Top 10 Common UX Portfolio Mistakes by Diane Cronenwett

Top 10 common UX portfolio mistakes

After reviewing hundreds of UX portfolios as a manager and a designer, these are the common mistakes and issues that can hinder you from getting that UX job. Correcting these issues and you can significantly enhance your UX portfolio and increase your job prospects.

Creating a UX design portfolio is much harder than it looks. It’s a balancing act between having too much content and not enough. UX case studies make up the bulk of the UX portfolio, so it’s important to get them right. Crafting effective case studies can be challenging, requiring careful consideration of depth and content selection. You might need to iterate multiple times to discover the compelling narrative and highlight details without overwhelming your audience.  


Mistake #1: The problem statement in your case study doesn’t align with results 

Problem statements play a crucial role in framing the underlying reasons for the creation of your product. A well-executed case study creates a comprehensive narrative highlighting the entire UX design process.  They should effectively showcase final outcomes. It’s important that the case study shows how your design resolved the initial problem that got it started. 

UX problem statement format

Mistake #2: Too many case studies in your UX portfolio. 

The recommended approach is to thoughtfully select 3-5 distinct case studies. Including more case studies may overwhelm the audience and make it difficult to pick from. Select the case studies that reflect your most outstanding work, so they serve as a compelling showcase of your capabilities and expertise.  Check out my UX portfolio course for more info on creating a UX portfolio.

UX design case study mistake, more than 3-5 case studies by Diane Cronenwett

Mistake #3: Your UX case study text is too long. 

Your target audience will include a range of people, including Recruiters, Hiring Managers, and fellow Designers. These folks are typically busy, so it’s critical to consider their limited time and attention span. Given their busy schedules, they’ll likely skim through your portfolio rather than engaging in a thorough examination.  

As a result, ensure that the text in your portfolio strikes a delicate balance. If the text is too lengthy, key details may be overlooked by your reviewers. Convey your message concisely and deliver key information succinctly. 

🪄 Tip: Try using ChatGPT to copy edit your content into short lines. A sample prompt- Paste in your content, and ask ChatGPT to copyedit the content into a maximum of 200 words. You’ll need to edit it further, but it’s a good start.

UX design case study text mistake text is too long by Diane Cronenwett

Mistake #4: Your UX case studies are too short or not in depth. 

The case studies should strike a balance showcasing the UX design process and featuring relevant artifacts. By incorporating the right artifacts, they provide a comprehensive overview on the problem statement and the steps taken to successfully resolve the problem. Overly brief case studies might appear to lack design thinking and depth.  

Designers engage in many activities throughout a project, yet they don’t always include some of those activities when constructing their case studies. Don’t shy away from including artifacts that will enhance the narrative. These artifacts are valuable in developing a story and act as tangible evidence of your design journey and overall impact of your design. 

By including various stages of the design journey, such as early sketches, wireframes, prototypes, and iterations, you present a holistic view of your design ability and the considerations that shaped your final product. This comprehensive approach enhances the reviewer’s understanding and shows your ability to apply design principles through the entire design lifecycle. 

UX Case study not enough depth

Mistake #5: Not enough design in your UX portfolio case studies

 To enable reviewers to fully understand and evaluate your design, it’s critical to delve into your design solutions. This deep dive allows for an exploration of your design ability.  Showing multiple screens and diving into specific screens are a good way to approach this. For example, if you’ve made specific design decisions in terms of layout or interaction, have a section dedicated to this area to show how you’ve thoughtfully considered the solution. 

UX portfolio mistake not enough design

Mistake #6: Not including results in your UX case study 

When creating case studies for your UX design portfolio, it’s essential to include the results if your product shipped. While this may pose challenges in concept case studies where tangible results aren’t available, it’s critical to highlight results when possible.  

If your product has shipped, follow up with the team to gather the results data. By doing so, you can provide a holistic narrative encompassing the entire design process, from start to implementation, and impact.  

UX case study no results

Mistake #7: Your images are too small or fuzzy. 

Images play a pivotal role in allowing everyone to fully appreciate and evaluate your UX work. In order to effectively showcase your designs, it’s important to provide clear and high-quality visuals. Small or blurry images hinder the viewer’s ability to see the details of your designs, diminishing the impact and effectiveness of your case studies.  

Use high-resolution images that accurately represent the visual aspects of your work. You can also use modals to show the work with more detail on tap, if space is limited in your case study layout. 

Enhance the impact of your case studies by allowing your viewers to note the nuances and craftmanship of the design work. 

UX Case study images too small

Mistake #8: Your work is too old or outdated. 

I recommend showing UX case studies within a 3-5 year timeframe. Showcasing projects from within the past 3-5 years highlights modern technologies, methodologies, and design approaches. It keeps a record of your most recent achievements and positions you as a designer aware of the latest industry standards. In timeframes beyond that, the work might look outdated.

Ux portfolio mistake UX case study work is older

Mistake #9: Your UX portfolio is not aesthetically pleasing. 

Your UX design portfolio’s visual appeal is important, as it reflects your brand. Every aspect of your design choices, including color palettes, layouts, and overall aesthetic, play a role in presenting a cohesive and visually pleasing portfolio.  

Put your best foot forward so your portfolio captivates and engages reviewers. Your design choices, such as typography, spacing, and composition, contribute to the overall visual impact and readability of your portfolio.  

By curating a visually pleasing portfolio, you’ll create a positive and lasting impression on your reviewers, showcasing your design sensibilities.  

An aesthetically pleasing UX design portfolio reinforces your brand identity and shows that you are a designer who understands the importance of visual presentation. Note, this is referring to the overall look of your portfolio, not necessarily the work itself. Some work doesn’t lend itself easily to aesthetics, aside from clear structure and organization. (Hello enterprise design!) 

Ux portfolio mistake portfolio isn't aesthetically pleasing

Mistake #10: Your not providing enough context of the design problem. 

As the expert who intimately understands the work and the UX design solutions you’ve created, the problem you’ve addressed may be highly specific and not widely known or understood by people not in that role.  

In this case, you’ll need to provide your readers with the necessary background and context to understand the significance of your work. You may want to offer explanations, definitions, and relevant information to ensure that all readers are on the same page. This is about design communication and making sure you meet your reviewers where they are. 

A highly specific example from my personal experience is that I worked on a project that was geared for Radio Access Network engineers. Since, this isn’t a common job for the general public, I’d have to define what this person does, and how they do their work, so the reviewer of my portfolio can fully appreciate my solution as it relates to the user pain points- beyond the regular problem statement. 

UX portfolio mistake, not enough context in UX case study

Keep these tips in mind when developing and maintaining your UX case study portfolio. Share your thoughts on what you struggle with or any other things you’ve noticed about UX portfolios.

Diane Cronenwett- UX-Portfolio-Course

About Diane Cronenwett

Diane Cronenwett teaches UX courses on advanced UX topics and foundational topics, and has led design experience projects for top-tier Fortune 500 companies based in Silicon Valley. Diane is passionate about sharing her knowledge with UX professionals and newcomers to the field to grow their skills in UX, and get to the next level in their career.

See what should be in a UX portfolio. Check out my UX course on Building a UX Portfolio.

More posts