UX Case Studies

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What are UX Case Studies?

UX case studies are examples of design work which designers include in their portfolio. To give recruiters vital insights, designers tell compelling stories in text and images to show how they handled problems. Such narratives showcase designers’ skills and ways of thinking and maximize their appeal as potential hires.

Every great design begins with an even better story.”

— Lorinda Mamo, Designer and creative director

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Discover why it’s important to tell a story in your case studies.

How to Approach UX Case Studies

Recruiters want candidates who can communicate through designs and explain themselves clearly and appealingly. While skimming UX portfolios, they’ll typically decide within 5 minutes if you’re a fit. So, you should boost your portfolio with 2–3 case studies of your work process containing your best copywriting and captivating visual aids. You persuade recruiters by showing your skillset, thought processes, choices and actions in context through engaging, image-supported stories.

Before selecting a project for a case study, you should get your employer’s/client’s permission – whether you’ve signed a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) or not.

Then, consider Greek philosopher Aristotle’s storytelling elements and work with these in mind when you start building your case studies:

  1. Plot – The career-related aspect of yourself you want to highlight. This should be consistent across your case studies for the exact role. So, if you want to land a job as a UX researcher, focus on the skills relevant to that in your case studies.

  2. Character – Your expertise in applying industry standards and working in teams.

  3. Theme – Goals, motivations and obstacles in your project.

  4. Diction – A friendly, professional tone in jargon-free plain English.

  5. Melody – Your passion—for instance, as a designer, where you prove it’s a life interest as opposed to something you just clock on and off at for a job.

  6. Décor – A balance of engaging text and images.

  7. Spectacle – The plot twist/wow factor—e.g., a surprise discovery. Obviously, you can only include this if you had a surprise discovery in your case study.

All good stories have a beginning, a middle and an end.

© Interaction Design Foundation. CC BY-NC-SA 3.0.

How to Build UX Case Studies

You want an active story with a beginning, middle and end – never a flat report. So, you’d write, e.g., “We found…”, not “It was found…”. You should anonymize information to protect your employer’s/client’s confidential data (by changing figures to percentages, removing unnecessary details, etc.).

You can use German novelist-playwright Gustav Freytag’s 5-part pyramid:

  1. Expositionthe introduction (4–5 sentences). Describe your:

    1. Problem statementInclude your motivations and thoughts/feelings about the problem.

    2. Your solution – Outline your approach. Hint at the outcome by describing your deliverables/final output.

    3. Your role – Explain how your professional identity matched the project.

Stages 2–4 form the middle (more than 5 sentences). Summarize the process and highlight your decisions:

  1. Rising action – Outline some obstacles/constraints (e.g., budget) to build conflict and explain your design process (e.g., design thinking). Describe how you used, e.g., qualitative research to progress to 1 or 2 key moments of climax.

  2. Climax – Highlight this, your story’s apex, with an intriguing factor (e.g., unexpected challenges). Choose only the most important bits to tighten narrative and build intrigue.

  3. Falling action – Show how you combined your user insights, ideas and decisions to guide your project’s final iterations. Explain how, e.g., usability testing helped you/your team shape the final product.

Stage 5 is the conclusion:

  1. Resolution(4–5 sentences). Showcase your end results as how your work achieved its business-oriented goal and what you learned. Refer to the motivations and problems you described earlier to bring your story to an impressive close.

Overall, you should:

  • Tell a design story that progresses meaningfully and smoothly.

  • Tighten/rearrange your account into a linear, straightforward narrative.

  • Reinforce each “what” you introduce with a “how” and “why”.

  • Support text with the most appropriate visuals (e.g., screenshots of the final product, wireframing, user personas, flowcharts, customer journey maps, Post-it notes from brainstorming). Use software (e.g., Canva, Illustrator) to customize good-looking visuals that help tell your story.

  • Balance “I” with “we” to acknowledge team-members’ contributions and shared victories/setbacks.

  • Make your case study scannable – E.g., Use headings as signposts.

  • Remove anything that doesn’t help explain your thought process or advance the story.

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In the video, Michal Malewicz, Creative Director and CEO of Hype4, has some tips for writing great case studies.

