Top 10 common UX portfolio mistakes
After reviewing hundreds of UX portfolios as a manager and a designer, these common mistakes and issues can hinder you from getting that UX job. Correcting these issues can significantly enhance your UX portfolio and increase your job prospects.
Creating a UX design portfolio takes much more work than it looks. It’s a balancing act between having too much content and not enough. UX case studies comprise the bulk of the UX portfolio, so getting them right is essential.
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 the results
Problem statements are crucial in framing the underlying reasons for creating your product.
A well-executed case study creates a comprehensive narrative highlighting the entire UX design process.
They should effectively showcase outcomes. The case study must show how your design resolved the initial problem that got it started.
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.
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 engage in a thorough examination.
As a result, please make sure that the text in your portfolio strikes a delicate balance. If the text is too lengthy, your reviewers may overlook critical details. Please make sure to convey your message concisely and deliver essential 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 must edit it further, but it’s a good start.
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 of the problem statement and the steps taken to resolve the problem successfully.
Overly brief case studies might appear to lack design thinking and depth.
Designers engage in many activities throughout a project but don’t always include some of them 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 the overall impact of your design.
You present a holistic view of your design ability and the considerations that shaped your final product by including various stages of the design journey, such as early sketches, wireframes, prototypes, and iterations.
This comprehensive approach enhances the reviewer’s understanding and shows your ability to apply design principles throughout the design lifecycle.
Mistake #5: Not enough design in your UX portfolio case studies
To enable reviewers to understand and evaluate your design fully, 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 an excellent way to approach this.
For example, if you’ve made specific design decisions regarding layout or interaction, have a section dedicated to this area to show how you’ve thoughtfully considered the solution.
Mistake #6: Not including results in your UX case study
When creating case studies for your UX design portfolio, including the results of your product shipped is essential.
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.
Mistake #7: Your images are too small or fuzzy.
Images are pivotal in allowing everyone to appreciate and evaluate your UX work.
To effectively showcase your designs, providing clear and high-quality visuals is essential. 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 result with more detail on tap if your case study layout has limited space.
Please enhance the impact of your case studies by letting your viewers know the nuances and craftsmanship of the design work.
Mistake #8: Your work needs to be updated.
I recommend showing UX case studies within a 3-5 year timeframe.
Showcasing projects within the past 3-5 years highlights modern technologies, methodologies, and design approaches.
It records your most recent achievements and positions you as a designer aware of the latest industry standards. In timeframes beyond that, the work might need to be updated.
Mistake #9: Your UX portfolio is not aesthetically pleasing.
Your UX design portfolio’s visual appeal is essential, as it reflects your brand. Every aspect of your design choices, including color palettes, layouts, and overall aesthetic, plays 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 your portfolio’s overall visual impact and readability.
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.
This refers to the overall look of your portfolio, not necessarily the work itself. Aside from clear structure and organization, some work doesn’t lend itself easily to aesthetics. (Hello, enterprise design!)
Mistake #10: You need to provide more context for 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 particular 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 can offer explanations, definitions, and relevant information so all readers are on the same page. This is about design communication and ensuring you meet your reviewers where they are.
A concrete example from my experience is that I worked on a project geared toward Radio Access Network engineers.
Since this isn’t a typical 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 related to the user pain points- beyond the regular problem statement.
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.
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 (Meta, Amazon, and PayPal to name just a few). 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.
UX Portfolio Course
Learn how to create a UX case study, and the layout for a UX portfolio. You’ll learn how to organize a portfolio, and what goes into a UX portfolio.