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I would like to put together an online portfolio for my UX work. However given that I work in-house on a single project, rather than for an agency, I'm wondering what I ought to include.

Are videos too lengthy to include, or will before and after screen shots (prototypes compared to finished product) be sufficient?

What's the winning formula that's worked for other UX folk?

I should mention a couple of caveats:

  • I'm not a developer, as I focus more on the interaction design and usability side of things, so the site will be basic.
  • The projects I work on aren't publicly available on the web, so I can't provide URLs.
  • I only do low-fi prototypes (i.e. no coding, just paper & pencil or Balsamiq).
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7 Answers

I'd definitely recommend including the lo-fi prototypes.

One of the things I like to see in portfolios is how a piece of work progresses. Just seeing the final work doesn't really tell me much about somebody's design process.

The portfolios that show the evolution of a project, dead ends and all, are much more revealing.

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Excellent suggestion. I think without the complete picture, it doesn't give enough insight into how we plans and iterate through multiple ideas. I always have a few throw away ideas that I like to refer back to and compare with the end product. –  Janel Dec 15 '09 at 9:20
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I used Jing (http://www.jingproject.com/) It's free. Records 5 minutes of screencast plus audio. You can upload it for free to their servers. On my blog, I made a list of the different projects or topics and then recorded a little explanation and walk-through.

I found it worked pretty well. You could also link directly to images of the low-fi mockups. I find Wordpress is the perfect tool to manage a portfolio. You don't need to know how to program.

Some helpful links:

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Yup - I use wordpress for my site/portfolio. There are also many templates (themes in wordpress speak) out there that are ideally suited to online portfolios. wordpress.org/extend/themes –  Alex Horstmann Dec 10 '09 at 9:44
    
Thanks Glen, I think this is the way to go. I already use Jing, so I would be able to utilize existing material as well. I appreciate the links as well, all good tips. –  Janel Dec 10 '09 at 11:05
    
Jing changed my life :D, it's a damn good tool. –  Adrian Jan 8 '10 at 10:01
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I would provide a password protected area of your site (which you can share with prospective clients & employers) with a sample of some of your work.

A good format is the title of the project (something anyone can understand, like "Redesign of Site X"), a short description of what you delivered and a few deliverables in PDF format (e.g. wireframes, scamps, sitemap, user testing reports etc.).

You say you only do low-fi prototypes, don't worry! If they are paper prototypes then scan them and make them available. And yes, I think it's good to see some end result screenshots.

As an example, on my online portfolio I use the above. For one project I outlined my involvement and have PDFs of the sketchy wireframes, higher fidelity wireframes and annotations, user test script and the end report, and some screenshots of the end results. People are looking for some examples of your work to get an idea of your skill level and approach.

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Nice idea Alex. I like the notion of the password-protected area, as some of the work contains price lists, which the company itself doesn't have available in the public domain. –  Janel Dec 9 '09 at 14:21
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All good ideas - iterative UX research & design always makes a good narrative. Just be sure to explain which bits you personally did, and which bits were done collaboratively or by other team members. If you clearly attribute ownership, you can happily show the whole story through to finished product without any guilt. –  Harry Dec 16 '09 at 21:50
    
Absolutely - it's always best to never, ever claim something that isn't quite true on a CV or Portfolio. Also, teamwork is a valuable skill. –  Alex Horstmann Dec 18 '09 at 9:47
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This might be self-evident, but why not ask potential hiring "authorities" what they want to see? As someone who provides that decision, I'm most often interested in:

  • How did you champion your UX decisions? Did you just throw the report over the fence, or did you take deeper ownership? Show follow through and dedication, if possible.
  • How did you work with the stakeholders, execution teams and users? In what ways did you collaborate? Describe this relationship, since managers are often equally concerned that you'll fit the culture.
  • How did you arrive at certain decisions? Show the thought process—even a few early artifacts. There's a reason why people like looking at sketches. It demonstrates the process and thinking. If there are cases where you had to compromise (time, budget, features, etc.), talk about those in terms of benefit—not blame.

Overall, remember that a portfolio should not and cannot substitute for your word. Its purpose is only to get you an interview or a lead. Don't spend too much time on flashy, novel interfaces—unless that's what distinguishes you.

Also, be careful about investing too much time in video walkthroughs because they can slow reviewers down. Certainly they can be helpful, but make them quick and succinct. Often, you've got only 30 seconds of these folk's time so give them Cliff Notes, not a novel.

FWIW, Dave Werner does an good job of videocasting his decision process. Click on the Wachovia case study.

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I am in a similar position at the moment - I'm not working as a UX person and all my projects are either personal or voluntary and majority of them are just user testing sessions and usability reviews. And I can't provide any URLs as none of those projects is live yet.

I spoke with a couple of UX Designers last week and been told I should focus more on a case study like portfolio, presenting mainly the way of thinking and how I worked during the project. I guess you could try the same approach and maybe include some excerpts from your usability studies. Screenshots and scans of your work are a great thing, especially if you have low-fi prototypes. I would also advise adding photos of any card sorting you did to illustrate how you worked on that (assuming you did that sort of thing).

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No need to supply examples, but I just wanted a general feeling for what is typical. The case study approach seems the most sensible, as it shows the problem I solved and the improvements made around that. Some things are personal projects for friends, but I suppose it's still possible to come up with case studies for those as well. –  Janel Dec 9 '09 at 14:24
    
I agree with Falka. I'm in the same situation as you guys: don't have a UX job but looking and a portfolio is needed for that. The same tips I got from UX peeps i know is to create case study like examples and not just deliverables. It also gives you a chance of showing how well you can write. –  JeroenEijkhof May 10 '10 at 6:35
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I had similar issues. Almost everything I worked on was not online. I created a site with pages for each project I felt solved the problems well and explained what was my contribution on each. I used a fair amount of text, screen-shots, sometimes before and after images, sometimes flow charts or other diagrams. In the case of some industrial design work I did, I included early sketches and mockups. I don't claim I have the greatest portfolio site but I think it solved the problems you are discussing.

Take a look here: http://zykinetics.com//folio.html

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Thanks Gary, I'm relieved to see I'm not facing a unique problem. Your approach sounds perfect, to give a full perspective on each project. –  Janel Dec 10 '09 at 11:07
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I've only once been asked to provide a UX portfolio, so I just sent through a collection of wireframes, photos of whiteboard sketches, UI specs, reports, evaluations etc. Bit random. I was offered the job, but still ... I don't think I could make a portfolio per se out of my work.

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That's a refreshing perspective that I can relate to. For some earlier projects, I would be hard pressed to be able to cobble anything useful together. –  Janel Dec 15 '09 at 9:17
    
I believe that probably is true Nathanael. On the other hand having a strong/good portfolio does increase the chances to get land a job. Specially for people like me who really don't have much work experience yet. I take my volunteer work and the stuff I made for friends/family. –  JeroenEijkhof May 10 '10 at 6:39
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