Landing the Right Design Career
Why do research?
Part of the allure of digital portfolios is the potential they offer to craft collections of work tailored to a single market, culture, or geographical area. Unfortunately, you need to know a lot about each audience to speak effectively to it.
Wouldn't it be nice if the people you'd like to work with would just tell you what they want? Actually, they do. They publicize new campaigns and give interviews about their strategic partners. They give talks at clubs and offer their opinions at student critiques. And more. This abundance of information tells an astute observer volumes about their philosophy, aesthetics, and company culture.
With solid research in hand, you don't have to design your portfolio and hope you've made the right choices. An illustrator who has researched his targets' styles and clientele can showcase examples of appropriate work online. A designer can send an individually created PDF that shows her knowledge of a firm's client base or working process.
The word "research" makes some visual people twitch. Don't let it. You're just poking around for information, something you probably do for personal projects or just plain curiosity without giving it a second thought.