6 Tips For A Killer UX Portfolio
Scenario: You’ve got a few UX projects under your belt and you’re excited to launch them into the world
Problem: The pieces are all over the place. You’ve got sketches, notes, wireframes, user flows, personas, and a whole mess of other elements sitting on your computer. How do you put these together cohesively on a website and win future employers’ love and admiration?
When I was a struggling UX noob, a kind and gracious senior UX-er Dennis Field, helped re-shape how I was presenting my work. Today, I’m going to pass along some of that wisdom to you.
1. Claim a process
Selfies may be the chance to show off your hot face, but a UX portfolio is the chance to show off that even sexier mind. Employers want to see how you think and how you’ve blazed trails through uncertain times before. Sit down, and take the time to think through your past projects and create a list of the steps you took throughout each one.
ACTION STEP | Answer these questions:
* How did you come up with your ideas?
* What was your brainstorming process?
* How did you go about your research?
* How did you stay organized?
*How did you measure your success?
These are just a few of the questions you will need to sort out, and its probably the hardest part.
2. Show your journey visually
This is where collecting all those fragments you’ve got laying around and putting them into a pretty package really counts. One study found that after 3 days, a reader only retained 10–20% of written information but nearly 65% of visual information they’d seen! Pictures are power!
ACTION STEP | Make a visual design of your process or career journey
1. Use flow charts, graphs, infographics, or any other visual medium of your choice to show how you got from point A to point B with something
3. Answer how can you improve a challenge/solve a problem
The reason UX is so in demand is because it requires a great deal of leadership and gumption. Gumption means spirited initiative and resourcefulness (Source). If you can show that you can clearly frame a problem, create goals for success, and come up with effective solutions, you’ll bring all the employers to your yard.
ACTION STEP | Write your project descriptions with this formula:
1. Show the problem
2. Explain what you did
3. Describe the results.
4. Show how your solutions impact the business
Consider business learning a core part of your UX curriculum. Companies are paying top dollar for the best UXers, but that doesn’t mean that you can learn a few usability basics and waltz away with 6 figures. You need to understand how you contribute value to the company and how you’re saving/making them money.
ACTION STEP | Quantify your work
1. Pal up with the numbers people at your company and get familiar with their world- marketing team, sales, analysts, accountants, etc. If you don’t have a job, start reading some articles/books on business and the value of UX.
Start with: Business Value of UX Design
2. Pull some numbers to include on your portfolio or to mention at your next interview.
5. 4–5 well detailed projects is ideal
Now, if you only have 1 or 2 projects, that’s totally cool, work with what you’ve got and keep improving. If you have 6+ projects, trim it down a bit to only include your very best work. Most employers don’t have the time to read through a large number of projects.
ACTION STEP | Use these formatting tips for your projects:
1. Use grids to align the elements on your site.
2. Remove anything that’s not adding value.
2. Format your text for quick scanning: use lots of headings, keep paragraphs short, and use bulleted lists.
6. Add personal sparkle
It’s not enough to share an XYZ list of programs you know or rattle off all the projects you’ve successfully finished. Employers want to know who they’re about to hire.
ACTION STEP | Answer these questions:
* Who are you?
* How do you influence others?
* What makes you come alive?
* What are you excited about when you go to work?
Take the answers to these questions and write a short version for your site of why you do what you do. If you can come across as genuine and convince everyone that what you do is also who you are, you’ll be unstoppable.
TL;DR: 1. Claim a process, 2. Show your journey visually, 3. Answer how you can you improve a challenge/solve a problem, 4. Show how your solutions impact the business, 5. 4–5 well detailed projects is ideal, 6. Add personal sparkle