Creating a UX writing portfolio is not as easy as it is for other forms of writing. The reason is simple, UX writers do not work in a vacuum. They work as part of a team, working on projects that require different departments and different processes.
Thus, separating their part of the work to use for their portfolio may not be easy. UX writers work with UX designers. So, most times, their work is dependent on the designs created by UX designers.
For example, a content writer can decide to write on random topics and create a portfolio out of them. But for a UX writer, your writing is part of a design process.
You are writing microcopy on buttons, error messages for a product, alert buttons, onboarding instructions, user interface text, product guide for users, etc. Thus, your options in creating a portfolio seem to depend on working with a UX designer, which might not come too often especially if you are an upstart in the field.
The truth is the process of creating a portfolio for a UX writer becomes more taxing when you are a beginner in the field. Portfolios should show your skills, experience, and expertise, but how do you create that when you have no experience?
The gap between the beginner phase in any field and getting your first job is always a big hurdle to cross. You need portfolio samples to get a job. Yet you need a job to get those samples. The situations seem like a loop of confusion. But it doesn’t have to be. You can create a good portfolio, convince recruiters and land a good job.
In this article, I will share what a UX writing portfolio is, why you need one, and how you can create a good UX writing portfolio even if you have no experience.
What is a UX writing portfolio?
A UX writing portfolio is a collection of your work as a UX writer. It shows your skills and expertise through your work experiences. UX writers use their portfolios to display their work and describe their processes. A UX writing portfolio is usually posted online as part of web pages or as a sub-section of a site.
A UX writing portfolio often allows you to maintain your relevance as a UX writer. It also creates chances of landing gigs with potential clients if you are a freelancer. Most of all, it is proven to convince employers to hire you through your UX writing case studies.
UX writing portfolios are not a replacement for your CV and cover letters. CV and cover letters give a general overview of where you have worked and your contribution in those places, in summary. But your portfolio explains the processes of the details in your CV and cover letter.
Your portfolio might sometimes make a better first impression on a hiring manager than a cover letter does. It is where you offer verifiable evidence that you are a strong and qualified candidate. Then, recruiters will decide to interview you if your portfolio interests them. UX writing portfolios, in a nutshell, outline your accomplishments and highlight your abilities. It is where potential clients or employers can contact you after knowing more about you and your qualifications.
What should be in a UX writing portfolio?
Before creating your UX writing portfolio, you need to realize that your portfolio is not a detail of everything that happens in the UX design process. Your portfolio is different from that of designers.
UX designers concentrate on creating wireframes, prototypes, and screen designs, therefore their portfolios highlight the visual workflow and end product of their work. The research and usability testing can still make their work more visually appealing. They employ UI terms rather than creating a design.
For UX writers, instead of focusing on UI, prototypes, or customer journey maps, UX writing portfolio contains the written solutions you develop to solve design problems.
A portfolio is a UX problem, and a good UX writer is a problem-solver. You should employ innovative methods to address the issue of How should my work examples be presented? To do this, you must base your portfolio on a straightforward framework that presents you, illuminates your work approach, and motivates action.
These are the fundamental elements that should be in your UX writing portfolio.
1. A short biography
A brief biography can provide insightful information about your personality and working style. Remember that employers are looking for people who will fit within their team. So, for recruiters to know who you are and what you can accomplish for them, you should also summarize your skills.
Make an effort to draw attention to everything that can make you stand apart from other UX writers. That is also a plus for UX writers who possess technological know-how. You don’t need to write too much in this section. Write few lines, enough for employers to know the skills you have acquired over time.
2. Your contact information
Make it simple for prospective employers or clients to contact you if you want people to find you and possibilities to work with you.
As much as it is comfortable given how you intend to share your UX writing portfolio, including your basic contact information. Include your social media links along with your phone number and email. Place links to your LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook pages and all your contact details in prominent locations.
3. Work samples section
This is the reason for the portfolio. Your work samples should contain the best of your work. Make a collection of your copy. The button, error messages, screen instructions, onboarding instructions etc. You can display them as screenshots and include live links.
You can also represent your work with case studies. A case study provides insight into your creative process and thoroughly explains the project. To demonstrate what you can do to recruiters, case studies are preferable to posting screenshots of your work.
However, you need to be careful with your case studies. Your case study as a UX writer should not contain prototypes, wireframes, sketches, or layouts. Those are for a UX designer’s portfolio alone. Display only your process of creating the copy in your portfolio.
You can include your collaboration with user researchers to gain insights into users’ pain points. Explain how you came up with the words you use, and why you use those words. Those processes convince prospective employers about your collaboration skills and creative ability.
Smart tips on what to do before creating your first UX portfolio as a beginner
You need to be sure of how to create a portfolio before delving into it, so you might want to make some research before creating your first portfolio.
1. Search for the best UX writing portfolios
You can draw inspiration from other portfolios. Check how they structure their portfolios, pick an idea from what they did, and tweak it. Yuval Kestcher of the UX Writing Hub often shares articles on top UX writing portfolios. You can pay attention to other UX writers just starting like you, with limited experience. You should save these profiles for future inspiration and keep your attention on those samples for newbies like you.
If you focus too much on established writers' portfolios, you may not yet be ready to create your portfolio. You may start feeling the need to reach a particular height before you create your first portfolio. Instead, you should take inspiration from those profiles and move on with creating your portfolio.
