I have created this UX Portfolio Checklist partly for selfish reasons to make my job as a design instructor easier. For the past two years, I have been getting the same question, “Is this work good enough for my UX portfolio?” Each time I get asked this, I would have to burn time with a student digging into the specifics of her work to tease out the gaps.
For the same amount of time, I started helping IBM design review portfolios. Designers volunteered to review applicants and either approve or reject the portfolio. We were all responsible for giving our reasons, so that the applicant could have feedback.
Considering my view from both ends of experience, I noted the following trends.
Insights from teaching students
- Nearly all of them do not have a clear idea of what a complete portfolio project looks like
- Most do not understand the importance of stepping the reviewers through their process
- Almost none of them think to validate the problem
Observations from other reviewers
- Most reject portfolios that do not show a clear process
- Reviewers usually stop reviewing a portfolio when they are not convinced the problem is legitimate
UX portfolio checklist for research
Have you done a competitive analysis?
Do you have a research outline, notes, and synthesis?
Have you identified your target audience?
Have you identified the right problem to tackle and right solutions to explore?
Workflows and Wireframes
Have you explored ideas on paper?
Have you assembled a quick prototype to test?
Do you have refined, annotated wireframes?
Do you have a detailed system map?
Have you explored a visual language for the product?
Have you explored type?
Have you explored colors?
There is a lot more one can do establish a viable visual language for a project. This is the minimum for rounding out a solid UX portfolio.
Applicants do not need all of these, but they need enough of this work and visual artifacts to tell a cohesive story. In the end, I hope this guide will help them understand the amount of work required to put together a portfolio. Most of all, they should level set the current state of their work and identify the gaps.
Check out this post on the Anatomy of a Kick-Ass UX Portfolio.
Read this post on Quora about what makes a great UX design portfolio.