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Great UX Portfolios 
Its all about the story! 
Mary Wharmby! 
UX Design Director, Spring Studio! 
! 
! 
@marywharmby 
www.marywharmby.com 
Presented to Tradecraft 
September 16, 2014
UX Portfolios… the pain
Why so hard? 
• Portfolios are personal 
- its difficult to talk about yourself 
• You’re being judged 
- the audience is vague and complex 
• The stakes are high 
- job, career, lifestyle are on the line 
• Our work is often intangible
So, yikes! Where do you start?
When in doubt, trust the process 
• Apply our biggest go-to UX designer master tool: UCD 
- UCD is the best way we know to solve design problems 
- Applying UCD will help make the design process feel less 
personal taking some of the emotional charge out of it 
• TREAT YOUR PORTFOLIO LIKE ANY OTHER PROJECT
Loosely sequenced UCD process 
1.Discovery 
2. Strategy and Concepts 
3. Interaction / UI Design 
4. Testing and Iteration 
5. Visual Design 
6. Development & Deployment
DISCOVERY
Know your audience 
• Search and analyze job listings 
- What level of skills, experience and 
education are they looking for? 
- How do they describe jobs? 
• Talk to your mentors and colleagues 
• Go on informational interviews
Who are you competing with? 
• Research other’s portfolios 
• Whats good and what's bad 
about them? 
• How can you stand out?
Discover the possibilities 
• What's cool? 
• What might set you apart? 
• What tone do you want to set?
STRATEGY & CONCEPTS 
(the hard part)
Who are you today?
Who do you want to be tomorrow?
Your identity may include… 
ux generalist 
(soup-to-nuts design) 
specialist (ux research, 
ia or gamification) 
ui designer 
designer/developer 
entrepreneur 
speaker 
manager 
strategist 
educator 
organizer 
visual facilitator 
service designer 
a start-up person 
an enterprise person 
“special” expert
…a mix of specialties 
ux generalist 
(soup-to-nuts design) 
specialist (ux research, 
ia or gamification) 
ui designer 
designer/developer 
entrepreneur 
speaker 
manager 
strategist 
educator 
organizer 
visual facilitator 
service designer 
a start-up person 
an enterprise person 
“special” expert
…and will evolve over time 
ux generalist 
(soup-to-nuts design) 
specialist (ux research, 
ia or gamification) 
ui designer 
designer/developer 
entrepreneur 
speaker 
manager 
strategist 
educator 
organizer 
visual facilitator 
service designer 
a start-up person 
an enterprise person 
“special” expert
Develop an overarching strategy 
Manage your identity across multiple channels 
! 
• publishing 
• blogging 
• speaking 
• competing 
• teaching 
! 
Determine how each channel supports your overall identity
Then, set specific portfolio goals 
• Support professional brand 
• Get work seen 
• Get jobs 
• Find clients 
• Network 
• Receive contacts
Some of the content is a given… 
• Skills 
• Experience 
• Work examples 
• Education 
• Downloadable resume 
• Contact form
But, UX is different
UX has to demonstrate fuzzy skills 
• Problem solving skills 
• UX and UCD process skills 
• Storytelling in both images and words 
• Big picture thinking 
• Detailed thinking 
• Critical thinking 
• Ability to work with complexity 
• Ability to think outside the box (creativity)
Thinking: the “invisible” skill 
• How do you show thinking? 
• Its invisible but you can see 
evidence of it all around you
Approach 1: Case study 
• Usually considered the best approach 
• Shows a number of projects 
• Traces the entire process from discovery and problem 
identification to solution (and maybe implementation)
Apply a strong narrative 
• Problem 
• Process 
• Solution 
• Results* 
• Your Role
“Show” the story with evidence 
• Show, don’t tell 
• Include detail but don’t force me into it (options) 
• Provide the “why” for each step (what did you learn) 
• Highlight pivots and evolution of thinking 
• Keep it brief and to the point
Approach 2: Design process 
• Useful if you don't have complete projects or NDAs prohibit 
a full case study approach 
• Show process and problem solving but its more 
generalized (not grounded in a single project) 
• Describe each process step and why it matters 
• Show examples of deliverables from each stage
That process may look like this 
1.Discovery 
2. Strategy and Concepts 
3. Interaction / UI Design 
4. Testing and Iteration 
5. Visual Design 
6. Development & Deployment
Add something about you! 
• What’s your story? 
• What do you care about? 
• What do you love to do? 
• What makes you unique? 
• What are you looking for?
SKETCHES & WIREFRAMES
UX/UI is usually fairly simple 
• Create an information architecture (sitemap) 
• Define your navigation scheme 
• Remember everything you already know about usability: 
- Make it easy to find 
- Be modular (easier to update)
TESTING & ITERATION
Get it in front of people 
• Show mockups of your site to colleagues and mentors. 
• Get their advise on your narrative, presentation, etc. 
• Make changes. 
• Rinse and repeat. 
