As a leader & director of UX for numerous tech firms, I've reviewed thousands of portfolios. It’s a sometimes painful process which has left me believing few designers truly understand just how important their portfolio is. Your resume tells a story… what you've been up to, what skills you possess, but your portfolio is by far the most important piece of the design puzzle. It’s what makes you stand out in a very competitive market.
Here are 10 practical tips to help make your UX portfolio better:
1 | WOW FACTOR
Your portfolio is intended to showcase your very best work. Keep it to 10 pieces or less. Dumping in screenshots of that Wordpress site you designed for your brother-in-law will only hurt. Leave it out and focus on your best stuff.
2 | PICK YOUR TARGET
Do your homework. Learn everything you can about the person or company you're presenting to. Determine what types of work make the most sense or would be most appealing. Leave the rest out.
3 | FOCUS ON STRENGTHS
Select pieces that showcase your strengths or specialties. If you're particularly great at wireframing, include samples that demonstrate that skill. If you've never had any formal training in graphic design, don’t try to impress with your killer Bryce 3D skills.
4 | YOUR RESUME COUNTS
Technically not part of your portfolio, but a designer’s resume should be well designed. Keep it short (1 page… really… 1 page) and leave out all the big, fancy words you think I want to hear. Be approachable, direct, and stick to the facts.
5 | DESIGN YOUR PORTFOLIO
Is your portfolio site well designed? Does it complement or compete with your work? Does it demonstrate a good understanding/use of color, fonts, and layout? Is it easy to navigate? If I can't figure out how to use it, I'm gone.
6 | LINKS, LINKS, LINKS
It’s OK to show static screenshots, but even better if you include live links to sites and apps you've designed. If you list web dev or prototyping skills, you best include links and the ability for me to look at source code.
7 | DON'T MAKE ME WORK
Hosting your samples across multiple portfolio sites is annoying. I can't tell you how many times I've lost interest in a portfolio simply because I got lost clicking around popups or couldn’t figure out how to get ‘home’.
8 | EXPLAIN YOURSELF
Don't assume I'll understand your work. Include short explanatory text that describes the project, any constraints, and your specific role (especially if it was a team effort). Yes, I notice when you say ‘we’ instead of ‘I’.
9 | PROCESS MATTERS
Show examples of your design process . Sketches, storyboards, wireframes, and mockups help me understand how you think, how you attack a problem, & how you deal with design complexity.
10 | ERROR! ERROR!
Good designers show fanatical attention to details. Broken links or misspellings are a deal breaker. No exceptions.