Why Your Words Are as Important as Your Visuals
Articulating the decision-making process behind product design is as important as a visual portfolio
Keeping a good design portfolio with updated work is one of the main concerns for designers. It is a challenging process. Your design work evolves and so it does the way you want to be represented by this work. This is quite common in the design community. Although, I don’t see this happening in other professions where explaining the working process and articulating decision-making is enough to show the expertise level.
For most designers, their portfolio is as important as their educational background, if not even more. In the era of social media and personal branding, we can say that having an up-to-date portfolio is like having a great Twitter or Instagram profile; it is a presentation card. More than ever, we live in a visual world and one that is made out of first impressions.
I have been working in design for many years, and as I specialize more in product design and UX processes, I feel that my visuals are just as important as the way I write and talk about design. One of the main complaints I hear from designers is having to explain what exactly they do in their professions. When explaining to people outside our profession that you are a designer they assume your job is to draw pretty things, or coding, or working with computers. It hardly comes to peoples’ mind the amount of research, analyzing, planning and work behind each of the decisions taken during the design process.
Communicating the way we work is somehow a moral obligation. It’s spreading knowledge. When people understand other professionals their respect and empathy for them also grow. This helps to put design at the same level as let’s say engineering. In so many ways design is engineering. Probably a different mindset but at the same level when it comes to the final results of producing good products.
My portfolio today is also my writing. My way of thinking. The way I envision my profession. The way I work can be communicated either with words or images. Visual thinking and strategic thinking. The later can be communicated with words as well as images.
I also show UI design work in my portfolio. This gives examples of my visual skills, my love for typography, colors, layouts, and visual language. But that is not all, writing helps to explain the thinking behind the scenes. It is similar to listening to a film director talking about their own films, or a writer explaining how they build a story. Design writing is educational, and it also helps to put in order thoughts.
We, designers, are helping each other when we spread knowledge about our profession. Every time we take the time to explain the decision-making process we give relevance to our work. This doesn’t mean to use buzzwords and technical terms that only a few understand. What I mean is to be clear when explaining design planning and execution. Let’s be more efficient communicating design and let’s do it in a way that is easily accessible to people outside our profession.
Thanks for reading.