Typical dramatic structure consists of an exposition and resolution with rising action, climax and falling action in between.

© Interaction Design Foundation. CC BY-NC-SA 3.0.

Remember, hirers want to quickly spot the value of what you did—e.g., research findings—and feel engaged every step of the way. They’ll evaluate how you might fit their culture. Use the right tone to balance your passion and logic in portraying yourself as a trustworthy team player. Sometimes, you may have to explain why your project didn’t work out ideally. The interaction design process is iterative, so include any follow-up actions you took/would take. Your UX case studies should project the thoughts, feelings and actions that define how you can shape future designs and create value for business.

Learn More about UX Case Studies

Take our UX Portfolio course to see how to craft powerful UX case studies.

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UX designer and entrepreneur Sarah Doody offers eye-opening advice about UX case studies.

Learn what can go wrong in UX case studies.

See fine examples of UX case studies.

Questions related to UX Case Studies

What is in a UX case study?

A UX case study showcases a designer's process in solving a specific design problem. It includes a problem statement, the designer's role, and the solution approach. The case study details the challenges and methods used to overcome them. It highlights critical decisions and their impact on the project.

The narrative often contains visuals like wireframes or user flowcharts. These elements demonstrate the designer's skills and thought process. The goal is to show potential employers or clients the value the designer can bring to a team or project. This storytelling approach helps the designer stand out in the industry.

To further illustrate this, consider watching this insightful video on the role of UX design in AI projects. It emphasizes the importance of credibility and user trust in technology. 

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What are some good UX case study examples?

Consider these three detailed UX/UI case studies:

  • Travel UX & UI Case Study: This case study examines a travel-related project. It emphasizes user experience and interface design. It also provides insights into the practical application of UX/UI design in the travel industry.

  • HAVEN — UX/UI Case Study: This explores the design of a fictional safety and emergency assistance app, HAVEN. The study highlights user empowerment, interaction, and interface design. It also talks about the importance of accessibility and inclusivity. 

  • UX Case Study — Whiskers: This case study discusses a fictional pet care mobile app, Whiskers. It focuses on the unique needs of pet care users. It shows the user journey, visual design, and integration of community and social features.

How to write a UX case study?

Writing a UX case study involves several key steps:

  • Identify a project you have worked on. Describe the problem you addressed.

  • Detail your role in the project and the specific actions you took.

  • Explain your design process, including research, ideation, and user testing.

  • Highlight key challenges and how you overcame them.

  • Showcase the final design through visuals like screenshots or prototypes. This video discusses why you should include visuals in your UX case study/portfolio.

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  • Reflect on the project's impact and any lessons learned.

  • Conclude with the outcomes. Showcase the value you provided.

A well-written case study tells a compelling story of your design journey. It shows your skills and thought process.

What is a case study in UI UX?

A case study in UI/UX is a detailed account of a design project. It describes a designer's process to solve a user interface or user experience problem. The case study includes

  • The project's background and the problem it addresses.

  • The designer's role and the steps they took.

  • Methods used for research and testing.

  • Challenges faced and how the designer overcame them.

  • The final design solutions with visual examples.

  • Results and impact of the design on users or the business.

This case study showcases a designer’s skills, decision-making process, and ability to solve real-world problems.

What is a UX writing case study?

A UX writing case study focuses on the role of language in user experience design. It includes:

  • The project's background and the specific language-related challenges.

  • The UX writer's role and the strategies they employed.

  • How did they create the text for interfaces, like buttons or error messages?

  • Research and testing methods used to refine the language.

  • Challenges encountered and solutions developed.

  • The final text and its impact on user experience and engagement.

  • Outcomes that show how the right words improved the product's usability.

You can find professionals with diverse backgrounds in this field and their unique approaches to UX writing. Torrey Podmakersky discusses varied paths into UX writing careers through his video. 

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How do you plan a case study for UX?

Planning a case study for UX involves several steps: 

  • First, select a meaningful project that showcases your skills and problem-solving abilities. Gather all relevant information, including project goals, user research data, and design processes used. 

  • Next, outline the structure of your case study. This should include the problem you addressed, your role, the design process, and the outcomes. 

  • Ensure to detail the challenges faced and how you overcame them. 

