Creating An Epic Front-End Developer Portfolio | Wired Sussex

28 Jan 2021

28 Jan 2021

Creating A Front-End Developer Portfolio That Crushes Your Competition

As more and more businesses realise the value of being online, front-end developer roles have become increasingly in demand. In the same vein, it’s an industry that’s getting progressively competitive and crowded. For this reason, a standard front-end developer CV isn’t going to cut it if you want to stand out in a sea of front-end developers. Oh no. You’ll need a super-slick, front-end developer portfolio (combined with top-notch technical skills, of course) to make your job application stand out and land that all important interview. But creating an impressive portfolio isn’t always as easy as it sounds! If you’re desperately in need of some inspiration, then follow our 6 tips for creating a competitor-crushing, front-end developer portfolio. We promise you that employers will love the end result and your peers will wish they’d produced it themselves! So, what are you waiting for? Let’s dive in.

First, Why You Need A Front-End Developer Portfolio

You might be asking yourself why you need a portfolio in the first place. Whilst there are certainly other, less time intrusive alternatives for sharing your work - Twitter, Dribble, GitHub and GitLab to name just a few - portfolios are extremely worthwhile. In fact, we’d go as far as to say they are critical for getting hired, especially when you’re just starting out and don’t have a tonne of experience or projects under your belt. Why? Well, in this case,  your portfolio in itself can be considered a project. Not only does it demonstrate your technical ability and creative prowess, but it also highlights your professionalism and commitment to learning (which, FYI, is imperative to succeeding as a front-end developer).

What To Include In Your Front-End Web Developer Portfolio

Tip 1. Create An Appealing ‘About’ Page

Ok, including an ‘about’ page in your online portfolio is hardly ground-breaking stuff. We know. As a matter of fact, it’s one of the bare essentials. But hear us out. Your ‘about’ page is an opportunity to demonstrate that you are more than just your work. Now, that might sound counterintuitive to what you were expecting to read. After all, the purpose of a portfolio is to, well, showcase your work. However, there are probably hundreds, if not thousands, of people out there with the same skills and education as you. What will truly separate you from your peers is whether prospective employers deem you a good ‘cultural fit’ for their workplace. So, make sure you go all out and inject some personality into this part of your portfolio! 

As well as detailing who you are, what kind of work you do and how you can be contacted (which, by the way, should be painfully prominent on the page), weave in images, graphics and language that reflects your character. Unusual photos, illustrations or graphics can transform your portfolio from boring and faceless to relatable and fun! Think about what words and hobbies best define you too. If you’re a mischievous or curious individual, for instance, try to subtly convey that in your messaging.

Tip 2. Showcase Your Work & Specialist Front-End Developer Skills

Next, it’s time to get to the nitty-gritty and start detailing your skills! As a front-end developer, at the very least, you should be proficient in front-end languages such as HTML, CSS and JavaScript. Take this chance to be brutally honest and upfront with potential employers about what you can and can’t do. Whether you just do Java, feel passionate about Python or wild about WordPress, it will only benefit you and your potential employer to declare your specialist skills and interests early on.

Of course, your area of specialism will most likely be reflected in the work and case studies you share. When it comes to this, try to be as selective as possible (between 3 and 6 can be a decent amount) and showcase only your very best, most recent work. When we say best, we mean the work that makes you feel proper chuffed! So much so, you couldn’t possibly bear to leave it out. In general, each case study should include one link to the live project and another one that goes to the code. This way, employers can test and see your real-world skills.

In addition to the above, don’t be afraid to get specific. Talk about the process you went through to create a site or app. Were there particular technologies or techniques you used? Perhaps you encountered some roadblocks or challenges before you produced the final product? Think of it as an exam where you have to show your thought process! Employers not only want to see a final product, but they also want to understand how and why you got there.  

Tip 3. Provide Glowing Testimonials & Reviews

Anyone who works in web will know all about the value of social proof. In the internet age, it’s the equivalent of a recommendation from a trusted friend. It holds serious weight! Think about your own behaviour online, for example. When buying something, do testimonials make or break your decision? We thought as much! Testimonials, if you have some, can demonstrate that you are reputable and trustworthy to potential employees. This can be as simple as name dropping the brands you’ve worked with or providing a more detailed quote from a client. If you’re a complete newbie to the world of web development, why not ask for a testimonial from your front-end development course teacher or instructor? This can make you sparkle and shine in comparison to your peers and ensure you have the best front-end developer portfolio going.

Tip 4. Show Off Any Awards Or Industry Recognition

Similarly, if you’ve received any awards or accolades in the duration of your career - now is your time to shout about it from the internet rooftops! Don’t be shy. As we mentioned previously, the front-end web development industry is extremely saturated. If there’s anything that you can use which will help you stand out from your competition or peers, then absolutely do so! Perhaps you’ve written for an industry blog, won a hackathon or presented a talk at an industry event? They’re all entirely relevant and worthy of boasting about.

Tip 5. Other Bits n’ Bobs To Remember

  • Offer a downloadable and print friendly resume in the footer or sidebar of your portfolio. It might seem unusual but it can work wonders. The reason being is you might not always be dealing directly with another web developer but rather a HR professional who still relies on hard copies.
  • Check your portfolio looks good, and loads swiftly, on all devices – not just desktop. Planning for user experience across browsers and devices is, after all, part of your job as a front-end developer! Use your own site to demonstrate that awareness and skill set.
  • State your educational achievements - if they are relevant. For instance, if you have a web development or software engineering degree then, by all means, include it in your portfolio. But if you studied English Literature or History then it’s probably best to leave it out.
  • Get someone with fresh eyes to take a look at your portfolio. They might be able to pick up on any confusing parts in your layout or make recommendations for improvements.
  • Review your portfolio regularly and make relevant updates. Front-end web development is an industry that’s constantly changing and you need to remain up to date. Likewise, don’t get paralysed by perfection, so much so that you spend forever redesigning it. Your portfolio is a continual work in progress and that’s ok. Give yourself a strict deadline to release it into the world (and adhere by it)!

Front-End Developer Interview Questions

Once your portfolio has landed you a job interview, the hard work doesn’t end there. As the saying goes, fail to prepare, and prepare to fail! Confident and polished answers to interview questions will, no doubt, help you on your way to securing your dream job. In an interview for a front-end development job, you’ll be asked various questions about HTML, CSS, JavaScript, accessibility, testing, performance, network & coding, as well as more general or curveball questions. We’ve included a brief sample of questions below that you can expect to be asked:

  • If you could master one technology this year, what would it be?
  • Have you used different HTML templating languages before?
  • How do you serve a page with content in multiple languages?
  • What is CSS selector specificity and how does it work?
  • What is the CSS display property and can you give a few examples of its use?
  • Explain event delegation.
  • What is a closure, and how/why would you use one?
  • What are some user experience (UX) concerns to be aware of when using iconography in user interfaces (UI)?
  • What tools would you use to test your code's functionality?
  • What are some ways you may improve your website's scrolling performance?
  • What is a CDN and what is the benefit of using one?

Next steps....
So there you have it - our top tips for creating an epic front-end developer portfolio! What are your thoughts? If you’re currently seeking a front-end web developer job, why not check out our jobs board? At Wired Sussex, we have a history of successfully connecting prospective employees with amazing companies.