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ASK DN: Putting together a UX Portfolio

over 4 years ago from , User Experience Designer

Hello DN!

I am a soon-to-be graduate who is starting to prepare and put together a portfolio for UX Design as a Full Stack designer. I have some questions regarding UX portfolios, and I'm looking for some advice and inspiring examples to help me understand what companies are looking for in these portfolios.


Questions

  • From the companies that I've researched so far, it seems that there are some who expect the portfolio to tell a compelling story describing the process and methodologies used in each piece of work, while others prefer a very minimal approach to allow your work to speak for itself. Which is the better way to organize my work?
  • I understand it's given that my portfolio should be custom-tailored to match the needs and tone of the company I am applying to. How common is it for applicants to tailor the portfolio specifically for just one company as opposed to one they can use universally for the multiple companies they are looking at?
  • I am having some difficulty finding good examples of UX portfolios that describe the methodologies they use in their projects. What's a good way to show things like personas and scenarios without taking too much away from the actual visuals and final product?

That's all the questions I have for now. Thank you for all your help in advance, I really appreciate it!

19 comments

  • Rodrigo MunizRodrigo Muniz, over 4 years ago (edited over 4 years ago )

    IMHO as a designer and recruiter, the best portfolios are those that show:

    • The problem (please define the problem)
    • The constraints
    • The solution
    • How you helped
    • What you learned (metrics, lessons and room for improvements).

    Best of luck with yours :D

    10 points
    • Miraj Patel, over 4 years ago

      Thank you for the response Rodrigo! I think that last part is a very important step that you mentioned and I'll definitely been looking into implementing it into mine.

      1 point
    • Diesel LawsDiesel Laws, over 4 years ago

      Adding to this great overview - essentially recruiters are looking for Context. The #1 question is "Why was this designed/created in the first place?". What is the purpose of 'it'. By defining the problem/constraints etc you are controlling the narrative.

      2 points
  • Adam Brace, over 4 years ago

    What is a Full Stack Designer?!

    6 points
  • Joel CalifaJoel Califa, over 4 years ago

    You want to show potential employers how you think, while giving them enough visuals to show them how you implement. My portfolio worked out pretty well for me and does the same. You can check it out here.

    I wouldn't try too hard to custom-tailor your portfolio to the company you're pursuing. You want it to represent you, your way of thinking, your personality and sense of humor (in good taste). After all, you want to end up working somewhere that's a good fit.

    Regarding methodologies, I'd only mention them if they were actually useful to the project. Junior UX portfolios that go through all the Right Steps are a dime a dozen. Show me how they benefited you, not just that you used them.

    2 points
    • Miraj Patel, over 4 years ago

      Thank you for the response Joel! That's an awesome portfolio, thank you for sharing. Bookmarked it for reference.

      0 points
  • Duncan RussellDuncan Russell, over 4 years ago (edited over 4 years ago )

    Hi Miraj,

    Great questions! I often wondered the same when I started out.

    From the companies that I've researched so far, it seems that there are some who expect the portfolio to tell a compelling story describing the process and methodologies used in each piece of work, while others prefer a very minimal approach to allow your work to speak for itself. Which is the better way to organize my work?

    For a UX portfolio your work is the process (e.g. research, user journeys, information architecture, wireframes et cetera).

    That's not to say it can't be simple though. Splitting each project into three steps (e.g. problem/process/solution) is more than enough to add a little narrative to your rationale.

    I understand it's given that my portfolio should be custom-tailored to match the needs and tone of the company I am applying to. How common is it for applicants to tailor the portfolio specifically for just one company as opposed to one they can use universally for the multiple companies they are looking at?

    I can only speak for myself, but I emphasise different projects depending on the company I'm applying to, by aligning my experience with the sector they're most prevalent in.

    I didn't do that when I started out though, as I didn't have the breadth of work under my belt to do so.

    I'd write a custom covering letter at the very least, but I wouldn't worry about customisation too much as long as your work is relevant.

    I am having some difficulty finding good examples of UX portfolios that describe the methodologies they use in their projects. What's a good way to show things like personas and scenarios without taking too much away from the actual visuals and final product?

    Tell me about it! I've still not seen a UX folio I really love, and we've been recruiting for over a year.

    I wouldn't worry about technical/UX documentation "taking away" from the visuals though. Keeping a common visual theme is nice (e.g. wire framing in red if that's the primary project's brand colour), but they're supposed to be somewhat detached from the visuals.


    After saying all that though, I've never worked up a really comprehensive folio. Partly because a lot of my exploratory work is confidential, and partly because I like things short and sweet (aside from this reply, obviously).

    Instead I attach a quick summary of projects to my CV. You can get very far in just one or two sentences by telling companies what you did and the results that action had.

    For example if the sum of your work is 10,000 more signups a month, it'll leave them wanting to know more – which is what the interview's for.

    Of course, this puts a lot more pressure on your performance in the interview, which is not everyone's strong suit!

    It does me fine though ;)

    2 points
    • Miraj Patel, over 4 years ago

      Thanks you for your response Duncan, this helps a lot! How much time would you say someone like you would spend exploring a UX portfolio?

      0 points
  • Tyrale BloomfieldTyrale Bloomfield, over 4 years ago

    Case studies of your work. Define what you did, show your work. Sketches included. When we hire UX, it's all about how they think.

    Don't waste time customizing per company, they don't really care that much.

    1 point
    • Miraj PatelMiraj Patel, over 4 years ago

      Thank you for your response Tyrale! Do you think sharing pictures of Post-It notes would help as well? I tend to use a lot of Post-Its. :)

      0 points