become more effective at enticing the right people to contact you.


Defining Your Target Market

Building your online portfolio is very much the same as working for a client, except the client is yourself. Just as with a client, you need to ask yourself, “Who is my taget market?” Below, we will have a look at the different types of web design portfolios and how to write persuasive copy for each.


Web Design Portfolios to Get Hired

Your target market for this category is potential employers. Most likely, these employers are designers themselves who have a good idea of what they are looking for ascetically. Keep in mind that employers usually see hundreds of portfolios in a given time. Writing good, convincing copy about why they should hire you may be the difference in standing out from your competition.

Put yourself in the position of the person who is searching for designers. What would they want to see? They would most likely want to see someone who has potential and passion for what they do. Explain to your potential employer what the benefit will be for them if they hire you.


Website: Steven Graffin

Copy: “I’m proud to say I love designing for the web and print.”

Why this works: By clearly stating his passion for designing for the web and print, he has also subconsciously revealed other facts about his personality. This could also translate into works well with others, is eager to learn and adapts quickly to new technology.


Web Design Portfolios to Get Clients

A portfolio that is used for garnering more client leads should always follow the “What’s in it for me” approach. Clients are going to hire you because they are looking for a solution to their problem, which in most cases is building them a web presence. Chances are, these leads are very uncertain about whether to hire you or not. This means that keeping copy short and sweet will give prospective clients an idea of what problem your services solve.

Be aware that some clients might not know what they want. Even if they do, they may not be aware of what they could have. Providing a more detailed explanation of the process and the desired outcomes will help these types of clients get a solid grasp on how you work.

Benefits vs. Features

It is important to distinguish the difference between a benefit and a feature. A benefit is the positive outcome a client will get when they invest in your services. Such as, receiving a well-tailored website design that will convert visitors into customers. A feature is the process or tools you use to achieve the said result. In most cases, many clients won’t be interested in this step in your design process. For example:

Service:SEO Specialist/Content Specialist

Feature: These services can provide you with high-quality, well-written articles that are high in traffic and low in competition

Benefit: Clients will receive higher rankings in Google, therefore more traffic directed to their website rather than their competitors. Ultimately, this leads to more business online through search engines.



Website: Saforian

Copy: “We create digital solutions that transform how you connect with customers.”

Why this works: Some businesses may not have any idea of how to connect with their customers online. This headline assures them that this company knows how to provide them with that service.


Writing Focused Portfolios

These types of web design portfolios are used more for building reputation within the industry. Blogging has many economic benefits as a web designer, even if you are just starting out in the industry as a student. Writing consistently on a blog reveals a lot about your character and personality. To clients, blogging demonstrates you have a good handle on your practice and know what you are talking about. To employers, writing proves that you are always looking to increase your knowledge base by keeping up to date with the industry.

If you are struggling with topics to write about, browse other designers blogs and see what they are writing about. I personally love bloggers such as Owltastic who often write about personal stuggles as a designer and how to overcome them. Don’t feel like you have to be an “expert” on a certain subject to write about it. Sometimes the best way to learn it yourself, is to teach someone else. Writing tutorials for beginners is also a good topic that many other student designers could appreciate.



Things to Avoid:

Information Overload

It can be tempting to cram as much information as possible into our portfolio. If you try to overload your visitors with too much information, it can appear cluttered. The fact is, employers or clients only need to know the essential qualities about you pertaining to business upfront. Keep your copy to the point – don’t use 20 words when 10 words would convey the same message.


Being Negative

Remember that you are marketing yourself as a business, so don’t be “spammy.” It is not a good idea to come off as condescending. It’s great that you have confidence in your work, but if clients or employers perceive you as cocky, it can be a turnoff. Persuasive copyrighting is not about lying to get clients into hiring you or being overly aggressive. This won’t get you very far.


Never Updating

Once you’ve completed the copy for your portfolio, don’t assume it’s set in stone. You should revisit your portfolio every once and a while to keep your content fresh. Maybe your target market has shifted or your objective as a web designer has changed. Either way, updating your portfolio to reflect these changes will help realign you with appropriate leads.


Not Having a Call to Action

Effective copy will ultimately persuade your visitor to move forward with contacting you about a project or a job. Enable your potential leads to contact you with ease. Nothing is more frustrating for employers who are interested in hiring you, and they can’t locate an e-mail address. This might lead them to pick someone else over you, simply because you didn’t provide sufficient contact information.

Nothing is more frustrating for employers who are interested in hiring you, and they can’t locate an e-mail address.



Writing copy is a hard job, especially for a web design portfolio. But, when done properly, it can have a profound effect on your potential clients or employers. Tailoring your content to your target market will help you stand out among other generic designers who haven’t taken the time to properly write their own copy. Persuasive copy on your portfolio can help you attract the right clients you want to work with and provide employers with the benefits and qualities they are looking for.


A Student’s Guide to Web Design Portfolios eBook

Your portfolio is your largest asset as a student designer. Learn how to make your portfolio do the hard work and turn it into a lead generation tool that can land you more job opportunities and cliente, even with no experience.

Learn more

Written by Janna Hagan

Janna Hagan is a web designer from Canada that likes to blog, tweet and Dribbble. She's the founder and editor of Student's Guide to Web Design.


Add a Comment
  1. Sophie on May 25, 2012

    I want to become a web designer in the near future, and to be honest, I found this very helpful. There is a lot of hints that can be submitted onto your portfolio here.

  2. Alicia on June 17, 2012

    I found this article very informative, and as a first-time visitor to this site, I must say that I'm impressed! The posts are great, and I love the visual aspects of the site as well. Keep up the great work!

  3. sakshi on March 8, 2013

    I love to look at portfolios as I think they provide so much inspiration for all kinds of sites.I found your article informative and inspirational for beginners .

  4. Deborah T. Coy on April 12, 2013

    I am really impressed with your article and the collections you have made here. I want to be a good designer. Currently, I am taking training from www.bapugraphics.com I will be very happy when I will also be able to make such type of designs.Cheers

  5. Bernd Mollenhauer on April 13, 2013

    I love step-by-step Guides because it is saveing time. For me as a beginner I can learn, learn, learn...

  6. Mayur on May 7, 2013

    Hey Janna, One of good post I ever read, I like your portfolio creation Ideas. Thanks. :)

  7. Guillermo on June 18, 2013

    Have you ever thought about publishing an ebook or guest authoring on other blogs? I have a blog based on the same subjects you discuss and would really like to have you share some stories/information. I know my visitors would appreciate your work. If you're even remotely interested, feel free to shoot me an e mail.

  8. Nick Dogulin on July 11, 2013

    Hi! This is very informative. I agree with having a call to action for your portfolio. This is like with marketing in which call to action sentence are very important. It tends to compel readers to do something in favor of you. Nice post! Keep it going!

  9. Clarisonic Mia 2 on July 11, 2013

    I have read so many articles or reviews regarding the blogger lovers except this post is truly a fastidious paragraph, keep it up.

  10. Royce on August 17, 2013

    My family all the time say that I am killing my time here at web, but I know I am getting knowledge all the time by reading such good articles.

  11. Computer Repair Lincoln on September 19, 2013

    Positivity and a great call to action are essential if you want to stand out from the rest!

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