How to Create a Stunning UX Design Portfolio (Tips & Examples)
How To Create a Stunning UX Design Portfolio For Students (Tips & Examples)
In this blog, our UX/UI instructor, Elle Kasai, shares her tips on creating a professional-looking UX design portfolio and her favourite portfolios from professional UX/UI designers you can benefit from.
A little introduction to our UX Program coordinator and UX Design instructor, Elle Kasai. Experience in both development and design, Elle is one of our best UX/UI Designer Instructors.
Before we go into that, let’s understand the basics of UX design and what is UX design portfolio.
When users use a product or service online, their experience outcome is evaluated based on value, function, usability and general impression.
Low UX design quality can lead to negative user experience outcomes. But a great UX design entails smooth and seamless operations that can influence a positive user experience.
What is UX Design Portfolio?
A UX portfolio is a collective of UX designers’ works showcasing their skills and abilities as a designer.
Whether you are planning to start your career as a UX designer or have already begun, a portfolio is necessary. It is considered visible and tangible proof to show work experience, design, and understanding of the UX design thinking process and how you apply it to your work.
Why Do UX Designers Need a Portfolio?
“Isn’t CV enough?” – This might be the question that comes to your mind. Yes, a CV is more than enough – in other positions, but not for a UX designer.
According to Indeed, a strong UX portfolio is the most critical part of a UX designer’s job application. Similarly, Nielsen Norman Group states that hiring managers want to see a portfolio from an applicant, regardless of their specialties in the UX field.
A UX portfolio represents your work, but it also helps highlight your strengths, helps future clients or employers understand your work process, and most importantly, control what and how you present your ability.
One of the good things about starting your career in UX design is you can switch and adapt your previous experience in other fields to UX. Many people who have work experience in customer service, marketing, psychology, etc., change their jobs to UX designers. So, it might ease your mind a little that it is never too late to start in UX career.
How to build a portfolio for UX design?
- Taking a UX design course is a first and an excellent way to build up your fundamentals.
- Start your UX design projects by attending volunteer jobs, hackathons, and co-op diploma programs.
- Structure your portfolio. Start with analyzing your personal SWOT Analysis to help you understand what you want to include in your portfolio.
- Choose 1-2 case studies. As a student with limited experience, we recommend you choose fewer projects to showcase but focus on the detail of the project and what you have learned from it.
- Create your portfolio. It is time for you to put the work into it. Chose the best format between web-based, PDF (slide deck) and physical artifacts to represent your work.
- Get feedback and revise. When everything is done, ask for an opinion. Make use of people around you for different comments and try to reflect on those to improve your portfolio. Remember that your portfolio is a continuous project, do not forget to keep track of everything. It will be easier to update.
Tips for Creating a Stunning UX Design Portfolio
To be successful as a UX designer, you need to have a growth mindset and be able to communicate your design decisions while having a user-centric view. At the same time, your UX portfolio should reflect your ability as a UX designer. Follow these UX design tips to build your portfolio.
- Take a UI/UX design course
- Start your projects
- Structure your portfolio
Tip 1: Take a course
Taking a UX design course is the first step in your UX design career and is an excellent way to build up your understanding foundation. As a newbie, your experience in UX design might be limited, but while you are attending the course, there will be ways you can start to build up your portfolio if you have no background in UX.
Tip 2: Start your projects.
As a student, you will be working on student projects to improve the skills needed in UX design jobs. As much as these student projects help you improve your skills, many hiring managers want to see more real-world projects. Because most of the student projects often have made-up users and personas which presented as unrealistic.
So, how will you gain real-life experience if you are a student? Here are some alternatives for you:
Study in Co-operative (co-op) diploma program – When you study a UI/UX design diploma program with Cornerstone, you will be able to work with a company in a full-time paid position. That way, you will work on many real-life projects, strengthen your skills, and gain a higher opportunity to find a UX job in Canada.
Try Volunteer jobs – Volunteering in a non-profit or a profit organization is an excellent way to build up your portfolio. You will be able to gain experience working on a live project and handle real users.
