• Jim SilvermanJim Silverman, over 6 years ago

    i have to disagree here. this is a terrible conversation brought on by Spool's ambiguous phrasing and the inability to draw context from 140 characters.

    28 points
  • Account deleted over 6 years ago

    Jmspool wasn't clear enough in his original tweet and only if you read through he thread enough do you see what he meant. Unfortunately, his lack clarity in the first tweet created this mess.

    Brijanp took the radical side of things and when you read through his tread, he admits that he only has a basic site with links.


    1. I really hate how a lot of trendy designers say stuff like "stop watching X and do a portfolio"... when 90% of them in other tweets talk about work/life balance and spending time with family or doing stuff outside.. Who are these people to decide what type of downtime is acceptable and what isn't? So spending time with my baby girl means I have no problem solving skills? I don't think so. I'll take watching my girl learn to walk or reading Harry Potter to my son over working on a portfolio EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

    2. Our definition of a portfolio is radically different to different people. Some people define it as a basic template with recent work, some links, and contact info. Others see it as a full immersive website with multiple case studies that take 30 minutes each to read through. Heck, one great award-winning designer I know simply maintains a clean PDF and tells people to reach out to see his work samples. Others do nothing but post Dribbble shots.

    In the end, the focus needs to be less about the word "portfolio" and more about the word "presence". Do you have an online presence that supports and showcases a small taste of what you do? Do you have a way for people to reach out and ask for more?

    Personally, I prefer the basic side of things... and then when I go to people in person I custom build a slideshow of work I feel is relevant to their needs and show it them. I am making a pitch for myself. In this scenario I'm sometimes also able to show bits of some work that I can't publicly show (NDA's yo).

    In the end, they key is that you need something online that gives a taste of who you are and what you do. THAT is a basic requirement. How deep/crazy/wild you want to go after that is completely up to you.... and for various roles, one type of "portfolio" may be better than another.

    22 points
    • Seth Richardson, over 6 years ago

      Great thoughts! Thanks for the reply!

      0 points
    • Laurens SpangenbergLaurens Spangenberg, over 6 years ago

      I really hate how a lot of trendy designers say stuff like "stop watching X and do a portfolio"

      This. I wish some of those designers were more humble and sincere on things rather than aim to be "a thought leader" giving advice on "maximizing productivity" and what we should or shouldn't do.

      I feel like the answer to this question is the same one as to whether designers should code. It depends.

      0 points
  • Nathan LongNathan Long, over 6 years ago

    It's like we hit an existential designer nerve.

    designer dilemma

    20 points
  • Wesley HainesWesley Haines, over 6 years ago

    stop this. please.

    14 points
  • Thomas Michael SemmlerThomas Michael Semmler, over 6 years ago (edited over 6 years ago )

    The cringe is intensifying with every post on this website that contains a "should" in its title. Stop this.

    Designers should stop being ruled by other peoples subjective opinion of what they should or should not be. Those people have acquired a following for whatever reason and now they treat it irresponsibly.

    Every time someone says, "People should ..." they are implicitly or explicitly excluding people, as a way to differentiate themselves - as a way to feel special and elitist. This is pathetic.

    Stop believing that you are the enlightened buddha just because you push pixels up and down, or because you write immediately invoked function expressions, or because you copied a trend, or because that stupid nike shoe that is on a white card with 15px border-radius gets 500 likes on dribbble.

    Design is a job. A JOB. There is a craft involved, but guess what? So is making tables, cooking, architecture, gardening, etc. People are elevating their job titles to a level that makes them feel special, entitled, "one of them".

    This is why I don't like to call myself designer anymore. It implies something that I am not.

    "The best designers don't have portfolios. Too busy." Well guess what, the best User Experience Professionals usually provide a User Experience that DELIGHTS THEIR TARGET AUDIENCE.



    It isn't even responsive. WTF.

    I don't want to start hating on a person, that feels like wasted energy and the person doesn't deserve it. But don't shame other people if the very craft you are trying to gatekeep is poorly executed by almost every standard yourself.

    This makes me so unbelievably angry. As my description says, I can be mean sometimes, sorry.

    7 points
  • Bugsy SailorBugsy Sailor, over 6 years ago

    What constitutes a portfolio?

    Does a successful designer need to have an online presence with an online portfolio? Absolutely not.

