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I am putting together a portfolio of the wireframes, flows etcetera that I have created for the company I am employed by. I would like to get your thoughts on the following questions:

  1. Should I disclose the product name? (If unreleased yet)?
  2. Should I disclose the company name? (perhaps (c) company name)?
  3. Should I include designs for something novel that may soon be patented?

Any other suggestions regarding putting together a portfolio would be welcomed!

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

No, no and no - don't even include the wireframes/flows etc for unreleased products. At least not until you have sought and gained written permission to do so. It might also be that your employment contract prevents you from such disclosure, especially potentially to other employers.

Obviously written permission might be a bit tricky to follow through with since the obvious question is why do you want to build a portfolio - are you planning to leave?.

I have numerous works I'd love to use to build a portfolio, but nearly all are covered by NDAs or contracts which prevent this until the information is already in the public domain. Agreed, it's a difficult situation, but it's just not worth it.

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Definately no - you should only be showing YOUR work, not anything/any information that you have been provided with to do your work. – Schroedingers Cat Sep 5 '11 at 20:37
On applying for a new job they have asked to see example work. The wireframes, flow diagram, etcetera are my interpretation of product requirements. – Mike Sep 5 '11 at 20:39
@Mike: tell them you'd love to, but can't as you are under NDA, but you are happy to sit down with them and do some wireframes/flows to show how you work. – Marjan Venema Sep 6 '11 at 6:44

Definitely a big no no. You could consider "sanitizing" some elements or get permission. Failing that you can show it after it is no longer sensitive and has been released. This is difficult because it will mean that your portfolio may not be current. But clients and employers care more about how you think. Ethics is more important.

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If you can't share your normal work because it's under an NDA or otherwise non-public, consider doing "on-the-side" projects that you can share... either contract/pro-bono work, or simply theoretical "spec" work ("Here's what I would do if this were my project..."). These things can round out a otherwise bare portfolio.

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and that is the curse of this profession...we're addicted to freelance to fill out our portfolios. It's a nasty disease. ;) – DA01 Sep 6 '11 at 15:12

Just be smart. Don't divulge industry secrets, don't show work that is presently under an NDA, etc. Most stuff can be sanitized--especially at a micro level. If you spent 8 months working on a top-secret product UI, you don't need to divulge it all. Maybe focus on some a/b testing you did on a drop down menu, or something specific from a UX pov, but vague from a product POV.

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