3 ways to impress clients with your design portfolio

The fact of the matter is, first impressions count.

During your career as a designer or specifier, you will be tasked with showing your portfolio of sketches, mood boards, look-books and images of rooms you have decorated to potential clients. The time they spend flicking through your portfolio is usually when they develop an impression of your work and style, so it's important to wow them.

Here are three tips for presenting a quality, professional portfolio. 

1) Win them over with colour 

A study by University of Winnipeg, Canada, found that people make up their mind about a new product within 90 seconds of their first interaction with it, and that between 62 to 90 per cent of their decision is based entirely on the colours they see. This means that the hues you show in your portfolio can play a powerful role in persuading clients to hire you. 

At Resene, we understand that colours need to be accurately depicted. Because of this, we have the Resene Colour Match Faber Castell colour coded pencil set. Each pencil comes with a combination or recipe, so you can blend colours together to create the colour of paint you plan to use on your client's walls, flooring or ceiling. You can demonstrate this to your clients in the early sketches inside your portfolio, winning them over from day one.

Or if you prefer electronic colour options, Resene has a range of BIM files and electronic colour swatches and recipes to help you include Resene colours in your files. 

2) Show off a cohesive layout 

Branding is an important part of succeeding in business, especially for freelancers. Your brand is your most valuable asset. Think carefully about what sets you apart as a designer – your signature style, so to speak. Translate that style into a cohesive layout in your portfolio.

Are you passionate about industrial design? Use metallic tubing as the spine for your folder. Is monochrome your forte? Style every page in black-and-white beauty. Visually conveying your essence as a designer is part of the artistic process, and ideally you want your portfolio to be much like a CV – it should grab attention and impress with every page. 

3) Think outside the box – go digital trailer movie Rock’n Roll 2017

While there is still a lot of value in face-to-face meetings with clients, the way the world works these days is that your first point of contact with them will often be via email. Create a digital copy of your portfolio that you can email or load onto your website and provide a link to it. This can be as simple as a scanned PDF document that looks exactly the same as your hard copy portfolio, or you can invest in hiring a web developer to create an interactive digital portfolio.

As a designer, you know the importance of touching texture for getting a feel of it – maybe your portfolio has collages of pieces of fabrics, tiles or vinyl flooring samples attached to it. In the digital world, it can be hard to show these off truly. Having an interactive interface means clients can hover their mouse over the pages, zoom in and out, or click out to links to your website or design blog. This helps them make the most of their online interaction with your e-portfolio. 

Strong portfolios attract business 

Taking these steps can mean that you not only impress potential clients from the early days, but that you also stack up referrals. Word of mouth marketing (WOM) is one of the most effective ways to get new business. In fact, Lithium, a market research company, reported that 50 per cent of all purchase decisions are influenced by WOM. Comparing WOM to story-telling, Lithium emphasises that impressing one client can often lead to many more – so make your portfolio shine. 

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