Prologue: Who should spend the time to make a killer portfolio website?
Consider this: What’s your unique UX superpower? What’s the one trait that makes you irresistible to potential interviewers? For those fortunate to have a track record of successful products at renowned companies, a portfolio website might seem like a “just for fun” move.
However, if you’re a budding student, someone at a startup, agency, consultancy, or simply someone who is not as confident in their career record, your portfolio becomes your beacon.
It’s a crucial asset that compensates for any uncertainties in your resume or work experience. (Since your portfolio website is one of the few things you have total control over during the job hunting process)
So ask yourself, does your portfolio truly represent your best work? If you’re aiming to make a mark in UX, switch to a dream job, or stand out among thousands vying for highly competitive roles at top companies in 2024, then settling for a ‘good enough’ portfolio isn’t an option.
Strive for a portfolio that’s undeniably exceptional, one that you’re unequivocally proud of, and don’t stop until you get there.
1. Understand The Evolution of UX Portfolios in the US tech market: What’s Trending in 2024 is not what is trending 5 years ago.
As emerging talents in UX design, your portfolio is your stage to showcase potential and versatility. This is your moment to experiment with new tools and techniques, creating work that makes seasoned designers ask, “Wow, how did they do that?”
Do: On your landing page, balance simplicity with creativity. Picture a project that reimagines an app’s design, enhancing user navigation — it’s a blend of intuition, clarity, and user empathy. In your case studies, steer clear of generic solutions. We’ll delve deeper into both these aspects in this article, offering insights on how to stand out.
Don’t: Avoid the pitfall of cramming your portfolio with every academic project. Overloading it with classwork can make it appear unfocused and scattered. Remember, your portfolio should be a curated display of your best work, not a comprehensive catalog of everything you’ve ever done. Select projects that truly represent your skills and growth potential.
For Senior, Lead, and Staff Levels: Depth, leadership, and innovation are your tickets. Take a look at my own portfolio & how it has evolved throughout the years (I try to update it yearly, but do not do a good enough job)
Do: Embrace complexity and creativity in showcasing your projects. For senior professionals, it’s about emphasizing the impact and scope of your work. Illustrate a major UX project you spearheaded across multiple platforms. Highlighting shipped projects with significant public impact is key. At this stage, your ability to lead and execute is assumed; the focus should be on what you accomplished and the rationale behind it. Infuse your portfolio with stories of strategic decisions and team leadership.
Don’t: Underestimate the power of a well-crafted portfolio, even at a senior level. Avoid presenting a portfolio that’s merely a checklist of tasks. While it’s not necessary to detail every step of your process, your portfolio should still captivate and inform. Consider adding unique elements that reflect your personality or interests in UX design.
This could be anything from your involvement in teaching to creating podcasts, participating in design events, or any other aspect that showcases your unique contributions to the field. Make your portfolio a reflection of not just your professional achievements, but also your passion and distinctiveness in the world of UX.
2. Stop Overlooking The Power of the Landing Page
In a world where more and more UX designers are making amazing portfolios from easy-to-use templates, your originality is king!
This is where good design comes into play, your portfolio’s landing page will be your throne room.
Our recommended site builder is Webflow (Still in 2024) — Most of our coaches Go-To: This tool balances the act between using templates and creating custom, memorable experiences with simple Code. In other words, it scales well. It’s about creating something you can apply over a weekend, while accessible to build out something crazy.
Do: An interactive timeline of your design journey can be a game-changer. It’s engaging and tells your story at a glance.
Don’t: Falling into the trap of generic templates. They may look clean, but they lack your personal brand’s soul.
Landing Page Importance: It’s your handshake, your first impression. Make it count. Take a look at this great visual flare from one of our advanced class students Eric.
Do: Use it to succinctly tell your story. A designer used a video clip summarizing their design philosophy, instantly captivating visitors.
Don’t: Overloading with information. A cluttered landing page can overwhelm and deter visitors, defeating the purpose. Remember a UX design portfolio is not a graphic design portfolio. See this amazing graphic design portfolio from Jarret Fuller, do you think this would be accessible to recruiters? Would this make a good UX design portfolio?
Word of advice, find the right balance between cool sh*t, while still being immediately recognizable as a product/UX design portfolio.
Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should take a look at the above Webflow demo we did in our UXGO class with the Webflow superstar portfolio invite-only series. Even though you definitely don’t want to build a portfolio like that, you can use those animation and 3D techniques to build eye candy elements in your portfolio like this one here, for our advanced class students.
3. Mastering “Real Storytelling”: The New Age of Case Studies
Now, the design process is common knowledge. The differentiator? How you weave your narrative and context into your work.
Crafting Your Narrative: Storytelling is about the ‘how’ and ‘why’, not just the ‘what’. Think of an actual movie.
Do: Weave a compelling narrative into each project. Think of your portfolio as a collection of stories, each explaining why you’re the perfect hire. For instance, the highlight of your first project might be how user feedback shaped every design iteration. The next project could focus on your ability to use data persuasively with skeptical stakeholders.
Each project should unfold like a distinct, action-packed story, much like an award-winning movie. While films follow certain structures, the best ones are always unique and memorable.
Don’t: Avoid the trap of merely listing design steps without any narrative. Portfolios that just outline processes without the soul of the story miss the mark. They resemble formulaic movies — similar plots with different settings. Repetitively applying the same methodology to various projects without acknowledging their unique contexts is a major red flag.
It’s like watching the same film plot repeatedly, just dressed in different costumes. Your portfolio should avoid this monotony and strive to showcase the unique journey and context of each project.
Epilogue: Your Portfolio Adventure Continues in 2024
The journey of refining your storytelling and portfolio skills is vast and exciting, and we’ve only just scratched the surface! Follow us for our future articles on storytelling & portfolio tips, or join our exhilarating 2024 live series, every Sunday on LinkedIn.
We’ll explore these realms together — and it’s completely free! For those seeking a more personalized and in-depth experience, we’re thrilled to offer full scholarships to select students who are active on LinkedIn and engaged in the design community. Don’t miss this chance to elevate your skills. Apply for a scholarship here. Let’s embark on this journey of growth and discovery together! 🚀🌟
Why your UX Portfolio is not getting interviews in 2024? Do’s & Don’ts! was originally published in UX Planet on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.