    Does a successful designer need to be prepared with work to show for an interview? Absolutely!

    But that doesn't mean they need to have their work public for the world to see. If a company requires that, I find that ridiculous. And some people actually prefer anonymity. Believe it or not, some people just want to do good work and don't need the likes, loves, and favs from every social media channel.

    6 points
  • Robbert EsserRobbert Esser, over 6 years ago

    Bit harsh from Brijan to say that you can't solve problems if you don't have a portfolio.

    5 points
  • Isaac WeinhausenIsaac Weinhausen, over 6 years ago

    Don't you all have work to do? Lol. Just do what you need to do to get the job, or if you're hiring, to get the right employee. Who cares about generalizations and what other people think; in the end, folks gotta think for themselves. Now can we get back to more important things, like making cool shit?

    4 points
  • Duke CavinskiDuke Cavinski, over 6 years ago

    This again is treating the designer as the other, where this profession transcends the laws of physics and gets its own special snowflake rulebook.

    4 points
  • Ryan Hicks, over 6 years ago (edited over 6 years ago )

    As someone who recently searched for a job relentlessly for the past month. YES you need a portfolio. Whether it's a site or an offline portfolio on drive or dropbox. Yes you need one. Some jobs refuse to even consider you without it.

    Despite having one you'll still have a design exercise that you'll need to complete with the company to show competency and how you work through your problems and their teams.

    4 points
    • Ethan BondEthan Bond, over 6 years ago

      Well this tweet isn't really scoped to "while searching for a job." Actively maintaining a portfolio really is a waste of time for a lot of people – it has nothing to do with the ability to solve problems.

      0 points
      • Ryan Hicks, over 6 years ago (edited over 6 years ago )

        Le sigh... completely over your head. Not sure you even read my reply or are even paying attention to the subject here. The question is, "Should a designer have a portfolio site?" So YES ... as I said as someone who was recently searching for a job maintaining one is needed. Having a portfolio has everything to do with solving problems as it does indeed show the problems you've solved in the past.

        0 points
        • Ethan BondEthan Bond, over 6 years ago (edited over 6 years ago )

          I'll admit, I did forget that this was posing a question that references two tweets, not necessarily posing a question about the tweets. It seems like we actually might agree on most of this since you called out that Dropboxing it or whatever is fine. That's my only problem with "Should designers have a portfolio site: yes."

          The answer to "should designers ______" is pretty much always "it depends." There are circumstances where maintaining a portfolio site makes sense. There are also circumstances where it's a complete waste of time.

          If you're looking for a new job, you'll need some sort of presentable body of work, I agree. However, whether that's a website should be irrelevant, whether you've been regularly maintaining it or if you just threw it together as you updated your resume should be irrelevant, whether it's publicly accessible whatsoever should be irrelevant.

          My "portfolio site" contains no real portfolio. It doesn't mean I'm doing things wrong or I'm unemployable – just that it's not a priority for me (for a variety of reasons).

          0 points
          • Ryan Hicks, over 6 years ago

            Well, my point still stands. My "online" portfolio is 2 years old and is basically irrelevant. So when I was applying for new positions I would link them to a google drive link for an offline portfolio instead. Maintaining is a good idea if it's out there and you are referring people to it. But having a portfolio regardless of where it lives is a must as a designer.

            0 points
            • Ethan BondEthan Bond, over 6 years ago

              Sure, we agree then! I think your method is actually better than just having a public web portfolio. In part due to time commitment, but also because you can tailor it to each audience and you have the opportunity to provide additional context as necessary.

              0 points
              • Ryan Hicks, over 6 years ago

                Ya that's basically the situation I am in. I don't have the time to update it and maintain it. So I just send out links for them to download some screens and wireframes. Then we can have discussions around how I arrived to those solutions if they want further explanation. I did find that I ran into a couple of issues with this method. Some recruiters were not able to download them due to their internal IT restraints and had to pass it through their IT department for approval first, but that was only in two cases. So that's a con to this method albeit a rare case.

                0 points
  • Brian HintonBrian Hinton, over 6 years ago

    The important thing to note about that entire Twitter storm isn't that Good Designers, or that Designers in general shouldn't have portfolios. It's that a Designer's portfolio is often their very public projects instead of a static write-up on their website.

    And which path you decide to go depends on what projects you work on, and how you can communicate your work. Can you point to Facebook, and explain that you were the Principal Designer of the Event's app? Or is your work an internal company tool where a write-up is necessary to be able to show anything?

