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I have been thinking of rebuilding my portfolio since its pretty outdated and I wanted some views on the approach I should take

Option 1 : Have an approach in which I list all the projects (major ones) on the front page and allow visitors to go through them

Option 2 : I build it like a conventional site and allow users to learn more about me (and my design methodology) before they have a look at the projects ,so the order would be home ,about me,my portfolio and contact me

The thing is I have seen portfolios of designers who have employed either of the methods and have been successful but I get mixed signals from people about what exactly they want to see,some say that most people are not interested in who the person is and rather would just like to see the work while I have heard contrasting views from other people as well.

I also would like to hear your views on how you handle the issue of proprietary work being displayed on portfolios

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There are extensive discussion here & on Quora about both issues: how people judge UX designer quality (what to include in portfolio) and how to handle proprietary work in portfolios. – dnbrv Dec 30 '11 at 18:36
up vote 6 down vote accepted

I have worked on my own site through countless iterations and have never been happy. I'll paraphrase the old adage, "A designer who designs their own site has a fool for a client" :)

This is what I have learned through feedback on my own site, from hiring and seeing the successful sites of people who have been hired.

Go with some version of option one.
Make it so visitors get a (mostly visual) idea of you and your work in about a minute.

Lead with your best project...have one or two more and that's plenty. List where and who you worked for and your education. Make getting in touch with you easy. Forget the rest. You can list your philosophy but IMHO, it has little bearing.

The goal of the site should be to get you an interview not provide enough evidence to get you hired.

Lastly, your site IS your first work sample. Make it unique.

Examples: I watched people on my site at interviews; they clicked on the first thumbnail section, looked around a bit more and they were done. Every time, I took stuff away it got less cluttered and more successful.

I was helping to hire my replacement at my last job... I often knew the second their page loaded whether they were a candidate or not. Two clicks later, I was sure.

Same at my new job... I just hired a UI designer. 30 seconds on their site was all I needed to know whether they should come in for an interview.

Finally at my last company, I was looking internally and got passed up for another candidate. I was friends with the recruiter and he showed me the winning candidate's work. His work was awesome and the site was simple. It looked almost like a PowerPoint presentation. He stated the issue, showed his solution and then quickly explained it. I think he had two examples. That's all it took.

My out-of-date site where I follow none of this advice is on my profile. Tell me if you think its any good.

Tim

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Thanks Tim,some interesting feedback there – Mervin Johnsingh Dec 30 '11 at 19:26
    
In March 2013, I switched my portfolio site to a tumblr blog. uxwala.tumblr.com I am getting much more interest and appreciation for my work and it's easier to express a simple concept, approach or provide screens and video. The narrative approach has much more appeal. – Itumac Mar 25 '13 at 17:47

This is a target group question. My guess is that you want to get a new job and that is why you want to build a portfolio site? Where do you want to work? At an IT-company? At an a markering department or a e-commerce business? At an advertising agency? Ask people at those places what they look for when they How well does the hiring manager know about UX? What terms do the know? An advertising agency is probably more interested in a guy that is "creative" and has done a lot of campaign sites and know how to work with print art directors and copywriters while the IT company wants to be sure that you have worked with large projects. The e-commerce business wants to know if you have experience with selling stuff on the web. Knowing what they look for in a new employee would give you a lot of insight into how to structure your portfolio site. For me it is important to see that the guy knows what he or she is talking about so Ill look for proofs such as if the guy is running a blog or is partisiparting in the debate, has done some interesting experiments, if the work he has done has been circulated on web design blogs and so on. If you are a badass at Ux prove it instead of just saying it. I dont want to hire someone. I want to buy trust and money.

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Well I am not not looking for a job since I am pretty happy where I am currently but I was thinking of doing a redesign to keep my online profile current but I agree with your views on designing it for the user. – Mervin Johnsingh Dec 30 '11 at 19:32
    
Ok, but what is your purpose then? – Tony Bolero Dec 30 '11 at 19:47
    
Well as I said before,its mainly to make it current and to give it a fresher look.I had initially created it when I was in school and it was full of school projects but now I like to look at alternative approaches on enhancing that portfolio to give it a fresher look.I am sure it will have its value if I decide to shift jobs but thats not top of the agenda for now – Mervin Johnsingh Dec 30 '11 at 19:53
    
Allright. Just for show off then. :) Well I guess that there isnt really any problems related to any tasks that the target group want to solve. – Tony Bolero Jan 4 '12 at 21:59

More importantly than the way of presentation is the portfolio development itself, which touches more complex issues like your methodology as a UX designer.

A good methodology could be the following:

  • you start mining for an online business that could use your help

  • ideally, that business should have the exact issues that you can fix. Think of it as a special chemistry between your skills and the problems you see there.

  • then, you simply have to prove that the problem is real. Go for User Testing.

  • Save the day! Present your solution!

  • Let them know that you saving the day in this regard is actually the service you provide and for which you are supposed to get paid.

  • Enrich your portfolio with the outcome of this project.

Now returning to the principle that methodology is more important that the way of presentation, I want to add the following suggestion:

Don't just showcase your design like it's only a matter of static results - just a wireframe that has gone through certain stages. A good and convincing portfolio is supposed to tell a story.

  • the plot: Somebody had a problem;
  • the development of the story: You have analized the problem, you have tested out your suppositions, and then, happy end!
  • the moral of the story: You are a great UX Designer and the new client should definitely hire you.

Clients are more empathetic when portfolios are presented as stories, because they will immediately think:

"That's it! I have the exact problem, and this guy seems to have already solved it in another circumstance!"

Clients don't care about beautiful designs as they care about their problems being solved as soon as possible and without too much energy from their behalf.

Probably you get mixed signals from people because you are not starting from the right premise, and they didn't figure that out when offering you that feedback. Try another approach. Mind your methodology first, and then the method of portfolio display.

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