Should you include everything in your portfolio?

I’ve been doing freelance work since 1999. Some projects I’ve done are still existing, while others have simply succumbed to the “fall” of the dot-com boom. There are some sites I’ve designed that have already been changed or have their domain expired. So, the question is, should you include everything you’ve done in your portfolio?

I’ve done work for a variety of clients—admittedly, some really have exemplified the meaning of “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” In short, what I’m asking is the issue of whether a designer should go for quantity or quality.

Quantity can definitely be a sign of experience. It can show your transition from a newbie to a kick-ass designer. It’s like telling a prospect client, “see how much I’ve grown as a design professional.” But the thing is, do you really want the below-the-par quality work on your portfolio?

Doing outsourced work for ad agencies both here and abroad most often than not prevents me from publishing all my work. Usually, these guys ask for a non-disclosure clause in the Agreement, for the simple (and understandable) reason that they want to protect their “resources” from their competition. Sometimes, this makes the decision-making easy. If you made a crappy work because a client likes it that way, you’re safe—you can’t publish it anyway so what the heck. But what about those that you can publish?

I’ve seriously thought about this when I was collating the previous work I’ve done for the web and graphics design company that my husband and I run. If you put everything on the site, people can either get the impression that you’ve had a lot of experience in design or get an idea that some of your work is also crappy. But if you only put not-too-many but kicks-ass designs, you give the impression that your work is great OR they can also think that you may be good but have only worked for a few clients (less experience?). Either that or they could also think that you’re too expensive that’s why you only worked on a few.

I guess it would all boil down to your decision on what impression you’d like to make. I only put a few (and the recent ones I’ve made within the year) in our portfolio. So yeah, I decided to go for quality instead of quantity. If a prospect client wanted more samples, I can always send them a more comprehensive list.

How about you? Quantity or quality?

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