Opinion: 5 popular design portfolio trends to avoid.

UX Design 💻

I see so many portfolios on a regular basis.

Between browsing Awwwards, dribbble, the Webflow showcase, and the Webflow Facebook community page, I'd say on average I see 15-20 portfolios a day. Browsing all these folios, I've started noticing similarities between some or all of them that drive me nuts.

Here are the top 5 worst offenders that I see on a daily basis:

1) Memojis.

Things your Memoji says about you:

  • You like Apple products (so does everyone else)
  • You don't have the energy to take a picture of your beautiful, god-given face

If my grandma can use Memoji, you shouldn't be using it to represent yourself on a professional portfolio. When I see Memoji used on a portfolio, I assume instantly that you put it there for lack of creativity. Full stop.

2) Referring to people as 'humans'.

Stop doing this. Stop it. Of course you make websites for humans. Who else would you make websites for?!?!?! Quadruple negative points if you refer to people as humans more than once. There's infinite alternative, better ways to say what you're trying to say. Here are a few examples:

  • "I make websites for everyone"
  • "I foster empathy for those unlike myself in my work"
  • "My process directly generates experiences that are considerate of all users"

3) Impossible to read text.

I don't care how cool that one font family you're using is, or how dope your blinding hero image is. If I can't read what you're trying to say, neither can people who have actual visual impairments. If it's important, make it legible! Contrast checkers are more accessible now than ever; use them!

4) Black and white design.

I get it. A black background with white text on it, or vice versa, is super easy to read, and looks slick. Sure. But your portfolio should be an extension of you as a person and as a designer. When I look at a black and white portfolio, I just assume you're either too lazy to play around with other colors or that you're just boring. Use more than two colors.

5) Alternative navigation.

Alternative navigation means using non-traditional methods of mouse movement, clicks, hovers, or scrolls in order to navigate through your experience. A visually interesting way to separate yourself from the crowd, these alternatives may seem harmless, but are actually 100% detrimental to your overall accessibility. For example:

  • How does a user without hands open that link in your dropdown menu that you have to hover the mouse to the left or right to even see?
  • How might a visually impaired user know to hover that card to reveal its title and CTA?
  • How would someone with multiple sclerosis click a 12px link to enter your site?

Using alternative navigation betrays your priorities. It's safe to assume that if you're using some crazy navigation method, you care more about the cool factor than you do about your users. And that's not cool.

You are better than these trends.

The tools exist. You can make a website that is original, inclusive, and properly represents you without being blasé. If you are ever worried that you might be making use of a trend that will turn onlookers from 😀 to 🤮, ask someone what they think about it. If more than one person thinks something is weird, it might warrant changing.

More than anything, try your hardest to do things with purpose.

Because when you don't, it shows.

A series of Memojis of Josh, making various angry faces.

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