User Experience

Tips and Tricks for a Strong UX Portfolio

Published November 16, 2022 ⚡ Updated on October 2, 2023 by Kendra
Image showing a document with the words My UX Portfolio on it.

If you’re looking for a job in the UX field, you’ve probably come across the topic of UX portfolios. Is a UX portfolio still relevant today? How can you build an impressive portfolio? And what are the top three mistakes you should avoid?

In our podcast UX Heroes (available in German), we talked to Christiane Moser, a passionate UX research and design freelancer. We asked about her tips and tricks and compiled them here for you.

Here‘s the full episode:

What is a UX portfolio?

A portfolio is like a UX designer’s or researcher’s digital business card, creatively portraying their skills and experience.

The traditional offline portfolio can be the applicant’s CV and a presentation showing some of their projects and methods. Another option is the online portfolio, which introduces the designer and contains their CV and case studies. Lastly, a hybrid portfolio combines both: a traditional CV as a PDF with links to the case studies on Behance, Adobe XD or Figma.

No matter which option you choose, a good portfolio is always relevant. It presents your abilities and strengths and helps you to position yourself in the job market.

As you never know where the recruiters will be searching for candidates, it is best to publish the portfolio on different websites. Having a well-designed LinkedIn profile on which you can link your Figma projects is a must. In addition to that, a good Behance profile can give you valuable visibility on the job market.

Tip: Many platforms still require you to upload a CV in PDF format. With a hybrid portfolio, you’ll always be on the safe side.

How do I build an impressive portfolio?

An interactive portfolio will for sure catch the eye of the recruiter. One way of doing that could be overlaying elements to show the process. This way, you’ll kill two birds with one stone: You can show the outcome and how you got there. The recruiter will see you are fluent in the tool and that you can build a prototype, which is an integral part of being a designer.

The structure of the portfolio plays an important role, too. A good hero image, one you can also see on a website, should explain what the project is about at first sight. You’ll also want to describe what kind of project it is. For the recruiter to have the correct expectation, they have to know whether it was just a boot camp project or a project you worked on over multiple months. A more extended project would obviously require more research.

Key Components of a Strong UX Portfolio

The next step is to describe the project. Where did you start? How did you solve the problem? Which steps did you take to get there? Although the results are relevant, a good portfolio will show how you got there.

In contrast to a UI portfolio, the UX portfolio contains sound reasoning. It shows why this problem was analyzed, what the end goal was and what you hoped to find in your investigation. Ideally, the case study is like a story you are telling the recruiter. While looking at it, the next step should be the logical continuation of the last one.

Showcasing Your Design Process

A good portfolio finishes off with a reflection. What went well? What could have gone better? What would you repeat, and what would you change? Critical thinking is a soft skill recruiters are especially looking for. Not everything has to be perfect always. The most important part is learning from past mistakes.

Even if you have little to no practical experience, you can build a portfolio using a boot camp case study. It doesn’t matter if you’re a design veteran or if you’re applying for your first job in this field: putting hard work and effort into your portfolio always pays off.

The three biggest mistakes to avoid while building your portfolio

1. A bad UX design and usability mistakes

To avoid this mistake, treat your portfolio the way you’d treat a case study or a UX project. This way, you’ll be more likely to notice even the tiniest details.

Tip: Try testing your designs with Userbrain to avoid usability mistakes

2. Quantity over quality

When a case study is too long and filled with too many details, the storytelling aspect goes missing. The actual portfolio should contain only the most important details. You can add the rest to a test script and link it.

Furthermore, you should only add the type of projects you’d be willing to work on again and that show your current abilities best. As a good rule of thumb, you shouldn’t have more than three case studies on the second page of your CV.

Session rollover on Userbrain

3. Confusing a UX with a UI portfolio

A UX portfolio doesn’t focus too much on visuals, but rather on the process and the approach. In comparison with UI portfolios, UX portfolios contain more text.

Let’s recap

If you want to impress recruiters with your skills and experience, a solid UX portfolio is the way to go. And if you want to test your designs, Userbrain has your back.

Don’t guess: test your UX portfolio

Take advantage of Userbrain’s generous 14-day free trial and test your portfolio on real people. You will receive two free user tests from their pool of over 100k quality-assured testers from across the globe.

And if you’re looking for a bit more assistance, you can book a call with one of Userbrain’s friendly user testing experts.

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