How do I build my webdesign portfolio when all sites I've designed have been taken offline?


This is my first time on this site. Here's the problem.

I've been designing since I graduated from college and have been for 4 years. After I graduated, I had my first client, who I grossly undercharge on top of doing many unbillable hours where money was based on promises. I designed the website. Later, the partners dissolved along with the website. I didn't do a backup of it, so it no longer exists.

My second client, again, undercharged, and started down the wrong road of doing unbillable hours. The client didn't have knowledge of WordPress and I wasn't training without pay. She decided to change the website from WordPress to WIX (which now it looks absolutely terrible. It's complete junk, but that's her business). Again, I didn't back it up so I have nothing. I honestly didn't think that anything would ever happen to these website, therefore, I didn't think to back them up. In hindsight, many issues occurred with their website where things were almost lost, but it still didn't hit me to do a full back up.

The problem. After all of those hours of work, I now have nothing to show for it. I have a client who want me to do a website (a family member no less). I quoted almost 4 figures. I'm at that point where I'm tired of undercharging, working for pennies, and disgracing the design industry. He of course is reluctant. Why wouldn't he be? I have nothing to show that I can do work worth that much.

I feel like I have two choices. Start from the bottom again or throw in the towel and just forget it. I'm that discouraged. What should I do? Any advice?

3/6/2015 11:13:00 AM

Well not to be rude but I think you will know next time to make a backup. Always try to keep backup even up to five years if a client calls you and says hey remember me I want to order X like you did before. To add to cockypup's answer its going to be hard to bill four figures when you have nothing to show for it. I would advise knocking out some ideas for basic sites. Nothing really CMS driven right now unless you are pitching that but I would do some sites such as:

  • mobile first responsive site
  • single landing page
  • single responsive landing page
  • user interface website
  • contact form landing page
  • eCommerce website
  • Mobile eCommerce website

I hope you have have a portfolio website and your own domain. If you do then make sure to backup the sites, create a subdomain with a no follow and link the functioning code to it. I wouldn't nick pick your details right now because you need live sites, you can always go back and tailor or fine tune it down the pipe or even go to a CMS version of it later. So you can either go two ways with this.. Walk away and look at it as a life lesson or take this opportunity and freely design for yourself.

I would not get over worked on the design. In the wireframe/mockup phase I would do quick sketches and limit your time. If you dont, also take this time to design in the browser. Code a functioning prototype in black and white. You could even swing that as an idea of a possible site in a portfolio. If you do go this route make sure to have fun!

If you are only a designer then there are plenty of mockups you could do in regards to mobile, laptop, desktop, angled, etc. etc. If you have access to After Effects or Photoshop you can animate functionality in your design if you dont know how to code:

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If you're wanting to know how to make something like this we have a great question by Joonas on it from How to create animated GIFs of prototype mockups, like the ones on Dribbble?

4/13/2017 12:46:00 PM