Cover image of post A Freelancer’s Guide to a Professional Architecture Portfolio

A Freelancer’s Guide to a Professional Architecture Portfolio

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Fanni Szalkai

Every freelance architect knows that a lot depends on your professional architecture portfolio. Your potential clients will base their first impressions on it and you want to make sure that it’s a positive and lasting one.

Our team at Archifolio wants you to ace your portfolio, so we put together our top tips and recommendations.

If you are looking for inspiration, tips, or the right portfolio builder tool to start creating, you are at the perfect place.

Professional Architecture Portfolio Examples

So what does a strong portfolio look like? It’s time to browse through some professional architecture portfolio examples!

In this section, you can check the narrative of the pages, the order of the images, and the layout of the following examples to get you started.

Circle Design Studio

The screenshot of a professional Architecture Portfolio of Circle Design Studio

Malone Maxwell Dennehy Architects

The screenshot of a professional Architecture Portfolio of Malone Maxwell Dennehy

Matt Elkan

The screenshot of a professional Architecture Portfolio of Matt Elkan

Visbeen Architects

The screenshot of a professional Architecture Portfolio of Visbeen Architects

Maggee Gibson

The screenshot of a professional Architecture Portfolio of Maggee Gibson

How to Make a Professional Architecture Portfolio Website?

When you are just getting started, creating your first professional portfolio website can seem like a daunting task. But the best approach is breaking down the big goal into several small, more achievable subtasks. This way, you’ll have a clear picture of what needs to be done.

In this section, we’ve done this for you. Here are the to-dos to create your portfolio site in no time. We even have some recommendations on a tool that will help you make this process fast and enjoyable.

Build your portfolio website in no time with Archifolio.
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Here’s how you should progress:

  1. Get to know the market or the job
  2. Decide which projects will make it into your portfolio
  3. Start with a template and make it your own
  4. Create your pages
  5. Share your portfolio
  6. Present professionally

1. Get to know the market or the job

We have some bad news: the idea of a one-size-fits-all portfolio does not apply in our profession. So, you’ll need to have your portfolio tailored to the client or job at hand.

The best way to start doing that is by getting to know the market around you or the firm you’re applying to. Here’s what you should consider if you want to work with clients:

  • What area of architecture do you want to work in?
  • Who are your competitors?
  • Who is in your target market? What do you know about your potential clients?
  • What sets you apart from the competition?

If you’d like to do freelance work for a company, here are some key questions to ask:

  • Are they mainly doing residential, commercial, industrial, healthcare or educational projects?
  • What sort of clients do they work with? (big firms, small companies, individuals)
  • Do they specialize in anything? (e.g. an architectural style or green building)

2. Decide which projects will make it into your portfolio

Once you’ve answered the above-mentioned questions, this step will be a breeze. For example, if you’re applying for a landscape architecture project of a botanical garden, you won’t need to include the parking lot master plan you’ve designed.

In other words, always keep it relevant for your audience.

3. Start with a template and make it your own

The design of the portfolio is important. As much as our job is to actually create the content inside, no one will look into our portfolio if it’s presented in a sloppy way.

But that doesn’t mean that you’re expected to become a graphic designer overnight. In fact, you have tons of architecture portfolio templates to make this process easier and faster.

Lucky for you, Archifolio comes with heaps of stunning templates that you can use right away for free. With a well-chosen template, you’ll ensure that your design is consistent at all times. And with our portfolio builder, you don’t have to worry about ending up with a portfolio that many others have. By changing the colors, fonts, and layout, you can make it perfectly unique to you. Give it a go and try it for free.

Find a design and fill it up with your projects. It's that easy.
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4. Create your pages

On your website, there will be different pages for the different types of content. These may include:

  • a homepage,
  • separate pages for each project,
  • an about me and/or contact me page, and
  • optionally an extracurriculars page.

You’ll have your home page with a short introduction and some thumbnails for your project pages. It’s best to have separate pages for each project you want to showcase. In these pages, you walk your audience through the project that you worked on.

It’s a good idea to introduce yourself to potential clients or employers on an About or Contact page. And don’t forget to include some ways to get in touch with you.

Optionally, you may have a separate page for your extracurricular activities that you’d like to share with your audience.

5. Share your portfolio

Luckily, one of the biggest advantages of an architecture portfolio website is that it can be shared quickly and conveniently. Here are some ideas:

  • Link to it in your email,
  • Place a link in your PDF portfolio or CV,
  • Include it in your business card, and
  • Update your Social Media accounts with your link.

Before you send your portfolio to any potential client, make sure to ask a family member, colleague, or a friend to look through it.

Pro Tip:

Since your friends and family can be biased about your work, it's also worth exploring what total strangers think about your website. Luckily, conducting a usability research for your portfolio is no longer a difficult or expensive task.

A handy checklist:

  • Are there any typos in the text?
  • Do all the buttons and links work and bring you to the right destination?
  • Does it work on all devices?
  • Have you edited all the "Lorem ipsum" out of the template?
  • Is it clear from the first look what the site is about?

6. Present professionally

On a first client meeting or a job interview, you’ll need to present your professional architecture portfolio. So, it’s best if you practice it properly.

