Prepare for Success: Create a Modern Portfolio

Prepare for Success: Create a Modern Portfolio

Having a portfolio as a developer might not seem essential because why should it when you definitely know what you are capable of and you’ve even gone through the extra step of cloning the Netflix platform?

Let’s say you were looking to hire a developer. Would you hire a developer with a portfolio filled with skills and experience or just words and affirmations?

Having a portfolio isn’t just about creating a website and pasting all the projects you’ve ever done. There are lots of those portfolios out there… a lot.

If an employer is skimming through, let’s say, 95 developer portfolios, one can bet that at least 54 of them look super alike—generic projects, same animations, too much fluff, etc.

In these competitive times, a strong portfolio can get you an opportunity you didn’t even know existed. Here is an interesting portfolio landing page by Josh Lee:


A portfolio shows what you can do, not what you say you can do. That’s the difference between a portfolio and a resume. It allows employers to see your code in action, judge your design sense, and understand how you solve problems.

The Modern Portfolio Landscape

I have seen countless portfolios and watched tons of portfolio reviews. And three key elements make a portfolio truly click: creativity, personality, and clarity.

As easy as these may seem, they are often overlooked. Let’s break it down.


Successful portfolios show creativity in the sense that seeing something new and fresh is rare these days. There were times when portfolios were where developers went wild. Now, everything is minimalistic and bland. Don’t get me wrong if that’s your style; there’s nothing wrong there.

All I’m saying is that to make a portfolio stand out, do something unexpected and creative. You know, those portfolios that leave a lasting memory for anyone who takes a glance through them. Patrick David’s portfolio demonstrates this:


Remember, your portfolio competes with a huge pile of other portfolios, so make a lasting impression.


A portfolio with personality works in a way that makes it seem like a recruiter stepped into your world through your portfolio.

For example, the portfolio can contain projects with personality twists. Let’s say instead of a Tinder clone, you have a project that deals with breakups (that’s eye-catching because one doesn’t see that every day).

Instead of a notetaking app, you have a project that uses Google Maps 3D views to spot the locations of ancient artifacts. That shows novelty and what you, as a developer, are interested in.


Finally, a successful portfolio is self-explanatory.

Always have it in the back of your mind, “I have like 10 seconds to hook them in”. Recruiters don’t have all the time in the world for your 8-second animation to say, “I am a frontend developer”.

Get rid of all the fluff and focus on what matters to recruiters. Use visuals and legible fonts, and go straight to the point. Make the portfolio simple, understandable, and fast. That’s what most big companies are going for nowadays.

Here is an example of a really straightforward portfolio by Gianmarco Cavallo:


If you’ve seen recently made portfolios, you’ve probably seen some of these trends:

  • Animations: Developers are going above and beyond with animations. Animations give life to your portfolio and make interaction with it interesting. However, animations can also be what destroys your portfolio’s chances with a recruiter. Animations should be subtle and pleasing, not make the recruiter dizzy or their device struggle.

  • Open Source Projects: This isn’t mandatory, but it is among the current trends, and some recruiters count it as a plus. If you have had the opportunity to contribute to an open-source project, by all means, include it in your portfolio. It helps recruiters know you’re good at working in a team in a real-world setting.

  • Interactive: This focuses on how the interaction goes in your portfolio, and it’s becoming popular. Many developers now add live demos of projects, playable prototypes, interactive timelines, etc., to their portfolios.

  • Video Introductions: Videos are now one of the most consumed media pieces online, and developers are adding that to their portfolio. Texts and images are great, but a video definitely gives it an edge. You can just record a short video of you introducing yourself and your projects. This would give a sneak peek into the real you and give your portfolio a unique taste, as there can be only one you.

Know that these are just trends and not what you must also do; your portfolio will still absolutely shine without these trends. Trends come and go.

Important Employer Expectations

Now, when employers and recruiters go through your portfolio, here are some of their expectations:

  • The portfolio should, at least at first glance, tell them who you are and what you do.

  • Your listed projects should be easily understood through the thumbnail, live demo link, and concise description.

  • The portfolio should have an easy-to-find contact medium.

  • The portfolio should be responsive (this is a must!) and optimized.

  • The portfolio should show you paid attention to the little details like typos, smooth navigation, clickable buttons, and proper feedback for user actions. These little details count.

Building Your Winning Portfolio

Obviously, building a portfolio is a YOU thing, as mentioned earlier. However, here’s a guide you can follow when building your portfolio.

Visuals and Designs

This is basically the UI/UX of your portfolio. There are lots of inspirations all over the internet, like Google Images, Behance, Dribble, and a lot more. However, don’t blatantly clone someone’s work.