Join Hackathons – Hackathons are another great way to learn from different professions, grow your connection, and build a portfolio quickly. Typically, in hackathons tasks, you will be working with software programmers, developers, UX designers, UI designers, etc., to design something. You will be able to build up your portfolio, but you will also have a chance to enhance many require skills such as teamwork, communication and problem-solving.
Tip 3: Structure your portfolio
So often, people tend to focus on the visual aspect of the portfolio. But remember that your “visitors” are your potential clients or employers, so your portfolio needs to showcase more than just a beautiful design.
A portfolio that tells a story and a detail behind-the-scenes on your methods and processes are what you should focus on as it shows how you tackle UX design challenges and solve problems.
So, before creating your portfolio, structure what you want to communicate and what you want your visitors to remember about you and your work. Consider these questions when structuring your portfolio:
What am I good at?
Which UX activities do I enjoy doing?
What differentiates me from other designers?
If you have no prior experience, we recommend you start by analyzing your personal SWOT analysis. That way, you will understand your strengths, weaknesses, threats, and opportunities.
It is one of the brilliant ways to understand what you should include in your portfolio and align them to the work you are looking for.
Tip 4: Choose 1-2 projects as detailed case studies
As a student who just started, showing your potential is the most important way to go about your portfolio. When you apply for a junior-level UX design job, hiring managers are not expecting you to have many designs or projects.
So, instead of focusing on several projects, your UX portfolio should demonstrate three key elements: hard skills, your ability to understand and follow the UX design process and how you approach and solve design challenges.
When we mention “detailed,” it does not always mean that you should include only text explanation. It would help if you consisted of photos and screenshots that tell the story, early sketches, whiteboards, research documentation, and final images.
And last, the projects you choose should align with the work described in the job description. You must read the job description from the company you want to work with and try to match the skills they are looking for with yours.
Tip 5: Create your portfolio
You have structured your portfolio and gathered what you want to showcase in your portfolio. It is time to put everything together. There are three standard formats for designer portfolios: web-based, PDF (slide deck) and physical artifacts.
Let’s have a look at each format.
1- Web-Based UX Design Portfolio
A website or online service that displays your portfolio. It is commonly used and the most popular format among UX designers. It is easy to share and access.
The website itself also showcases your web design skillset and knowledge of responsive web design. In addition, it is also likely to appear in search results, increasing the chance that potential clients will find and hire you.
2- PDF / Slide Deck Style UX Design Portfolio
Another popular format for portfolios is a digital PDF or slide deck as a presentation of the projects. For a digital portfolio, you can remove or add projects based on the job you are applying for or the skills you want to highlight.
3- Physical Artifacts Type of UX Design Portfolio
Print designers widely use physical portfolios. However, suppose you are interviewing for a job. In that case, you can bring physical artifacts you use during your design processes — such as sketches or paper prototypes if you want to stress some critical points you recover in the design processes.
Now, you probably ask, How will I know when to use what format? To find out the answer, ask yourself these questions:
Did the job description specify a format?
Does it cost anything to create my portfolio in this format?
Do I have enough knowledge required to develop my portfolio in this format?
Regardless of your format, your portfolio should reflect who you are as a UX designer with a user-centric mindset. With that said, the design should be simple, coherent, and easy to navigate.
Tip 6: Get feedback and iterate
Once your portfolio is created, you can send it to your friends, colleagues or classmates for feedback. If you are Cornerstone’s students, you can ask our co-op coordinators to have a look and give you feedback. Another set of eyes on your portfolio will catch spelling or grammar errors, confusion about content, and the overall usability of your format.
3 Stunning Portfolio Design Examples & Case Studies
At last, we are moving to the five favourite UX design portfolios. We will look at these in some detail and point out what you can learn from them. Let’s get to it!
1. Dejan Markovic – Learning From Mistakes
One of the best characteristics of a great UX designer is the ability to recognize their mistakes and learn from those. In Dejan’s Achievo case study, you will get to learn about his experience working as a co-founder of a start-up company with his friends to build a platform for achieving personal goals and challenges they faced during the product development.