    Personally, I think that even if you are well-known, and your work is everywhere that you should still have a portfolio of some sort that communicates how you thought through, and made the decisions you did in your designs.

    2 points
  • Ollie BarkerOllie Barker, over 6 years ago

    If you're applying for a job you need to show how you can design and solve problems. Whether that's in the form of a portfolio or simply walking people through live projects it shouldn't matter.

    Nobody is going to blindly hire you without seeing anything you've worked on.

    2 points
    • Gen Uine, over 6 years ago

      Nobody is going to blindly hire you without seeing anything you've worked on.

      Alex, What is a, Recruiter?

      3 points
  • Jake FlemingJake Fleming, over 6 years ago

    If you want to get an interview these days, most of the time the answer is yes. The definition of a portfolio however, can vary greatly. As long as you can show that you've done design work you're good. If you're lucky enough to come across a company that is willing to give you a chance to show how you work by having you come work for a day or few, congrats. You've found a good one (probably).

    1 point
  • Ben Henschel, over 6 years ago (edited over 6 years ago )

    It seems that the issue Jared is talking about is online application forms having a required field for a single "portfolio" url. Which I agree is really frustrating.

    Somehow people took his comments to mean that you shouldn't ask a potential design hire to walk through or discuss in some way their previous work. I don't think Jared has any issue with having a candidate walk through work. The issue is when not having a single url is a complete show stopper for most companies. As Jared pointed out, if you enforce this single url you are probably going to loose out on some great talent.

    Given the option of working on cool projects, or creating a portfolio I will choose the former. I'm happy to walk through my projects, but spending time making a beautiful, well thought out portfolio seems like a waste of time.

    Also a lot of my work is work I don't own, and not publicly available (lots of designers are under NDAs or work as a in house designer). I can't put that work on a public portfolio. I can show it in private in an interview, but if you require me to submit a single url it's really tough to get that far.

    1 point
  • John PJohn P, over 6 years ago















    1 point
  • Xtian MillerXtian Miller, over 6 years ago

    Perhaps designers don't need a resume either, because it's the same thing.

    1 point
  • Nenad MilosevicNenad Milosevic, over 6 years ago

    It's probably better to have one... in some form. I just finished mine: http://nenadmilosevic.co :)

    0 points
  • Pieter Jannick DijkstraPieter Jannick Dijkstra, over 6 years ago (edited over 6 years ago )

    I got hired at a pretty well known agency in Amsterdam without a portfolio website. I just sent them some work in a zip and got hired so it's definitly possible to get a job without

    0 points
  • Emrah KaraEmrah Kara, over 6 years ago

    I think a designer must have a dribbble profile at least. I had barely created my own portfolio recent days but dribbble is quite good to remain updated. I don't recommend strongly to have a portfolio either because i'm still not satisfied from my personal portfolio and the works in it.

    0 points
  • Gaurav Mishra, over 6 years ago

    Busy designer not always have time for portfolio.

    0 points
  • Freckley FrecklesonFreckley Freckleson, over 6 years ago

    Question everything.

    0 points
  • Gen Uine, over 6 years ago

    There two forms of obesity taking place here that are more related than they think.

    0 points
  • Bevan StephensBevan Stephens, over 6 years ago

    It depends if they need one or not.

    0 points
  • Sam SolomonSam Solomon, over 6 years ago (edited over 6 years ago )

    This conversation seems silly to me. I think Jim is right—there's more to this idea than Spool was able to communicate in his tweet.

    I don't think product designers need a portfolio. However, they do need to have a way to show problems they've worked on and be able to explain how they arrived at a solution.

    Here are a few things that I think work as a substitute:

    • Links to previous projects with a blurb about what feature you worked on (if publicly available).
    • Links to prototypes
    • A video walking through a feature in Sketch/Photoshop and explaining how you arrived at a certain design.

    Having a portfolio is probably more beneficial for younger designers. How long you've worked and how many project you've worked on is definitely a factor.

    For what it's worth, I don't actively maintain a portfolio.

    0 points
  • Taulant SulkoTaulant Sulko, over 6 years ago

    You probably don't need a conventional portfolio if you designed something popular that is being used every day. However, you would still need to have a list of links to direct people that might not know about it.

    0 points