Your key tagline, i.e., what you are, should be immediately clear. Use a larger font size to differentiate it from other details like your name and background.

If possible, after the landing page, go straight to your project section. Don’t let the recruiter think too much, like, “Oh, that’s a nice intro but where do I go to see the projects?“.

Try to keep the overall look consistent, i.e., the colors, fonts, layout, icons, etc. And responsiveness is crucial. If your portfolio doesn’t look premium on desktops, tablets, and mobile, you still have work to do.

In the project section, make sure the design and visuals are immaculate. Use a clean, striking thumbnail that can highlight what a project is about. After the thumbnail, important details that should be included are the title of the project and the link to view the project live. Basically, make the visitor want to click on the project to check it out.

In a project’s description, instead of explaining what each project is about, you can swap that for key points like “XYZ uses the new XYZ API” or “XYZ is so responsive, even on smartwatches”. Those are more interesting descriptions.

Lastly, animations; for the love of code, please don’t let it seem like you aren’t in control of the animations in your portfolio. There should be no reason why your portfolio should take, for instance, 26 seconds just to animate the landing page.

Take a look at tech giants like Google, Meta, and Apple. You’d notice their use of minimal but effective animations; that’s how the real world works. They mostly only go deep into animation when showcasing products to users.

Also, users, on average, won’t wait more than 5 seconds for a page to load; now imagine a recruiter with hundreds of other portfolios to look through. Basically, your portfolio should be insanely fast.

Choosing Projects

When choosing the projects that should be included in your portfolio, choose your best, which would put anyone in awe.

Rank the projects that you are insanely passionate about at the top. This is because projects built with passion and love are so unique that they show in the project.

Another kind of project to rank at the top is one that solves real-life problems, as this shows you are capable of having a deeper understanding of users’ needs. It shows how good you are at identifying and solving problems; this speaks volumes to the recruiter.

Always fight the temptation to include every project you’ve ever touched in your portfolio. That is what your public GitHub repository is for. Instead, focus on those 3-5 high-quality projects that truly show your best work.

If you add more than five projects, most people won’t bother checking it out, and having less than three would have them doubting if you are even capable.

Try to skip tutorial projects like calculator apps, basic note apps, and weather apps; they are easily associated with beginners. But if you really want to add these kinds of projects, rank them at the bottom.

However, if you don’t have many unique projects under your belt, don’t feel bad; we all started somewhere. Your portfolio is always ongoing, as you keep updating it with more interesting projects as you grow your skills.

Personal Branding

Once again, I can’t stress it enough: Build your portfolio with a personal touch.

It doesn’t matter how weird your taste is in designs or projects; it’s always going to make you stand out. Use that weird logo, and add that weird, interesting project.

In your About section, instead of saying, “I am XY, I am a self-taught developer with a passion for building groundbreaking, cutting-edge projects, and in my spare time I learn about new technologies,” go for something else. Trust me, a recruiter has read tons of these.

Instead, share your story, even if it seems eccentric. Was it a meme that led you to Tech? Share it! Talk about your weird hobby—something you find super interesting and can talk about for hours. Use a touch of your native language. Include your favorite image of yourself. You never can tell; the recruiter may also be a big fan of that one hobby and choose you just based on that.

Here is a highly impressive about section by Gabriel Nicolas:


And please minimize the use of AI in the portfolio, at least in the section where you talk. Write like a human; write in your voice; it could be your deciding factor in securing that role.

Networking & Outreach

This goes hand-in-hand with having a successful portfolio to get that dream job.

There’s a popular saying in the business world - “It is not what you know, but who you know”. It may seem unfair and show favoritism, but the truth is that connections open doors.

As a developer, social media is your best tool for building networks and connecting with other developers. Platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Reddit shine in this area, as lots of developers and recruiters are present there.

Building networks is not an overnight success; it takes time, but it is absolutely worth it. Share your encounters, that bug that kept you up at night, comment on other developer’s posts, participate in interesting arguments (a great way to learn!), join relevant communities, etc. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there.

Recruiters nowadays use social media to find their next hire. And an active online presence increases your chance of popping up on their radar. They can view your profile and access your portfolio in your bio, and if your skills match what they need, you get contacted for a job offer, all without you actively applying.

Also, if you are bold (and you should be), cold-reach that company you’d like to get hired in and pitch your interest with your portfolio attached. And who knows, the right person might read it, and they might actually need someone with your expertise. Remember, the worst they can say is no.


Always keep your portfolio updated, as it shows growth. And don’t be afraid to share your portfolio with friends or in online communities for constructive criticism.

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