5 Most Common Developer Portfolio Mistakes
A portfolio site is one of the best marketing and sales tools you as a web developer have in your arsenal. And if it’s set up right, it’ll save you a bunch of time having to:
- Chase down new clients,
- Spend time convincing them to work with you,
- Answer questions about your experience as a coder and what you can build,
- Explain your background and how you got into web development,
- Handle other repetitive and tedious sales and marketing tasks.
The emphasis here is on setting up your portfolio site the right way.
Your portfolio site — as a whole — needs to be a reflection of your best self. To accomplish this, you’ll want to steer clear of the 5 most common developer portfolio mistakes.
Just keep in mind that this doesn’t have to end up being a ton of additional work. With one of Be’s pre-built portfolio sites, you can quickly create your portfolio powerhouse.
Mistake #1: Allowing your portfolio to feel disorganized or overwhelming
When you work for a variety of companies and industries, you want your portfolio to accurately reflect the breadth of your work.
While a well-stocked portfolio may impress prospects as they see how versatile you are, they also need to be able to find samples that look like the site they want you to build for them.
So, there are a couple of solutions for this.
The first is to display only the very best of your samples at once.
This isn’t a numbers game, so you don’t have to show off every single website you’ve built. You just need to highlight the ones that are going to inspire and build trust with prospects.
For instance, the BeTheme pre-built site only shows off nine projects on the Portfolio page:
A prospect wouldn’t look at this collection of samples and think, “This is all they’ve done?!”
They’d look at this and think, “Wow! I want my site to look just like that one!”
When you show prospects your very best work, it won’t matter how few or how many you put in your portfolio.
The other thing you can do is enable visitors to filter your portfolio by category.
This is useful if you have a large, impressive portfolio and you want to be able to demonstrate the different types of sites you’ve built and industries you’ve served.
93digital is a web development agency that has this feature built into its portfolio:
This enables prospects to zero in on the kind of website they’re interested in (for instance, ecommerce versus membership).
And if you decide to build this into your own, know that BeTheme comes with this feature as well.
Mistake #2: Holding onto outdated features that distract from your portfolio
It’s so easy to lose sight of your portfolio when you’re busy trying to create sites for your clients. And while that’s one of the most common developer portfolio mistakes, you can’t afford to make it.
You need this site to generate leads and close deals on your behalf.
So, it’s important to review your site at least once a year and get rid of outdated styles or features, like slow-loading portfolio carousels or “Don’t leave yet!” exit intent pop-ups.
You don’t need these fad-like features littering your site.
Or, better yet, just commit to a style that will last. One that’s responsive, simple, and uniquely yours. Then, you’ll only need to do minor touch-ups to it every now and again.
For instance, this is the website for Rstyle Design:
The site is actually quite small, but it’s an impressive and memorable experience from start to finish. There’s nothing gimmicky here. Just an easy-to-follow portfolio site.
You can accomplish something similar with the BeVideo portfolio pre-built site:
While the design and layout is attractive, everything is kept nice and simple so prospective clients can focus on the works as well as the call-to-action.
Bottom line: you don’t need distracting features and a bloated site to impress visitors. You just need to give them the space and time to see your impressive body of work.
Mistake #3: Not spending time on your About page
Primarily, prospects visit your site in order to see proof of your work. However, they also want to meet the person behind it.
When someone hires you to build their website, they’re looking for a partner, not just someone who can click a few buttons and automatically create something. They could easily do that on their own with a cheap website builder.
So, they need to make sure you’re a good fit.
Your About page is your chance to succinctly tell your story.
What experience do you have?
Who have you built websites for?
Is there a reason you serve this industry, in particular?
You don’t need to go into your life’s story. Just tell prospective clients the same thing you’d tell them during a discovery call when they ask you to tell them about yourself.
Developer Kevin Leary has done a nice job with his About page:
The very first thing you see is a summary that describes what he does for clients. That’s important to have here so that clients are reminded why it’s worth reading on.
Then, Kevin uses just two paragraphs to sum up his experiences, while naming some notable clients and skills he’s acquired over the years.
The bottom half of the About page lists out various achievements as well as WordPress plugins he’s built.
If you want to give your About page more flavor, you can use BeMockup and give it a more striking design and layout:
This pre-built site also makes it easy to add client logos and testimonials as further proof of why you’re the web developer to work with.
Mistake #4: Not making a contact page conversion funnel
One of the struggles many freelancers have — not just web developers — is how to balance business management tasks with the actual work of building websites.
But balancing the two doesn’t necessarily mean carving out time so you can get all of it done.
As a web developer, you don’t get paid to find prospects, vet them over the phone, or onboard them. So, you need to streamline and automate this process as much as possible.
There are a number of tools you could use to do this, but why not just set up your Contact page to do most of the work for you?
The first thing the page needs is your basic contact info. BeInteractive has a nice example of how to lay these details out:
You can include your:
- Email address;
- Phone number;
- Physical address (if you meet clients in person);
- Hours of availability,
- Social media links.
You should also set your form up as the start of your conversion funnel as designICU does:
The Hire Me (Contact) page asks prospects a number of questions before they receive a quote.
Things like timing, budget, and needs can all help web developers decide which prospects are worth having a discovery call with or preparing a quote for.
Mistake #5: Forgetting to optimize your portfolio site for search
It would be a mistake to view your portfolio site as nothing more than a link to send to someone interested in your web development services. You also want Google to start putting it in front of prospective clients.
So, just as you optimize your clients’ websites to rank in search, your own portfolio site deserves the same level of care.
Because you’re a developer, play to your strengths and focus on the technical SEO strategy.
Site speed, for instance, can be achieved through a number of optimizations — like starting with a lightweight design. And you can do that with a pre-built site like BeAgency:
Security is another technical factor that’ll influence your rank, so make sure you have an SSL certificate installed (at the very least).
As for optimizing the content on your site, just make sure your website caters to relevant search queries like:
“Hire a web developer”
“WordPress developers near me”
“How much does a website cost”
Do some of these searches on your own and you’ll find other developers’ portfolio sites that have managed to rank. For instance, Chris Lam’s site ranks on the first page of Google for “wordpress developer dallas”:
Take a look at the portfolio website and you’ll see why that is:
It’s minimally designed, fast to load, secure, and the content is straight and to the point. That’s the perfect place to start to optimize your own portfolio.
Avoiding Developer Portfolio Mistakes Now and in the Future
If you can avoid these developer portfolio mistakes, your portfolio site will attract better prospects, qualify more leads, and help you close more business with less effort.
Just remember that a well-built but simple design is the key to allowing your previous work to shine through and, consequently, impressing prospects. So, if you haven’t yet built your portfolio site or you know you need to redesign yours, give BeTheme a shot. It has everything you need to stay away from these portfolio site no-nos.