What is a UX portfolio? UX Question #5

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G.M. from Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, asks: what is a UX portfolio?

I love that question. Thanks for asking, G.M. This is UX Question number 5 and I am Ben Judy.

What is a UX portfolio? Well, it’s a collection of artifacts, deliverables, case studies, or other evidence of UX professional work. A portfolio is designed to showcase your skills and convince recruiters, hiring managers, and potential clients that you are the UX professional they should hire or collaborate with.

The content of your portfolio should be UX project work you performed or created. So if you’re a UX designer, your portfolio should showcase design projects you worked on, featuring artifacts you created such as flow diagrams, journey maps, user interface design at various levels of fidelity, and so on. If you are a UX researcher, your portfolio should showcase the research methods and activities you conducted, your synthesized findings and recommendations, and the impact you had on the product strategy or the UX design.

UX work is often very collaborative, so it’s important to explain what you did as an individual contributor versus what other team members did.

Sometimes you may write a detailed case study that explains every step of your UX design process. In other cases, you may choose to simply highlight a few important aspects of your work and show just a small selection of artifacts, without a more detailed narrative.

Portfolios can be crafted in various formats. Some UX professionals create a PDF document so their portfolio can be emailed or attached to a job application. It’s also common to create a portfolio web site, perhaps using a site builder like Webflow or Squarespace. Some web publishing platforms are more geared toward showcasing entire case studies—UX Folio is one example. Others are more geared toward displaying individual design artifacts without much explanation or context—Dribbble and Behance are two examples.

My perspective on UX portfolios is that they are critically important to landing a UX job, especially early in your career. Hiring managers will look at your portfolio even more closely than your resume. Later in your career, it may matter less as your professional network grows, your reputation is established, and you may be in more of a design leadership or strategy role.

Finally, a UX portfolio is an opportunity for you to show the design that could have been, not what was actually built after your efforts were utterly crushed by the merciless gears of capitalism that prioritized profit and speed over quality.

So that’s what a UX portfolio is.

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