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20 Best New Portfolio Sites, January 2018

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And it’s here! January 2018 has arrived in all its cold, cold glory, and I just spent the first few days of it looking at portfolio sites. I do it all for you, dear Readers. I do it all for you.

This month doesn’t have a particularly specific theme, unless you count pretty much every variation of minimalism. There’s nothing completely new, and nothing completely old. I’m seeing more and more effort being made to strike a balance between extreme design philosophies, and I have to say that I’m quite liking some of the results.

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.

CRUX

CRUX takes home the award for commitment to a concept. They work a lot with video, so they went and applied the timeline concept to the navigation on their one-pager. We’ve seen this once before in a previous portfolio article, but CRUX takes a less minimalist approach to the concept.

Fons Hickmann

Fons Hickmann’s portfolio is a shiny new example of what I’m calling the “Brutal Powerpoint” style of design. (W000! My first made-up trend name of 2018 has just happened, people! And no one has told me to stop yet.)

It’s all about mixing elements of minimalism, brutalism, and presentation-style sites to create something that feels like it was torn from two completely different design manuals.

Ben Mingo

Ben Mingo’s portfolio is classically minimalist, spiced up with animation. It’s on this list primarily because its layout and typographical elements are just that lovely.

My only peeve would be that I can’t use my scroll wheel on the home page. Drag-to-navigate is a normal interaction on mobile, but it seems clunky and inefficient on the desktop.

Zero

Zero uses a moderately stylized form of minimalism for its agency site. That balance between style and classic minimalism results in a site that is easy enough to navigate, but is still loaded with personality and potential.

Adoratorio

Adoratorio is a slick-yet-simple example of minimalism gone animated. It’s clean, it’s pretty. I’m actually kind of impressed by the way they implemented that slideshow on the home page. I’m still not sure slideshows are the best thing ever, but I like the way this one was done.

Root Studio

Root Studio is here because it uses yellow in a perfectly pleasant way. It’s here because the typography is lovely and very, very readable. And because I turned off the JavaScript and everything worked perfectly.

Ugh, I told myself I was gonna get off that particular high horse for a while, but I still love it when I find a site that degrades gracefully. Whatever. Root Studio = good. Go look at it.

The Glyph Studio

The Glyph Studio uses a highly presentational design. Considering one of their clients is Wix, I’m assuming that’s what they were going for. While highly animated, everything is tasteful and, dare I say, elegant. They obviously had an art director working on their case studies.

Gabe Abadilla

I’d just like to give credit to Gabe Abadilla for embracing the inevitable nickname/meme and buying “gabadilla.com”. He’s a good sport. He’s also got a lovely one-page portfolio.

It’s nothing too experimental, or out of the ordinary. It just looks good and works better. I would define the design aesthetic as aggressively pleasant, more than anything else.

Jake Stangel

Jake Stangel combines pastels, minimalism, and background video to create a simple experience that just gets the point across. I do feel some of the text could use a bit more contrast, but the presentation of the imagery stands out more than enough to make up for it.

Ben Wegscheider

This one is on the list just for the “odd” factor. From the get-go, this portfolio hits you with animated effects straight out of that old ’70s sci-fi movie you have on VHS. And it doesn’t really stop. To counter the somewhat distracting animation, the rest of the site is dead simple, with large typography that mostly stays readable, even over everything else that’s going on.

Wibicom

Wibicom’s presentation-style portfolio is pretty standard, as these things go. I do find it interested that scrolling down on the home page takes you straight to the navigation menu.

No intro content, no frills beyond a bit of background animation. They just throw you straight into the browsing. The trend continues throughout the site, as they seem to depend more on their imagery to do the talking.

Sympozium

Sympozium is a French design agency with a lovely site that looks classically professional while incorporating a couple more modern trends like asymmetry. It’s clear that every page has a bit of art direction to it, which is mostly evident in the layout.

Round

Round uses a style of minimalism that almost feels like the old days, now. It brings back the simple grid, the thick lines and almost thicker type.

It also splits the navigation in an interesting way. The actual portfolio part of the site is organized as an almost separate entity, and browsing that part of the site will display portfolio-specific navigation. Head to the part of the site that tells you all about the studio, and the main palette changes, along with the primary navigation.

The experiences are similar enough that the transition doesn’t feel too jarring; but they clearly design the portfolio experience to focus on browsing through their work, and the rest for the user who’s ready to get serious.

Tao Tajima

Tao Tajima is a filmmaker, and his website features his work by pretty much constantly being in motion. Animation and background video (as well as embedded video) are pretty heavily featured.

IPG Mediabrands

It’s been a while since I’ve reviewed a site that was as corporate-sounding as IPG Mediabrands. Their site is (who could have possibly guessed?) very visually corporate as well. It’s like the bank brochures I read as a child — while waiting for the adults to get done with the bank stuff already — grew up and turned into websites.

And none of that is criticism. Take one look at their list of clients, and you’ll get why they went with the corporate look. Plus, they use yellow really well.

Contemple

Contemple went as wild with their design and animation as they did with their URL. And hey, if you’re going to make your site look like an advanced PowerPoint, why not go all out? There’s a lot of animation, but it’s pretty good animation.

Pierre Georges

Pierre Georges’ portfolio won’t blow any minds with weirdness. It’s just a clean, pleasant portfolio with big text, and much bigger images. Enjoy.

Jessica Chabot

Jessica Chabot’s portfolio takes a dead-simple, and makes it stand out with a few simple flourishes. That white space at the right, the white space in general. The site feels “feature-complete”, even with a bare minimum of content.

I’m not sure about that disappearing logotype, but hey. Can’t win ’em all.

Brad Geiger

Brad Geiger’s portfolio is an example of how post-minimalism is starting to trend back toward classic minimalism. We’ve got the now-familiar asymmetrical and staggered layout combined with the thick sans type and monochromatic tendencies of yesteryear.

Well, they do say life is about achieving balance. I think this site pulls it off.

Bibliothèque

Bibliothèque brings us a pretty-if-simple portfolio built around masonry layouts. Given this central concept, it’s pretty much all images. Just one giant image gallery, and some contact info. And it works.

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