UXPA-MN Event Recap: UX Portfolio Do’s & Don’ts

Hiring manager looking through candidates and a UX Portfolio.

Whether you’re a UX pro and just getting started, it’s helpful to know what leaders in the UX industry want to see in your portfolio when you’re applying for a new position. Thankfully, on September 14th, UXPA-MN put on an event where a panel of UX experts were more than happy to share their thoughts on UX Portfolio Do’s and Don’ts.

The event was moderated by Lyle Kantrovich and the panelists included Briana Como, Lead UX Designer at 3M; Susan Ramlet, IT Manager, User Experience Design at Medtronic; Alison Beattie, Director of Product Design at Target; Zach Naylor, Co-Founder and CEO at Aurelius; and Fred Beecher, Director of User Experience and Design at the Nerdery. Here are some of their top pieces of advice for your UX portfolio:

1)  Your UX Portfolio Should Always Tell a Story

DO explain to your audience:

• What the problem was

• How you went about solving the problem

• Why you made certain design decisions

• The end result and the impact it had

2)  A Portfolio is a Case Study NOT Design


• Just take screenshots of your work (no “#iwokeuplikethis” photos)

• Use other people’s work! Seems like common sense but these UX experts have seen it many times

• Just present visual designs


• Show the mess – it helps hiring managers to visualize the impact of the changes you made

• Display how you worked with developers and other team members

• Defend your design decisions in a no-ego fashion

3)  Showcase What You Personally Accomplished


• Simply present a team project that you worked on and the outcome


• Describe your personal role in the project

• Exhibit the work/process/research that you took on

• Share what you really liked and accomplished during the journey

4)  Assume You Have 30 Seconds or Less to Impress


• Assume the hiring manager has a lot of time to spend looking through your portfolio. This could be the difference between you receiving an interview offer and not being given a chance to explain your work in-person


• Make the portfolio a “good user experience” (should be easy to digest/see the story)

• Demonstrate how your, “design is the rendering of intent.” – Jared Spool (this is what separates the good from the great designers)

5)  Tailor Your Portfolio for the Role


• Simply throw all of your work and samples into one large portfolio and submit it to every job you apply for


• Communicate what role you’re after in your portfolio (i.e. research heavy, focus on journeys and user flows, testing, etc.)

• Advertise your strengths and showcase how your past experiences make you a perfect fit for the position

6)  Find Creative Ways to Showcase Confidential (NDA) Work


• Take reasonable measures to provide privacy (ex. Skew work so that it’s unidentifiable to competitors)

• Use a password-protected website and only give the information as necessary – immediately change the password when the need to showcase your work has passed.

7)  Be Prepared to Present Your Work


• Assume that you won’t have to present your portfolio over the phone

• Count on the hiring manager having everything you need (including technologies) to present your work


• Practice your UX portfolio presentation in front of a friend so that you’re prepared to introduce your work in-person and/or over the phone

• Come up with a recovery plan for when things go poorly

• Prepare for someone challenging your work and design decisions

• Bring everything you need in order to give a great presentation of your UX portfolio

Did you miss this great UXPA MN event? Don’t worry, you’ll catch the next one! Keep up-to-date with upcoming marketing, creative, and technology events in the Twin Cities by viewing our Scoop Calendar.

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