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I would like to improve my portfolio website and my skills as a UX designer. The best way I have thought to approach this is by doing research. I know this topic in one way or another is covered in endless blog posts, lectures, books and forums but I would like to use my skills as a UX researcher to improve my website instead of relying only on opinion and advice. This is not a question of how do I make a UX portfolio or what makes a good UX portfolio.

My first step is to conduct a competitive analysis. This will allow me to know the strengths and weaknesses of other UX portfolio's and get a general sense of the status quo. I will also learn what I need to add to my portfolio to compete and what I can do to stand out.

How do I leverage other UX methodologies to improve my portfolio? Since this research will be part of my portfolio, what deliverables would be good to create as I proceed with my research and build out my new portfolio? If possible I would like to see some examples.


One example I found is done by Gary Janderson.

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So the first question I believe you are asking is "how can I use UX methodologies to improve my portfolio directly?"

Well, there are a few things you can do. For example, you can have fellow UX designers perform a heuristic evaluation on your website. Next, you could also conduct a usability test to make sure that users are able to use your website with ease.

Other than that, think of who your target audience is. If your portfolio is mainly to pursue freelance work and/or consulting, then you should design your portfolio with that intent.

If your portfolio is for a different reason, then make sure you design with that target audience in mind.

As for the other question you are asking, "what deliverables would be good to create/show off for a new portfolio?" Well, that honestly depends on what type of person/designer you want to be portrayed as. For example, I try to portray myself as a multi-disciplinary design so I am showing images of me completing research, design, and programming tasks.

If you want to be portrayed as someone who is good at articulating your designs, start working on sketching, wireframes and mockups. If you want to prove that you are capable of understanding user behavior to drive changes to the design, then start learning how to do usability testing, surveys, contextual inquiries, etc. If you'll want to show that you are good at presenting and critiquing designs, create pitch decks for clients or write blog posts critiquing existing designs.

However, in order to do all of these activities for fun, you'll want an actual design brief to challenge yourself. I'm sure you could probably find some online.

  • Thanks for your feedback. I could have others do a heuristic evaluation or user test on my current site but what I'm really trying to arrive at is what kind of research do others do before starting a similar project, if you are starting fresh. For example, I just thought of creating a survey that I could post on LinkedIn to see what hiring managers (or similar roles) care about when hiring a UX designer. I'm not looking for advice on my UX portfolio, I'm looking for advice on doing research before I start my UX portfolio. – Jason Jan 30 '16 at 0:44
  • Hmm, maybe next time be a little more clearer when asking the question. I'm not sure what research people would do to create a portfolio project. I guess you could investigate others UX portfolios. – Kevin Logan Jan 30 '16 at 17:40
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A survey would help if you're trying to figure out what hiring managers want to see in a UX candidate. Be aware however, that UX is very broad and it would depend on what kind of UX job you want to get into. When you create your survey, think about what skills the position will require. Coding? Prototyping? User Research? Usability Tests? Decide on these things and then you'll have a better understanding of how to build your portfolio.

Consider user testing with hiring managers, or anyone else you know who knows UX. Give them a scenario to act out and see how they use your site. Consider joining a UX Professional Association and meet people who do some hiring?

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The problem I have always encountered when trying to apply UX to a portfolio site is knowing who the end users are and what they are looking for. Personally, I have used mine to apply for work in some incredibly diverse markets (everything from corporate banking organisations to independent entertainment companies) and they are all looking for different styles and approaches.

The only thing I can really suggest is talking to recruiters.

Recruiters get to see both sides of the exchange and at volume. I know there are some out there who will actively give you advice on how to construct your portfolio but you want to avoid this. What you really want to find out is how they asses portfolio sites and work with those results. I would suggest contacting a recruiter who you think will help you actually find work and asking them if you can come and interview them and/or some of their staff.

You could even turn the whole project into a case study to include in your portfolio!

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