So you’re looking for some UX design portfolio inspiration?
I get asked to review a lot of fresh-faced student, recent grad, or even candidates with relatable experience via our online career board or in passing. Either way many people, regardless of experience, want to make their mark in the world of UX – but they often overlook some of the basics every portfolio should have.
Think about a portfolio—what is its purpose? It’s not a time capsule or a yearbook, merely capturing how you spent your time. Its purpose it to show us the type of work you love doing, and the type of work you want to keep doing, there are certain ground rules you’ll need to bear in mind.
In this post, we’ll take you through five (5) UX design portfolio best practices, complete with awesome portfolio examples from around the web and some insights to what you might get asked during an interview.
What’s the purpose of your UX design portfolio?
– Tell me the process
In almost every job interview, the interviewer will say ‘Now, let’s take a look at your portfolio…or “tell me about yourself’. When it comes to creating an impressive UX portfolio, it’s important to understand exactly what your portfolio should achieve. What information should your portfolio present? What do you want people to learn about you and your work when they land on your portfolio?
Your UX design portfolio is not just a virtual gallery of all your most beautiful work. It’s a carefully crafted story that offers a behind-the-scenes look at your methods and processes. Whatever that story is, know it. When building your portfolio, plan the narrative of how you will walk people through it. I want to know how you did all this great work, and that you can do it again for our team. So, tell me. Tell me how you came to the refined problem, and how you came to the final solution.
– Notice I say how you came to the solution, rather than what the solution is. In most cases, I don’t care about the final product concept. And as you get further in your career, non-disclosure agreements might prevent you from telling me what the solution is. I want to know how you got there. What was the process? What’s your approach to solving problems? Are you user-centric? What challenges did you have to overcome? What did you learn from a process and self-improvement perspective? and give the viewer an understanding of how you work. How multi-faceted you are. Or how your unique process or point of view separates you from the rest of candidates out there.
And, of course, all of these insights should come gift-wrapped in a visually engaging, user-friendly package. With that in mind, let’s take a look at our selection of nine amazing UX design portfolios from around the web.
Key Insights + Takeaways
Your portfolio is a carefully crafted story that offers a behind-the-scenes which helps explain your process – and clear glimpse of how you’d contribute on the larger team.
Tell me what you did?
– Who are you
School/College/Bootcamps is full of group projects – they’re invaluable at teaching you real-world lessons, both about your topic of study, tools, and people. When showing work in your portfolio, tell me what role you played in each part. Sometimes you’re responsible for the big, sexy showpiece. Other times you’re more of a supporting actor, running the project management side of things, or digitizing copious amounts of notes.
That translates to the real world – we need team players that can do both and strive to fill gaps and make the team better. This shows flexibility and teamwork. This is important.
One of the first things your UX portfolio should do is introduce you as to your core talent skill sets.
Employers and potential clients want to know who you are and what you’re all about – and they should be able to find this out within seconds of landing on your portfolio website. Gloria has nailed her designer introduction with a three-tiered approach. First, she treats us to a bold, eye-catching headline that describes her in terms of her favorite activities. In just four simple verbs, we know that Gloria is a creative, multi-talented soul with quite a few hobbies in her repertoire. Oh, and these verbs “light up” in different colors when you hover over them – a nice additional dash of personality!
After such an enticing headline, we’re inevitably curious to know more about Gloria – and sure enough, her portfolio delivers. Directly beneath that unmissable heading, Gloria tells us exactly what she does and what she’s passionate about in just two sentences. Gloria has mastered the delicate art of brevity while still managing to convey the most important information – not an easy feat!
By now, Gloria has well and truly piqued the viewer’s interest. Luckily, her portfolio also features a comprehensive “About” page, complete with a video, a section detailing her values (with the help of emojis), a very thorough testimonial from a former employer, and links to her music and artwork.
When it comes to your own UX design portfolio, make like Gloria and be sure to include a meaningful introduction. Keep it compact yet high impact on the home page, and then provide more detail in a dedicated “About” section. Besides crafting a gripping “About me” statement, try to inject a bit of personality into the visual design, too – just like Gloria’s colorful hover effect, or telling your viewers that you love baking cookies or being a fabulous joggler.
Key Insights + Takeaways
The viewer should know exactly who you are and what you do within seconds of landing on your UX design/researcher portfolio. Craft a compelling headline that provides all the most important information at a glance.
Mastering the art of storytelling.
– Tell me why I need you
This one can be a little bit tricky. I don’t want you to sell me on you – that’s part of the interview. But I want to see how you would be able to fit on the team. What gaps are you filling? How will you contribute?
I often tell younger designers and recent grads to think about implementation. Often times you’re designing work for a fictional company or nonprofit, which means the design work never go beyond the design. But tell me about what implementation would look like. This is where the art of storytelling takes place, take Moritz’s portfolio for example it really gets to the heart of what UX design is all about: going through a process to solve a user problem. Moritz doesn’t just show the finished product; he shares, in detail, all the methods and processes that got him there.
Each project is presented as a case study, which immediately tells us we’re in for a lot more than just eye candy.
Click on any one of these case studies and you almost feel like you’re in the room with Moritz himself - a fly-on-the-wall as he works through his UX design process.
Take the Approach to Digitization in Education case study, for example. Moritz leaves no stone unturned, documenting the project from start to finish. He takes us on a logical journey, putting the design challenge into context before going through competitor analysis, interviews and surveys,
building empathy and creating user personas, defining the Information Architecture, Wireframing, Prototyping, and Usability Testing. For each step, he explains what he did, why he did it, and what he learned as a result.