• Its worth the time to get something really good
Apply basic usability practices 
• Is it scannable? 60 second test 
• Can I find something specific quickly? 
• Are you resonating with the right audience? 
• Is your resume downloadable? 
• Are you easy to reach? (contact form not an email link)
VISUAL DESIGN
Don’t compete with yourself 
• Keep it clean and simple 
• Remember the site design is a framework for your work 
• Put time into making your work examples look good
DEVELOPMENT & DEPLOYMENT
Lots of options 
Squarespace 
Coroflot 
Behance 
Carbonmade 
Dribble
Work on your offline presence 
• Maintain a more detailed set of case studies or examples 
to use during interviews 
• Be ready to take a large audience smoothly through your 
work 
• Show-and-tell is a good thing
NDA Junction
NDAs 
• Follow the NDA 
• A few techniques to show limited views of the work 
- Blur/box out names and sensitive content 
- Show a cropped detail that removes crucial context 
- Keep it small and provide just a flavor of the work 
- Create a fictional project to showcase similar work
BEST PRACTICE RECAP
Mary’s Top 10 
1. Make your portfolio part of a larger brand strategy that 
spans channels and communities 
2. Know your audience (research, networking) 
3. Show your thinking (show evidence and results) 
4. Tell a good story (strong narrative) 
5. Make it visual (show, don't tell; document everything)
Mary’s Top 10 
6. Less is usually more (be selective) 
7. Be honest (everyone starts somewhere) 
8. Keep it simple (don’t compete with your own work) 
9. Get personal (tell us about yourself) 
10. Stay fresh (keep your identity up-to-date and evolving)
RESOURCES
A few examples 
UX Portfolio 
User Experience Design Portfolio of Simon Pan 
Edmund Yu - UI/UX Design Portfolio Seattle 
Brian Plemons / Designer
Resources 
Five Indispensable Skills for UX Mastery 
betteruxportfolios | Portfolio tips for UX professionals 
How to wow me with your UX portfolio 
10 Tips for a Better UX Portfolio — Medium 
The UX Portfolio: Top 10 Questions for UX, UI & Visual Designers
Image Credits 
• Pain https://flic.kr/p/gSBKuk 
• Deer https://flic.kr/p/nE2H4 
• Audience https://flic.kr/p/2XuJbH 
• Competition https://flic.kr/p/auoXPH 
• Inspiration https://flic.kr/p/5VcbTv 
• Toolbelt https://flic.kr/p/4fSezm 
• Bulldozer https://flic.kr/p/53YCtb 
• Craftsman https://flic.kr/p/71fq4J 
• Different https://flic.kr/p/4ob8eT 
• About you https://flic.kr/p/nnL5Y9 
• Stop https://flic.kr/p/cM1FCS
Thank you! 
Mary Wharmby! 
UX Design Director, Spring Studio 
! 
! 
@marywharmby 
www.marywharmby.com

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Great UX Portfolios

  • 1. Great UX Portfolios Its all about the story! Mary Wharmby! UX Design Director, Spring Studio! ! ! @marywharmby www.marywharmby.com Presented to Tradecraft September 16, 2014
  • 3. Why so hard? • Portfolios are personal - its difficult to talk about yourself • You’re being judged - the audience is vague and complex • The stakes are high - job, career, lifestyle are on the line • Our work is often intangible
  • 4. So, yikes! Where do you start?
  • 5. When in doubt, trust the process • Apply our biggest go-to UX designer master tool: UCD - UCD is the best way we know to solve design problems - Applying UCD will help make the design process feel less personal taking some of the emotional charge out of it • TREAT YOUR PORTFOLIO LIKE ANY OTHER PROJECT
  • 6. Loosely sequenced UCD process 1.Discovery 2. Strategy and Concepts 3. Interaction / UI Design 4. Testing and Iteration 5. Visual Design 6. Development & Deployment
  • 8. Know your audience • Search and analyze job listings - What level of skills, experience and education are they looking for? - How do they describe jobs? • Talk to your mentors and colleagues • Go on informational interviews
  • 9. Who are you competing with? • Research other’s portfolios • Whats good and what's bad about them? • How can you stand out?
  • 10. Discover the possibilities • What's cool? • What might set you apart? • What tone do you want to set?
  • 11. STRATEGY & CONCEPTS (the hard part)
  • 12. Who are you today?
  • 13. Who do you want to be tomorrow?
