UX Portfolios

Your constantly-updated definition of UX Portfolios and collection of videos and articles

What are UX Portfolios?

Designers use a UX portfolio to showcase their skills and knowledge to get hired. It contains case studies of past projects that demonstrate what they have done and how they work. A UX portfolio also helps them stay current in their careers, as designers must evaluate whether recent projects are noteworthy.

“Any sloppiness in the design of the [UX design portfolio], independent of the design of the artifacts that you’ve produced, tells the hiring manager a lot about you.”

—Daniel Rosenberg, Global UX executive

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Stephen Gay, Design Lead for Google’s Adwords Display & Apps Team, explains that portfolios should present what you’ve worked on and how you work.

UX Portfolios—Portray, Promote, Precisely

For UX designers, the portfolio is where you weave a story. It goes beyond pixels and wireframes, showing the problems solved and delighted users. It's where you put your abilities on display and prove why you are the right choice for that dream job or project.

A graphic representing the benefits of a UX Portfolio, highlighting its role in securing job interviews, obtaining side projects, and staying current.

© Interaction Design Foundation, CC BY-SA 4.0

User experience (UX) design portfolios are essential:

  1. Bait—To get recruiters/clients interested in potentially hiring you through your UX case studies, etc.

  2. Compasses—For designers to stay current with periodic updates and decide how to advance.

Your UX portfolio should explain your achievements and showcase what you can do. Where a cover letter can typically give recruiters their first impression, your portfolio can, too; it’s where you provide concrete evidence to portray yourself as a strong candidate. Within five minutes, they’ll decide if you’re worth a phone screener/face-to-face interview from seeing:

  1. Who you are—What your background is and what drives you.

  2. What you can do—This varies with the seniority of UX roles, etc.

  3. How you think and work—To understand how you approach problems and work with others.

What Makes a UX Portfolio Stand Out?

So, how do you ensure your portfolio stands out from the crowd? Here are some tips and tricks to create the best portfolio.

An infographic suggesting ten tips for creating a great UX portfolio.

© Interaction Design Foundation, CC BY-SA 4.0

1. Tell a Story

Each project in your UX designer portfolio should be like a story. It should have a beginning, middle, and end. Start with an introduction that outlines your journey and years of experience. It sets the stage for what readers can expect to discover. In the middle, describe all your activities as a UX designer to meet the business needs. Explain how you used your design skills to solve problems and create solutions. Summarize by mentioning the outcome and results of your work. Also, show off the designs and solutions you created.  

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Learn the importance of storytelling while designing your UX portfolio. 

2. Structure and Formatting

Use clear, concise language and visual hierarchy to entice your audience. Use descriptive headings and subheadings to guide your audience. Try to make it easy for readers to follow your thought process and design.

3. Quality over Quantity

Be discerning when you choose the projects to include in your portfolio. Focus on quality over quantity. Select projects that best reflect the breadth and depth of your expertise. Explain why you choose each project and how they show your skills and versatility as a UX designer. 

Highlight the results and the challenges you faced in each project. Clearly articulate how your work impacts users and helps achieve business objectives.

4. Usability and Accessibility

Focus on usability and accessibility is fundamental in UX design. So, you must express your commitment to making designs inclusive for everyone. It involves crafting solutions that not only meet but exceed user expectations. The core aim is to create designs that focus on users’ needs and behaviors and provide user satisfaction. You can also discuss how you integrated accessibility features into your designs. Such specific examples of how your designs accommodated diverse user needs, showcasing your skills.

5. User-Centered Design

At the core of UX design is the user-centered design approach. Describe the methods and techniques you use for user research and insight gathering. Provide comparisons to show the direct influence of user feedback on your design. Explain how you use personas, user stories, or empathy maps to guide your design process. At the same time, ensure your audience understands the foundation of your work.

Explore the nuances of user-centered design in this video by Don Norman (also credited as the father of UX)

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6. Communication and Collaboration 

Collaboration and effective communication are vital skills in UX design. Use your UX designer portfolio to highlight your ability to work within a team. Provide examples where you worked with other designers, developers, or project managers. Detail how you communicated with stakeholders and ensured to meet their requirements.

