The Essentials of Reviewing Design Portfolios
The Essentials of Reviewing Design Portfolios

Reviewing design portfolios provides valuable insights into an creative's problem-solving skills, strategic thinking, collaboration abilities, and overall suitability for your organization. In this post, we will discuss the key things for reviewing portfolios to help you make informed decisions and find the perfect fit for your team.

Problem Solving and Strategic Thinking

A well-crafted portfolio showcases projects that require a designer to identify challenges and devise creative solutions. By analyzing their work, one can gauge their ability to think critically and adapt to various design problems. Look for designers who demonstrate a systematic approach to tackling issues, providing clear explanations of the challenges they faced and the strategies they employed to overcome them. Strong problem-solving skills displayed in a portfolio can indicate a designer's capacity to handle complex tasks and add value.

Collaboration Skills

Portfolios can offer invaluable insights into a designer's collaboration abilities. Look for projects where the designer mentions their collaboration process, team dynamics, and the roles they played in group projects. Pay attention to how the designer highlights their ability to listen to others, provide constructive feedback, and adapt to different perspectives. A portfolio that showcases collaborative ventures can signify a designer's capacity to thrive in a team-oriented environment and contribute effectively to an organization's collective vision.

Relevancy to Your Work

While reviewing portfolios, seek candidates whose previous work aligns with your organization's industry, brand, or design aesthetic. Look for projects that reflect a deep understanding of your target audience and demonstrate how their skills and experiences can contribute to your specific challenges. A candidate who has already worked on projects similar to your own will have a head start in understanding your organization's needs.

Excellent Visual Design

As is evident, visual design skills are the cornerstone of a successful designer. Pay close attention to the overall visual appeal of the portfolio, the coherence of the design elements, and attention to detail. Assess the designer's use of typography, color theory, layout, and composition to determine their level of mastery. Focus on portfolios that showcase creativity, innovation, and a strong sense of aesthetics.

Level of Involvement and Role in Projects

Understanding a designer's level of involvement and role in their showcased projects is crucial when evaluating their suitability for an organization; a comprehensive portfolio will provide these details for each project. Look for designers who can clearly articulate their specific roles, whether it was as a team lead, a collaborative contributor, or a solo project owner. Assessing their level of involvement can help determine their ability to take ownership of tasks and see them through to completion. Furthermore, evaluating their role in different projects can reveal their versatility and adaptability in tackling various design challenges.

Well-Executed Portfolio

A well-executed portfolio reflects a designer's attention to detail and their ability to present their work effectively. Look for portfolios that are organized, easy to navigate, and demonstrate a clear thought process. Evaluate the quality of project descriptions, case studies, and supporting visuals such as wireframes, sketches, and prototypes. All of these things indicate professionalism and a commitment to excellence.

The X-Factor

Finally, keep an eye out for that "X-factor", le je ne sais quoi – the intangible qualities that set a designer apart. This could be a unique perspective, a bold and innovative approach to problem-solving, or a distinctive style that brings a fresh perspective to your team. Look for portfolios that evoke an emotional response, challenge conventions, or showcase a unique voice. The X-factor is what makes a designer truly exceptional and adds value beyond their technical skills.


Reviewing design portfolios is a crucial step in finding the right talent for your team. By considering these essential aspects, you can identify strong candidates to match with your needs. Remember, the perfect fit goes beyond technical proficiency and adds a new dimension to your creative work that benefits your team.