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Savvas Stephanides
Savvas Stephanides

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Your portfolio website is missing this important thing...

Do you have a website?

As a developer, chances are you do. Does your website have a "portfolio" section where you showcase your projects? Possibly that's the reason you made the website in the first place.

Example of a portfolio website

Showcasing your work is great and the best way to do this is with a website. It helps people find out more about you and your work and what your skills are. But does your portfolio section reflect what your visitors want to see? See how you present your projects in your portfolio.

The format for presenting your projects is quite straightforward:

I've made X project using technologies A, B and C

For example:

I've made a to-do app using React, ExpressJS and MongoDB!

This is great for showing that you have gained hands-on knowledge in React, ExpressJS and MongoDB, but it fails to show something more important.

What impact have you made through your projects?

A website is supposed to function as an advertisement for you as a developer. You're building stuff that helps and empowers people.

This is much more important than a list of tools, languages and frameworks. This is what people who visit your website want to see from you. This is what people who want to hire you are looking for. How you can improve their life, how you can empower them.

So how do you do it?

Improving your portfolio

Think of a project in your portfolio website. Any project.

Now it makes sense that you think of that project as the sum of its components. The frameworks, the programming languages, the libraries etc. After all, you made it. You know exactly what's inside it. Now STOP.

Turn your point of view of your project to the user you made the project for. It could be the person who paid you to create the app, the users using your service, or it could be you!

Diagram showing the point of view of the developer versus the point of view of your visitor

See the app in the eyes of your users:

  • How is your project useful for them?
  • How does it help them?
  • How does it empower them?

Let's do this with an example

Example: A to-do app

So you want to add this project to your portfolio website. Your first thought is probably to write something like this:

I made a portfolio website with React, Python in the backend and a MongoDB database

But this is just a list of tools, not how users can or have benefited from your app. Let's see how it helps them:

  • Your users can add items to their lists
  • The app can help them be more organised
  • It can therefore help them make their day more productive

And this is how your to-do app can make your users' lives easier. And this should be the selling point of your project.

So instead of

I made a to-do app with React, NodeJS and MongoDB

you can instead say:

To-do app: Helped people get more productive by helping them organise their day. The app was made interactive with React, secure with NodeJS and fast using MongoDB.

Not sure about you, but for me this looks good enough for your visitors to see and say "now this is a developer I want to work with".

What do you think? Does this improve your portfolio? What else would you advise people with portfolio websites do to make them better?

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