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I'm trying to think how to ask this in a way that isn't just opinion-seeking, and it's valuable to this site. Hopefully this works:

When hiring UX designers, what drawbacks should I consider in looking at candidates who use online 'portfolio' services like uxfolio to present their work?

Example: I understand it might be a timesaver, but it removes my ability to review a candidate's portfolio site as a sample of their work, beyond the projects they present. Some of these tools seem lacking in effective presentation, also. I've seen several that don't effectively consider mobile optimization. A standalone portfolio site indicates consideration of all aspects of a project, start to finish, and sometimes shows they've had experience with front end development (sometimes preferred in a UX designer).

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    Most bespoke portfolio sites mimic each other anyway "Hi, I'm Jessica, and I love UX!" They're not really the best representation of a candidate's creativity and problem-solving. Look at their past performance, not the envelope it came in.
    – Izquierdo
    Apr 20, 2023 at 19:00

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I think this depends entirely on what role you're looking to hire for? Unless you're looking for someone who designs as well as develops the frontend, I don't think it matters. For UX roles, the most important thing should be the work. Does it demonstrate the thought process of the designer clearly? Does it accurately demonstrate the designer's experience and design sensibility?

My 2c:

What's the purpose of a portfolio? To showcase the designer's best work.

Does the portfolio site allow the designer to showcase his best work? Most do.

Does a custom built site allow the designer to showcase their work better than most pre-built sites? Maybe. But its usually not worth the significant additional effort to build.

One could argue that a custom built site shows that the designer is more considerate of the details like responsiveness to screen sizes etc. but I could also argue that part of being a good designer is knowing how to prioritize limited resources like time & effort into where they are needed the most. For e.g. Are most HR screeners and recruiters looking at portfolio sites on their mobile devices?

It does demonstrate that the candidate is willing to go 'above and beyond' the norm, but building a custom site is not the only way to demonstrate that.

I would rather take a guy with excellent projects using a prebuilt portfolio site, over someone who built their own site but the projects inside are mediocre.

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  • In my experience, having a UX designer with some technical knowledge can be quite the advantage and does matter. They are much more likely to understand constraints and see pitfalls before even creating something, rather than going "super creative" but then half of it cannot be built.
    – Big_Chair
    Apr 20, 2023 at 7:45
  • While I see where you are coming from, I don't think someone with technical knowledge necessarily needs to build their own site, much like how a restaurant critic doesn't need to cook their own food. I rarely see "super creative" impractical designers, I think that most designers tend to have a sense of what's doable or not on the dev side once they have a couple years of experience.
    – cgtk
    Apr 20, 2023 at 9:41
  • Yeah I definitely agree on that part about building their own website, seems a little much to expect, you're not hiring a developer. I only brought it up because you said "Unless you're looking for someone who designs as well as develops the frontend, I don't think it matters".
    – Big_Chair
    Apr 20, 2023 at 10:24
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I would avoid stigmatizing whoever creates their portfolio from an application, as @cgtk rightly says, it all depends on what you are looking for.

Personally, I would divide the search into two aspects:

  • Type of job
  • Worker profile

In absolutely all professions there are creative tasks and productive tasks. Depending on these two parameters, what is the need:

  1. Highly creative
  2. Exclusively productive
  3. Something in the middle between the previous two

For answer 1, perhaps a few of the profiles with an online portfolio created from an app are adequate, while for answers 2 and 3 they would fit perfectly.

To make a comparison, I share this portfolio of a developer. Although the web aesthetics is not to my liking, it clearly shows what type of profile it is, where it could fit in, and where it doesn't. I would not hire this person for a profile 2 or 3. I would even go so far as to say that I would not form a team with five people with a similar profile to this portfolio, I would need twice as many uxfolio profiles to complete each job 😃.

Comparing this link with any of the uxfolio examples, all are valid profiles depending on the employer's need.

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There’s an old saying that says ‘the cobbler’s children have no shoes’. Meaning that someone with a specific skill is often so busy doing their paying job that they have no time to look after their own needs in that same area.

As a fairly senior member of my company, I don't have time to design, commission, and populate a custom site for my portfolio and I wouldn't expect that of my candidates.

As long as the content of the portfolio demonstrates the skills the candidate claims to have, I don't really care if it's presented to me in a brown paper bag.

I know people have lives beyond what I can see and that means that there may be a whole bunch of reasons for presenting the work in any particular way that I have no right to judge or even to know about.

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