Building a Strong Portfolio As a Developer

Why Portfolio?

Consider this: you’ve just finished a 14-week/22-week immersive, intensive coding program where you not only learned whole new technologies, but also how to become a self-sufficient developer. You’ve graduated and are ready to look for jobs! But wait, how are you going to attract prospective employers and establish a network of contacts? How will you demonstrate all of the fantastic and impressive IT talents you’ve spent the previous five and a half months perfecting? I’m pleased you asked! The solution: a personal portfolio website.

What Exactly Is A Portfolio?

A portfolio is not a resume. A portfolio is a way to back up all of the skills mentioned on your resume – and it is basically a showcase of your work. It is your opportunity to “show, not tell” potential employers and clients about your abilities. Your portfolio is also an opportunity for you to establish and define your brand as a technology professional. Your brand is an important factor of your identity as a developer because it is what gets employers interested in you.

A Strong Portfolio’s Components

Portfolios exist in many shapes and sizes, but at the very least, your portfolio should have the following sections:

About Me: Include your name, a photo, your title, and a paragraph or two about who you are, what you’ve done, and where you want to go next. Don’t be scared to go into further detail with your portfolio; invest substantial time in crafting your narrative and sharing your story. This is also a crucial aspect of creating your brand. Discover what distinguishes you from the crowd and share it with your readers!

Projects section: Your projects area is the major reason you have a portfolio in the first place, so make it stand out! Unlike your resume, you can list all of your programming projects. However, you should only highlight a handful. Include brief video demos, GIFS, or photos of your work to get your viewers interested in them.

Contact Me part: Every successful portfolio will include an area for viewers to contact you. At the absolute minimum, ensure that your LinkedIn, GitHub, and email addresses are accessible.

Most importantly, your portfolio should reflect your development style and personality. Portfolios, once again, are all about showcasing your technical abilities and creativity as a developer.

In addition to the components listed above, a great developer portfolio should include the following:

  • Responsive design: As more websites and users go mobile, you should as well! Make sure your portfolio site is mobile and tablet compatible, and polish up your knowledge of media queries.
  • Custom web URL: Your URL, like your portfolio, should be an expression of your personal style. Keep it professional, and it is strongly advised that you get your own custom domain. Some potential domain name sites are listed below in ‘Portfolio Resources.’
  • A limited number of clicks: Portfolios do not have to be sophisticated, multi-page programs, nor should they be. Put yourself in the shoes of your viewers while developing your portfolio, and make sure the most important information (projects, contact information) is simply a few clicks away!
  • Attractive visual design and layout: It’s acceptable if you don’t have a designer’s eye or just don’t want to spend the time hard-coding a portfolio layout. There are hundreds of free templates available on the internet. If you’re using a free template, try to alter the layout/template in some way, whether it’s by changing the colors, header picture, or page layout. Still, personalize it while giving credit to the original artist.

Portfolio Resources

Here are a handful of resources that we share with our students at Deep Dive Learning Academy. Hopefully, they will also be helpful to you as you build and create your very own developer portfolio.