5 Amazing and Unique Portfolio Interfaces

November 4, 2009

There’s a sea of portfolio sites out there. Of the best ones there are many that look great but don’t stray far from the typical interface design frameworks and information architecture.

Here’s a collection of five seriously impressive efforts to innovate, take chances, do something unique, delight and surprise… Great stuff.

1. Wonderwall Inc.www.wonder-wall.com

This Japanese interior design firm presents their work via a sproingy, elastic, 3D, slightly off the grid mosaic interface. It’s just fun to play with and tightly executed. It’s not a facade, either – the transitions and detail views are well thought through.


2. Resn – www.resn.co.nz

Not a new site, but if this New Zealand based creative agency ever changes their portfolio I look forward to seeing how they plan to improve on it. The imagination behind the navigation rollover effects and the presentation of the work in the portfolio section are inspiring. Use of full bleed background imagery and subtle audio really surround the visitor. Great balance of creativity and usability.


3. thetoke – www.thetoke.com

Slick, clean, technical. Slightly ambiguous concept around the identity and the intro, but it all makes for good eye candy. Play with the viewing modes in the top right hand corner to see cool applications of 3D in Flash.


4. bio-bak – www.bio-bak.nl

Wow. Also been around a while but something truly bizarre. It’s a game. The object is to find the site’s navigation. This site has balls. And they’re hairy and badly drawn.


5. Futuretainmentwww.futuretainment.com

Ok, so it’s a book launch, not a portfolio, but it’s classic Frost and fits beautifully with the others for a range of inspiration on how to simultaneously provide a stage and set a tone.




5 tips for creating your first digital design portfolio

May 22, 2009

At our 2009 Open Studio event I gave a short seminar about first time online portfolios. Here’s a recap of the points made:

1. Don’t reinvent the wheel (unless you’re looking for work
reinventing wheels)


A lot of effort is spent building portfolio sites from the ground up. Unless you’re specifically aiming to show off your ability to design and build a portfolio site (and are confident you can do this in a way that competes with the free industry standard options available) you might consider using some easier options to save time and assure a usable, professional presentation.

Here’s just one example of an off the shelf solution to the portfolio problem: Create your own free portfolio with bells and whistles at Krop’s Creative Database: www.krop.com/creativedatabase

Another simple option is to take advantage of the browser scroll bar. As long as the work is clearly displayed there’s nothing really wrong with a long scrolling page for displaying content. Works for blog posts all the time. Here’s an example: http://samegoes.com/ 

2. It’s about the content

What do these two objects have in common?


Aside from the fact that both of them are contexts for the presentation of visual communication, they’re both relatively minimal. Again, unless it’s really important that you demonstrate an ability to redefine the packaging your work sits in, remember the advice of erring on the side of minimal so the content jumps out.

(One exception to this that comes to mind which works well is the portfolio of a digital senior creative we’ve worked with where you have to play pong and then choose the correct holy grail from the fakes to enter the portfolio. 🙂 It works because the nature of the intended role is one of redefining the rules. And it was well executed. Risky but good.) 

3. Edit and organise

There’s a natural tendency to want to include everything you’ve ever done. Sometimes a review can be going well and then one piece triggers a feeling of ‘wow, how did that wind up in here? It was going so well.’ Edit your main portfolio down to your strongest work, even if it’s not that many pieces. It’s always acceptable to have additional categories off the main area (additional albums, essentially) for displaying backup examples if the reviewer wants to drill down.

Consider leading with your strongest work and wrapping up with your second strongest to start and end with best impressions.


4. Know your objective

Know what type of work you’re going for ahead of creating your portfolio so you don’t wind up with something lacking focus. It shows.

imageKnowing your objective will also help you identify your intended audience which will help you make decisions when you edit your work, and when you choose your presentation platform.  

Think of your portfolio as a stage. The moment before it’s reviewed is like the moment before the curtain opens. Your audience really doesn’t know what to expect.

In this context, here are three example objective and material pairs to consider:

  • Objective work: interactive design = work to display: screen mockups
  • Objective work: ideas and art direction = work to display: sketches and rationale through to finish output
  • Objective work: illustration = work to display: illustration in full and detail views, both in and out of context

5. Get the metadata right: what was the brief and what was your role?

It’s important for reviewers to know A) what the problem your work is addressing is for any given piece, and B) what exactly your role on a particular project was.


It’s best when this information is clear, concise, consistently structured and easy to scan.


Feel free to comment if you’ve got any questions or ideas on these tips.

Here’s a related blog post from ANidea: 10 Tips for Landing an Interactive Design Job

Michael Kai messes with perspective, minds.

September 8, 2008

Check out the work of German-now-based-in-Melbourne photographer, Michael Kai, whose incredible shots include some amazing Escher-style illusions.



His exhibition “This Side Up” has be shown in Europe, the U.S.A. and Australia.

Check out his work here.