Do concept projects make you look "green?"



Just read an article on Medium where the author writes for recent grads,

Do not have concept projects in your portfolio (They make you look green)

What are your thoughts on this? Do concepts inside a portfolio make the designer look inexperienced? What about those who have experience but most of their work is under NDA? I find this especially hard to agree with because concepts are the perfect way for recent grads with little experience to showcase their design process and skills.


I thought portfolios were there mainly to describe a UXer’s thought process. It doesn’t make sense to me that an “imaginative” endeavor would make one look green.

It’s probably not a good idea to ONLY have concept projects, but still…


Is it a flag that a UXer might not be as practically experienced as another? Sure. It’s a mistake, however, to equate experience with skill, especially when it comes to those with solid education. Whether it’s a concept or actual production piece doesn’t matter to me so much, as long as it follows a set process and shows how a UXer approaches a problem.

I have the NDA problem out the wazoo. I currently work on a product that is not available to the general public, and I cannot share my work. My previous gig had agreements with each client (as I understand it) that prohibited me from sharing my designs, even if they were displayed publicly. Prior to that, I worked on a credit management system that was internal only and also not to be shared publicly.

It’s made building a portfolio very difficult.

My approach has been to write, make videos, and interact with the UX community as my means of showing my skills and thought process. I haven’t been actively looking for a job recently, so I honestly have no idea how well this will go over with future employers, should I ever want to leave my current role.

For what it’s worth, you can see my professional site at


My previous boss was an extremely talented UX lead and I noticed his portfolio linked directly to his Linkedin profile. After there were layoffs, he was the first to get a job! No idea how individuals like him or yourselves do it. From my experience, a recruiter won’t even submit you to the client without a portfolio. But it’s totally possible to get a job when you can’t display any work. Must be some magic sauce on your end of the interview process. :wink:


A lot of getting a job is networking. When I’ve gotten a job that way I didn’t need to show my portfolio, but usually someone had worked with me before.

As a hiring manager, I do tend to equate concept projects with people that have less experience. But I do look for thought process and potential. If I have 2 portfolios and one has a shipped project and one has a concept project, I’ll probably pick the first portfolio.

Don’t not do them, just be very deliberate and clearly show your thought process and tell a good story.


Some jobs really want a portfolio. Others, not so much. @jdebari has a very good point that networking is a great way to land a job with people who know you and your process enough to feel comfortable hiring you without seeing a portfolio.

I’m beginning to come to the opinion that recruiters often aren’t worth your time. The lack of follow-through and follow-up has been a big concern to me.

I’m not going to lie - I usually interview very well, which helps things. Interviewing for UX professionals is another article I could write, though I suppose that’s likely been written on extensively.


oooh. I’m going to steal that. xD


Hey, so I just finished a UX/UI bootcamp and am working on building my portfolio. I am having a hard time with it because I don’t know how to show my work in a manner that I think would be valuable to employers.

I view both projects I did for the class as ‘incomplete’ as my project team and I didn’t get the time/take the time to find final results of the task we were given. The project was to end after we built a high-fidelity product.

For my ‘Mass Transit Encouragement’ project, would our design really boost Mass Transit usage? For my ‘Personal Audiobooks’ project, would our design have offered a better experience to audiobook listeners? I have no idea. I cannot show to employers if these projects resulted in a success or failure.

Thus, I do not feel that ‘concept projects’ are clearly valuable to employers, and I/you will have to work extra hard to show the value of these projects.



That doesn’t ultimately matter. It doesn’t matter if you finished the projects or not, either. And lastly, it doesn’t matter if you did finish and the projects are ugly, or don’t work, or don’t appeal to everyone. What DOES matter is that the reader of your portfolio can see that you have a strong grasp of the UX process. Do you understand different research techniques and when to use which? Do you know how to utilize insights gained from research to inform design decisions? Can you take a concept and wireframe it or prototype it to gather feedback? etc etc

UX is as much (or more) about the process as about the end product.

Does that help?


Have to agree with @HAWK here.

I can think of a few projects that never finished because their was a problem with a client, whether it was billing or something else that was completely out of my team’s control. It doesn’t mean we didn’t take the time to research and offer a better redesigned product in the end.



Two questions:

  1. What exactly is a “concept project”? (Just want to make sure that we’re all on the same page.)
  2. Is the reason a “concept project” is looked down upon is because the have no credible project manager overseeing the project (thus, a lack of being able to demonstrate teamwork/communication skills or something?)


A made up project.


That was actually a great article for me to read. Thanks for the link!