Picture the scene: You’ve got the experience. The skills. The reams of great projects, sites and ideas to your name. And you’ve found the perfect job to apply for. But WAIT – how will you convince the hiring manager that you’re the designer of their dreams if you don’t have a portfolio? Is there any point sending over your CV if you can’t complement it with the ‘hard evidence’? With only a few hours to go until the vacancy window closes, you let out a sad sigh of frustration and shut your computer down…
If you’ve been in this situation yourself, you’ll know that when it comes to applying for jobs, time is often of the essence. But you’ll also know that a good UX portfolio doesn’t magically put itself together overnight. It can take weeks to update or start a portfolio from scratch, especially if you’re working full-time during the day. And, while there may be occasions where your CV or industry reputation is enough to get you an interview, nine times out of ten people are going to want to see the results of all your hard work – namely, the finished products.
So, if you are putting off starting your portfolio, here are five bitesize actions you can take to get the ball rolling.
Get all of your work in one place
This step requires taking stock of the work available to you – i.e. that which is not under NDA or is no longer online. Make a list of live websites that showcase your work, dive into your files on your computer and go back through your emails to check you’ve got copies of all those great freelance jobs you did. Then put it all in one place in a single, easy-to-access file. It may still be chaotic, but at least it will be organised.
Pick a platform
Whether you prefer arranging all of your work into a neat, shareable PDF file or signing up for an online platform such as Behance or Dribbble, the choice is yours. You might even want to go all out and purchase your own domain name. Ask to see some friends’ examples, or research UX/UI portfolio online and decide which format suits you.
Choose an order
Will you order your portfolio chronologically, with your most recent work first? Or will you put your personal favourites towards the front? How about relying on those big-name brands to catch the reader’s eye? Sketching out and noting down a portfolio structure can be done in just a few minutes at lunch or even on the train home. Job done.
Edit, edit, edit
After getting all your work together, you may find that you have too much of it! Go through the work you’ve collected and weed out the weaker stuff. We suggest aiming for between 10-15 pages in a PDF portfolio, and the same number of items/projects if using a website to host your work. Aim to make a great first impression by using only your most engaging talking points, and remember you can always provide additional information on a particular project if necessary.
Design a theme
This isn’t really a quick step, but it is the most important one bearing in mind the industry you work in. Basically, your portfolio has got to look hella slick. If you’ve chosen to upload projects to an online portfolio community then you won’t have to worry about this, but if you’re creating a showcase from scratch you really have to think about how it works as an overall design piece. As for specific advice on how to make your portfolio look sexy… we’ll leave that to you, the professional!
A final thought to bear in mind: if you’re an Interaction Designer, your portfolio is going to look very different to that of a Graphic UI Designer, Web Developer or User Researcher.