How to Create the Perfect UX Portfolio | Hacker Noon

Quite often, beginning designers contact me on Instagram asking:

“How can I become a UX designer? I spend a lot of time studying theory, I have a portfolio, but HR tells me they are not ready to work together. “

I am very sorry that so many people cannot find their dream job. Today, we will analyze the main mistakes when creating a UX portfolio. I’ll ask you the same questions that I ask the guys on Instagram, and you are going to try to provide honest answers to these questions. Based on your answers, you will be able to create a high-quality portfolio that will help you get your dream job.

Let’s start with a few questions:

1. What is the purpose of your portfolio?

Your portfolio is bait. The main goal is to get the recruiter interested in responding to your work and seeing you as a prospective job candidate.

2. What role do you play in the company?

Your portfolio should clearly reflect your role in the company. Before creating a portfolio, define your role: UX designer, UI designer, UX / UI designer, UX Researcher, or Product Designer. After choosing a role, list the main responsibilities and try to cover them in your portfolio.

3. What is your work experience and do you have any finished projects?

If you have only a couple of projects that correspond to your role – rather start creating cases, if they don’t exist – find yourself a project. Through your projects, you can show what kind of specialist you are, what you can do and how you think.

How to find a project: 

1. Case Study. You can come up with a project to work on yourself.

  • It can be an online grocery store or a mobile application for calculating the calories of food consumed per day.
  • Also, you can offer your services to acquaintances or friends who have a business, but still do not have a website.
  • The third option could be a website redesign. Find a site or application that you use often, but you do not like the user experience, go through all the necessary processes for your role and show the results in a case study. 

2. Volunteering. You can find an organization that needs UX / UI design services and offer your help. As a result, you will have a real case and experience of working in a team.

Take part in the Creative Challenge, for example, on Behance. This type of work can help to create a diverse portfolio, plus develop your ability to quickly solve problems.

Does your portfolio meet the goals of recruiters?

Getting familiar with your portfolio, a recruiter often needs to get answers to the following questions:

  1. Who is it? What is the specialist’s experience?
  2. What knowledge does a specialist have and what value can they bring to our company?
  3. How does this person work and how do they think? How does a designer approach problems and their solutions? Will your team be comfortable working with this person and will they be comfortable with you?

Ask yourself these questions and then, try to honestly answer them. If your portfolio cannot provide clear answers for a recruiter, let’s move on to the next point of our conversation and analyze the basic requirements for a perfect UX portfolio, how to create it and how to improve it. 

What a UX portfolio should consist of

 1. It should answer the above questions for recruiters. 

I want to note that if recruiters are looking for a specialist for a junior or trainee position, then they often understand that candidates may lack certain skills that can only be acquired through practice on real projects.

2. Your UX portfolio should clearly reflect your skills for the job that you are applying for.

Don’t only show beautiful pixel perfect prototypes, illustrations, color and icons in your work, but tell us a little about the processes that you carried out during the project: briefing, audience interviews, competitor comparison, and creation of wireframes or low-fidelity prototypes, usability testing, card sorting, metrics measuring and so on. 

3. Ideally, your portfolio should consist of 3-5 cases, and they should not be outdated, for example, the last case is from 5 years ago. Try to upload new projects, and if you have signed an NDA agreement, you can start creating a design for your personal project.

4. Add a narrative. Your portfolio should include:

  • Introduction, where you acquaint the recruiter with the project, telling what kind of case it was, why it was created, what were the deadlines, how many designers were on the project, what part of the design you were responsible for and what problems you needed to solve. 
  • The main part – show the work process, what happened before, what happened after. It will be interesting to see your interview results, problem-solving, preimstorms, information architecture, and wireframes and, of course, pixel perfect design. Think about which insights were more useful to you and add them to your work.
  • Completion. Tell us what happened in the end. What you have learned.

5. Be honest, don’t exaggerate or underestimate your achievements.

Even if the project was eventually not released to the world for some reason, tell us about your work. Of course, not only the process is important, but the outcome of the work itself. But you are not alone on the project, there is also a whole team, and each team member has his own area of ​​responsibility. There are many reasons why a design may not be implemented and released into the real world, and this does not mean that you need to either lie about it, or not add cases of this project at all.

Common mistakes

  1. Some designers want to move into UX design using portfolios from another field, such as graphic design. Don’t do that. You need to show the recruiter the skills relevant to the job
  2. Try to update and add new ones whenever possible. Do not expect to be offered a job if you have sent cases from 10 years ago.
  3. Add descriptions to your projects. Pictures alone cannot provide a complete picture of a candidate.
  4. Before uploading your work to your portfolio, ask your employer for permission. You need to be clear about what you can show and what classified information is.
  5. Add cases not only when you decide to change jobs. It often happens that a designer has decided to leave the company and starts adding works in the hope of finding a job within 2-3 months. But the registration of cases can take a lot of time, and then you run the risk of staying at your current place of work much longer than planned. Therefore, it is better to think ahead and add works as soon as they are ready.

In addition

Remember, your UX design portfolio should have a specific goal of getting the recruiter’s attention to contact you. Let your portfolio speak for you and show what kind of specialist you are. Write about the creation of the project, your role in the project, what you wanted to achieve, what metrics were measured, how you created the design and what conclusions you drew from the project. Get to work soon and I wish everyone eventually gets their dream jobs.


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