  • To strengthen your narrative, incorporate visuals like wireframes, prototypes, and user feedback

  • Finally, reflect on the project's impact and what you learned. 

This careful planning helps you create a comprehensive and engaging case study.

How do you present a UX research case study?

Presenting a UX research case study involves clear organization and storytelling. 

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Here are eight guidelines:

  1. Introduction: Start with a brief overview of the project, including its objectives and the key research question.

  2. Background: Provide context about the company, product, or service. Explain why you did the research. 

  3. Methodology: Detail the research methods, like surveys, interviews, or usability testing. 

  4. Findings: Present the key findings from your research. Use visuals like charts or user quotes to better present the data. 

  5. Challenges and Solutions: Discuss any obstacles encountered during the research and how you addressed them.

  6. Implications: Explain how your findings impacted the design or product strategy.

  7. Conclusion: Summarize the main points and reflect on what you learned from the project.

  8. Appendix (if necessary): Include any additional data or materials that support your case study.

What are UX case studies for beginners?

UX case studies for beginners demonstrate the fundamentals of user experience design. They include:

  • A defined problem statement to clarify the user experience issue.

  • Descriptions of research methods used for understanding user needs and behaviors.

  • Steps of the design process, showing solution development. The 5 Stages in the Design Thinking Process illustrate these steps in detail. 

  • Visual elements, such as sketches, wireframes, or prototypes, illustrate the design stages.

  • The final design solution emphasizes its impact on user experience.

  • Reflections on the project's outcomes and lessons learned.

These case studies guide beginners through the essential steps and considerations in UX design projects. Consider watching this video on How to Write Great Case Studies for Your UX Design Portfolio to improve your case studies.

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Where to learn more about UX case studies?

To learn more about UX case studies, two excellent resources are available:

  • Article on Structuring a UX Case Study: This insightful article explains how to craft a compelling case study. It emphasizes storytelling and the strategic thinking behind UX design, guided by expert opinions and industry insights.

  • User Experience: The Beginner's Guide Course by the Interaction Design Foundation: This comprehensive course offers a broad introduction to UX design. It covers UX principles, tools, and methods. The course provides practical exercises and industry-recognized certification. This course is valuable for aspiring designers and professionals transitioning to UX.

These resources provide both theoretical knowledge and practical application in UX design.

Literature on UX Case Studies

Here’s the entire UX literature on UX Case Studies by the Interaction Design Foundation, collated in one place:

Learn more about UX Case Studies

Take a deep dive into UX Case Studies with our course How to Create a UX Portfolio .

Did you know the average UX recruiter spends less than 5 minutes skimming through your UX portfolio? If you want to join the growing and well-paid field of UX design, not only do you need a UX portfolio—you’ll need a great UX portfolio that showcases relevant skills and knowledge. Your UX portfolio will help you get your first job interviews and freelance clients, and it will also force you to stay relevant in your UX career. In other words, no matter what point you’re at in your UX career, you’re going to need a UX portfolio that’s in tip-top condition.

So, how do you build an enticing UX portfolio, especially if you’ve got no prior experience in UX design? Well, that’s exactly what you’ll learn in this course! You’ll cover everything so you can start from zero and end up with an incredible UX portfolio. For example, you’ll walk through the various UX job roles, since you can’t begin to create your portfolio without first understanding which job role you want to apply for! You’ll also learn how to create your first case studies for your portfolio even if you have no prior UX design work experience. You’ll even learn how to navigate non-disclosure agreements and create visuals for your UX case studies.

By the end of this practical, how to oriented course, you’ll have the skills needed to create your personal online UX portfolio site and PDF UX portfolio. You’ll receive tips and insights from recruiters and global UX design leads from SAP, Oracle and Google to give you an edge over your fellow candidates. You’ll learn how to craft your UX case studies so they’re compelling and relevant, and you’ll also learn how to engage recruiters through the use of Freytag’s dramatic structure and 8 killer tips to write effectively. What’s more, you’ll get to download and keep more than 10 useful templates and samples that will guide you closely as you craft your UX portfolio. To sum it up, if you want to create a UX portfolio and land your first job in the industry, this is the course for you!

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