Creating a Killer Portfolio

portfolio

#1

In my recent travels around the web I have come across some amazing UX portfolios. I often hear people asking for tips and advice on how to create their own portfolio, especially if they don’t have a lot of projects under their belts. I figure that it must be possible to bring those two camps together in some way. Some people may be brave enough to post a link to their portfolio here in order to have experienced UXers give advice. Others may not feel ready to do that, but might want to hook up with someone privately to discuss the best approach for them to take. There may be super brave people that are even keen on a public critique.

If you fall into any of the above categories, let us know and we’ll see how we can help.


#2

This has the potential to be a great initiative and I hope people get involved. There are so many variables and different approaches to creating a portfolio depending on what level you’re at and what your goals are, career-wise.

Take advantage of this folks, we’re here to help! :slight_smile:


#3

Yes to this thread. I think this piggy-backs off my mega-post from that other thread a few months back (did a quick search, couldn’t find). This has been on my mind a lot more lately since being told I’m not allowed to use work I do for my employer.


#4

Would love to know your thoughts on this: https://medium.com/@timj/refuse-to-create-a-ux-portfolio-a44f802fee11


#5

That is a very interesting read BUT I think he’s missed the point with his title (although it may just be called that to be provocative). I agree with his points, but surely that means that we need to reconsider how we present portfolios, rather than not presenting them at all. Sure, a portfolio of finished products does very little to communicate to a potential employer our particular skillset, but a carefully annotated portfolio of business problems > design process > finished products would do just that.


#6

I’m going to jump out of my comfort zone, and into the fire with this one.
I’m in the process of creating my first portfolio with work that I have done in collaboration with my workmates. I have based it really roughly on the guide given with the ebook “Getting Started in UX” by Matt and Luke. I just have a few changes to make, but if I could then share it to get feedback that would be great.
My contract with my current Awesome job finishes soon, so I’m on the lookout for the next learning experience and would really like to come across well.

How should we share these? (Mine is quite large as I have a few embedded images in it…)


#7

You’re a legend Natalie. Good on you.

What format is it in? Could you drop it into Dropbox and share the public link? That would probably make the most sense.


#8

Righteo, well below is a link to a pdf of my current portfolio in my dropbox. I’ve only just created it (and then re-created it after some suggestions), so constructive criticism would be great. I have yet to give it out to anyone.

Could people please remember the disclaimer, this work was done as part of a company, so please don’t share it around. If it is also alright, I may take the link down after a while.
Thanks!


#9

I am not a UX designer, so in many ways I don’t qualify to critique your portfolio Natalie, but I have some feedback that might be useful. Take it with a grain of salt.

First up, I love the way you clearly offer up the backstory along with the business problems that you were aiming to solve. You’ve absolutely nailed the issues that are raised in the article that Dean posted above. I feel like I have a solid understanding of why you chose to take the approaches that you did to solve the issues at hand. Nicely done.

I think your portfolio does a great job of communicating your skill set, education and experience, and shows how you are able to pull those things together and apply them to a project.

The range of different projects is great, as are the images showing your process, rather than just a finished product.

My only criticism is that it feels a bit like a school project. The design isn’t quite as polished as I think I would be expecting as an employer. That possibly has something to do with viewing it as a pdf rather than as a website.

All in all I’m really impressed. I’m looking forward to hearing what the pros have to say about it. :slight_smile:

Offtopic: As an aside, I used to love going to ScienceAlive! An old boyfriend of mine’s dad used to be the CEO so I used to go there every time I visited Chch. Sadly, he was killed in the earthquake.


#10

Hi Natalie! Thanks for jumping into the fire and posting your portfolio. I’ll skip the pre-requisite phoenix rising / steel-hardening puns and come straight out with it - congratulations on a great portfolio. =)

Some constructive feedback:
[LIST]
[]I love that your photos show process rather than just the deliverables. Annotating them with captions to explain this would be handy, especially where they reference findings, problems and solutions, or explain what the people in the photo are doing.
[
]You mentioned that the work was collaborative (good to include!) but annotating the images with references to your own thinking and identifying exactly what you did will help bring your won contributions to the surface, even if the rest are collaborative.
[]You may like to differentiate the projects a bit more using layout and colours, so it is easier to see which pages relate to each project.
[
]Some feature images that are larger and more ‘finished’ might help stop the school-project vibe Hawk referred to.
[]Space is a factor, but breaking out the process into a bigger diagram on its own page, with the notes on your work style, will anchor the portfolio a bit more in the process rather than in the columns of text.
[
]I’m aware of the dynamics that get changed when you put your profile photo on a portfolio, but a friendly, smiling face does help the document be more relatable, especially if you have a good photo.
[]You’ve done a great job of including images that explain the project as well as invite interest in the ideas behind them.
[
]Good to see you referring to some data and findings that informed your approach too. If you can, show some before and after metrics (although it’s hard to pin down sometimes!)
[/LIST] Thanks for sharing. =)


#11

Awesome, thank you guys for your feedback!
I’ve tried to make some more changes. Unfortunately I haven’t gotten around having so much text, but I will keep trying to improve it :).
I feel much more confident applying for jobs with all the help and positive comments :).
For future projects I will try to get more metrics (none of the projects done with my current company had them).

Thanks again!


#12

Hi everyone,

Well I am keen to jump in the water: http://charleshenrilison.com/
Feel free to have a look, I am very interested to read your opinion.