7. Feedback and Testimonials

Incorporate feedback and testimonials in your UX designer portfolio and their sources. Summarize the impact of your work on users and the business using these testimonials. You can also enhance the look of your portfolio through visuals. Additionally, you can show real-world validation and add credibility through user feedback. This makes your portfolio stronger and more trustworthy.

8. Beyond the Process

Most designers share their design thinking process in their UX portfolios. While this is essential, it can make portfolios monotonous. To make your portfolio stand out, provide a breakdown of your work. Start from the research and user testing stages to wireframes and design iterations. Include samples of research reports, sketches, wireframes, and design prototypes. The goal is to show your audience how you approach UX design, leaving no room for ambiguity.

9. Personal Brand and Style

Your personal brand should be evident in your portfolio without compromising professionalism. The idea is to share how your personality shines through in your work, creating a personal connection. Infusing your personality into your portfolio makes it more engaging and memorable.

Learn how to brand yourself as a UX professional and create your brand in this video. 

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10. Quantify Success

If you can showcase quantifiable results that show the impact of your UX design work, that will be an additional bonus. You can include statistics related to user engagement, conversion rates, or other KPIs that reflect the success of your projects. Visual comparisons that show the transformation your designs brought about are effective for the same.

Let’s move on to the different types of portfolios. Essentially, there are two portfolio types: online (to keep on your personal website) and static (to send to interested recruiters). Let's study how to make each one in detail. 

How to Make an Online UX Portfolio?

You can use a readymade solution (e.g., Squarespace) or code yourself. Essential guidelines are:

  1. Impress with a concise introduction (1–3 sentences)—Show your name and current (or desired) role in a conversational tone.

  2. Choose the best, most relevant 2–3 case studies for your desired role.

  3. Make it usable:

    1. Ensure optimal navigation.

    2. Design proper affordances—E.g., make sure you underline links and have a different color.

    3. Maximize color contrast and readability—E.g., use WebAIM’s color contrast checker.

  4. Create an About Page/Section with more information—To describe your background and motivations, include

    1. Finer details (e.g., hobbies).

    2. Your relevant work history and educational background.

    3. Carefully curated social media links to your professional profile/s (e.g., LinkedIn).

  5. Put side projects on a different page/section—To keep the recruiter’s focus on your case studies and use them as supporting evidence of your passion.

  6. Make it look visually pleasing and consistent.

  7. Keep it simple—Make it sufficient to work well now; improve it later.

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How to Make a Static (PDF) UX Portfolio?

To provide deeper, customized insights:

  1. Begin with a tool you know well (e.g., Keynote).

  2. Build your sections:

    1. Cover page—Make a fantastic first impression

    2. About section—Introduce yourself in 3–4 sentences.

    3. A note on non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) and confidentiality—E.g., include a page explaining you’ve masked some information. You can request that the recruiter not share your PDF portfolio.

    4. 3 UX case studies—Each being several pages, depending on the need for detail—usually longer than online versions. Keep these manageable and relevant.

    5. Final page with contact details—And perhaps a short thank-you note.

  3. Tailor it to the exact job role.

  4. Make it usable—E.g., readable text.

  5. Make it visually appealing and consistent regarding font, color theme, etc.—Use PowerPoint/Keynote templates.

  6. Reduce file size for download speeds—E.g., Use TinyPNG.

  7. Export to PDF and upload somewhere accessible to quickly share a link.

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Check out the video for guidance on choosing a static or online portfolio.

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Effective UX portfolios show how organizations can benefit from working with a skilled, proactive, team-oriented designer like you. You should always complement your best text with appropriate visuals and review your portfolio every 6–12 months. Add a tailored UX cover letter/email and resume to support your portfolio. If you request feedback at interviews, you can use it to help perfect what future recruiters/clients see.

A graphic showcasing the difference between online portfolios and static PDF portfolios.

© Interaction Design Foundation, CC BY-SA 4.0

UX Designer Portfolio Best Practices

Want to transform your portfolio into a powerful asset? Explore UX designer portfolio best practices to help you showcase your work effectively.

1. Strategic Project Selection

When selecting projects for your portfolio, aim for a diverse set demonstrating your versatility as a UX designer. This might include projects in various industries or with different target audiences. It's always better to delve into a few key projects than to provide a superficial overview of many.

