How do I get an entry level job doing UX if I have no direct professional experience? I am asking is there something I can do on my own to build up a UX portfolio?

  • 4
    make good UX in your web applications. Commented Sep 19, 2012 at 0:15

4 Answers 4


Well, my temporary solution is to try to post answers on UX.SE :)

Seriously though, a UX portfolio can be blocked by a lot of issues:

  • NDA, NDA, NDA - I can't even tell the name of the companies I was working for, let alone show off stuff I've done for them (even if the end results were made public)
  • Locality issues - most of my less-secret stuff is in Hungarian, including complete UX research papers for open source projects
  • Reasoning and rationale: I don't care about the portfolio: show us what was the problem, how did you solve it, and prove that it made the life easier for at least a thousand people compared to what they had before. Portfolio is good for artists to show off how cool they're, but in more dry engineering fields it's less visual.

Reasoning is long and tedious, and it doesn't look cool. It's so easy to hide the truth on a third of an A4 / US Letter page.

Also, imagine a portfolio of a civil engineer who does water pipe systems. If he is the best in his job, it means you never realized he even had one: it just worked. Portfolio-oriented thinking just brings you to the shooowy side.

I think the need for a portfolio is about reputation. You can gain reputation within a community. When the webpage is done by the 16 year old son of the CEO of a company, that son has built up reputation inside the management about being a good designer - albeit not necessarily in the right place, the right way.

In order to gain a much more serious reputation you have to be part of a community, where people who actually need UXers are present, and you have to show you're a worthy one.

This could mean going to meetups in your local town, going to UX conferences, hanging around on forums, or just simply showing off UX demos at your current workplace on how you could improve the situation. You need to show off how cool you are not to the world, but to a small part of it where you could expect to get a job.

And there, honestly, you don't need to be the best world-wise. Still, I'd like to recommend: "measure yourself to the Infinity" : it's really hard to fix the errors and argue with those local maximum guys, who don't even realize that there's a Mount Everest out there in the Himalayas.

  • I agree totally that networking is much more of a benefit in the UX world than a portfolio is. That said, a good portfolio is good to have.
    – DA01
    Commented Sep 20, 2012 at 17:50

I started in a cross-functional UX team (probably not truly UX at the time) as the lead front-end developer. From there, I took part in brainstorming sessions and took an active interest in the other disciplines my co-workers were dealing with and eventually I was spending a third of my time doing interaction design and product development.

If you can't find an entry-level UX gig, find a cross-functional team that requires your current skillset and learn from your co-workers and show your interest and eventually you'll have a professional portfolio of UX work on top of your current portfolio.


First of all, ask yourself why you want to work in a field such as UX. You say you don't have direct professional experience, does that mean you have been working on a similar field? If the answer is yes, if you have experience in web / interface design, then you are already doing UX design, even if it's not your 'professional definition'.

As mentioned in the comment, the best way to show you know your way around UX is to demonstrate so in your portfolio.

In my case, I started as a web designer and later decided I wanted to focus on interfaces, because that was what attracted me the most. Lots of things have already been done in web, and we are so used to navigating through thousands of different and good sites that it's not that difficult to create a 'correct' UX, sometimes it even comes from mere common sense or intuition. Interfaces can be a bit trickier because of specific functionalities (and usually space limitations), so what happened to me was that I realised I needed to do a deeper research and explain (to myself and my clients) why things were done in a certain way. After a while, I realised I was truly fascinated by the theory behind the design. And now I tend to say I do interaction design... even when it sometimes means I do the exact same thing I was doing before, it has the extra spice of analysing every decision I make from the user's point of view. I got my current job using my portfolio, and explaining why I had gone in a certain direction with a design instead of another one.

So in short, if you have been designing you have already done half (or more) of the job. Conscious decisions, scenarios evaluations... Truth is, in my opinion, there shouldn't be a difference between a web portfolio and a UX one.

  • the reason i want to do UX is that I think I have a very strong intuition on creating good UX, I think that's attributed to my education, I have a marketing degree and about to finish my CS degree. I have some design studio experience, but I was doing production art (not creative). But right now, I just want to do UX, no graphic design and no coding, because i think UX is my forte. Does this kind of job exist (only UX)? And How do I create a UX-specific portfolio?
    – Andy
    Commented Sep 19, 2012 at 1:39
  • It does exist, and I think with your background you should be looking more into information architecture (that refers less to design and more to branding and how to organise information). But just like design, I think the best portfolio is a list of successful projects (cases) that you can talk about.
    – Yisela
    Commented Sep 19, 2012 at 2:31
  • I disagree. There is a big difference between a web portfolio and a UX portfolio. UX is not about creating pretty-picture UI's, it is about how you came to the choices for the interactions you offer through that UI.
    – André
    Commented Sep 20, 2012 at 10:34
  • I don't know, UX is about User Experience and in terms of an interactive application, it starts with needs and goals and ends with satisfying those goals with the least amount of fuss possible. While in case of information needs and navigation, this is strongly connected to visual aesthetics, grids, layouts, visual hierarchy, visual message and such, I doubt if it's always the case.
    – Aadaam
    Commented Sep 20, 2012 at 13:43
  • @André what I meant was there isn't supposed to be. If you are a web designer (a professional one I mean), you are supposed to be doing good UX.
    – Yisela
    Commented Sep 20, 2012 at 20:53

Well, I was in the exact position as you are right now and this is what I did.

  • I read a lot about what UX is in general and the different fields related to it. This is one article I strongly recommend for you to read. It solves doubts about which field of design you want to get into.

  • Sketch a lot! There's no substitute for sketching, it'll only help you improve your skills.

  • Make a portfolio (a good one).

  • But how to make a portfolio? That's the question I asked basically. Do you have any specific steps to carry that out?
    – Andy
    Commented Sep 22, 2012 at 19:41

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