If you’re reading this, you’ve probably already created your UX design portfolio—or at least, you plan to create one soon. Well, what comes after you’ve created your UX portfolio? Just like an iterative design process, your UX portfolio doesn’t really have an end point. Whether you’re out looking for a new UX job, working on a design proposal, preparing for job interviews or not yet looking for a change in your career, here are some ways you can make full use of your UX design portfolio.
When You Apply for a Job: Tailor Your UX Portfolio to the Role
Before you apply to job openings, make sure your UX design portfolio matches your prospective UX role. Select UX case studies that showcase skills relevant to your new job role. For instance, if you will apply for UX researcher roles, then your UX design portfolio should contain case studies about UX research.
If you have an online UX portfolio (and we strongly suggest that you do), then you should check if it contains the most relevant case studies before you send its link to recruiters. Ditto for your in-depth PDF UX portfolio, which you could even tailor to every company you apply for (you’ll have to judge if the time required to do so is worth it).
What if you want to apply for more than one job role—for instance, both a generalist UX designer and a specialist UX researcher role? In that case, your online UX portfolio should contain case studies that work equally well for both types of roles. Of course, this means it will be more “diluted” since some of your case studies might be geared towards one job role, but it’s the best you can do for a one-size-fits-all online UX portfolio. However, you may create two PDF UX portfolios that cater to the different job roles you want to apply for—in this case, that’s one PDF portfolio specifically for the “UX designer” role and another for the “UX researcher” role.
In Your Job Interviews: Ask for Feedback
Put on your designer hat during your interviews. This not only means that you should answer your interview questions through the mindset of a designer, but also that you should take the opportunity to ask for feedback on your UX portfolio. After all, your UX design portfolio is a product, and user feedback will help you improve it.
Ask for feedback on your portfolio towards the end of the interview, where recruiters would usually ask if you have any questions for them. Find out what stood out in both the good and bad senses. This also helps create a good last impression because it shows your willingness to receive critique and improve.
Go Through Your UX Case Studies from Time to Time
Even if you’re not actively looking to make a change in your UX career, it’s important that you regularly update your UX case studies. Set a reminder every 6–12 months to make sure your UX portfolio stays fresh all the time. You never know when you’ll need your portfolio, so it’s always good to keep it updated!
Look through your case studies to see if you could improve them. Have you clearly explained your problem-solving approach? Do you have new results you could share about the project? On top of that, see if you have new projects that you could turn into case studies.
When you do so, you’ll also reflect on which skills you possess and love using. This way, creating new case studies is an essential activity to help you stay focused on new skills you develop as well as which work processes you favor over others, and for which reasons. Reflections such as these are key in growing your skills further and in understanding your different passions in UX—that’s how you constantly grow to become a better designer.
Check that your UX case studies reflect who you are as a designer today as well as the direction you want to head in. This way, your efforts to maintain your case studies will also help you sharpen your focus on your career path.
The Take Away
It’s not the end point after you’ve created your UX portfolio—in fact, there are ways and things to do that help you take full advantage of your asset. First, before you apply for a new job, update your UX portfolio to make sure that it’s perfectly relevant to the job role or even company. Next, during your interviews, ask your recruiters for feedback on your portfolio. This way, you’ll get valuable user insights that can help you make your portfolio even better. Lastly, even when you’re not looking for a career change, put in the effort to regularly update your UX portfolio. You never know when you’ll need to use it; doing so will help sharpen your focus on your career path.
References and Where to Learn More
Hero image: © Teo Yu Siang and Interaction Design Foundation, CC BY-NC-SA 3.0.