Guide to a Top-Notch Product Design Portfolio [+Tips and Examples]

Product Design Portfolio
Created by Cake

A product designer is a person that is in charge of the design and advancement of a product. 

Due to the complex and diverse product design ecosystem, a product designer often comes with different names and fields of expertise, such as:

  • Industrial Designer
  • Furniture Designer
  • Packaging Designer
  • Footwear Designer
  • Fashion Designer
  • Toy Designer
  • Accessory Designer
  • Apparel Designer 
  • etc.

Despite all the differences, they all share common universal roles, which include:

  • Understanding current industry trend
  • Having an up-to-date market research 
  • Improving current product designs to match the latest need and specifications
  • Turning design idea into a practical model
  • Designing products with great customer experiences

Unlike most non-design professions, product designers depend a lot on a good portfolio to showcase their skills and design styles. Therefore, it is essential to craft a complete and outstanding product design portfolio to catch the recruiter’s attention. 

The most general purpose of a portfolio is to earn a chance for an interview. Therefore, it is very important to provide the best first impression through a well-made product design portfolio that can showcase your full potential as a product designer.

What to Include in a Product Design Portfolio

To understand what to include in a product design portfolio, first, let’s go through what a product design portfolio is.

A product design portfolio is a collection of the greatest design ideas and projects that highlight a designer’s skills and personal characteristics. It serves as a summary of previous works ranging from professional projects, case studies, personal design, etc.

However, not everything should be included in a product design portfolio. The best product design portfolios usually have a great product design portfolio layout to make them easy to read and follow.

To create an outstanding product design portfolio layout, several important things that need to be included in your product design portfolio:

1. About me (your story)

The about me section can include your personal story that tells the recruiters more about yourself, your characteristics, your value, and your goal.

2. Resume

A winning project design portfolio should include a well-written resume section. A resume could let the hirers have a better grasp of your background and experiences. 

A resume in a project design portfolio should have:

  • Contact information
  • Professional summary
  • Work experiences
  • Education

3. Images of project outputs

Visual aids can give a beautiful touch to your product design portfolio. By providing images of project outputs in your product design portfolio, the audiences could have a better idea as to what extent your product design skills are. 

Images could also help with your product design portfolio layout and make the whole portfolio pop out.

4. Context of each project

After providing images of project outputs, now is the time to elaborate more on them. The context of each project could include information that will help the hirer understand your design and workflow better.

The project context in a product design portfolio usually includes information such as:

  • Summary – Elaborate and explain further regarding specific projects. 
  • Problem statement – State what is the problem that the previous project needs to solve. What did the project demand? 
  • Team – Provide the information on the scale of the team working on that project. Is it a group project or a one-person project?
  • Role – Highlight your role during that specific project. Are you responsible for the visual design part, or any other parts? 
  • Platform – What platform is your previous project being used on? For example mobile apps/websites.
  • Timeline – How long is the duration for that specific project?
  • Constraints – List out the difficulty that you have overcome when doing the project.

5. Process of each project

The process of each project can highlight the specific methods you adopt that might interest the hirer.

It could include information such as:

  • Background research
  • Design inspiration and references
  • Solutions on how you solve the existing problem

6. Outcomes of each project

The outcomes will be an interesting part to look into. After looking at your result and approach, the hirer would be interested in what this project has achieved. 

There are two approaches that you could use to describe the outcomes:

  • Qualitative approach – This approach could include interesting anecdotes and reviews from hirers and users.
  • Quantitative approach – You could provide some insights and metrics that are achieved by your project. It could include numbers, graphs, and statistics. 

What Makes a Good Product Design Portfolio?

There are many elements and factors that contribute to how good a product design portfolio is. Take a look at some of the factors that can make a good product design portfolio.

✨ Aesthetically pleasing

A good product design portfolio, of course, should be designed beautifully. It could be the first impression that the audience will get from your product design portfolio. People could understand your aesthetic value, your design skills, your personality, and your style based on how your product design portfolio looks. 

✨ Easy to navigate & view

No matter how many amazing projects you have done previously, you need to be smart on how you organize them so that people can easily understand the points you are meaning to deliver. 

Therefore, you have to keep your product design portfolio clean and tidy to help audiences navigate through the entire portfolio. 

✨ Relevant to the audience’s needs and expectations

A great product design portfolio should include content that will be beneficially helpful for the clients to decide on whether or not to use your service.

Therefore, it is important to understand the audience’s demand and style and try to tailor your product design portfolio according to what they might like.

✨ Shows your best works

Some product designers struggle with what to put inside their product design portfolio. Sometimes quantity does not equal quantity. So, it would be okay to include only your best works that are relevant to the hirer’s needs. 

✨ Uses the right format

It is not wrong to send your product design student portfolio in a PDF file or upload them to a cloud drive. However, many professional designers have their exclusive product designer portfolio website that showcases their works professionally and beautifully.

How to Make a Product Design Portfolio

Step 1: Determine the purpose of your product design portfolio.

It is very important to ask yourself these questions before designing and organizing your product design portfolio, as a portfolio used to land a case with a client is very different from a portfolio used to apply for a higher degree in design.