2. Showcase Your Problem-solving Approach

Define the problems you tackled in each project. Contextualize the challenges you faced, helping readers understand the significance of your work. You can also use visuals, like personas or customer journey maps, to visually represent your approach.

3. Be To the Point

Keep your UX portfolio concise. A focused portfolio makes it easier for employers or clients to understand your skills quickly. Use strong copywriting to showcase your talent clearly and place essential messages first. 

4. Highlight Your Collaboration Skills

Acknowledge how you contribute as a team member. The key here is finding the right balance. Don't make it all about yourself, but don't downplay your teammates. Show that you're a good collaborator.

5. Continuous Learning and Development

Showcase your dedication to ongoing learning by including details about certifications, courses, or workshops you've attended. This demonstrates your commitment to staying up to date. Explain how these learnings have influenced your approach to UX design and impacted the outcomes of your projects. This highlights your commitment to growth and the practical benefits of your continued education.

Learn More about UX Portfolios

To learn how to create online and PDF UX portfolios, take our UX Portfolio course.

Learn the importance of having visuals in this video by Michal Malewicz, Creative Director and CEO of Hype4.

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Find tips, insights, and examples of UX portfolios.

Discover the best UX portfolio website builders

Discover some additional points and examples of UX portfolios.

Questions related to UX Portfolios

What is a UX Design portfolio?

A UX Design Portfolio is a curated collection of designers' best work. It showcases their skills, processes, and creativity in UX design. It also includes case studies of projects, wireframes, interactive prototypes, and user research findings. A well-crafted UX designer portfolio shows a designer's abilities and can take the form of various formats, such as a personal website, PDF document, or online design platforms. Hence, it allows potential employers to assess their expertise and suitability for UX design roles.

How to build a UX portfolio with no experience?

Building a UX portfolio without prior experience involves several steps: 

  • Start with personal projects or redesign existing apps/websites to gain hands-on experience. 

  • Document your process, including research, wireframes, and user testing. Create case studies to showcase your work. 

  • Volunteer or do freelance projects to expand your portfolio. 

  • Finally, seek feedback and iterate on your portfolio. 

  • You can also highlight transferable skills, such as problem-solving, to show your potential.

Read this article for handy tips to make your portfolio stand out

Do UX researchers (also) need a portfolio?

UX researchers can benefit from having a portfolio. However, the nature and content of their portfolios may differ from those of UX designers. As they focus on gathering and analyzing user data, they can showcase their methodologies, insights, documenting processes, and the impact of their work. Plus, the portfolio can show its value to the research process. It can help them stand out in the job market and communicate their ability to drive user-centered decision-making.

Learn more about UX research and different data collection methods with Ann Blandford in this video.

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What should a UX portfolio include?

A strong UX portfolio should include a variety of projects with detailed case studies. Each case study should cover project goals, research methods, the design process, challenges, and outcomes. It should also showcase your visual design skills with high-quality mockups and wireframes. However, remember that the quality of your work and the way you present it in your portfolio are crucial. Make sure each case study tells a compelling story of your design process, problem-solving skills, and the impact of your work on user experiences.

What do recruiters look for in a UX portfolio?

Recruiters and hiring managers have very limited time to review a portfolio. To ensure that yours captures their attention, here are five key strategies to make your portfolio shine: 

1. Craft a portfolio that speaks to the priorities and objectives of the recruiter’s organization. 

2. Keep it simple and scannable.

3. Outline your process and impact.

4. When choosing which design projects to display, you’ll want to tailor your project choices based on your career goals. 

5. Tell a story with your portfolio case studies. 

What do AI-powered screening tools look for in UX Portfolio?

When an AI-based screening tool evaluates a UX portfolio, it looks for several key elements that show the designer's skills and expertise. These elements include:

  • A user-centered design approach

  • Problem-solving skills

  • A well-defined design process

  • Visual design skills

  • Interaction design abilities

  • Collaboration and communication skills

  • Measurable results and impact. 

It is important to note that while an AI can evaluate certain aspects of a UX portfolio, human reviewers also play a crucial role. They can provide valuable insights and subjective feedback.

Literature on UX Portfolios

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

Learn more about UX Portfolios

Take a deep dive into UX Portfolios 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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