I am a self-started UX Designer and building my portfolio to get new opportunities. I have been seeing some great UX portfolios:

  • some UX designers have documented all deliverables and they made each project like a story with sketches, wireframes, charts and pictures of final products (such as web/mobile app)
  • some simply describe what they did, what take-aways they've got from these projects.

I'm wondering which is better.

Context: I have a background in Computer Science, but I figured out I didn't want to become a pure programmer. It's not easy to compete with UX designers who have solid design practice and HCI background, and it seems my shift-away from programming becomes my disadvantage (although I think my Computer Science background is an advantage when it comes to conversations with engineers).

Which portfolio presentation method would better show this CS background to my advantage?

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    Sounds like a career-question rather than a UX-question? – Julian Krispel-Samsel May 7 '13 at 6:34
  • UX people often can code but dont. Coding during a project leads to engineer thinking which leads to solutions being picked not for the best UX but on how easy they can be implemented. An eningeering background is useful when it comes to negotiating with engineers, mostly for when they say something can't be done. A good engineer should love a challenge! – Stewart Dean May 7 '13 at 6:52
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    Your question: How can I tell stories in my UX portfolio? Could be a good question for this site when you try to elaborate which things you have already tried. When you just want feedback on your site you can visit User Experience Chat. Site reviews are off topic here. – Pesikar May 7 '13 at 7:17
  • @StewartDean UX needs to be sympathetic to both what is functionally possible as well as what looks nice in addition to ease of use. Its not a designer vs coder thing, it is a discipline of it's own that is vs both. The skill is finding the right balance. – JamesRyan May 7 '13 at 16:49

As a UX designer I design experiences, and that might not include the final wireframes. I very rarely get anywhere near final visual designs. I leave that to visual designers or interaction designers.

Your portfolio is what I would call an interaction design portfolio. It includes a lot of the final product and what a few wireframes. In other places interaction designers get called UI designers.

A complete UX story will include examples of work at different stages of a project. My portfolio, for example, has only 2 examples of final design and is about a one third wireframes. The rest are examples of site maps, content strategy documents such as example spreadsheets, concept diagrams, personas, photographs of workshops, sketches, expert reviews, task diagrams and process flows.

If I was looking to hire a true UXer then if they turned up with design portfolio I, personally, would not hire them. But, judging by the responses of many here, there is a lot of confusion over what UX is, with many confusing it with just interface design. User Experience means more than web design and anyone claiming to be a UXer, even at a junior level, should have some of the workings, ideally taking someone through a UX process.

My portfolio really does weed out companies that get UX from those who want a visual designer that does UX lite (that is does some wireframes and a sitemap or two).

  • UX design is one of the vaguest terms in web design (which also a very vague term). As there are no formal definitions, everyone is using those indiscriminately. My perception is that it is just the new, fancy synonym for "web designer", which, on its turn, usually means "one who does it all when it comes to web sites". I don't know why people no longer use the term "usability" and "usability expert" accordingly, which is much more precise. – drabsv Oct 29 '20 at 16:18

A portfolio can do 2 things - get you in the door, and get you the job.

If you're looking to use it to get in the door, Have you thought about doing a picture slider with thumbnails? As a recruiter, I'd like to see 6 or 9 tiles that can be previewed very quickly. It's not great UX, but it'd be a huge time-saver for anyone reviewing your portfolio.

If you're looking to use it to impress the UX team, the more you can let them delve into your designs, the better. Perhaps a few live previews? At that point of the recruitment stage, you're looking for a good fit within the company/team, and you want to demonstrate your skills as well as your willingness to work "with" the team.

  • If you're applying for a UX job then maybe you shouldn't use an interface that is poo-pooed in the UX community. – Julian Krispel-Samsel May 7 '13 at 6:31
  • The means of delivery is less important than the content in this case. – Stewart Dean May 7 '13 at 6:50
  • @nimrod: what interface are you talking about? (Looking to learn here). – Marjan Venema May 7 '13 at 7:03
  • @MarjanVenema The Slideshow. Search twitter and ux.stackexchange for questions regarding slideshows and you'll see what I mean, here's one ux.stackexchange.com/questions/10312/are-carousels-effective – Julian Krispel-Samsel May 7 '13 at 7:10
  • @nimrod: ah yes, I am well aware of and agree with the poo-poo against slideshows, just couldn't figure out what exactly you were referring to (and wondered whether I had missed something). Thanks for clarifying. – Marjan Venema May 7 '13 at 7:41

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