Your digital portfolio of work isn’t just a scrapbook of all the great projects you’ve worked on over the years—it’s your key to new business.
A portfolio the simplest way to showcase your skills and previous successes to potential clients, but it’s more than that. The way you set up your portfolio site will give visitors insight into your personality, an idea of what it’s like to work with you, and the best possible first impression of you and your work.
One of the best ways to ensure your message is conveyed well is to choose a high-quality WordPress theme for your portfolio website. Your theme is the foundation of your site’s design, affecting everything from the layout choices you can make to the fonts you can choose. To make your website feel as authentic to your brand as possible, you need a theme that aligns with your aesthetic vision.
Whether you’re looking for a free theme option or you’re willing to invest a bit, this list has some of the best WordPress themes for design portfolio websites, as well as some of the most important factors to consider when choosing a theme.
What to look for in a design portfolio theme
In 2022, responsive design is not an option, it’s a requirement. Mobile traffic accounts for more than half of all the traffic on the web, and that trend has remained consistent over the last few years. An unresponsive site risks alienating a large portion of your visitors, but a quality theme should be optimized for mobile and can help ensure your visitors experience a fast site that loads correctly, no matter what device they’re using.
WooCommerce, Yoast, and other popular WordPress plugins should integrate seamlessly with the theme you choose. Many theme creators prominently display plugin compatibility information so you’ll know immediately if the theme you’re choosing will work with your most important plugins.
In addition to different devices, your site visitors will be using different browsers, and some may even visit from different browsers based on the time of day or their location. I, for example, still haven’t installed Google Chrome (my preferred browser) on my phone. So when I’m not at my computer, I use Safari. Your website should look great no matter how your audience accesses it, so make sure the theme you choose is cross-browser compatible.
One of the most important factors when choosing a WordPress theme is to make sure it’s accessible to everyone. Your theme should help ensure your site has enough contrast, your content is legible, your alt tags are viewable, and any multimedia content is equipped with captions or transcriptions.
Your portfolio should look and feel like it came from you. Clients don’t want cookie-cutter sites, so don’t give them a cookie-cutter experience! Play with scrolling effects, bold color choices, or new trends in web design to show off your unique style.
Using a more popular, well-supported theme will typically yield better results for your portfolio site. Themes with an active developer team and a larger community behind them give you a larger pool of advice to tap into. That will come in handy as you create your portfolio site, troubleshoot, and add new elements to it.
Don’t worry about investing in a costly theme if you’re not sure you’ll see a return on investment. Because WordPress has such a huge community of developers and designers, there are tons of excellent low-cost and free themes that suit the needs of any business—your freelance business or small agency included! The list below has a little of both!
Eight best WordPress themes for portfolio sites
Now that you know what you should be looking for in a theme, here are eight of the best WordPress themes—including paid and free options—for your portfolio site.
Universal is a well-documented, WooCommerce compatible theme that was originally released in 2017. It emphasizes multi-purpose use across industries, and their freelance/personal demo gives you just one idea of how your site could look.
A Flywheel favorite that we’ve talked about before, Adios is a powerful theme by theme_bubble. It’s compatible with Elementor and Gravity Forms (for collecting your all important leads), and the clean, modern style allows you to show off your work unencumbered.
Cost: Free for WP Engine, Flywheel, and Genesis Pro customers.
Revolution Pro is a Genesis theme that offers minimal design and the perfect canvas for showcasing photography and text. The white space allows all of the content to breathe, and the use of Playfair Display puts a spotlight on headlines and blockquotes. There are five homepage examples—Agency, Lifestyle, Personal Branding, Photographer, and Small Business—each one showcasing a unique use-case for the theme.
Air is a fully responsive theme with 30+ pre-made templates and a social media module that’s perfect for integrating your online presences. It’s WooCommerce compatible and supports thousands of fonts, so it’s great for designers who like to play with typography.
Avoir is a great choice for clean, simple, straightforward portfolio design. It’s compatible with important plugins like WooCommerce and Gravity Forms, and it’s fully optimized for speed on all major browsers. It also comes bundled with the Visual Composer and Slider Revolution plugins.
With more than 100 demos to spark your creative process, Qi theme is one of the best free options available for WordPress. There’s a support team available to assist you as well as a large repository of help articles, and it has a high grade of performance across multiple metrics.
Optimized for Core Web Vitals, Rishi is “free forever.” It integrates with most major plugins like Elementor, Yoast, and WooCommerce, and it comes with 45+ pre-built templates to get you started.
Released in February of 2021, this free theme has averaged between 8–12 downloads per day since then. Nikkon’s easy page builder, image-focused layouts, and highly customizable interface make it a great free option for web design portfolio sites.
Power your portfolio with us!
All of the above themes are great options for creating a professional, eye-catching design portfolio that helps you earn more clients. Get the most out of your theme with help from Flywheel: the best in WordPress-specific hosting for freelance designers and small agencies, powered by WP Engine!
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