Offering your services and expertise to aspiring tech ventures and fintech start-ups pushing for that Fortune 500 dream is not easy. You want to make it into the big leagues as much as they do — and that starts with the credibility of your web portfolio.
Setting up a web portfolio will not magically transcend all notions of credibility and trustworthiness.
Just because you have a portfolio and a few notable projects under your belt it doesn’t mean you can expect a downpour of clients knocking on your door. Why is that so? Well, you’re missing the secret ingredient, which is portfolio credibility.
Is web portfolio credibility really that important to clients?
Short answer: yes. Long answer: yes. It’s really that important to them.
You need to get familiar with the sale cycle, old sport. Consider the next few sentences as marketing psychology 101, a crash-course to consumer needs for solo devs, consultants, web designers and start-ups struggling with client acquisition and retention.
The one thing that you need to achieve with your portfolio is to communicate trustworthiness. When you present yourself in a way that a potential client lurking on your website starts thinking “I can trust this guy/gal with my money”, you’ve done it.
Well, prospects who are actively looking for solutions to their problems will not be hesitant to part with their money, let me tell you that. They've already acknowledged that they have a problem that needs fixing. So, they are past the latent pain phase, past acknowledging that pain and now into the phase of actively seeking a solution.
So, what’s next for the client with an aching problem? Well, they are out of the phase of actively seeking a solution and transitioning into the phase of finding the best solution on the market for their specific problem.
If they can trust you, they’ll gladly give you their Benjamins. Meaning, credibility and trustworthiness comes into play the most when a client is ready to invest.
It’s a proof that you are not a time waster
Web portfolio credibility reassures clients that they are not going to waste their time if they hire you. After all, time is money. And anyone who’s in the business knows that to make money, you need time. Everyone values their time and holds on to it because you can’t buy time. It’s a very limited resource.
With all that in mind, you need to convince prospects that are visiting your website that you’re worth their time and money if you want to get hired. Plain and simple. That they are dealing with a professional, regardless of the length of your past experiences.
But it’s easier said than done. How to do that? We have a few ideas. Keep reading.
These web portfolio credibility ideas apply to web consultants and freelance graphic and web designers as much as they do to start-ups looking to make that impression of a legitimate business that caters to their clients’ needs and has the experience to prove it.
Web portfolio credibility indicators to keep in mind
Have you heard about buyer’s remorse? Sometimes, shortly after agreeing on a new project, clients can get all fidgety and restless for no apparent reason. They might even start to wonder whether they made the right decision by hiring you.
So, it boils down to this...
Getting new clients is the same as retaining current ones — they need to trust you with their money in the first place. We said it, they need reassurance. Your web portfolio credibility is the reassurance that helps them sleep at night knowing they hired you to do the job.
In order to improve your web portfolio credibility and trustworthiness, we suggest you pay attention to these things in particular:
- Web design and UX
- Web copy
- Case studies
- A tailored portfolio
- Social proof
- Fresh portfolio
Great web design and user experience
If you’re a web designer then you must work on your visual presentation and incorporate color, animation, and typography to create an engaging and clever yet functional UI system to provide a top-notch user experience. Use CSS tricks or flex your WebGL skills if you have some to create an outstanding visual experience with some 2D or 3D graphics.
The important thing here is to not go overboard with animation and style. Yes, you might be good with CSS but keep things simple. Less is more.There’s a fine line between style and noise.
Sell yourself with powerful web copy
Hold on right there. It’s not what you think. No one’s asking you to be the next Hemingway. But, it would be nice of you to put some artistic thought and enthusiasm into your web copy. That’s all.
You need to sell yourself.
If you think a generic paragraph and a picture of you doing a Freddie Mercury pose on your About page is enough for clients to start rolling in your lap like apples down a hill just because you’re good at what you do, you got it wrong, old sport.
Don’t be dull. Dropping a few words about yourself, your educational background, and the languages, technologies or software you work with is not going to impress anyone.
But going that extra mile and utilizing web copy will. When a prospect visits your portfolio because you are an affordable web agency with a skilled team and then they read an enticing web copy that makes them go, “Not bad” means you’ve done something right.
Include case studies
Featuring case studies on your web portfolio, or the lack thereof, might be the single most important factor that can affect your credibility score and make visitors trust your substantially more or less.
Case studies are all about presenting your thought process to prospects.
Give context to the projects you’ve worked on. Explain thoroughly which technologies and frameworks you used and how or what where the main pain points on your client’s website. Break down the steps you took to improve your client’s website user experience. Talk about goals and how you achieved them.
