UXHel is organizing UXCamp Nordic, an un-conference for UX professionals and enthusiasts held June 1st to 2nd in Helsinki, Finland. Tickets go on sale soon, be sure to get yours!
This month’s UXHel Round Table meeting tackled what a UX portfolio should look like. I’ve written down some notes of points made during the meeting (not a comprehensive list by any means) mixed with some of my own thoughts on the subject.
General criteria for a good UX portfolio
- Pick the right number of projects to present. Recruiters and C-level people might spend only seconds glancing at your portfolio so make sure it’s not bloated
- Update your portfolio often. Should you have a decade old project present?
- Think what the actual goal of your portfolio is and design it accordingly. A freelancers portfolio needs to attract new clients, a jobseekers portfolio should attract employers
What to tell about your projects
- Start with a “tl;dr” type of summary so the reader can quickly grasp what the project was about: “I made X for company Y to do Z.”
- Write out what the parameters for the project were: goal, scope, problem, resources, business case etc..
- Present evidence of the impact your project made with before & after pictures, KPIs (eg. % of increased sales). Get user testimonials about the end result if possible
- Showcase your skills. Which tools did you use? Quantitative or qualitative data? What did your prototypes look like?
- Introduce your team and what your role in it was
- Write out what you learned during the project
- Talk about what the solution is lacking
Dealing with NDAs
- Employees: Unfortunately there is sometimes no way to display or even talk about client projects in public due to strict NDAs. Contribute to UX blogs and try to find projects outside of work to add to your portfolio
- Freelancers: Do your best to convince the client about giving you a release BEFORE signing up to a project. Getting permission to showcase after completion might be difficult or impossible
- Be careful what you share in a job interview. If you blatantly disregard an NDA, that’s a big warning sign to any future employer
Website or Social Media (or both)?
- Having a customized website isn’t a must anymore unless you want to demonstrate your front end skills
- Ready made WordPress themes, social media accounts and even Google Sheets slides can be used to share your portfolio
- Since most social media platforms want to captivate their audiences, creating native content is effectively a must to generate views and engagement
- Whichever portfolio platform you choose, make sure it suits your needs, reaches your audience and is easy to update & share
Notes from team presentations
- Display your best work but make sure it’s balanced. Flashy projects look great, but it’s also important to prove you can do the “boring” stuff such as forms and sign up pages
- The formula for an ideal projects is: well known brand + significant project + tangible results + sexy visuals + testimonial
- Display your personality (eg. About me page)
- Do the “minimum” amount of work to display your work. A portfolio doesn’t need to be fancy and complex
- Consider making a short 1 to 2 minute video showreel that displays your personality and skills
- Think about adding only a brief description of the project. Potential recruiters or clients will have to contact you for more details
While there is no strict template or formula to what a UX portfolio should look like, there are a few key guidelines to follow. Keep things fresh, relevant and avoid bloat. The easier it is for you to update and share your portfolio, the more likely it is you’ll actually do it. Make sure you understand what the goal of your portfolio is and adjust it accordingly.