A web developer portfolio is a collection of his or her best work.
Before the web, prospective employees would often carry in a physical portfolio of their work, showing off each piece. The interviewer(s) would ask questions about it.
The interviewee would answer those questions while highlighting particular achievements and techniques used in each creation.
It may sound like a sterile process, but the ultimate goal was to make the interviewer say, “Well! That’s some good stuff! I want you to do something like that for our company.”
While the process for reviewing web developer portfolio projects has changed, the purpose is the same: employers want to see what you’re capable of.
Regardless of how the portfolio review process has evolved, the web has this weird way of making us feel incompetent sometimes. We see absolutely stunning web developer portfolio projects, then take a glance at our own projects and feel a little uneasy. Or maybe we just feel like we don’t have the chops to impress an employer with our work.
In this article, you’ll read about three common doubts when it comes to web developer portfolio projects, and then use practical, actionable steps to overcome those nagging feelings that may be holding you back…All while cleaning up your own portfolio to put you ahead of the pack.
1.“Do companies even want to see my web developer portfolio projects? The ones I see online are so much better.”
Employers want to see projects that solve a problem. It can be a common problem, an esoteric problem, a theoretical problem – the type of problem is irrelevant in this situation.
However, the issue with including things like TODO lists is that while they do solve a problem, that problem has already been solved a million times or more. Every web developer has created a TODO list – sometimes multiple! Does your TODO do something better or more efficiently? Only then will it have a competitive advantage, just like in the real world.
So, it’s not that companies don’t want to see your TODO list, Facebook clone, or color picker app. It’s just that these types of projects have been tackled many times before. Unless you can bring a fresh twist to an old standard, you should leave it out.
As far as online projects you see being so much better – it can be discouraging. But remember, these kinds of projects are often built by very experienced developers, a team of developers, or geniuses destined for greatness. The fastest path to hopelessness in web development is to compare yourself to child prodigies who code quadratic formula calculators in their sleep. Try to steer your thoughts and emotions towards something more productive. The only person you should be comparing yourself to is yourself: your last year’s self, your last month’s self, even your yesterday’s self.
2. “A million other people have this project in their portfolio.”
As noted above, it’s not good to include super-popular apps like TODO lists as web developer portfolio projects because everybody does them. However, there’s a way around this: add a feature to it. What about a quick-share function that allows third parties to view it, like a spouse or co-worker? Or a way to save your TODO for tomorrow, even if you close your browser? Give it a twist.
3. “Nobody uses this kind of project in the real world.”
Maybe not, but how do you know for sure? Impractical or theoretical projects often lead to brilliant real-life implementations down the road. These projects deserve inclusion in your portfolio. If the project solves a problem, employers want to see it. They really want to see it if it’s unique and you’re able to convey its value (even if theoretical).
Time to Spiffy Up That Portfolio
This article detailed three common doubts you may have with your web developer portfolio projects. Your employer is interested in your problem-solving process, but including common projects like TODO lists in your portfolio often makes it difficult to share that process. However, there are multiple ways to work around that.
Additionally, while it may not seem like personal apps belong in web developer portfolio projects, those are perfectly fine to include. Theoretical value also has value! If your project solves a problem more efficiently or creatively than other solutions, your interviewer is usually interested in seeing it.