There are many different ways you can go about creating your own online portfolio website to showcase all of your creative work. While some of the options require you to sign up for a monthly subscription, others are free. So what are some of the best free portfolio websites that you can use to attract potential clients?
The best free portfolio websites for a graphic designer to use are Behance, Readymag, and Notion. All of these options are free to sign up for and don’t require you to pay for a monthly plan.
Choosing the right free design portfolio website can be difficult as there are a ton of options available.
In this article, we’ll go over the different types of free design portfolio websites, the features they include, and my personal thoughts so you can choose the best option for you.
Types of Free Online Portfolio Websites
Before we dive into each of the free portfolio sites, it is helpful to understand the different types of platforms you can use to build your online portfolio.
The first is the “Community” type. This category of online portfolio websites allows you to easily create your portfolio and share work amongst a community of other designers, photographer, illustrators, and creatives.
These online portfolio websites are completely free and come with a relatively predefined portfolio builder.
Build Your Own
The second type is the “Build Your Own”. This category of online portfolio websites will require you to design and build the layout of your portfolio site.
These free online portfolio websites provide you with more customization to create a portfolio site that fits your personality and style of work.
While building your own portfolio site can take time, these websites can sometimes include templates you can use as a starting point.
The third type is what I like to call “Alternative”. This category is made up of websites and platforms that were not originally intended for hosting your design work but can absolutely be a quick and easy solution to do so.
These options have been used by other talented designers and are somewhat admired for their disregard for aesthetics and focus on content.
Now that we understand the different types of online portfolio sites, let's get started.
Best Free Portfolio Websites
Best overall website builder, simple, quick, and easy-to-use
Wix is one of the most popular "Build Your Own" website builder on the market. It was previously marketed towards small-business owners and non-creatives. But more recently has shifted focus towards creatives with their new EditorX platform for portfolios.
When building a new website, Wix comes with a tool that enables users to build an entire website by answering a couple of questions. After I created my free account and answered the questions I had a complete homepage, a page with contact forms, a blog, an e-commerce shop, an Instagram feed, and a few other additional pages.
Of course, the website wasn’t filled in with any content, but again, I was able to have all of those pages up and running within a few minutes. How great is that!?
Wix also lets you customize the visual of your website but if you want to save time you can choose from one of their pre-designed templates.
Digging a little bit deeper into the platform, the interface is fairly simple to understand. As you click into each panel they provide a bit of information so you can understand what you are about to do. Customizing pages is easy if you are familiar with website builders but also if you are not.
While Wix is free to use, if you want to use your own domain name, you will have to signup for a paid plan.
Final Thoughts on Wix
Overall I was very impressed with Wix and how easy it was to actually get a site up and running so quickly. If you’d like to check out the result of my free account creation without editing or adding anything at all you can check out this link here.
The best place for designers to connect and showcase their design work
Behance is owned by Adobe and is a very popular free online portfolio site option amongst creative professionals around the world.
Behance allows users to upload text and imagery about their projects in a very simple and relatively predefined layout. In order to upload your work online to Behance, you will need to create an Adobe account but don’t worry. Behance is completely free to use no matter how many projects you upload, unlike some online portfolio site options.
Since Behance is a community for all types of creatives around the world, you can also find a full gallery of portfolios in photography, 3D design, illustration, motion, architecture, fashion, and many more.
Behance also helps connect designers with companies, creative directors, and hiring managers looking to find talent for future projects.
Sharing Work on Behance
Uploading your work to Behance is super easy and straightforward. Behance provides you options to upload images, text, video, audio, photo grids, and even elements like NFTs and prototypes.
These elements can be placed in any order you would like to illustrate your design process. Once you have laid out your design project and adjusted all the styling to your liking, it is worth it to take the time and fill out the additional detail fields that Behance provides. These extra details help provide more context about your project, the design skills involved, and also help make it easier for potential clients to discover your work.
Final Thoughts on Behance
Overall, a Behance portfolio is my top choice and one of the best portfolio websites for designers. It comes with an amazing community and they make it super easy to get your portfolio online.
Best for creating a highly customizable portfolio website
Webflow is a designer’s best friend when it comes to a "Build Your Own" online site. Webflow is very popular within the web designer community and I personally use it myself for my web design projects. I even built this site with it.
Webflow is a very powerful no-code site builder but there is a learning curve that comes with it.
Building your online portfolio with Webflow will take some time similar to the other "Build Your Own" options. It would also be helpful to have some simple HTML/CSS coding knowledge to make the process smoother.
To get started in Webflow, all you need to do is create a free account. With a free account, you are given a webflow.io domain. If you want to use a custom domain then you will have to upgrade to a paid account level.
After signing up you will have full control of how you want to design you page layout using Webflow's designer interface. If you're unsure of how to navigate Webflow then definitely check out their awesome library of walkthrough videos.
Final Thoughts on Webflow
Webflow is a great option to build your portfolio site. Not only will it allow you to customize your portfolio to your liking, you will also learn how to use a powerful tool that you can continue to use in the future for new clients.
Best quick and simple online portfolio solution free of visuals
Notion is a popular productivity tool that is used by a wide range of people for a number of different things. I use Notion myself to manage my design business, share ideas, track personal finances, and much more.
Notion allows you to create pages or what they call databases where you can add information share online. When you create a new page you are able to add imagery, text, code blocks, and a few other elements. There is very very little styling that happens within the app but that is also one of the great things about it. Limitations!
Removing the focus from the visual presentation of the information allows you as a designer and the viewer to really focus on the content that is displayed in their online portfolio.
Once you’ve finished adding your design projects you can then share a public link with whoever needs to see it.
You can use your own domain and redirect it to a Notion page.
