How I created my UX Portfolio & Few Tips for Creating Yours

Katarina Stacho
4 min readMay 1, 2019

I admit this was a painful process that took me more than 3 months to complete. I could do this because I am not actively looking for a job but I believe a good portfolio should be reviewed and redesigned every 3–5 years. Creating graphics and layouts for myself is not something I am used to. I am so used to feedback from others that I have struggled to have design critiques with myself. So I asked for help. Knowing that collaboration makes any design project better, I put myself out there. This was not comfortable. I shared my half-baked portfolio with my brother who is a business owner of the small tech company. I was not comfortable doing it (brothers can be judgmental, let me just leave it at that) but he had very valuable feedback. I happily shared it with my designer colleagues and a project manager I work with, who all could be my end-users. However, I have also realized the person in charge of hiring may not be familiar with sophisticated UX terminology. So I treated this process as any other project. Here are a couple of tips I want to share with you:

Ask questions first

How much time do you spend looking at a resume?

How many projects do you typically review in a portfolio?

What is it that you looking for when looking at someone's work?

What is a typical process of how you evaluate designers?

What is the most important skill/characteristic you are looking for?

and more…

Read tips from others

I have researched this topic and read about 60 articles on how to create a successful portfolio. I have reviewed last year over 50 portfolios myself and interviewed over 20 designers. I accepted several LinkedIn contacts who wanted to talk to me about the opportunities their companies have. This allowed me to see what kind of skills are companies currently looking for.

Make it short

No one has time to look at a 4-page resume or the projects you did 20 years ago. Include the last most relevant and outstanding projects you worked on. Make it relevant to the industry you want to work in. It’s that simple.

“If you can’t simplify your information on two simple pages, I just feel overwhelmed”.

Show the process

Designers need to tell the process of how they arrived at the design choices they made. Beautiful pictures might be relevant if you are an illustrator but UX Designer needs to explain the methodologies used. Once I reviewed a beautifully designed financial dashboard with a designer who couldn’t explain any of the information on the screen. Expect questions to be asked on projects you select, so include only the ones you understand.

“I’d like to know about the process of a project that had unexpected learnings and the deep thoughts behind it.”

Tell your strength

UX field is full of different roles and designers with different backgrounds. Let the readers know where you are in this wide-ranging field of titles, are you strong in research, graphic design, information architecture or strategy? Describe your responsibilities on each project. The hiring manager is hiring you and not the team you worked with.

“I don’t believe designers when they tell me they are equally strong in all UX fields. It makes me doubt they really know what those fields are”.

Tell your niche

When you start thinking about the projects you worked on in recent years, there must be a common thread or process that emerges. Summarize these findings and points of who you are in the separate skills section and make them easy to read and understand. Avoid heavy UX or your industry-specific jargon.

Tell who you really are

Majority of UX resumes have some form of this sentence in the About section: “I am a UX designer that loves solving problems through user-centered design.” After a hiring manager looks at several of them, they feel banal, trust me. About section is a chance to say something about yourself that is outside of your work expertise, tell your hobbies, interests so the hiring manager can find something that connects you both.

“I am going to spend a lot of hours in a day with someone who I am hiring for my team. Maybe more than with my wife. Treat your portfolio as speed-dating.”

Use humor

Make the information you are presenting memorable. Use a good analogy or a favorite picture or a description of your unique personal interpretation of what UX means to you. I used a banana. Ask me why.

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