Would fake projects/websites really get you a mid-level job as a web designer?

ermal profile image Ermal Shuli ・1 min read

I just saw a youtube video where someone explained that employers want to see that you can work on big projects. They want to know how much training you would need.

Then he went on to say that as a beginner you should reach out to local businesses and ask whether you can create a website for them. However, you can even create your own business and he gave portfolio example like this one, the work is all made up. The websites are bike shop, redskins landing page, fast food shop, engineering company. They are great looking websites but they aren't real clients.

Does it really mean that someone with such a portfolio can get hired for mid-level position (let's assume that the websites were a lot more complex, with backend and so forth), purely the fact that they are fake and that the candidate hasn't had a really client - even though they made sites the imaginary client would be proud of - can they be mid-level candidates?

Posted on by:


markdown guide

Definitely, "real" or not a portfolio of work demonstrates your ability to use your skills effectively. The "real"-ness of the portfolio is largely irrelevant in my view.

An interesting reality of the software world is that it's not always possible to showcase your "real" work. Especially if you've worked in a consulting capacity.

Where I work, most of our clients engage us with pretty heavy non-disclosure agreements. As a result, of the last 3 years of work, I have zero "real" examples of the work I have done. The way I get around this is to take the things that are most interesting to me about a particular job, and build a small side project leveraging what I learned, or what I thought was cool.

In my experience interviewing folks, when I ask "Do you have any examples of the work that you've done?" there's no better way to win me over than to say "Yeah! I was reading about X so I built this little app to see how it worked."


Thanks a lot, this is very encouraging and a relief. I have lots of things that I created with the "let me put this cool X into practice"

Do you think that this approach would work even for someone like me with no other work experience having not been able to work for 6 years (I've asked about it here). I'm just trying to get a rough feel of what I'll be facing.

Thanks again


Absolutely. A good quality portfolio of work is always beneficial, regardless of your previous work situation. If anything, it's one of the key differentiators for me when it comes to hiring folks with zero work experience.

I'd highly recommend focusing in on just one of those projects, and fleshing it out a bit. Add some polish, maybe a feature or two, and make sure it's available somewhere where a recruiter or other developer can check it out whenever they like.

Feature a link to your project prominently in the work experience section on your CV.

Bonus points if your project is your CV.

Like the agile manifesto says: 'value working software over comprehensive documentation'. Show me a comprehensive list of places you've worked? Meh. Show me a cool project that you're passionate about? BINGO!

Obviously there are no guarantees when it comes to applying for (and getting) jobs. But doing some of the above can only help you.

I absolutely love it.

Long story short, at the end of 2017 I planed that I'm not ready to start work, after personal issues I needed to take care of. Now though, every time I start working on my portfolio I get angst at the idea that no prior work experience would penalise me severely. So your comment is very very empowering.

Now I'll stop doubting myself and just get to work

Thanks so much


Absolutely. I have had to interview a couple of devs before who did the same thing. Although our company is smaller compared to most, we are looking for people who know what they are doing rather than client work. The only scenario I can think of is when you are going for a job that also communicates back and forth with a dev/design team and the clients. In that scenario above, it doesn't seem like there is any communications done with a client. There is stuff done when it comes to creating webpages though.

Hope this helps!


Would the same thing apply for someone like myself, having had 6 year gap, (i wrote about it here)?



Maybe, but it could backfire if the potential employer thinks that you'll be more concerned about servicing your "clients" than working for them. They'll need to know that the sites are fake and won't affect your working for them.

I did get a contract job a while back based on a 'fake' portfolio of about 150 SEO network sites (now defunct). They were impressed that I was able to churn out and maintain so many sites with different looks and code bases behind them.

I currently have some example projects I share with potential employers that don't violate my NDA's. They aren't as complex as my actual apps but do demo what I know.


Oh yes, they'll know that they are fake. I'm just trying to figure out if fake work would get me a job or whether the employers will think "we aren't going to hire someone that only has fake websites".