Lessons in making my UX portfolio

The one thing that you will need when applying for UX roles is a portfolio. Here are some of the things that I learnt during the process of creating a UX portfolio.

You can find my online UX portfolio at lifeofmle.github.io

Portfolio-Initial

Initial Portfolio

Final Portfolio

Final Portfolio

Not a direct translation of your resume
Coming from a development background I was very familiar with creating a resume for a developer. Usually you would want to highlight keywords or list all of the skills/programming languages you know. A portfolio is not a list of words but a highlight of your key accomplishments.

Won’t get it right the first time
I was rushed when creating my first portfolio. I didn’t know what I wanted to do so I slapped together some projects that I worked on and stuck it on my blog. I just chose things that I thought would look nice or show different sides of me. However this was not good enough for a UX portfolio.

What to include
It is easy to include work that is publicly accessible. However most of the work I was involved with in the past was under NDA or not accessible by the public. I asked for permission from the company to use some of the sample screenshots. They were happy for me to use the assets as long as the branding was removed. I also didn’t have a lot of work in the mobile since my professional career focused mainly on the desktop. To fill this space, I used some of my personal time and created sample applications and created UX assets for the concepts.

Choose your best work or work with a story.

The work you show on your portfolio way not even be completed or actually ever live. To show the outside world uncompleted work was a new concept to me. This is part of a UX designer’s work, you may create something that doesn’t get funded or the product takes a different direction. What is important is thinking process of why you did something or how you solved a problem.

Know your audience
I talked to different people to see what they looked for when hiring UX designers. I was able to determine the gap between my initial design versus where it should be. I also had a chance to talk to some UX recruiters who stressed the importance of process over end product.

You are not only a visual designer. The process should be showcased not only the end product.

The final piece of work alone in a portfolio does not say much about why or how something got on to the screen. The way your showcased item should read is like a case study or a problem with clear stages.

  • Problem
  • Brainstorm/Design
  • Solution

Although you may spend a lot of time working on your portfolio and you want to write about everything in detail, in reality it will be design managers or other recruiters who will look at your portfolio. They may have a lot of candidates and may only spend seconds looking at your portfolio. Your portfolio should contain enough information for someone to understand your process but also easily consumable if they just scrolled through it quickly.

How to show a portfolio
I chose to use the web to display my portfolio. This is good because people can view your portfolio easily at their desk or on their phones (provided that your portfolio is mobile friendly). Github allows for free hosting for simple webpages. Since I already had a Github account I thought this was the best way to approach deploying and building my webpage.

I used Twitter Bootstrap as my HTML5 template and bought a theme, Shapes, which handles portfolios well.

One day I will need to create a PDF version of my portfolio to make it easier to present on a screen as a slideshow or to have as a hardcopy.

Useful Resources

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