A UX portfolio is designed to show your work as a UX designer. It is your chance to demonstrate your skills and create a positive impression of your expertise to recruiters. Thus, it should contain well-defined case studies of design projects that you have done.
You’ll need to pay careful attention to details when writing these case studies to avoid mistakes that can jeopardize your chances of getting hired.
You should avoid two things in creating your portfolio; underselling yourself and not being thorough in your presentation. It would be best if you carefully design your UX portfolio. Else you fall into some pits while trying to create a good impression of yourself to recruiters. The first clarity you need is to know the information that should be in your UX portfolio.
Recruiters want to know how proficient you are. Your portfolio should provide details and showcase your knowledge, skills, and competencies.
What should be in a UX Portfolio
Since a UX portfolio is to showcase your skills, it is essential to include the information that will adequately define your personality as a UX designer. You must know that it is not another CV or cover letter; it is more than that.
Beyond a list of where you have worked and your role, a portfolio explains your work processes, the methods you used, your challenges, and how you overcame them. It is your chance to express how much you contributed to previous projects.
So, what are the things to include in your UX portfolio?
“About me” section
You stand a chance of impressing recruiters if you include an overview of all the projects in your portfolio. Sometimes, the recruiter might not have the luxury of time to go through all the case studies, but an overview will give them an idea of the projects you have done.
The overview can be as short as stating the project's name, the goal, your role, and the method you used to achieve the goal. It can help recruiters make quick decisions, or it could motivate them to check the case studies; either way, it is to your advantage.
It is also an indication that you consider your users, which are the recruiters in this case.
UX portfolios are to present your case studies. Case studies are examples of the designs you have created. You should have at least three to four case studies in your UX portfolio. One case study might not be enough to show all your skills and convince recruiters.
Case studies give employers an idea of how you think through a project. So, they must be detailed enough to showcase your problem-solving process for each design you have created.
You don't want to start making a UX profile without knowing how to write case studies because they are the main reason for creating your portfolio. So, how do you write case studies?
Related article: UX Design Careers to Pursue in 2022
How to write a case study for your design portfolio
Case studies are the main reason for creating UX portfolios. Your case study will likely generate more impressions on a recruiter than any other item in your portfolio. So, it should describe your problem-solving technique.
Don’t write your case studies in a hurry. It is too costly to write a case study in a hurry and forget essential details.
They should be well-written if you want to get recruiters’ attention. It’s worth devoting your time and efforts to it so that what you’ll have at the end will be impressive enough to get you hired.
You probably have many design projects you have worked on, but you don't need to overstuff your portfolio with all of them.
Choose only the best projects. You can create a new page for each chosen case study and create a general listing with an image and link to each project.
So, how can you write an appealing case study?
Follow these tips to write an appealing case study.
Use the problem-solution approach for each case study.
The goal of UX design is to provide solutions to users' needs. Writing a case study without stating the problem and how it was solved defeats the very purpose of the case study. Approach each case study like you did your design project.
Foremost, describe the problem, and why it is essential for you to solve the problem, you can also provide some data from user research.
Next, describe how you solved the problem with your design. You can include your wireframes and sketches. The solutions should also highlight the tools you used and how you used them.
Describe your roles and responsibilities
Since the portfolio is about you, you must state your part in solving the problem you described. Your roles and responsibilities are where you will have the opportunity to emphasize your skills and expertise. Make sure you explain how creative you were in offering solutions to the problem. It would be best not to overemphasize the general approach to the problem but focus on your role in providing a solution.
Your portfolio is not a team presentation; it is your testimonial. So, instead of generalizing how the project was done, focus more on your contributions to the project's success.
Include a user research summary
A user research summary will give the recruiters an idea of your users' thoughts about the project. It will also convince them that you didn’t do a half-hearted project. User research will include facts and figures, opinions and objections from users. It gives the impression that you are concerned about your users in your approach.
Include user personas and wireframes
User personas and wireframes are critical UX methodologies. A user persona is a fictional character you create to represent your users. You don’t need to include detailed information about user personas in your case studies. A short description will do.
Though, your user persona must be detailed when doing your project. You can check a simple guide to writing your user personas to help you write good personas for your projects.
Meanwhile, for your case studies, keep it simple. The pictorial representation, the name, occupation, and short bio that connects with the product's usefulness are okay for a case study.
Also, include your wireframes. Your wireframes are the skeletal structure of your design. It is crucial, as it lets the recruiter see how detailed you are in considering user experience in your project.
Related article: What are the five elements of user experience?
Use simple words
Don't fill your case studies with technical jargon. Technical jargon will make your case studies hard to read, and employers might not fully understand what the project entails. Write your case studies with the same tone you will use in writing your portfolio's "About Me" section.
Make your case studies scannable.
Employers don't have all day to check your portfolio, so you should make your portfolio scannable at one glance. Use bold headings, and highlight essential texts. Most importantly, ensure they can easily see the problem and the solution.
Mention your challenges
Your portfolio doesn’t have to be all about what you did right. Including some of the challenges, you faced on each project is alright. You can also measure your strength in how you were able to work past challenges to make the project a successful one.
Include an “About Me” section in your portfolio
It is essential to include a short description of yourself in your portfolio. Your "about me" section can briefly describe your design career journey. You can briefly describe what sparked your interest in design and how you fueled that interest to become a UX designer.
You can also inform recruiters about your academic credentials. Though you don’t have to show your entire educational history, it would be beneficial to highlight any design-related coursework.
Meanwhile, it is possible to include the right things in your UX portfolio but still fall short of making a good impression. Why? There are common mistakes that can spoil your portfolio if you ignore them.
Common Mistakes to Avoid in UX Portfolio
Some mistakes in your UX portfolio can cripple your chances of getting a job. It would be best if you avoided them at all costs. They would render your portfolio unappealing even if it contains the correct details. I will highlight some of these mistakes so you can avoid them when creating your portfolio.
Mistakes to avoid when creating your UX portfolio
Prioritizing visual displays over the design process
Skipping important introductions
Prioritizing visual displays over the process
The UX skill is more abstract than it is physical. You can't convince employers by prioritizing your visual designs, that is okay for UI designers, but your processes are more important than the outcomes as a UX designer.
This is self-explanatory. Your portfolio should reflect your professionalism, precision, and overall work quality. Grammatical errors in your portfolio will put you at a competitive disadvantage during the hiring process.
To help you spot mistakes and improve clarity, try editing plugins like Grammarly or writing tools like Hemingway. You can also request specific writing feedback from a friend or mentor.
Skipping Important Introductions
Recruiters might not go through everything in your profile, so including an introduction in a short but precise format is essential.
Skipping the introduction can make recruiters neglect your portfolio because you did not provide a summary of the purpose of your project. It would be best if you structured your portfolio in a way that recruiters can glance at once and understand.
Your portfolio can determine if you will get jobs or not. It is not something to ignore or give less importance. So, you should seek to impress recruiters with your portfolio. Create a good impression, and you stand a chance of getting the job.
Sarah Doody’s UX Portfolio e-book
Dan Petty and friends’ That Portfolio Book
Ian Fenn’s Designing a UX Portfolio: A Practical Guide for Designers, Researchers, Content Strategists, and Developers