Step 2: Choose the projects to be included in the product design portfolio.

Once again, carefully select the project that you are including in your product design portfolio. The project of your choosing should be relevant and beneficial to close the deal with a client. 

The tip is to include an adequate number of projects just to show that you have enough experiences, and include only your best projects.

Step 3: Compile all the materials needed.

Compile and keep all the material organized and in one place. It will help the client to navigate through all your previous projects easily without getting lost somewhere in between.

Step 4: Create the case study descriptions.

You can create case studies on your own to make you stand out from another product designer. Please make sure to include why you are choosing this specific approach, and what you have benefited from it. Hirers are more interested in how your minds and approaches work.

Step 5: Design an attractive front page cover.

An attractive front page cover can catch the client’s attention to look further into your product design portfolio. 

Your front page cover could also signify your characteristic and personality that reflects on your overall identity as a product designer.

Step 6: Check for any grammatical errors or typos.

Grammatical errors or typos may be a deal-breaker for most people. It shows that you are not attentive enough to details. By making sure of no typos and grammatical errors, it will show that you are a mature and professional product designer with a great sense of responsibility to complete any projects given your way. 

Step 7: Regularly update your portfolio.

For most product designers, it will be helpful to regularly update your product design portfolio considering the growing projects and masterpieces that you are producing each day. 

Not only will it save you a lot of time when making adjustments to show to the clients, but it will also show that you are having a progressive career in this field, especially if your product design portfolio is on the internet or in the form of a product design portfolio website.

Create your online presence and personal branding by creating your very own online portfolio. Check out these creative online portfolio designs and portfolio examples, and create your very own online portfolio for free on Cake!

8 Best Product Design Portfolio Examples

1. Industrial design student portfolio example

A good industrial design student portfolio could include projects that are elaborated by addressing the issue, the solution, the application, and the result. It is important to show how your industrial product developed from scratch ideas to a practical model.

Industrial design portfolio

Industrial design portfolio by Callum Beal

2. Packaging design portfolio example

A packaging design portfolio should focus more on the overall appearance of the packaging design and how it reflects on the whole product branding. It is advisable to provide product images in a different context of application to make the packaging design portfolio more professional.

Packaging design portfolio

Packaging design portfolio by Olga Cuzuioc Sinchevici

3. Footwear design portfolio example

A footwear design portfolio could include research on users’ behavior and need, and the process of creating certain footwear with a certain design.

Footwear design portfolio
Footwear design portfolio by Lin Shi

4. Toy design portfolio example

A toy designer portfolio usually includes several images and explanations of different specifications and parts of toys. It could show how your design is so well-thought and could be easily understood by children and parents.

Online Illustration of Toy design portfolio
Online Illustration of Toy design portfolio by Rob Sayegh Jr.

5. Accessory design portfolio example

Accessory design portfolio could include information on the accessory specifications, such as the color, size, fabrication, etc. The more detailed your descriptions are, the more thoughtful your designs are.

Accessory design portfolio by Nithuna Suresh

6. UI/UX designer portfolio example

UI/UX designer portfolio could emphasize what new elements or changes you have done that could bring more convenience to the end-users.

UI/UX designer portfolio
UI/UX designer portfolio by Đoàn Phạm Gia Hiếu

7. Lifestyle accessory design portfolio example

Lifestyle accessory design could highlight the extensive research and brainstorming of the user’s lifestyle and what they need in daily life. The process could be interesting as it turns out into a practical model.

Lifestyle accessory design portfolio
Lifestyle accessory design portfolio by Sneha Gayathri Kamarapu

8. Apparel design portfolio example

An apparel design portfolio can include your inspiration, sketching, draping, and even the process of fabric modification. You could include details of the making and idea development process.

Apparel design portfolio
Apparel design portfolio by Christina Zou

Tips on How to Create a Product Design Portfolio

💡 Control the amount of text description. 

While text description could help the clients understand the meaning behind all the images you include in the product design portfolio, you should not include too much text to throw the whole portfolio balance away.

Please remember that the main purpose of the portfolio is to gain a first great impression of your design skills and qualifications. Too much text description could be excessive to some extent.

💡 Deliver with projects.

Aside from various works that have no relation to one another, recruiters will be more interested in the project that you have done before. They are interested in your approach in how you tackle the project, what your work process is like, and how efficient and capable you are in achieving the end goal. 

💡 Keep it simple yet elegant.

Avoid overcomplicating your entire product design portfolio. Some designers tend to overcomplicate their portfolio that they end up with a design that is irrelevant and less impactful.

Try to stay away from a design that is too abstract, such as a sophisticated-looking logo, hard-to-follow layout, etc.

💡 Present with your best work.

Most product designers failed when they tried to show hirers of the abundant amount of work they have ever completed. While it is important to show experiences, however, you still need to pay attention to the quality. 

On the other hand, including too few previous projects will raise the question of whether you have the ability and experience to take on this job. 

The golden rule is to keep the project from 3 to 5. 

💡 Include skills.

It is important to show the hirer of your professional skills in this field. Also, remember to clarify your stated skills in the relevant projects and experiences.

--- Originally written by Fedrik Hansen ---

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