In his case study, you can see all the detailed working processes. Starting from how the idea emerged, how he identify problems, conducted research and develop hypotheses. You can see in the working process, the branding aspect in the website validation and validation data process. After that user personas, user flow and core product are developed. usability test, improvement, final outcome and development.
In the final thoughts section, Dejan gives us a glimpse of his learning points and how he can use this lesson in his future work.
What can you learn from his portfolio:
We mentioned before, as a student, you may not have many projects to showcase in your portfolio. Dejan’s case is explained in great detail from start to finish. If you are struggling with where to start, take a look at Dejan’s case and adapt your portfolio by following his structure.
2. Edgar Deiner – Responsive and Descriptive Design
At this point, it goes without saying that creating a responsive design is expected from UX designers. In Edgar’s case studies, we can see the concept of a great responsive design portfolio. – Let’s break it down.
In Fillo case study, Edgar explains his project working on creating a website storefront with a responsive approach. In this case study, Edgar explains his responsibility, detail about the clients, target audience, market research and strategy the cherry on the top, you can check out the real website he built for his clients.
Edgar chooses to showcase his organizational skills and storytelling. The case study focuses on the overview of the project, work timeline and work approach. Text, pictures and video are included in the case study, giving a reader a clear picture of how his thought process was when developed this product.
Let’s have a look at another one, the Group-Task case study. In this case study, Edgar explains the process in greater detail compared to the Filo case study. The case study shows the detail of challenges, problem, solution, user research, prototype, usability test, final product, walk thorough and key takeaway.
3. Lauren Waller – Simple But Powerful
The first thing you will see in this portfolio is how clean and organized it is. Once you dive into the case studies section, Lauren’s portfolio contains many powerful projects she has been working on.
In her latest case study, Okalpha, Lauran explains her process of creating a website for an animation studio using Webflow. The demand of her client was clear on how they wanted the website to interact and require an easy usage CRM. Lauren chose Webflow as the website builder so her client can maintain the website on their own in the future.
What can you learn from her portfolio:
Not only you can learn the structure of her portfolio, but you can also follow her thought process and learn how she professionally lays out all her process for us to see. For many of her case studies, Lauren is focusing on how her clients can maintain their websites on their own going forward. It is a great example for UX designers to keep clients in mind as well as their end-users.
What are the best resources to make a UX Design portfolio?
You do not need to have an intensive knowledge of coding or new high-level design for your portfolio. There are many platforms to help you build an impressive UX portfolio. Have a look at these website builder platforms, and choose one that matches your need.
Wix: One of the most popular website builders you can use to build a portfolio. There are functions such as drag-and-drop editor, or using Artificial Design Intelligence provided to make it easy to use and affordable.
Squarespace: Another popular website builder with mobile-responsive templates. Just like others, you can create your portfolio by drag-and-drop features.
Webflow: If you prefer building your portfolio from scratch, Webflow is the platform you need. This portfolio builder is all about creative freedom and virtually customization.
Portfoliobox: If you want creative freedom without the steep learning curve of Webflow, Portfoliobox provides a good middle ground. Geared towards designers and creatives who want to showcase their work, Portfoliobox offers highly customizable templates and an easy-to-use visual editor.
UXfolio: Developed in collaboration with leading UX professionals, the website is full of useful functions and features specifically for UX designers.
Adobe Portfolio: If you are paying for Creative Cloud Suite, take a benefit of Adobe Portfolio. The program can be integrated with Behance for more visibility. If you normally work with Adobe tools, the Adobe Portfolio builder will be easy for you.
Creating a flawless UX design portfolio is a must to get hired as a UX designer anywhere in the world!
We highly recommend for you follow up on our 6 UX design portfolio tips that we shared with you. Those tips will be the key to success in this industry.
Don’t forget the get the best outcomes for your career from the UX design case studies and please feel free to leave a comment below to get an answer from our expert instructors!