A gallery of past work can be the most powerful weapon in a firm’s promotional portfolio. Especially in the design world, where often, what you see is what you get. Having conducted a few interviews in the past, I can tell you that a designer’s portfolio is almost all I care about. It doesn’t matter if the guy is neatly shaven (few of us are), or if he’s a bit nervous (many of us are). Can he produce great work? That’s what I care about.
That being said, it’s important to find out whether a designer’s portfolio actually contains work he was involved in. This seems obvious, but let me give you a little example (which I just found five minutes ago, thanks to Declan’s inquiry):
Visit the web site of “hagane agency” (http://hagane.us/) and you’ll see a nice, clean portfolio of design work. Scroll over to the right, and you’ll see a neat Flash menu for “Secure Path,” and a summary of its usage of ExternalInterface and AJAX. Now, I don’t want to step on… “Aleksandar Gvoden’s” toes, but I’m pretty sure ExternalInterface wasn’t used in this project. I’m fairly certain of this fact, because I built this menu from scratch by myself.
Now, I’m trying to remember how Aleksander helped me out on this project, but I just don’t seem to remember him. Of course, it’s possible that the good folks over at Secure Path entered the two of us into a memory-wiping program (like Ben Affleck in Paycheck), and I don’t remember working alongside Mr. Gvoden, deep underground in a secret lab in Serbia. It’s possible that we even toiled on this Flash menu for years, and even made promises to eachother if we ever got out. Aleksander may have even asked me to send word to his family in Belgrade, should he perish in our steely tomb. “Tell them I love them” he would say, “and that I am sorry.”
But what with the memory-wiping and all, I’ve tragically lost his message. I’m just glad Aleks got out of there alive. He is so strong.
So this type of rip-off happens all the time. In fact, 352 Media’s entire web site has been copied before, every page stolen without permission. Of course, the thieves forgot to change the phone number on the “contact page,” so we got a few leads out of it. Too bad they were all from Singapore.
My advice is to shop around on the web, but make sure you speak in person with the experts, and make sure you can trust them with your project before moving forward. Form a dialogue with a firm who understands your needs. Otherwise, tell Aleksander I said “hello”.