In another example of spectacular story telling we see Elizabeth portfolio. Just like Moritz, she presents her design work in the form of case studies, documenting her process from start to finish. What really stands out in Elizabeth’s portfolio, though, is her use of visuals to support the narrative she’s weaving. Here Elizabeth puts in full vivid documentation providing examples on how her work can scale and how other designers – researchers – engineering can build on her work.
Each point in her case study is illustrated with some kind of visual element – be it a virtual wall of Post-it notes, a survey form that was sent to research participants, or early-stage prototypes; but these can also be specs, red-lines, link to documentation, etc.
Example on this: Elizabeth’s technique using little bite sized notes and reflections down the right-hand side. Set in a different font and color to the main body text, these snippets catch your eye as you scroll, providing further, more personal insights into the project – such as “It was cool seeing how differently teachers would use this dashboard” or “We didn’t move forward with this exploration because we wanted to validate the base solution first.”
Abstracting – out your design language and supporting your case studies with visual artifacts really brings the project to life. Elizabeth’s portfolio illustrates perfectly how visual and textual storytelling should work together to demonstrate your UX design process.
This example many young and veteran UX practitioners run into, when they need more work examples in their portfolios so let’s take a note from Priyanka’s site. When Priyanka runs into bad UX, she can’t help but do something about it. Where most of us might just abandon ship and find an alternative product, Priyanka goes above and beyond: she redesigns the entire experience!
So, in addition to real client projects, Priyanka’s UX portfolio also showcases some rather impressive unsolicited redesigns. What’s also interesting is how Priyanka chooses to showcase these redesigns. She could just stick to the standard case study format, but with a click into one of her unsolicited portfolio pieces and you’ll be taken to a full-on, published blog post. Nice!
Despite the fact that these are pure “passion projects”, Priyanka lends them the credibility they deserve by documenting her process in detail. In her redesign for Sephora IOS app, she starts by framing the problem: – “Despite using the app religiously, I had trouble navigating through it. After observing that other people also experienced issues with the app, I pursued this redesign as an opportunity to improve the experience in any way I could.”
What follows is a detailed breakdown of every step she took to redesign the app, from brand analysis and user research, right through to Persona creation, Prototyping, Usability testing, Affinity Mapping and Implementation—not forgetting those all-important visual artifacts that are absolutely crucial to UX storytelling!
Another valuable takeaway from Priyanka’s portfolio is the power of blogging. Priyanka doesn’t just limit herself to her portfolio website; she also shares her case studies and tips via Medium (where she’s accrued over a thousand followers!). There are many different ways to share your process, so don’t be afraid to try a multichannel approach.
Showing best practices on how to use existing design elements and communication channels, and the rules for which to extend the language of design help mature your design + research, and shows you’re initiative and drive. Which are all indicators of a great fit within a larger design pipeline.
Key Insights + Takeaways
Don’t just tell the story of each project; bring it to life with visual artifacts. Showcase your processes, not just the finished product. Write about the methods you used include your case studies, speak to the challenges you came up against, add in the photos and screenshots.
Also remember good content is always welcomed, unsolicited redesigns are an excellent way to build up your UX portfolio and demonstrate your initiative as a designer/researcher and don’t forget to include a disclaimer, it’s like the cherry on top of a milkshake.
What makes you awesome.
– Tell me about you
Now that we got the hard part out of the way, tell me about you. I don’t mean tell me about your favorite vacation spot, or favorite band. But rather, what part of the design process is your favorite? What type of problems do you like to solve? What type of teams do you like working on? What role in the team do you thrive in?
For example if a candidate has a strong passion for design show me that passion. We’ve talked a lot about the importance of showcasing your UX design process. Now it’s time to contemplate the power of beautiful UI! This brings us to Zara’s portfolio – the epitome of digital elegance.
Zara specializes in creating digital products and experiences for luxury, fashion, and beauty brands, and this is reflected in every detail of her portfolio. In fact, scrolling through Zara’s portfolio is like wandering through the beauty department of a high-end store, or flipping through the pages of a glossy fashion magazine – and that’s no accident.
She has given as much thought to her color palette, typography, and imagery as she has to writing up her case studies and sharing her process.
The result? A flawless portfolio that truly makes its mark.
Colleges or bootcamps focus on giving you a lot of different skills and experiences in hope one or two really click. Tell me what clicked for you, and what you want to continue doing. Spend some time figuring out your personal brand. Are you fun and quirky? Artsy and edgy? Corporate and serious? Perhaps you’re all about eco-friendly design. Once you’ve got a theme in mind, you can start to think about the kinds of colors and imagery that will help to convey this. Just because you’re a UX designer or a researcher doesn’t mean you can neglect the visual design of your portfolio.
Your portfolio should embody your personal brand, so treat it like any other UX project and give it the high shine finish it deserves!
Key Insights + Takeaways
Your portfolio website should reflect your personal brand, and the simplest visual design plays a crucial role. The best portfolios offer the full package – detailed case studies wrapped in stunning UI design and flawless UX – so aim to check all the boxes!
What should you do now?
– Relax you have all the steps
Lastly, relax. A portfolio isn’t a legal document. It doesn’t have to be stuffy or dry. Let some of your personality seep through the words to give me an idea of who you are. Remember your audience. But it’s okay to have a little fun. This is why a team would want to hire you, anyway.
So, these are some awesome selections of awesome UX design portfolios from around the web. I hope this list has given you a feel for some of the most important UX design portfolio best practices, and left you feeling suitably inspired.
For more portfolio inspiration, check out Bestfolios: bestfolios.com.
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