With more and more people changing careers and with the ability to do so after a six month bootcamp, how do you build a product design portfolio as a junior designer; one that helps you stand out of the crowd? If you are currently building your portfolio and preparing to start looking for a job as a Product designer, there is a lot you can do to raise your chances to get noticed.
First you need to treat your Portfolio as a ux project of it's own. What does that mean? You treat it as a problem that you are trying to solve: how can my portfolio get me hired? Then take the steps needed.
These are the steps i took:
Do a lot of research
When i started planning my first Product design portfolio, i spent days looking into other designer's portfolios, noting the things i liked and what inspired me. This is not about copying another designer, but about understanding what differentiates a good from a great portfolio. Save all that inspires you for future reference, then when your research is complete you will review and make notes.
What things are making these portfolios great?
What structure do they follow?
What inspired you?
What do they include? ( case studies, about page, blog, cv...)
“good artists copy; great artists steal”
While you do that, keep in mind, that your portfolio is a showcase for your work but also to who you are. So don't be afraid to find ways for your personality to come out. These two when done right will make your portfolio stand out.
Be as detailed as possible, if you create a structure and design for your Portfolio before starting out it will make the work easier. This includes your case studies. I will go more in detail about those later. I decided to design an outline and structure on Adobe XD before putting everything online.
Next thing to consider when building your portfolio is the skills you are trying to showcase. Of course there are all the ux and ui skills one needs to have and show through the case studies. Work on showing a depth of knowledge in a couple of these: UX research, testing, wireframing, prototyping and visual design (colour, typography..). You should show your ability to work through most but you are not expected to be a master of all of them, maybe your strength and passion lies in UI design, or ux strategy. This is what is called a T-Shape person.
These skills and what i mention below will show how you will bring value to the company. While i was in the process of interviewing, i talked with designers with more experience than me and got as much feedback and advice possible, some of it is included below:
Soft skills are as important as hard skills
- Show you are a great communicator: explain why you did what you did, your ability to iterate on ideas and explain your thought process. Showing your thought process and different iterations is more important than filling your project page with high fidelity designs.
- Have you worked with interdisciplinary teams? Being able to collaborate and communicate with other team members is an essential part of being a product designer. Mention this in your work process.
- Showing confidence in what inspired you and the direction you want to take in your career. You can be flexible while showing you are passionate about certain Industries or design directions.
- You care about the business problem and goals and you show it through your work. If your solutions are centered both in the user and the business, it shows you care about both.
Keep all these in mind when you are building and structuring your work for your Portfolio.
STRUCTURE OF PORTFOLIO
If you can create your own website portfolio outside places like behance, dribbble and pdf files do so. This will give you more flexibility in how you build your work and how it looks. You can build an image that is branded and is personal.
What hiring managers expect to see in a portfolio?
- About page: include a little bit about yourself, you can also add your CV here.
- Home page: a place where all your Projects can be found. Having at least 3 projects is a great start.
- Project pages: create a layout that can be used for your projects/ case studies that bring consistency and shows you have a great visual aesthetic.
- Contact info: this can be as a footer or an additional page.
STRUCTURE OF CASE STUDIES
I have talked about this earlier and i think going through the research process is important, as everyone has different work, skills and strengths they want to showcase. I will tell you what i think is important to include, coming from my own research and studies, by no means this is the only way.
- Project Overview: Role, timeline, description
- You role: include other people if you were a part of a team
- Understanding: Problem statement, Competitor Research, MVP
- Research: include findings of qualitative and quantitative data you gathered and conclusions you made.
- User Personas: User stories, needs, frustrations...
- Design challenge : How might we?
- The User Journey: user and task flows
- Ideas: first low fidelity ideas in wireframes, here you can add pictures of initial sketches, explaining the main features you worked on
- The solution: Mid fidelity designs, this section can be more detailed, chose some of the most important screens showing iterations and changes made (before and after usability testing for example)
- Validating Ideas: any conclusions from usability testing, learnings ( this can be also added at the end)
- Gallery of high fidelity designs, if appropriate mobile and web.
- Design Library ( if you worked on one)
- Learning and Insights summary
It is important, even though there is a lot of information to include here, to keep it condensed. When building a product design portfolio chose only what is important, as long as it shows your process. Showing a few wireframes and pictures of work in a scale that people can see well is also better than adding all your designs in tiny sizes.
A Product designer's Portfolio is a living document of work in progress, it takes time to build and the attention to detail any design project would need. Make sure to get feedback and present it with confidence.