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UX Portfolios

Your constantly-updated definition of UX Portfolios and collection of topical content and literature

What are UX Portfolios?

UX portfolios are used by designers to showcase their skills and knowledge, to get hired. They contain case studies of past projects that demonstrate what they have done and how they work. UX portfolios also help designers 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

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

User experience (UX) design portfolios are essentially:

  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 also can; it’s where you provide the 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.

There are two portfolio types: online (to keep on your personal website) and static (to send to interested recruiters). Some tips are:

  • Keep to the point—Use strong copywriting to showcase your talent clearly and put important messages first.
  • Prove yourself—Show where and when you earned qualifications, including results. Likewise, show good UX practices: Everything you include must support your application.
  • Balance your tone—Portray a good fit for the work culture by framing your passion within the context of your:
    • Craft—You show you’re a highly skilled, self-confident, e.g., coder, and coding is something you’ve cultivated into a career through years of dedication.
    • and
    • Teamwork—You acknowledge how you contribute as a team member. This can be tricky; too much emphasis on yourself contributing to a team can still give an ego-centric impression because team members seem to be afterthoughts. Conversely, too much emphasis on the team (i.e., others in it) just looks insincere.
  • Focus on processYou should never represent yourself with a gallery of end-product screenshots. Instead, show how, e.g., you applied design thinking to solve a user need.

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 (13 sentences)Show your name and current (or desired) role in a conversational tone.
  2. Choose the best, most relevant 23 case studies for your desired role.
  3. Make it usable:
    1. Ensure optimal navigation.
    2. Design proper affordancesE.g., make sure links are underlined and have a different color.
    3. Maximize color contrast and readabilityE.g., use WebAIM’s color contrast checker.
  4. Create an About Page/Section with more informationTo 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/sectionTo keep the recruiter’s focus on your case studies and use as supporting evidence of your passion.
  6. Make it look visually pleasing and consistent.
  7. Create an MVP (minimally viable product)Make it sufficient to work well now; improve it later.

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 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 to somewhere accessible so you can easily share a link to it.

Effective UX portfolios are designs showing how organizations can benefit from working with a skilled, proactive, team-oriented designer such as you. You should always complement your best text with appropriate visuals and review your portfolio every 6–12 months. Always 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.

Learn More about UX Portfolios

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

Find tips, insights and examples of UX portfolios:

Discover some additional points and examples of UX portfolios:

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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