What to put in your portfolio as a beginner web dev

Brian Emilius,

Last week I wrote up a list of advice for beginner web developers. One of the bullets on the list was to build a portfolio.

But the challenge with this is that beginners have nothing to show.

Or do they? Here is a list of ideas for beginner portfolios. Please share yours too at the bottom.

  • The code to your portfolio itself. Put it up on GitHub and share the link.
  • Finish a pet project and display it.
  • Design a contact form complete with validation, error messages, and confirmation message.
  • How about the same as above, but for a login/signup form?
  • Or a newsletter signup/cancellation flow?
  • A small site that gathers news from RSS feeds and displays them.
  • Photo gallery
  • Are you a member of a sports club or do you play in a band? Make a website for that - even if your club doesn't need one.
  • Call up non-profits in your area and ask if they would like to make use of your skills (this is also a great exercise in making cold-calls).
  • Make a few [insert your preferred CMS] templates.
  • A case study of that time you helped your aunt make a genealogy site.
  • Or a case study of that other time you helped Non-Profit X tune their SEO and accessibility issues.
  • A responsive website navigation (that doesn't default to a hamburger menu) (Why? Because this requires some outside-the-box thinking).
  • Contribute to an open-source project. Yes, this is a daunting task for pretty much all beginners, but a great place to start in the open-source community is documentation and translation (fix those comma errors).
  • A Tic-Tac-Toe game app, but with your personal twist.
  • A To-do app you can speak to.
  • An analogue clock.
  • A small chat interface, maybe for something like webshop live support.
  • Set up a landing page for Relay For Life, even though they never asked you to (seriously, help spread the brand!).
  • Share unfinished projects. This can say a lot about your thought process and has real value.

That's 20 ideas for your beginner portfolio. A good one has 6 to 10 examples that show off your skills. Remember; Show me, don't tell me. Use visual examples. Show me what you can do rather than talk about it.

What ideas do you have? Or maybe you want to show off your portfolio so others can be inspired. Share in the comments.

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