As a designer, your portfolio and testimonials can be the difference between landing new clients and staring at your inbox, waiting for that next inquiry. On the surface, these things seem pretty simple and straight-forward, but there’s something big you could be missing in your process that can make showing off your work less effective.
Today we’ll go over where most portfolios and testimonials go wrong and a simple step you can add to your process to boost your portfolio and get better testimonials.
Where most portfolios go wrong
Creating a portfolio seems pretty simple right? Throw up a portfolio page and link to some images or maybe separate pages with images and whether you did branding, a website, or something else. If you’re really an overachiever, maybe you even link to the website that you did the design or branding for.
This is a great start, but there is so much more you can be doing to make your portfolio more effective. If all you do is show off a picture or two and say what you did, potential clients aren’t getting the full story. They’re not getting a look into your process. They don’t know if your client actually benefitted from the work you did together. And both of those things reduce how excited they will be about booking a new project with you.
Where most testimonials go wrong
Testimonials also seem pretty nice and simple. At the end of the project, you can shoot your client a quick email asking for a testimonial or what they thought of the project. You get something back like “It was great working with so-and-so. So fun and I love my new website!” and you’re pumped. As long as they’re happy, right?
While it’s always awesome to hear any type of positive feedback from our clients, it’s a whole lot more beneficial if you can get your clients to dig a little deeper. Just like your portfolio, you want testimonials to tell a little more about the full story and whether you got them results.
Now let’s talk about how you can bring your portfolio and testimonials to the next level. You might be worried that it’s some big crazy extra step, but luckily it’s nice and easy.
The only new thing you have to add to your process is collecting statistics and learning about your client’s current situation both before and after the project. Easy, right?
I go into it in depth and give examples in Design Your Own Pixel Perfect Production, but the key is adding a section to the questionnaire you send before the project and then following up 30-60 days afterwards with a very similar questionnaire.
Before the project begins
Before the project starts, you want to ask questions that gets your clients talking about their struggles. Learn about why they want a new website in the first place, how they’re being held back, and what goals they’re not hitting as a result. Also straight-up ask them about their current statistics that are relevant for them. For example, a service-based business might be focused on their email opt-in rates, monthly page views, and sales.
Getting this type of information before you start a project will help you see where to focus your efforts and have something to compare to after the project is complete.
After the project ends
After your project is complete, it’s time to collect some updated information. Take the questionnaire you sent before the project started and tweak the questions so they make sense. So if you asked what their current struggles were that were making them want a new website, now you can ask how those struggles have changed, improved, or been completely resolved. Reference their specific struggles so they can remember what it was like before working with you.
Also ask the same questions related to stats so you have exact numbers to compare to what you collected before the project started.
I find it best to send this questionnaire 30-6o days after your project is complete. That way, they had a full month to collect new stats, but not so much time that they totally forgot you exist. Use a maintenance period or regular check-ins to make sending this questionnaire seem like a normal part of the process and not like you’re just popping back up out of nowhere.
Put it to use
Now you can put the new information you have to use in your portfolio and testimonials.
In your portfolio, talk about the process you took with your client and the transformation they saw after working with you. If you get your client’s permission, talk about their unique struggles and the improvements they saw, including the percent of growth they saw with the stats you collected.
You can also use both questionnaires to craft amazing testimonials. Pick a couple sentences out of each to show a complete transformation from before the project started to the results they saw after working with you.
Do you see how much of a difference this can make?
Going from having a portfolio and testimonials that don’t do anything to show off the real ways you’re benefitting your clients aren’t doing a whole lot for you. You’ll notice a huge difference once you’re able to start showing off real results.
My challenge for you today is to add a new section to the questionnaire you send before your projects begin and create a new questionnaire to send after your projects are complete. That way you’ll be all ready to go the next time you land a new client!
If you need a little help making sure you get your clients amazing results to show off in your portfolio and testimonials, grab my checklist with the 10 steps for designing a strategic and effective website.