The role of a front-end developer combines the best of both sides of the brain, as it brings together the art of visual design with the technical skills of a coding expert. One of the most intimidating steps for those looking to get hired in the field is the creation of a portfolio. This resource will serve as the first impression of your work to future potential employers and evolve to showcase the absolute best of your skillset.
As a future front-end web developer, your portfolio is an opportunity to leap off of the resume page and demonstrate exactly what you’re capable of. While if you have a design background, it might seem simple, to throw a site together, crafting a clutter-free and unique portfolio can play a vital role in landing you that next offer.
In this article, we’re breaking down all the elements that go into a pitch perfect front-end web designer’s portfolio, providing our top tips for what to include (and not to include) when constructing your own. We’ve also compiled a list of our favorite website building resources for beginners and some of the best front-end web dev portfolios to give you some inspiration for your portfolio creation journey!
What is a Front-End Web Developer Portfolio?
A front-end web developer portfolio is a personal website designed to showcase your skillset, work on past projects, and personality. Essentially, it answers the classic interview question, “why should we hire you?” by building on your resume with illustrative examples of work you’ve done. At the same time, elements like your bio, photos and visual flairs provide a glimpse into your personality and personal style.
Why is Creating a Portfolio Important for Front-end Web Developers?
Additionally, creating a portfolio is an important exercise in self-branding and self-reflection. Keeping a running list of your top projects can help identify professional areas of strength and weakness, as well as particular subsets of the field that interest you to specialize in. Your portfolio can be shared out easily by stakeholders within a hiring team or client and prove your commitment to staying up-to-date with continually updating tech trends.
What is Included in a Front-end Web Developers Portfolio?
First and foremost, a portfolio is a website in which you are the product being marketed. Given this, it’s critical to include a relevant bio, work and educational background, and skills, likely housed in an “About” page. On the same note, you’ll want to link out to professional social media accounts and ensure your contact information, whether through web form or email, is up-to-date and easily accessible.
While we’ll dive into specifics of including projects and code samples below, off the bat we’ll offer up the advice that each project you list should show off a different part of your skillset, with minimal overlap. The goal is to provide a comprehensive look into a diverse range of projects and clients you’ve worked with, without overwhelming a hiring manager with an endless scroll of work.
So, ready to get started? Here are step-by-step instructions of the major elements you’ll want to tackle in building your first front-end web dev portfolio! Keep reading for our list of templates and free resources, as well as some of the top portfolio examples from the web.
How to Build a Front-End Web Developer Portfolio
1. Pick a Platform
Before the build process begins, consider plotting out your layout and navigation features to ensure a stable base to build on. As you add projects, you’ll want your interface to be adaptable and easy to navigate. Even as a beginner to the front-end space, you’re likely already familiar with HTML and CSS, and can therefore build a static website. However, you might want to consider a responsive design site, to fully showcase your skills and optimize for mobile. Industry standard tools like Adobe XD and Figma can assist in the creation of a clean and beautiful interface, and you’ll have your choice of integrating with popular web hosting platforms. Squarespace and WordPress are two of the most popular that also provide a large template library.
2. Showcase and Describe Your Diverse Work
Take the time to really think thoroughly about the projects you’ve worked on and which ones you want to highlight. There’s no “magic” number to include, but you’ll want to match your previous experience, with the intended roles you’re considering. For example, experience in the ecommerce space might be helpful for an employer like Amazon or Shopify, while creating a blog, not so much.
On the flipside, any project, professional or personal, can be an asset, depending on how you market it. It’s important to not only post your projects but describe them in detail, including your roles and responsibilities, the tech stack used, and the highlights of specific skills you learned. Managers will be impressed if you’re able to include quantitative results of your work, like page load time, number of visitors or revenue outcomes. As a front-end developer responsible for UI decisions, post screenshots and before/after of your work if possible as well, alongside explanations of your thought process.
