20 Best New Portfolio Sites, December 2017

Jingle those bells, people! It’s December, and Santa brought you portfolio sites. This month’s theme generally seems to be minimalism with a splash of geometric decoration. I mean, there are quite a few design styles represented here, but I’m starting to spot a new/old trend coming on.

Well hey, a new trend would be just in time for January. Anyway, have a scroll down the page, and enjoy.

Note: I’m judging these sites by how good they look to me. If they’re creative and original, or classic but really well-done, it’s all good to me. Sometimes, UX and accessibility suffer. For example, many of these sites depend on JavaScript to display their content at all; this is a Bad Idea (TM), kids. If you find an idea you like and want to adapt to your own site, remember to implement it responsibly.

Nathan Riley

Nathan Riley brings us a small, classically dark website with some beautiful background effects. It’s just these effects that make the stylish-yet-familiar layout pop.

Unfortunately, they’ll be all but invisible on un-calibrated screens. Even so, the important stuff stands out, and looks just plain good.

Oh, last complaint: the contact info could and should be way more prominent.

Rainfall

Rainfall has taken a fairly common modern minimalist design, and made it stand out by mastering the art of going from colorful to monochromatic again almost seamlessly. The transition from one color theme to another feels nearly seamless.

Nick Vandermolen

Nick Vandermolen’s portfolio is dark, classy, and generally gorgeous. It also can’t decide whether it wants to be a magazine or a PowerPoint presentation. Okay, I’m kidding. Mostly.

You can clearly see the influence of both of those media formats in the general layout and aesthetic sensibilities. Even so, the experience is coherent and pretty. Also, the navigation is kind of what thirty percent of web designers were trying to do with frames in 2003. It’s a real trip.

Mensch

Mensch is an oddity that just barely sits on this side of the “portfolio” category. You see, it’s a consultancy/team building company with a focus on making the world a better place. Portfolio items tend to be things like “We developed a program to help former child soldiers become small business owners.”

If it weren’t for those portfolio items, however, it would just be a brochure site. And visually, it looks like one. It’s all white space and clean lines, with just a splash of background video.

Vintage

Vintage is on the list largely for the visuals. Not only is it just plain stylish with its geometric theme, the animations have actually managed to impress me a bit. That’s rare.

Effectlab

Effectlab might be the first Greek website I’ve reviewed. Well, Google Chrome tells me it’s Greek, anyway. It’s all Gre… I’m not going to make that joke.

Anyway, the Greek type looks darned beautiful. It’s so beautiful, I’d say it takes the stylish-if-familiar layout to another level. The light graphical and animated touches are great, too.

Zachary Johnson

Zachary Johnson has what is perhaps the penultimate evolution of the modern minimalist layout. It’s clean, it’s sexy, it’s smooth. I love the way he used pastels.

My only criticism would be the part where his text goes over his actual work. I have to admit, with the rest of the site doing so well, that’s just puzzling. We have big screens, and the people who have small screens are used to scrolling. Let us read the text.

Dixon & Moe

Dixon & Moe is one more site on this list that embraces the “minimalism plus geometry” theme. In this case, the minimalism borders on brutalism, but is saved by good typography and white space.

It’s also got little touches that make it look a bit like, I dunno… a technical manual? A set of diagrams? Like, all of the major elements on each page are given a letter/number designation. Go take a look. It’s cool.

Kuudes

Kuudes is a fantastic example of the beauty of plain old organization. There’s a minimum of fancy tricks on this site, with most of the effort going in to just organizing a fair amount of information (for a portfolio site).

Léo Guenoun

Léo Guenoun’s portfolio is very, very minimalist. Everything is text until you click your way into a portfolio piece. Then it’s pretty much just images. I’m sensing a theme, here.

Fore Design

Fore Design embraces textbook modern design, and thus joins this month’s minimalism plus geometry club. My favorite bits of the site would have to be the case studies, and the design of the blog articles on desktop screens.

They also seem to make a point of using real people’s names where they can. Whether it’s on their team page (duh), in their portfolio pieces, or on their blog, they seem to emphasize a human connection when and where they can.

Anne Thai

Anne Thai embraces the classic white space and huge text style of site. She has to, because this is possibly the single longest one-page portfolio I’ve ever seen. Thankfully, it comes with two sets of navigation. Her work is presented artfully, and color is used to let you know you’re looking at a new project in a way that makes sense.

Skinn Branding Agency

Skinn brings us more classic white space and huge text. It’s not terribly original, but it is well-done. Trigger warning for people who like headings and titles to be capitalized. This site mostly doesn’t do that…

Maciej Herbert Rodzik

Maciej Herbert Rodzik brings us back a few months to the days of post minimalism, but just a little. Aside from a little asymmetry and element overlapping, this one is simplicity itself.

It’s also one of the few sites that overlaps the project title with the project images that doesn’t overwhelmingly impact readability. I approve.

Zeus Jones

Zeus Jones wins the award for being the second site on this list to have the initials “ZJ”. It’s a branding agency, and the site sure as heck looks like it. Every part of the otherwise fairly standard design has clearly been made to fit a theme. Note the just plain beautiful typography.

Monopo

Monopo’s site is perhaps a bit presentation-effect-heavy for my taste; but I love their use of color. Also, I must admit that anyone who can make circles work as a design theme automatically gets points from me.

With the web being as “box-shaped” as it is, I can always appreciate making a theme out of any other shape.

Rowan Made

Rowan Made is, without mincing words, a fairly typical example of hipster minimalism. It’s all about that artisanal feeling. Nonetheless, it is perhaps one of the finer examples of hipster minimalism that I’ve seen in a while. Plus, I’m a sucker for well-crafted typography on pretty much any site.

I’d only try to make the text headings stand out a bit more, maybe. The headings are styles in a way that assumes the reader is going to be reading as opposed to skimming. Never make that assumption.

Studio Mast

Studio Mast spices up a fairly simple layout with little touches that are reminiscent of an art gallery. This idea is represented everything from the general aesthetic style, to the hover effects on images, to the controls on the home page slideshow.

It’s a subtle way of calling your own work art without looking too pretentious. It’s a clever touch that doesn’t get in the way of usability. I like that kind of clever.

Maksim Karalevich

Maksim Karalevich’s site is all minimalist and full of… not random geometric shapes. Cool. In fact, there’s an animated signature on the home page. Even more cool. Another thing I quite like is the way some elements are styled to make the whole thing look like a gigantic chat log. It’s not something you see very often.

Andy H. Wei

Andy Wei brings us full circle with more of that minimalism and random geometry combo in a lovely near monochromatic site that lets his paintings have all the color. There’s a hint of post-minimalism here and there, but it’s used for emphasis, which I really like.

My favorite bit has got to be the little graphical flourishes. They’re all painting-themed, so it sets exactly the right mood.

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