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Ask DN: What's the best way to display your work as a ux/product/whatever designer?

7 years ago from , Creative Director

I'm redesigning my portfolio this year for a variety of reasons but wanted to get a quick poll. Right now, the way designers display their work weights heavily towards graphic design. It caters to quick visuals as opposed to seeing how someone thinks.

My current portfolio is setup in that manner and so are sites like behance, dribbbble, etc.

But, as I've progressed as a designer, I've been getting hired less for my visuals (it's pretty much a given at this point that you can put together solid stuff) and more for how I tackle problems and design features on an app.

I've got a concept in my head as to how to approach this but wanted to hear the community's experience on the matter.

20 comments

  • Manik RatheeManik Rathee, 7 years ago

    Case study - no question.

    I worked on UX for the Obama campaign and I'm writing up case studies for all of it. It's the only way to show the problems you had to solve and how you solved them, which is what a lot of employers are looking to learn.

    7 points
    • Mohammed ShuhebMohammed Shuheb, 7 years ago

      This is definitely one of the best ways to go. Obviously accompanied by a selection of your best work in a portfolio.

      0 points
  • Keenan CummingsKeenan Cummings, 7 years ago

    Overall I've been thinking about how well blogging suits sharing design work and process much better than a portfolio site. The problem with UX and product design as the the value of the work is not immediately apparent in a visual representation of it. In fact, the visual representation often misrepresent the amount of time and thought that went into the work, and instead highlight the visual layer which is usually the least interesting and far less valuable. So my strategy for sharing work is:

    1) Write about it. Write about execution, but also philosophy and process. Write about human behaviors, insights, goals. Write about inspiration and other people working on similar problems. These are all elements that go into creating good product and UX and to leave them out is a shame.

    2) Extend the representation of the work across time. To give the work the weight it deserves, the story of the work should unfold over time just as the work did. I would avoid putting together a single page summary of several months worth of work. There will be a small number of people who watch the work unfold as you go and more than any other outside observer, they will understand and feel the weight of the work. But even for someone that finds your work later on, if they have to dig back through time (a reason blogs work well for this), they too will get some sense of that weight.

    3) Share as much as you can. Push clients to be open to the public seeing the process. It usually works in their interest, but not always. Be sensitive to their concerns but always ask how open they are willing to be. An advantage of building your own thing is you set the boundaries.

    All this said, I wish I was writing and sharing much much more as I am going. I try to do as much as I can. But almost everything I put on my blog relates to what I am now working on and where it fits in the story of might only be clear when the product is done.

    3 points
  • Allan YuAllan Yu, 7 years ago

    "I've got a concept in my head as to how to approach this but wanted to hear the community's experience on the matter."

    Wait so you want everyone to share a concept with you but you're being ridiculously opaque about your own? C'mon you leecher. Participate correctly in this community. Either with humor or with content.

    Love, Allan Yu

    3 points
    • Joshua ButnerJoshua Butner, 7 years ago

      I get your point and agree, but that was a tad bit harsh, man. Don't forget the rules of the game: "be nice."

      0 points
      • Adam KissAdam Kiss, 7 years ago

        Well, to be fair I think the 'love' at the end and the 'humor' bit kind of soften it down, and the OP really was asking community to be transparent while he himself was quite secretive.

        0 points
    • Dennis Eusebio, 7 years ago

      I don't think I'm being secretive. I was just trying to ask other designers their opinions first before I leaped head first into my initial idea (which was a shortened case study setup). Maybe others would have a different perspective or give insight.

      0 points
      • Allan YuAllan Yu, 7 years ago

        Generally, this would be presented in more of a "This is my take at it, please crit" AND "What is your take at it? Lets discuss?" Still I haven't hear what your ideas are... meh.

        0 points
  • Edgar VargasEdgar Vargas, 7 years ago

    I work for a branding company that works with an array of projects / clients and if there is something that I've learned in my experience is that every project is different, now adding that plus your involvement is would be kind of hard to create a single way to display your work.

    I guess it would depend on what exactly it is that you want the viewer / reading to get out of that particular case study, then coming up with a way to translate that.

    1 point
  • Max Di CapuaMax Di Capua, 7 years ago

    I think its tough, case studies are great if you know the viewer is going to read through it all.

    How to get their attention so they start reading is a little tricky… I'm experimenting with using videos to show some interactions that solve larger UX issues.

    1 point
    • Dennis Eusebio, 7 years ago

      That's one con I've heard from others. They're hard to scan and get a general sense of what's going on. I've been sketching some ideas around breaking up "projects" into a timeline / feed setup but it still needs some work.

      0 points
    • Dennis KramerDennis Kramer, 7 years ago

      In that realm, I've really enjoyed how http://hoverstat.es handles this, showing quick clips that showcase primary functionality and experience. This probably doesn't reveal with a ton of clarity the "problems" that were solved, but it does give a bite-size reveal of a site as a useable product and not as visual eye-candy.

      Something like that could be a good hook to peak interest, followed by a more in-depth case study.

      1 point
  • Foobar YeahFoobar Yeah, 7 years ago

    Its a slightly different scenario. But, if you go to an interview or want to work for an specific company you like, finding a problem they have in their app/whatever and presenting a solution is killer. You show that you already know the company, got the skills and are super interested. It also shows you like to take action by doing, not only talking.

    1 point
  • Justin EdmundJustin Edmund, 7 years ago

    How I approach the problem.

    Works pretty well for me. My design work is much deeper than just shiny pixels, and this format has worked well for displaying that. It's not without its faults though.

    Also, I'm hoping to re-think how portfolios are thought about and crafted with my project, Foundation, and I think that the way we think about portfolios is going to sync up with how you do.

    1 point
  • Meng ToMeng To, 7 years ago

    The most common question I get asked in an interview is: What is your design process like? Make sure that your portfolio does a good job at explaining that. :)

    Also, make sure to show only the best, most recent work. Ideally, they're design work that have been implemented and live.

    0 points
  • Joshua ButnerJoshua Butner, 7 years ago

    I'd have to 100% agree with Manik. Case studies are the way to go to communicate optimal detail to potential employers.

    0 points