How To Build a Better Behance Case Study

After more than 3 years of being part of the awesome Behance community I feel a need to give something back and I would like to share my knowledge to help other designers improve how they build Behance case studies.

The following tips are based on my own experience after publishing more than 15 projects and observation by being a part of the community. Let's jump straight into them now:

1. A Good Case Study Takes Time

Don't expect to finish your next project over night if you plan to go big. I tried it myself and failed. Multiple times. Usually I got lost in the content, because I wanted to try so many ideas at once, but they never played well together. I ended up with sleepless nights thinking about what I should do first and how the final version will look. Try to take small steps instead. And you'll not be scared of the big steps later on.

If you really want to show your work properly try to approach your case study more responsibly. Don't do it just because you have to show something quickly. You'll miss an opportunity. I often compare building a case study to designing the whole project all over again. I mean seriously:

  • Start with research/inspiration
  • Select content you want to show/highlight
  • Sketch a few layouts or structure on paper
  • Create a wireframe
  • Work with the final designs and play with it's visual presence
  • Plan your publication (plan your own small social media campaign)
  • Maximize the reach (additional blog post/article/unused parts…)

2. Combine Multiple Media Formats

You don’t necessary need to show just final screens from your app or all subpages. You can combine everything together and try to tell the story of how your project was built. Use first sketches, “making of” videos, GIF animations, unused experiments, even internal documents, reports, research data, behind the scenes photos and so on. Just anything that has some value for other designers to show your process.

I love combining different media formats because its kind of breaking my case study into blocks. I can be more creative with the layout, guide audience through the process and highlight the most important parts that I think could be inspiring for the others.

“Everyone is super curious and want to know how the hell you designed this thing. Give them what they want. Get them inspired for their next project.”

3. Highlight The Most Interesting Parts

Don't bother people with common screens that look the same in every project (ex. login screen, settings, grid of photos). There is actually nothing to show. Instead of that try to highlight something that is unique, where you spent most of your time solving a problem, or designed a special layout. Focus on something that may lead your visitors to share or like your project and spread it.

Also it always breaks my heart to see the same mockup photos in every second project. It's always just a sign of not putting enough effort into creating something nice. If you have the resources and hardware just create your own content that is unique for this project. I can guarantee it has a really high impact in general and could be one of the most interesting parts.

“Highlight something interesting that is not in 10 other Behance projects in your feed.”

4. Don't Expect People To Read

Behance is about showing your design work, not writing long paragraphs. I’m pretty sure you may feel a need to describe some of the decisions you made or explain the process. I don’t think Behance is the right place for that. If you want to write a lot, try it here on Medium or on your personal/company blog and then link it with your case study (link in the top/bottom).

You can show the visual part of the project on Behance and then describe how you made it somewhere else. Take advantage of both channels.

My personal experience: I showed some of my work to other designers at meetups/events and watched how they looked at my case study. Headlines and 2 rows of text is fine, but everybody scrolled almost immediately when they reached a section with more than 3 rows. They just wanted to skip it and focus more on the design work instead.

Small tip: If you want to take it to another level you can record short walkthrough videos, talk about some of the details and attach it into the end of your case study. This is what I personally really like to do and it’s great for more experienced people, who want to understand the details.

5. Try To Be Different

Almost all layouts are already used and people are just repeating themselves. I actually spent a lot of time figuring out what can I do differently to make my work stand out more. It's one of the hardest part in every project I do, but it's not impossible.

I'm currently experimenting with a different approach for this part:

When I’m working on a mobile app case study I’m trying to get inspired by everything except mobile app case studies. I want to avoid repeating myself or someone else and I'm searching for other types of case studies/stories out there. It's awesome to see how graphic designers, motion designers or industrial designers are presenting their projects.

Yes I know it's a different type of content but what I'm focusing on is the form/layout and the way it's presented. It works great so far and I can't wait to show you first results!

6. Choose The Perfect Thumbnail

If you don't have at least some followers already, it's a bit harder to get more attention from the community. So, what I recommend you to try is to figure out kick-ass thumbnail for your next project. Something people just can't miss while they're scrolling through the feed.

Look at your Activity or Discover page. What projects do you notice at first glance? Why? Is there something special about them? You need to be one of these catchy thumbnails!

Small tip: You don’t need to use just one thumbnail at the time. Try to experiment and track what gets more attention. You can change thumbnails over time to see when you get more traffic (views).

On the other hand it’s also great to fit the rest of the thumbnails on your profile page to keep some kind of consistency of your portfolio (if you are a perfectionist like me). So you can combine both: Use super-catchy thumbnail for the first week or two and then change it to fit the rest of your project in your profile.

7. Get Featured

My approach is simple: Try to build something people have never seen before, some interesting layout or design that has not been published this way yet. I believe curators only feature something that can inspire other people. Something special that has a chance of being appreciated for a long time.

Your main goal for creating a new project should not be getting featured in the first place. If you create something great and spread it properly among your friends and followers there is actually a big chance of being seen and then mentioned somewhere.

I never tried to approach curators and ask them to check out my work. I don't even know any of them. But what I do is to make sure my project is seen by a lot of people, because you never know who is going to see it (and share it).

More views = Higher chance of being see by the right people

“I don’t think getting featured on Behance or Served Sites is a real “award”, but it’s a great mention in the community and it helps you to spread your work to even more people.”

8. Break Big Case Study Down into Small Posts

Publishing a new case study is also about the right promotion. We already talked about building case studies using “blocks” and combining different media formats together in the beginning of this article. When a project is published I usually do the reverse and break a big project down into small parts so I can share them individually. The main purpose is to take advantage of each platform and bring traffic back to the original “big” project.

We can name the whole process something like “cross-channel promotion” and basically link everything together so it spreads everywhere and supports itself. These are the main channels I use:

  • Dribbble — Selected screens/subpages, design details, UI elements
  • Instagram—Sketches, behind the scenes photos, “making of” photos
  • Medium/blog—Story behind the project, design process description
  • Vimeo/YouTube—Final video, “making of” video, walkthrough video
  • Pinterest — Dribbble posts, Instagram posts, parts of the Behance project
  • UpLabs — Reposting everything from Dribble

And then regularly sharing everything mentioned above on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or send it as a newsletter.

Show me your next project!

Hope these tips help you with your next project! Connect with me on Behance and send me a message with subject “My Better Behance Case Study”. I would love to know (and see) if some of my tips really helped and maybe I can give you more personal tips!

Thx to Maggie Appleton for helping me with illustrations and EN corrections & Tomas Matis for a great animation!

Did you enjoy the reading? You may like my new ebook about Instagram — The Perfect Grid: A Creative’s Guide To Instagram

Let’s be friends!

Ales Nesetril— Digital product designer with passion for minimalism, simplicity and new concepts, focusing on interactive experiences and mobile apps, currently co-leading a design team at STRV

Twitter, Dribbble, Behance, Instagram, Email

STRV is a one-stop mobile app development shop working with top-tier startups from Y Combinator and 500Startups, among others, across offices in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York and Prague.

Follow STRV design team on Dribbble or Behance.