Recently I was asked to evaluate the online UX portfolios of a number of design graduates, only to find that they failed to apply a key learning from courses — know your audience. The audience of a UX portfolio is a busy recruiter or employer. Simply put, they want to quickly find out if the job applicant is credible in terms of their design and communication skills. If you don’t pass this initial step, then unfortunately they will move on to the next application on their desk.
A site map for success
Here’s a sample site map to consider. There are separate pages for Home, Projects and About. Each Project also has its own page. You can also add a section for articles or thought pieces should you want to stand out from the crowd a little.
When it comes to how many projects you should include, it’s all about quality over quantity. Therefore, a smaller number of well structured, scannable projects with a strong narrative is better than lots of incoherent, meandering ones.
Front load your homepage
Given that you only have limited time to impress a recruiter or employer, it’s a good idea to have an information rich homepage. Here are the five things you should consider including on it, especially if you are a junior to mid level designer.
- Tell the reader what exactly you are.
“I’m Joanna Smith, Interaction Designer. I’m interested in mixing the digital with the physical and pushing boundaries. Concentrating on users needs, wants and the storytelling of a design or build.”
- Impress them with a large photo of you in a design context or even video of your work.
- Show them some of your design projects with access to all others projects.
- Outline the user centred design process that you follow.
- List the design tools that you use.
In order to summarise the tips outlined above, we’ve put together a template for you to use.
If you decide not to code your portfolio site by hand, use this template to formulate your portfolio on Wix, Weebly or any other of the drop-and-drag website builders that are out there. Don’t forget to register a personalised domain name and point it at the URL those website generate for you e.g. joannasmithux.com.
Individual Project Template
When if comes to talking about each individual project, its important to show how you think about and solve problems. Consider catering for the following information;
- What was the problem?
- Who were the users?
- What methodologies (research, card sorting, wireframing etc) did you use?
- What design tools (Sketch, InVision, Axure etc) did you use?
- What was the outcome (before and after if possible)?
- Lessons learned?
The key is to document the process with images from end to end. Ask a colleague or a friend to take photos of you engaged in a cart sorting exercise, interviewing users or presenting in front of the team for example. Capture key moments (in landscape format) and add them to your project narrative. Take photos or early sketches and screenshots of wireframes and prototypes.
As with all design work, test your design artefact with the end user — ask recruiters for feedback if possible. At the very least, this will get you in front of them and keeps you top of mind should vacancies pop up. Finally, remember that your portfolio is a living document and should not become dormant even if you get that dream job. Never stop gathering material for it, continue to jot down your achievements and take photos from time to time. They will come in handy when you need to move onwards and upwards.