.: 5 March 2016 :.

How to keep your Portfolio relevant if you don’t have new Projects

What if you haven’t added new projects to your portfolio in a while? Maybe because you are doing an internship that is under an NDA agreement. Maybe you are working on a long project that hasn’t finished yet. Maybe because you just got your new job and you think that your portfolio is not that important anymore.

Ideally, your portfolio always reflects the best possible version of yourself at that moment. Because you are constantly learning, keeping your portfolio relevant can be tricky.

I am currently having the same struggles. After interning for half a year, I feel like a different designer. I learned a lot, but I don’t have the projects to demonstrate this. The projects I did are all protected by an NDA.

How can you keep your portfolio relevant if you simply don’t have any new projects to show?

The short answer is that you need to create new content. Different content. I think ultimately your portfolio is not just a collection of projects. It is a platform that represents you. A place where you can share your ideas and enable people to connect with you.

Even if you don’t have new projects, the underlying goal doesn’t change. A project is just one way to achieve this, but not the only way. You can still share your ideas. You can still engage with your followers.

Even if you don’t have new projects, you can still create new and relevant content.

However to keep your followers involved, you need to create new content. You need to give them a reason to return to your portfolio. You need to give them value. So what kind of content can you create? Well, here are some ideas.

You can always write. You can always share what you are currently working on. As I wrote in an earlier post, the most relevant project is the one your are working on right now. I am currently doing an internship that is under NDA, but that doesn’t mean I cannot write about it. I can still write about my experiences. I can still reflect on my learnings. I can still provide content to people that follow me.

I don’t think that being halfway a project gives you an excuse not to share it. A project doesn’t become a project just because your deadline is over. Not even because you stopped working on it. A project becomes a project from the day you start working on it. From that moment, you can share it. What you share, or how you share it doesn’t really matter. Show you prototypes in a weekly video. Write a blog post about your learning process. Share a how-to tutorial to explain how you solved one of your struggles. Start to add it today, in whatever format.

You don’t have to complete a project before you can finally add it to your portfolio.

Have you ever thought about upgrading an old project? You have probably learned a lot since the last time you worked on it. Why not demonstrate this? Why not create a new concept video? Why not set up some extra usability testing? Why not create new visuals that do represent your current skill level?

Once I challenged myself to submit an old project to a new design competition. It forced me to rethink the entire project. I created a new concept video, rewrote my pitch and redid some visual design. The project became way more relevant.

Alternatively, you can always do a side project. What’s great about side projects is that you can actually design them. So besides designing your product, you can actually design your process. You can make a conscious decision about how you frame your side project to display the best possible version of yourself. Most likely this will include the skills you have been developing lately.

Frame your side project in a way that you can show the best version of yourself.

Finally, you could rework your portfolio to keep it relevant. It may sound like a daunting task, but even this can be split into chunks of work. You may think about doing just a visual update, rewriting your About Me page or rethinking your information architecture.

To conclude this post. Don’t wait for completed projects to keep your portfolio relevant. Create new content today!

© 2020 Martijn van den Broeck
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