2. Conduct industry research for the requirements of a UX writer
Knowing what other UX authors were doing when developing their portfolios might not be sufficient.
You must understand what employers and hiring managers expect of a UX writer. What is the average number of years of experience? Which skills do they require from a UX writer? Are there any special requirements for UX writing positions to which I could connect my experience? You might need to examine a couple of job descriptions to identify parallels.
3. Connect your previous experiences to your present career
You can find a way to connect the transferable skills from your previous career to UX writing. UX writing is about solving problems. So, you can relate your problem-solving approach in your previous career to how it would help or how it has helped you as a beginner in UX writing.
How to create a UX writing portfolio as a beginner with no experience
The most important thing about your portfolio is your samples or case studies. Case studies are from projects that you have worked on. It is hard to get case studies when you are just starting in the industry, but it is not impossible.
All you need to do is to look for various means of getting case studies. Do not wait for someone to come up with a project before you start working on one.
Here are some of the ways you can get projects to include in your UX writing portfolio
1. Participate in UX writing challenges or hackathons
Engage in UX writing challenges and hackathons to build your portfolio, Create UX content in those competitions, and network with UX specialists. Hackathons are multi-day design challenges that bring together developers, authors, and UX designers. Enter to create portfolio material, network, and pick the brains of more seasoned UX professionals.
Find local hackathons that match your degree online. There are daily writing UX writing challenges you can also join for a few days to build your UX writing portfolio.
2. Volunteer for projects
Look for free projects you can prove in your portfolio as big ones to take on. Ask to build websites or blogs for friends, start-ups, or, nonprofits. Speak with companies that lack the funds for UX writers or are unaware of what UX is, and let them know how you can help. By doing so, you can gain experience on actual projects and develop relationships with clients and businesses that can attest to your work.
Make it clear that you want to keep track of your work for a portfolio and that you are a beginner seeking experience. Consider applying remotely or online to internships in your area if you prefer a more leisurely learning environment.
You will gradually gain enough experience to successfully search for full-time employment or establish a freelance career.
3. Rewrite microcopy for existing products
A voluntary rewrite that you make of an existing service, or feature without any request from anyone, shows prospective employers how passionate you are about solving problems. Though, your solutions might not be implemented by the product owners because you are not working on behalf of a business or client. You do, however, get to work on an actual product to put your UX writing skills to use.
You must first locate the UX writing issue with the existing product before creating a rewrite. Consider the digital products you have used or the websites you visit frequently. Have you ever given up on an entire process because it was difficult to comprehend?
Once you start looking for those UX issues, you'll see them all around you. Select the one you feel like working on, then specify the project's parameters. This can look like “rewriting the log-in page, and error message copy for Twitter."
Consider this rewrite to be an actual UX project. Avoid the temptation to skimp; the goal is to use your skills as practically as you can., hire real people for tasks like user research and testing. Get familiar with the product you're redesigning by talking to friends and family or by posting ads in Facebook groups.
4. Leverage samples from other types of writing
Display your innate writing abilities to employers in any format. Create additional samples using anything you have, such as blog postings, magazine articles, or social media posts. Stick to just a few instances of your non-UX writing and divide it into editorial and copywriting categories. Briefly describe the background of your work.
Employers want to see how your mind works and your ability to think creatively and good writing is good writing. Professional UX writers frequently make the switch from other types of writing to their line of work.
How to make your UX writing portfolio impressive to recruiters
If you intend to get your first UX writing job soon, you must ensure your portfolio is impressive enough to get employers’ attention. These are some tips on how to do that.
1. Treat employers as your product users
Design your portfolio with employers in mind, much like you would a UX project. Use words that align with what employers are looking for, and treat them as the target audience for your project.
Look through job postings for UX writers and draw attention to the qualifications your portfolio closely matches. The need for applications, websites, or other platforms should be considered. Include and draw attention to the samples you have that are most pertinent to the potential job opportunity.
2. Explain your involvement in each case study
Explain how you found issues and fixed them in each case study. Use succinct titles that clearly state the projects' objectives ("Writing onboarding instructions for a Fintech app"), your contribution ("I created copy for 3 landing pages and 2 login screens," "The app had xxxx new logins 2 weeks after launch," etc.).
Describe the project's objective and timetable and any special difficulties or constraints you encountered to demonstrate your problem-solving abilities.
Explain your writing approach in detail so potential employers can see the thinking behind your decisions and tone.
Include a few phrases about what you learned if you want to demonstrate your dedication to professional development.
3. Explain your problem-solving approach
Share your approach to solving problems to demonstrate your flexibility. Prove to employers that you know the processes when coming up with solutions. These processes could include identifying problems, looking for solutions, planning and putting your ideas into practice, composing microcopy, and testing your ideas.
Include your process and the results for particular case studies in addition to the general section on the process.
4. Include testimonials from friends, colleagues, and clients
Testimonials create lasting impressions. Testimonials validate that you are worth the hype in your portfolio. Request testimonials as payment for the volunteer projects you did for your friends and colleagues.
Creating a UX portfolio when you have no experience requires taking strategic steps. Otherwise, you might find yourself in an unending loop of getting projects to create a portfolio and trying to create a portfolio to get projects. The strategic steps you need to take to come out of that loop have been explained in this article. Now, get to work and create that fantastic portfolio.