Web Developer With No Design Experience

First off, I’m a pure Developer (Backend + Frontend). I’ve had a few jobs and I’ve made a lot of websites but none of them really required me to have design skills. I would always work off a PSD of what something should look like or a rough draft and built upon from there. But now that I am out of a job I find myself needing a portfolio but I’m not sure where to start since I can’t really do a whole lot with photoshop or know what direction I want to take my portfolio. Should I fill it with useless / static information about me and tons of cool features? Should I make something simple that says “Here’s what I can do for you!” - I don’t know what’s too simple or too much. Anybody have a similar situation?

And before I get “Hire a designer!” - I feel that if I hire a designer it would still get nowhere because I still wouldn’t know where to start or what I want to do. I guess it comes down to I don’t really know what developers put on a portfolio or what is expected. Suggestions?

My feeling is that the first thing you should do is work out what you want or need to say on your site. That is, establish your content / message first. Then work out a logical way to present that information. From that, you get a clear idea of content layout. Then all you need to do is dress up the design a bit … but there may not be much required.

Web design needn’t involve Photoshop at all. You can design a site fully in the browser itself, and this is becoming more popular.

In terms of design skills, if you don’t have them, just outsource them. I can create a decent look, but I’m no designer, and if something fancier is required, I hand that part of the job over to a designer and that part of the job gets billed separately. You can’t be expected to do everything yourself. Play on your strengths. As a developer, you have very powerful skills, so I’d suggest you focus on those skills on your website. Make it clean and simple—a reflection of your own style. Then tell clients that if that’s not enough for them, you’ll bring in a designer to create something fancier. That approach works fine for me.

If you really want your own site to look nicer, then get your preferred designer to come up with a look for you … and it will reflect what clients are likely to get. Just make sure to establish the content first, as described above. The big mistake a lot of site designers make is to create a pretty layout first and then squeeze the content into that design any way that it will fit, which is a really poor way to go about things.

I was in exactly the same situation. I dabble with photoshop, but am nowhere near the sort of standard that i could show it to a client and expect to get paid! Instead i have gone into a partnership with a graphics designer, which has worked incredibly well! Plus we can offer other services to broaden our target market, such as logo and leaflet designs! So yeah i agree with ralph.m, stick to what you can do, and let someone else do all the arty farty stuff!

Sounds like the kind of thing that should go in a portfolio. Ideally links but screen captures would be appropriate for protected or revised work. That is what I always do. Never have I created a print portfolio.

I second oddz.
I have seen many website developer put screen shots or links to websites that others have created but they developed. This is like an architects and engineer/builder situation.
If you don’t have passion for design and feel that there is potential there, do not bother. Stick to what you know and what you are good at.

There are many great designers out there that have no clue about bringing their design to life and would collaborate with a talented developer like yourself.