It’s about familiarizing the visitor to your approach. They want a display of resourcefulness and agility to see that you’re able to find the right solution when a challenge arises. Talk about those challenges you’ve encountered.
This will benefit you greatly. And it will ultimately help prospects assess whether you can fit into their team or not.
Tailor your portfolio
If your idea is to be a jack of all trades and master of none, and by some wonder, you can keep up with all the current and new front and back-end technologies coming out as a web developer, then, by all means, do it.
But while you’re presenting yourself as a Swiss army knife, someone else that specializes in a few important skills you have listed on your web portfolio and has double the number of case studies to show, is more likely to get contacted by a client or a company in need.
Tailoring your portfolio may be the single most efficient way to separate yourself from the crowd.
I’ll present you with the analogy of a tailored suit. A tailored suit should only look good on you. So, in that regard, you should apply this analogy to your web portfolio and try to make it clear that a unique approach and dedication is involved on your part depending on the task at hand.
The potential prospect visiting your website needs to know that what they see is not what they will get but instead a much more tailored approach to their problems. There’s no such thing as one-size-fits-all type of a solution.
Because if you only offer a what-you-see-is-what-you-get type of service, then what’s stopping that visitor from going to the cheaper option on the market? Get it?
Include a few testimonials
Having those case-studies on your website backed-up by real-world clients, people that vouch for you and have seen the benefit of your expertise can be a game-changer in itself.
So, reach out to clients you’ve worked with and ask them if it’s possible to get a testimonial from them about that project you helped them with so you can include it on your testimonials page.
Showcase your awards
If you got it, flaunt it! You probably know the saying. Maybe your team won the CSS Winner award or has been featured on Awwwards or Webby? Let the world know!
Have social proof to boost credibility
Linking to your social accounts and making the effort to convince visitors that you are a legitimate human being and not just a work-obsessed machine gives the much needed human factor undertone to the whole credibility and trust equation.
Update your portfolio
Keep your portfolio fresh. As long as you’ve finished a project, slap it on your projects page.
This should go without saying but updating your portfolio plays a bigger role than you think.
3 top-notch web design portfolio examples
So far we’ve covered some of the most important credibility indicators that can increase the trust score in the eyes of a potential client.
But, we also did a quick analysis on three top-level professional web portfolios to help you see the big picture. We hope these portfolios will inspire you to put in some work and make that portfolio stand out, not just in style but also in credibility.
How he does it: Creative director at Cosmos Studio and a Jury on the Awwwards’ jury panel, Iliya’s portfolio first and foremost, showcases his playfulness in character. From his CSS styling to the cheery “About” picture, there is consistency throughout all touch points.
The portfolio website is not just meant to be bold in visuals just for visuals’ sake, but also to provoke interaction. Iliya makes his portfolio website his playground and that too is in line with his character. He’s also mentioned his CSS Winner awards in the about section.
Credibility score: 10/10
How they do it: Ukraine-based web design studio specializing in crafting contemporary, award-winning websites and great-looking yet functional user-interface system (as they put it).
Since previously-mentioned Iliya Kulbachny is the Founder & SEO of Cosmos Studio, you can already tell the similarity and even recognize the inherited style.
Despite the similarities, there is a distinguishable difference in style and identity, mostly void of Iliya’s bold and playful style which can be excessive at times. Instead, Cosmos Studio’s portfolio website threads on the safe side of things embracing their professional yet modern visual style.
Credibility Score: 9/10
How he does it: Since I’m a big fan of minimalism, Dejan Markovic’s web portfolio is one that stands out to me, not just from a design standpoint but in the fact that credibility-wise, his portfolio ticks all the boxes.
His portfolio is minimalism done right. Another thing that stands out is his web copy on his ”About” page. His “Work” page is streamlined towards mobile and web app design and development and when you click it expands a case-study with project backstory, data from research, problems he faced, goals he achieved and testimonials by users and clients.
There’s also social proof on his “Contact” page, linking to other social profiles. If I were a client, I would most definitely trust this guy with my money.
Credibility Score: 10/10
Well, that’s it. But what’s the purpose in building portfolio credibility as a web pro? Client acquisition and retention. It will help you stay relevant in the industry. It will help you build momentum or build on top of the momentum you already have and propel you into bigger things.
You can be that deus ex machina, that heaven-sent solution to your client’s worst nightmares if you are willing to work on those credibility indicators we talked about in this article.