Just saw Natalie’s one and I love it; you can definitively feels how it’s like working with you.


#13

Hey Charles-Henri,
Thanks for taking the plunge. The same disclaimer that I gave to Natalie… I’m not a professional UXer.

I love the presentation. It’s slick, professional and easy to navigate. I also love the way that you outline the issues and the process, as well as the finished product.
Your images are fantastic. They go a long way to demonstrating your process.

As far as constructive criticism goes, while you clearly have an amazing grasp of English, your portfolio would benefit from an English edit. Some of your sentences are constructed slightly clumsily and don’t read well.

Amazing job. :slight_smile:


#14

Hi Charles! :slight_smile:

Here’s the stuff I like:
[LIST]
[]As Hawk mentioned, the typography and colour palette is clean and simple. Nice.
[
]I like the idea of a large photo of yourself on the front
[/LIST] Here’s some ideas for how you might be able to improve it:
[LIST]
[]I found the navigation labels a bit confusing—it seems like stuff that doesn’t belong together has been grouped together. For instance, why are “email” and “resume” one item? Also, “skillset” and “case studies” don’t feel like a natural pairing either. They’re different enough concepts that seeing them as the one menu item was a bit jarring.
[
]When I clicked “email and resume” it threw me a bit to see a contact form. I guess I had in my mind “it will display his email address” but I realised after looking at the page that it was intended to send you an email, using the form. Personally, I’d stick with convention and call it “Contact”, and link your resume somewhere else, e.g. at the top of the portfolio
[]Might be worth getting a different photograph? You look handsome enough, but I know you, and know that you have a great smile. Why not have that portrayed on the first page, when you’re making your first impression?
[
]I like the idea of the case studies, but I don’t feel like they really tell a story. Rather than have your skillsets listed as something separate, it may be more effective to weave the times that you used these skills into the story behind each case study. Each image/video currently has a small commentary that gives a bit of background, but none of them demonstrate the design process you followed, or reveal much about how you approach a problem. People want to get an insight into how you think—find a way to tell that story and your case studies will be more compelling.
[*]You’re referred to your “portfolio” in a couple of links on the site, but you don’t use the word Portfolio in the menu or in any heading. This is a bit of an orientation problem. I got lost knowing where the line that you’ve drawn for what constituted the portfolio and what was “other general bits of my personal site” and what was “a specific case study but separate from the portfolio”. I think that page needs some re-thinking.
[/LIST] Anyway, hope that’s all helpful!

Matt


#15

Thanks a lot Matt. Very valuable feedback.

It looks like that the overall labelling needs a bit of re-work.
A better approach for the different case studies is definitively required.


#16

I wasn’t sure where to put this, so I thought it might fit in here…
I would like to thank you guys for your feedback on my portfolio, and for helping me be able to create one effectively with the conversations that have been floating around on this board.
As I mentioned before my current internship is unfortunately coming to an end, I’ve learned a lot and had two amazing mentors.
Some happy news is that I have managed to get a full time graduate UX position in another job, and will have a lead female UX to help mentor me (which I’m pretty excited about as I’ve mostly been around males in this area). So once again, thanks a bunch, as I’m pretty sure the portfolio helped get me through the door, as well as interviews with a few different parties.


#17

That is awesome news Natalie. Well done!


#18

I’m keen to receive some feedback on my portfolio website if the UX Mastery community is willing.

I’ve moved interstate to Melbourne and am looking to get an internship or full-time role but am having trouble finding employers that are willing to take on non-Senior UXers. I’m working on hypothetical projects to build up my UX practice skills (usability tests, sketches/wireframes, prototyping, Axure, etc) but am feeling a bit lost at the moment.

www.shannonmurdoch.com

I’ve followed a similar format that UsabilityCounts recommended for a traditional CV/resumé (fairly formal).

My critique of the above is:

  • It looks too corporate, which is not me…!
  • Whilst I’ve had a diverse background, the portfolio doesn’t shout ‘UX Designer’, therefore the ‘accomplishments’ section is probably pointless.
  • Most people in Melbourne would have never heard of the clients I’ve worked with, so it makes me wonder whether I should keep this.
  • The case studies don’t tell a story (moreso a list of tasks performed).

Thanks for checking it out and providing some feedback.

Shannon


#19

Hey Shannon,
I’ll start with my usual caveat… I’m not a UXer, I’m a Community Manager, so take everything I say with a grain of salt.

Firstly, WOW. It looks great. Slick and professional. The image of you presenting adds weight. Portfolio aside, it’s a lovely site. I don’t think it’s too corporate. It looks professional but the language you use is casual enough to portray your personality.

I love the way you’ve broken things up into short, easy to digest sections.
I also love the UX techniques sketches on each of the case studies.

To be honest, I don’t have any criticism, so I’ll call in the pros.

Nice work.


#20

Hi Shannon,
I had a quick look and I agree with Hawk, it does look very nice!

My one suggestion would be to try show more of your process somehow, so that you can show details in each of the steps that you went through. This helps demonstrate how you think, and solve problems etc. But I wouldn’t necessarily show this up front, for instance click into each of your examples to see the more details of the process.

This way people don’t just see the fancy finished versions, but get to see the nitty gritty! Things that worked, things that you would improve upon.

Hope this helps :slight_smile: