A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away, I had a PDF portfolio. It was alright; it had summary pages for the different things I was into (UX, service design, user research and so on) and then deep-dived into projects in which I had done those things. At that time, I was only a year into the UX game, and it contained every project I’d worked on.
Problem was, I kept working. And pretty soon, my portfolio became unwieldy – it was too big a file to send over email, and I had the feeling that people weren’t looking past the first couple of pages. So I decided to build myself a website (hint: you’re on it).
What I didn’t anticipate was how much of a bloody nightmare it would be. I had rather hoped there would be some nice examples of portfolio websites I could draw inspiration from. I was building in WordPress, so maybe there’d be a theme that was just perfect for a UX design portfolio.
Unfortunately, as I suspect many other UXers have found, it’s not quite as straightforward as that. Portfolio website examples are for UI designers. Themes are for UI designers. Everything is made with UI design in mind.
The main difference between UX and UI design portfolios (and the reason why a UX one feels so hard to make), is that UI have beautiful designs to show. All they need to do is waft their stunning, sleek designs under your nose and you’ll know if they’re any good. But us UXers? Sure, we have some visual deliverables. But most of our work is to do with thought processes. Ugly diagrams with scribbles on them. Talking to users. Defining interactions. It’s difficult to make something sleek and beautiful out of that.
So, what did I do? I thought about my users’ needs, of course. Prospective clients want to know that I know what I’m doing, and what I’m talking about. They want examples of my successes. Here comes problem number two: the NDA.
Almost all work these days is under a pretty strict NDA. I’m not allowed to tell you about all the background work at company X, because what if their competitor reads it and copies it? They’re getting it all for free. Trust me- I understand why the NDA exists. But it is a bit of a pain.
Because of this, the challenge was how to present examples of the way I work – so that clients can understand if it’s the right fit – without giving away any company secrets. That’s why I created my UX Design page. I figured that if I explained what I would do in a perfect project (where time and money are no object), prospective clients would be able to see the range of services I could provide without seeing confidential information. Of course I also included a few case studies, where either the client had already made it public that I had worked with them, or where it was vague enough that a competitor wouldn’t be able to steal anything useful.
I think this does a pretty good job of what I’m trying to achieve- but of course that doesn’t mean there isn’t another equally (or more) valid way of presenting the information. I’m keen to know: have you made a UX portfolio, or faced similar challenges in your field? What did you do?