Wow, Tyler, those are both amazing portfolios! While the visual structure is very well managed, I particularly like how you've told your story and shown process behind it.
As someone who is distinctly on the UX Research angle, what do you think was the big move, for you, transitioning from UI to UX focus? What were the big challenges and the best tools for improving your game?
I would say my key motivator was specialization in the industry. I was doing UI & UX and realized if I ever wanted to grow more into a senior position, I would need to make a decision fairly quickly. I went to college for Graphic Design and Art and UI & web design has always come naturally to me. It is also what gave me a leg up in the interview process when my UX skills were questionable. I worked as a UX/UI designer for a few projects and realized I enjoyed the strategy of the final product more so than the visual creation process, which is fun but day in and day out was not as rewarding to me as solving fundamental ux issues.
Tools that improved my game.
-Constant article reading
-Working with a UX lead with a systems engineering background (more technical less visual). He really inspired me and showed me the beauty of UX. I learned UX fundamentals in college but it wasn't until I met my colleague that I became truly inspired by the impact of UX
-Getting honest portfolio feedback
-Learning to become detached from my physical work and having trust in others (this was a big one for me because, in my 5.5 years of Graphic design and web, I was always graded on the end result never my process. Now that it's all about the process and I have less control over the end result I am free from the binds of UI. I have faith that other people on my team will make the app look gorgeous and that was mainly a mental battle. I had to ask myself if I could live without having control over the end product - and I took the plunge and marketed myself as a UX person and now pray that UI people will be better than me. It helped working on teams and that allowed me to be more handsoff)