Better UX Portfolios: The Portfolio Rant

How much did it cost to print out your portfolio?

I know how much it cost for mine: $521. It took three hours to print at Kinko’s, and I generally carry it around in a suitcase on wheels.

I’ve been lucky — most of the places I have worked at treated wireframes and persona documents as deliverables. I also have a print design background, which most UX types don’t have. I also have also worked with Fortune 500 companies, so it’s going to look impressive even before opening the pages.

Even then, when I present my portfolio really, really impresses people. How do I know? I’ve been told several times that what I have is some of the best materials they have ever seen.

By interviewers. By recruiters. By co-workers.

Word gets around too. I’ve interviewed a lot of UX types, and been interviewed.

Sooner or later, the right people take notice, and they’ll remember your work. They won’t remember the average work, but they do remember really bad and really good work.

People move places, especially in the UX community. Even in San Francisco, it’s a small town. Once you break in, people know who you are.

Does your portfolio impress people? It should. You should be able to explain in detail what parts of the UX process you used on a particular project. We never go through the whole process — we adapt to what’s needed for the project.

Explain what you did to make the process more efficient.

Explain your thinking.

And most of it, do what you need to do so you don’t have to explain: make it look good.

This is a really good post about portfolios over at Better UX Portfolios:

I do still think that it is important to show well presented, detailed, annotated wireframes in a portfolio. Employers need to know that you can do these, and can think through the detail that a developer and designer will need.

But, no employer worth their salt will just want to see a bunch of wireframes. You should share aspects of your process.

All those things you list in your cv (collaborative workshops, sketching, personas, sitemaps, process flows, user journeys, prototypes). Where are they?

  1. Prove that you have done these stock UCD activities that you can learn from the many books that exist
  2. Demonstrate how you have adapted the technique to suit your style or the problems you were faced
  3. Show how they helped a project, or even better how the activity failed for whatever reason

Read on…