3.Create a Code Repository
Your visual design skills might be on full display, visitors to your website will want to see demos of your projects and proof of your coding and technical ability. For these reasons, you must publish a coding repository alongside your portfolio. The most popular player in this space is Github, which even allows you to host a site directly through Github pages as well. Other popular options include Netlify, Codepen, which specializes in front-end development, and Stacklitz, which supports almost all popular frameworks and libraries. Reviewers will look for your level of expertise in various languages, and check to see if you’re following standard naming conventions and folder structure, so ensure your samples are up to par. If you’re less comfortable with this more technical side of the role, try to find a mentor to review your work prior to posting.
4. Check and Double-Check the Small Stuff
It’s a cliche but it’s true that you only get one first impression. It’s a good idea to create a checklist of small details you’ll want to crawl your portfolio for regularly for accuracy and errors. What might this include? On the visual side, check the positioning of UI components like icons, checkboxes, search fields and menus as well as your design and font choices. Are they easily readable and providing the experience you desire? Also, scan your written copy for grammatical and spelling errors and check all links and personal contact information for accuracy. Continue to test, retest, check and recheck each of these every time you make updates!
5. Know what to Include (and What to Avoid)
It’s always a constant balancing act to make sure your portfolio has neither too much nor too little content. Here are top tips for areas you should focus on that might get overlooked.
- Site Accessibility Measures (color contrast, alt image descriptions, etc.) – reviewers will look for these to be implemented
- Link to (functioning) code repository
- Mobile responsive features – It’s vital your site looks and works great on any device!
- A picture of yourself – Helps viewers put a face to a name and remember you
- Personal projects that demonstrate your passions
- Overcomplicating your design with too many features or links. Keep it simple and clean for reviewers who likely have to look through several sites
- Unprofessional images or links to social profiles containing non-work-friendly content
- Work from early in your education that doesn’t reflect your current abilities
- Outdated contact information
6. Stand Out!
The unfortunate truth is that your portfolio might be one of dozens in an application pile, giving a reviewer only minutes or even seconds to glean important information. So this is your opportunity to have your online presence mirror your IRL personality! Don’t be afraid to make your portfolio pop by injecting personal details into your copy or visuals. Daring to be different by including your passions outside of the tech realm or even showcasing unique projects outside of the web design world can pay off when your name is the one remembered by the hiring team.
Front-end Web Developer Portfolio Templates and Free Resources
So far, we’ve discussed a number of popular tools widely used across the industry for design layout, site creation. Here’s a listing of our favorites across the categories you’ll need to create your perfect front-end web development portfolio.
Visual Design and Prototyping
Website Hosting and Building
Web Application Frameworks and Libraries
Technical Site Elements
Front-End Web Developer Portfolio Examples to Inspire!
To help get you started, here’s a list of some of our favorite front-end web developer portfolio sites! From their visual flair, to their unique layout, to the quality of content embedded within, you’re sure to find inspiration from these practically perfect portfolios!
- Jack Jeznach, jacekjeznach.com
- Jemima Abu, jemimiaabu.com
- Matt Farley, mattfarley.ca
- Steven Mengin, stevenmengin.com
- Will Boyd, codersblock.com
- Max Bonhomme, bonhomme.lol
- Oluwakemi Adeleke, kemiadeleke.com
- Iuri de Paula, iuru.is
- Adham, Dannaway, adhamdannaway.com
- Ben Adam, benadam.me
Becoming a Front-end Web Developer: Next Steps
Creating your portfolio will serve as only the first step on your front-end web development professional journey. Check out additional resources on our site to learn more about this promising career path!
- Dive into the use cases and steps you can take to learn vital web development skills like Bootstrap, HTML/CSS, Java and many more.
- Learn about the career path of a web developer, back-end web developer or front-end web developer. Or explore the difference between front-end and back-end web development
- Check out our comprehensive guides to creating a general web developer portfolio or a technical resume
- Expand your knowledge with Our program listings and comparison pages for a variety of tech specialties, including Coding, Cybersecurity, Data Analytics, Data Science, Digital Marketing, Fintech and UX/UI.