Creating An Engaging UX Portfolio

Author: Tom Byrne

Here at Forward Role I head up our UX/UI & Digital Design team and get the opportunity to work with a wide spectrum of talented specialists. One question that comes up time and time again is how to make your UX portfolio stand out to a prospective employer. Inevitably, this can play a key part in the recruitment process and is a method many employers use to judge the quality of your work.

The key to a standout UX portfolio is creating something that tells a story, through a process driven approach and visually engaging designs; sounds easy, right?

This article will outline some tips to help your UX portfolio best display your understanding and skillset.

1. Highlight your processes

In my experience, the best work I’ve seen addresses the audience in the first instance. Who are you designing for? What was the brief?  And what challenge did your designs overcome?

  • Outline the brief, challenges and overall project parameters
  • What was your approach to the challenge?
  • Highlight your process step by step from research through to final launch and usability testing
  • Use diagrams to illustrate your processes

By showing your processes and architectural ability this can help support the less inspiring visuals of wireframes and sketches that may appear later in your portfolio.

2. Don’t just focus on the visual

Even if you’re applying for a visual design position, more and more clients want to see a thought process behind your designs and decisions. A lot of UX portfolios focus on the final UI and visuals, these are often eye catching but are the designs functional? Did they solve the initial problem?

  • Split your portfolio equally, giving as much value to each aspect of the project
  • Include text alongside what your work is and which step of a process this is

From initial pen and paper sketches to wireframes through to high fidelity prototypes they all matter, each hold their own gravitas in leading to the final design and stunning Ui at the end of it all. By annotating each slide this helps paint a picture about what you’re doing and how it all ties together.

3. Software

There are many great tools and software that you can use throughout the UX journey.

Many clients will ask what software you use to design X, Y and Z, so wouldn’t it make sense to spell this out in your portfolio?

  • Do you use the same software? (Can you hit the ground running?)
  • Why do you use X technology? (this can be a great talking point in interview)
  • Can you introduce new software and ideas?

So, I recommend documenting which software you use at each stage of the process to accompany any visuals so that even the least UX clued up hiring manager understands what they’re looking at.

4. People

The people aspect of a portfolio is key when getting companies to sit up and take notice.

  • Include testimonials from clients, colleagues and industry professionals
  • Highlight similar companies you’ve worked with to them
  • Show how your designs can be transferrable
  • Highlight your client list (an honourable mention list if you will)

In such a competitive market, it makes sense to have your application   supported by testimonials from senior UX professionals in the community, shouting about how good you are. 

To practice what I preach I’ve attached a couple of testimonials about me and how I work.

"Tom helped me find my latest UX role and offered invaluable advice and assistance throughout the process. Both professional and down-to-earth, he was able to provide interview and portfolio tips as well as an impartial opinion on the design task required."
Andy Whitwood, UX Designer, Shop Direct

“Tom was absolutely fantastic throughout the entire recruitment process. It was a new experience for me dealing with a recruitment agent who specialised in UX jobs, and found it invaluable when he could give me very tailored and relevant feedback on my portfolio, CV and the interview task I was asked to complete.”
Kerry O’Donnell, UX Designer, Demon Tweeks

This is of course a very brief article, I could go on and on talking about how each aspect of the process can be adapted to best suit your application to a certain company and help you achieve the right position.

If you would like to grab a coffee and discuss your portfolio or your job search and how I can help I’d be happy to do so, I’m available on 07585 221 031 or tom@forwardrolerecruitment.com.

Read more about Tom here.

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