Sure it may not have a community or fancy interface, but at the end of the day, when you’re applying to jobs and emailing a potential employer, most of the time you’re just sending a link to your online portfolio.
Final Thoughts on Notion
If you are looking for something quick, and easy to use, and don't want to fuss over visuals, then Notion could be the tool for you.
Best for freelancers and independents to run their business and connect with new clients
Contra is a new online portfolio site for me I learned about during the early days of the pandemic through TikTok.
Contra is completely free to create an account and use. They allow designers to create their profiles and add projects just like the other online portfolio website options.
A cool feature I really like about Contra is that they also allow users to list the services they offer to clients. Contra is not only a digital portfolio, but it is also a marketplace for companies to search for creatives similar to WorkingNotWorking and Coroflot.
Another great feature of Contra is its integration with the social media platform, TikTok. This allows anyone with a TikTok account to connect to their Contra profile and add a badge to their videos. Viewers can then visit their Contra profile by clicking the badge and potentially hire them for one of the services they offer or for a new opportunity.
I can imagine for Contra this is only the beginning of integrating with social platforms as I can see this being a really cool feature on platforms like Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc.
Final Thoughts on Contra
Overall I think Contra is a great choice for designers, and they are innovating when it comes to the online portfolio space.
Readymag is another "Build Your Own" site option that I was very excited to tryout.
I went ahead and created a free account and started messing around with the portfolio builder. You can totally tell that Readymag was built for designers by designers. Everything about their drag and drop interface just screams graphic design.
After clicking around for a couple of minutes I was able to figure out how to build new pages, add new elements, and publish my website.
Readymag also comes with some cool features that allow you to search and plugin different images and videos from sites like Flickr and youtube right from the interface. This is great for when you need to add some additional assets to your homepage or project pages and may not want to spend the time creating something unique in something like Adobe.
Readymag's drag and drop interface also gives you control over the layout on mobile devices so you can make sure everything looks good across all screens.
Final Thoughts on Readymag
Overall, Readymag is my great site when it comes to an online portfolio builder. Readymag is completely free to use and lets you publish your work online with a Readymag URL. If you want to use a custom URL then you’ll have to sign up for a paid account.
Dribbble spelled with three b’s is another online portfolio site with a bustling community. Dribbble is more focused in the fields of branding, animation, product design, typography, web design, and more.
Over the years Dribbble has grown in popularity amongst creative designers around the world and in my opinion, has formed somewhat of a cult following.
Sharing Work on Dribbble
With Dribbble, instead of posting full design projects from your portfolio, Dribbble encourages sharing what they call “shots”. Shots can be anything from work-in-progress imagery to smaller elements of larger projects, and other pieces of what you are working on.
Dribbble is free to create an account and use but also offers a premium account that grants you access to more features such as uploading a gallery of images for your shots.
Sharing a shot on Dribbble is easy. Simply upload an image, give it a name, and a brief description, fill out some additional details for the platform, and then hit publish.
Dribbble’s community is not only filled with other designers but also prospective clients looking to find top talent for their open roles.
Final Thoughts on Dribbble
As a free portfolio website option, Dribbble is not my favorite but still a good choice. Since Dribbble focuses on sharing smaller parts of design projects, it makes it a little more difficult to craft a story or case study around your work. However, Dribbble is a great tool to use as a designer to share work.
WorkingNotWorking is another creative professional community site. WorkingNotWorking was launched with the intention of giving creatives the ability to clearly display when they were available or unavailable for new projects and opportunities.
WorkingNotWorking is used by designers, photographers, directors, copywriters, strategists, and other creative professionals.
To upload your design projects to WNW, you will need to first create an account and profile. This includes adding your previous experience, job interests, and a few other details. Once that is complete, uploading a new design project to WNW is easy and similar to Behance and Dribbble.
While WorkingNotWorking has a community aspect like Behance and Dribbble. It does a better job of highlighting creative opportunities available on the platform. I’m a big fan of this because that means even if you are just starting out, you have the ability to find a new role or client project quickly.
Coroflot was one of my places to search for creative jobs when I was just starting off as a designer. It has since evolved into another free online portfolio site option.
Similar to the other options above, Coroflot integrates the portfolio feature with its job board so that designers can find new opportunities.
Creating an account is a quick process and uploading new projects is just like WorkingNotWorking. You add your design project images, provide a description of the project, and some additional details and you’re done.
UXFolio is a unique portfolio option geared toward UI/UX designers. Similar to Wix, it gives you prompts while you are building your portfolio to enable UXFolio to generate full-page layouts from your selections.
These generated layouts help get the ball rolling when it comes to your portfolio design.
UXFolio comes with different template options that allow you to customize the colors. However, if you want more customization you will have to sign up for a paid account at $9/month. Check out my example portfolio that I built on UXFolio here.
11. Google Docs
Good ol’ Google Docs. We all know it and the chances of you having used it at least once in your life are very high.
Google Docs is the Microsoft Word alternative offered by Google. It is a way to write anything you want in a document and make adjustments to that text through its formatting interface. You can also add images to your documents and that covers the two main things you need for your portfolio.
While Google Docs is a little rigid, again why not? For the longest time designer, writer, and guest of the podcast Carly Ayres used GoogleDocs as her portfolio as you can see here. If you want to listen to her podcast episode you can check it out here.
Depending on where you are at in your design career there are plenty of free portfolio options for you to choose from to use as your portfolio site.
If you need some extra help with selecting projects, how to display your work, or what you should include on your portfolio site. You can always sign up for a free 1-on-1 portfolio review session with me. During these 30-minute sessions, we go over any questions you have and how to attract more opportunities for you.
Which option will you be using for your online portfolio?