You may have to present it online or in person. You might have a screen or TV available, but you also have to prepare presenting on your own laptop/tablet. If so, you may have to present your portfolio that’s upside down, so practice that as well. Plus, some interviewers ask questions only at the end, and some like to ask questions as you go along, so prepare for both.

What Makes a Good Portfolio?

Now that we’ve covered the basic steps on how you can create and use your professional architecture portfolio, let’s look at how you can stand out from the crowd. Here are our top 9 pieces of advice on what makes a strong portfolio.

1. Show how you work, not what you did

In short: The main focus of your projects should be about the process you went through. The outcome is secondary.

It won’t do you much good to only show the fancy renders of your project that was outsourced to specialists. You may include one as a hero image to show what you worked on (with crediting the person who created it). However, the emphasis should be on your process, on how it actually is to work with you, because that’s what your audience is interested in.

This tip is also relevant if you are responsible for the renders of the projects. Don’t just show the beautiful end-result. Include the brief you’ve received, the half-finished process, and then the outcome.

2. Show who you are

Your professional architecture portfolio’s aim is to land you that job, but it can’t do that if it isn’t authentic to you. Try to show your style in your portfolio. For example, if you design minimalistic buildings, then make sure that your portfolio reflects it as much as possible.

After flipping through your portfolio, your audience should get a clear picture of who you are, what you do, and what you can bring to the table. That’s what will make them want to work with you.

3. Choose the best format for your needs

Here’s a quick overview of the most common formats that you can choose from:

Comparison of most common portfolio formats

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Archifolio was created with architects and interior designers in mind. All the features that you find were specifically designed to make the architect’s portfolios beautiful and user-friendly at the same time. 

A website may sound risky to those, who are new to the world of user experience design, but with Archifolio, you don’t have to worry about that. We’ve built this product so that you can easily create your professional architecture portfolio and impress your potential clients and employers.

So, give Archifolio a try and see how easy it is.

We help you tell visual stories quickly and easily.
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Combine the portfolio formats for the best results

Of course, you can have a combination of all the above-mentioned formats. For example, your Archifolio website can be your master portfolio, where you showcase all your best projects. Some job applications require a PDF sample portfolio, so you can send in your PDF version with a link to your master portfolio. Then, if you want to stand out from the crowd, you may print out your PDF to special interviews or applications.

4. Let Your Images Tell Your Story

You can have the perfect layout, the perfect font, and the perfect shade of the right color, but at the end of the day, your images will do most of the work.

So, give them the proper attention they deserve. The images you include should be top quality, well-placed and eye-catching. They should prove that you have all the relevant skills that are needed for that project. Plus, you need to keep them relevant.

For example, if you are seeking an architectural design project, where you’ll be involved in the schematic design phase, then include proof of how you’ve come up with a concept that you could translate into a stunning building. The main focus therefore will be on your hand sketches, conceptual drawings, elevations, and section drawings.

It’s a good idea to use image descriptions where you want to give extra information. But keep in mind that the image needs to be eye-catching enough for people to read the text.

5. Use Visual Hierarchy

Your audience’s attention needs to be guided throughout your portfolio. And the most sure-fire way to do that is by creating a clear visual hierarchy. Make sure to use consistent font sizes (e.g. all the project page titles should have the same size), and to let your most important image take the up a whole screen/page.

6. Update Your Portfolio Regularly

This one’s tricky – especially for freelance architects, – but it’s just as important. You need to update, add and/or remove projects in your portfolio to keep it relevant at all times.

We suggest checking your portfolio at least once a month, even if you aren’t actively searching for clients or employment.

7. Create a Clutter-free Layout

Your architecture portfolio layout needs to be simple, clear, and consistent so that your audience can appreciate your images. Whitespace is your best friend when it comes to your portfolio’s layout. It will allow a bit of rest for your audience between the images and therefore, it makes viewing your portfolio more enjoyable.

8. Curate your content

Your portfolio doesn’t have to showcase every project you’ve ever worked on. Instead, it should be a selection of your best projects. Including 5-8 projects should be enough in your master portfolio. Meanwhile, your sample architecture portfolio can have 2 projects at most.

Each project you include should show how you solved a complex design problem, and how you considered even the small details. So, think about what challenges you faced in the project and how you overcame them. Then, tell this story in your portfolio.

9. Written content – less is more

As mentioned before, your images are the main event in your portfolio, your words come second. Don’t write too much text, but give context where the images aren’t enough.

Still, your written content needs to be on point too. In fact, a grammatical error can make your portfolio look sloppy. Thus, it is advisable to double-check for any typos and mistakes and it’s best if you ask a friend or colleague to proofread it for you as well.

So, there you have it. We’ve summarized our top recommendations and tips to create a stunning professional architecture portfolio that will get you where you want to be in your career. If you are wondering what’s next, just create your Archifolio website in a matter of seconds and follow our built-in writing and content tips to create a remarkable portfolio.

Create your professional portfolio in 30 minutes!
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Fanni Szalkai

Marketing Manager of Archifolio, Architecture Portfolio Expert & Tiny House Enthusiast 🏡