How to wow me with your UX research portfolio
David Travis

Yes, research work can be broken by details.

But business needs, research execution, and findings/implications are all intellectual property. How does one show ‘n tell without violating NDAs? Researchers should not be asked to do this. Why should any organization accept the risk of media leaks or copyright lawsuits?

Moreover, researchers do not have total control over inquiry and development processes. For instance, if a product/service was scrapped or pivoted as a result of factors other than research findings, the researcher is stuck with an incomplete story that might have otherwise provided a great portfolio example. What then?

Happily, some employers have figured out how to talk to us about what we know without asking us to expose what we have done in the past. A more academic tone sets up a more constructive meeting.

Here’s a task

Give candidates a vague scenario and then listen for these kinds of points — probe if necessary. Expect clarifying questions.

  • What methodology did you choose not just to get the most useful findings but also within budget and timeframe that also produces the artifacts most understandable to key stakeholders?
  • What processes did you rule out?
  • Who else could or should participate in data collection, processing, analysis, or presentation? What do you do to get their participation?
  • What if your stakeholders object to your findings?

Thought-provoking questions

  • What happens when you find a piece of data doesn’t fit with the rest of the data?
  • Have you come across findings outside the research scope? What methodologies have tended to produce extra findings? What happens to that information?
  • Talk about a few things you’ve learned about executing UX research methodologies.
  • What parts of the research process would you like more practice doing, and why?

All this said, I do, reluctantly and by demand, have an online portfolio. (le sigh)