  • 14. Your identity may include… ux generalist (soup-to-nuts design) specialist (ux research, ia or gamification) ui designer designer/developer entrepreneur speaker manager strategist educator organizer visual facilitator service designer a start-up person an enterprise person “special” expert
  • 15. …a mix of specialties ux generalist (soup-to-nuts design) specialist (ux research, ia or gamification) ui designer designer/developer entrepreneur speaker manager strategist educator organizer visual facilitator service designer a start-up person an enterprise person “special” expert
  • 16. …and will evolve over time ux generalist (soup-to-nuts design) specialist (ux research, ia or gamification) ui designer designer/developer entrepreneur speaker manager strategist educator organizer visual facilitator service designer a start-up person an enterprise person “special” expert
  • 17. Develop an overarching strategy Manage your identity across multiple channels ! • publishing • blogging • speaking • competing • teaching ! Determine how each channel supports your overall identity
  • 18. Then, set specific portfolio goals • Support professional brand • Get work seen • Get jobs • Find clients • Network • Receive contacts
  • 19. Some of the content is a given… • Skills • Experience • Work examples • Education • Downloadable resume • Contact form
  • 20. But, UX is different
  • 21. UX has to demonstrate fuzzy skills • Problem solving skills • UX and UCD process skills • Storytelling in both images and words • Big picture thinking • Detailed thinking • Critical thinking • Ability to work with complexity • Ability to think outside the box (creativity)
  • 22. Thinking: the “invisible” skill • How do you show thinking? • Its invisible but you can see evidence of it all around you
  • 23. Approach 1: Case study • Usually considered the best approach • Shows a number of projects • Traces the entire process from discovery and problem identification to solution (and maybe implementation)
  • 24. Apply a strong narrative • Problem • Process • Solution • Results* • Your Role
  • 25. “Show” the story with evidence • Show, don’t tell • Include detail but don’t force me into it (options) • Provide the “why” for each step (what did you learn) • Highlight pivots and evolution of thinking • Keep it brief and to the point
  • 26. Approach 2: Design process • Useful if you don't have complete projects or NDAs prohibit a full case study approach • Show process and problem solving but its more generalized (not grounded in a single project) • Describe each process step and why it matters • Show examples of deliverables from each stage
  • 27. That process may look like this 1.Discovery 2. Strategy and Concepts 3. Interaction / UI Design 4. Testing and Iteration 5. Visual Design 6. Development & Deployment
  • 28. Add something about you! • What’s your story? • What do you care about? • What do you love to do? • What makes you unique? • What are you looking for?
  • 30. UX/UI is usually fairly simple • Create an information architecture (sitemap) • Define your navigation scheme • Remember everything you already know about usability: - Make it easy to find - Be modular (easier to update)
  • 32. Get it in front of people • Show mockups of your site to colleagues and mentors. • Get their advise on your narrative, presentation, etc. • Make changes. • Rinse and repeat. • Its worth the time to get something really good
  • 33. Apply basic usability practices • Is it scannable? 60 second test • Can I find something specific quickly? • Are you resonating with the right audience? • Is your resume downloadable? • Are you easy to reach? (contact form not an email link)
  • 35. Don’t compete with yourself • Keep it clean and simple • Remember the site design is a framework for your work • Put time into making your work examples look good
  • 37. Lots of options Squarespace Coroflot Behance Carbonmade Dribble
  • 38. Work on your offline presence • Maintain a more detailed set of case studies or examples to use during interviews • Be ready to take a large audience smoothly through your work • Show-and-tell is a good thing
  • 40. NDAs • Follow the NDA • A few techniques to show limited views of the work - Blur/box out names and sensitive content - Show a cropped detail that removes crucial context - Keep it small and provide just a flavor of the work - Create a fictional project to showcase similar work
  • 42. Mary’s Top 10 1. Make your portfolio part of a larger brand strategy that spans channels and communities 2. Know your audience (research, networking) 3. Show your thinking (show evidence and results) 4. Tell a good story (strong narrative) 5. Make it visual (show, don't tell; document everything)
  • 43. Mary’s Top 10 6. Less is usually more (be selective) 7. Be honest (everyone starts somewhere) 8. Keep it simple (don’t compete with your own work) 9. Get personal (tell us about yourself) 10. Stay fresh (keep your identity up-to-date and evolving)
  • 45. A few examples UX Portfolio User Experience Design Portfolio of Simon Pan Edmund Yu - UI/UX Design Portfolio Seattle Brian Plemons / Designer
  • 46. Resources Five Indispensable Skills for UX Mastery betteruxportfolios | Portfolio tips for UX professionals How to wow me with your UX portfolio 10 Tips for a Better UX Portfolio — Medium The UX Portfolio: Top 10 Questions for UX, UI & Visual Designers
  • 47. Image Credits • Pain https://flic.kr/p/gSBKuk • Deer https://flic.kr/p/nE2H4 • Audience https://flic.kr/p/2XuJbH • Competition https://flic.kr/p/auoXPH • Inspiration https://flic.kr/p/5VcbTv • Toolbelt https://flic.kr/p/4fSezm • Bulldozer https://flic.kr/p/53YCtb • Craftsman https://flic.kr/p/71fq4J • Different https://flic.kr/p/4ob8eT • About you https://flic.kr/p/nnL5Y9 • Stop https://flic.kr/p/cM1FCS
  • 48. Thank you! Mary Wharmby! UX Design Director, Spring Studio ! ! @marywharmby www.marywharmby.com