Ask the Designer: UX Portfolio best practices
If you’re a UX designer like me, you’ve probably been told that having a ux portfolio is essential.
The question is – why?
Portfolios show hiring managers, product managers, other designers, and others the work you’ve done, so they can assess whether you will be a good fit for their team. And if you’re like me — you’ve probably heard a lot of advice on how to build your portfolio and what to include.
Today I’m going to focus on what no one told you about portfolios, and especially… how you should present yourself to your dream company.
Show me the why so I can understand your thought process.
First – Show me why
A lot of designers show what they’ve done in their portfolio. And that’s great. But if you don’t show me why you made the decisions you made, it will be hard for me to tell that you are able to decide for yourself which UX techniques to use.
As UX designers, we have a lot of tools, and not every one is appropriate for every project. Why did you choose to do an empathy map? What led you to choose ethnographic observation over user interviews? Show me the why so I can understand your thought process.
No project ever runs as smoothly as we hope. Let’s face it — we’re all human. And humans aren’t perfect. In fact, if I see a perfect project in your portfolio, I’m likely to start thinking you’re sugar coating things.
Instead of only telling me about how wonderful things went, tell me what went wrong. Where did you have to make a course correction?
I need to see how you handle problems when they arise and what changed in your project as a result. Let me see the messy parts so I feel better knowing you can handle issues if you join my team.
Critical thinking is a must-have skill.
Can you think?
I don’t need to hire someone who needs directions every time they do a task. I need someone who can think for themselves. Critical thinking is a must-have skill. Make sure your portfolio shows me that you have this skill.
Respect my time
Your portfolio isn’t the only one I’ve seen today — so don’t make me work too hard to get to the good stuff. I really only have 5 minutes to look through it and see if you have the basic skills I’m looking for. That means it should be easy to read and understand, fast to load, and mobile friendly. I’m just not going to wait for it to load on my phone.
Also, make my life easier with a summary. I want to be able to quickly see your work. If you hook me, I’ll stay for a deeper dive.
Your portfolio is more than your resume — it’s a communication tool that can help get your foot in the door to your dream job. Make it yours– but also, follow these tips, and you’ll make it work for you instead of against you.