Ask DN: Is it necessary to have case studies of your projects on your portfolio?

over 6 years ago from , Interactive Designer & Developer

I'm curious to hear what designers and front-end devs like myself have to say on this. I see a lot of portfolios with project images and a short description, along with the roles involved were. I think that's just fine. I then see portfolios with in depth case studies. Those are really nice and look great, but is it absolutely necessary? What do you think?


  • Braden HammBraden Hamm, over 6 years ago

    I believe so. Sharing the thought behind your designs, and explaining why you made some of the decisions you did, is not only valuable to potential clients and employers, but for your own reflection.

    7 points
  • Chantal JandardChantal Jandard, over 6 years ago

    I think so. When I'm shifting through portfolios, I care more about how someone thinks than what they've made. After all, you hire someone for what they'll do for you, not what they've made before.

    1 point
  • Aaron SagrayAaron Sagray, over 6 years ago


    Show the things that didn't work either. I want to see how you solve problems, not just pretty screenshots/mockups.

    1 point
  • Benjamin KowalskiBenjamin Kowalski, over 6 years ago

    I believe it all comes down what type of work you're looking to get, where you are in your career, and how much you were actually involved in the project.

    For example, if you're a pretty new designer/dev working mostly on the production of assets that were more or less thought of by a big team or creative director, it doesn't really make sense to explain the work in a case study format. However, if you're a more seasoned professional, working in a higher role to help define the brief for clients, develop solutions to major parts of the project, and follow through to managing the creation of the final product, it totally makes sense to talk through that process and why you were a necessity in it's success. If you're a student, definitely explain your thinking if you did more than just rebrand a restaurant or something. Students need to show how they think just as much as how well they can design UI.

    Also it's not necessary to make every project a case study. Showing 1-3 case-study depth projects will help potential employers or clients see your process without having to wade through that process every page to see your past work. If you have something unique to say, definitely say it, but less is often more beyond one or two major projects.

    1 point
    • Eugene RossEugene Ross, over 6 years ago

      Thanks for the insight! How you would you go about presenting a project you worked on if it was primarily handling the production side? Would you just leave the option of a case study out?

      0 points
      • Benjamin KowalskiBenjamin Kowalski, over 6 years ago

        I think a project that was more production based can be presented in a lot of ways.

        This designer ( http://www.robinman.com/verge.html ) for example shows full pages, along with specific detail shots, and includes some context around what you're actually looking at. Giving detail about how pages work or what information needed to be presented can add just enough context for viewers to not have to guess at what a site/project is all about.

        On the other side, a more detailed case study can show both process (wireframes, unused ideas, sketches) or be more written detail about the process of the project like this Huge case study page: http://www.hugeinc.com/case-study/newsweek

        1 point
  • cliff nowickicliff nowicki, over 6 years ago

    In Depth case studies are a nice to have, but I don't believe they are an absolute necessity.However, I do think that descriptions and some insight to the project is a must have. Give them enough so whoever looks at your portfolio wants to talk to you. Start the conversation.

    1 point
  • Cosmin NegoitaCosmin Negoita, over 6 years ago

    It depends. Big companies that are interested in you will always try to find out about your process and challenges you had to solve on certain projects. This gives them an insight about how you work and this is a very good thing to look at because at the end of the day everyone can push pixels and make them pretty, but not everyone is able to overcome specific challenges.

    People that just need a website won't go into detail. They'll see a screenshot and think "ah, nice work!".

    So it all depends on what you're aiming at.

    0 points