Sharing is caring!

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

UX portfolio checklist - Students confused about what makes a good portfolio project

  • 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

UX Portfolio - Reviewers and their common woes

  • 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?

UX Checklist Competitive Analysis for Mobile App Project

Competitive Analysis for Mobile App Project

Do you have a research outline, notes, and synthesis?

UX-Checklist research guidelines, notes, and synthesis

Research guidelines, Notes, and Synthesis

Have you identified your target audience?

UX Checklist Identify User

Using an empathy map to identify the right user and her motives

Have you identified the right problem to tackle and right solutions to explore?

UX Checklist Finding the Right Problem

Identifying the right problem to focus on

Workflows and Wireframes

Have you explored ideas on paper?

UX Checklist whiteboarding

Whiteboarding and Paper Prototyping

Have you assembled a quick prototype to test?

UX Checklist testing

Testing concepts and ideas

Do you have refined, annotated wireframes?

UX Checklist wireframes annotations

Hi Fi Wireframes and Annotations

Do you have a detailed system map?

UX Checklist system map

System Map


Have you explored a visual language for the product?

UX checklist visual language

Exploring a visual language

Have you explored type?

UX checklist color

Studying color and its effect on type and readability

Have you explored colors?

UX checklist type

Studying type and contrast

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.

Final Thoughts

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.

Further Reading

Read Part 2 of the UX portfolio checklist.

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.

Matt Eng

Matt Eng

DesignOps Manager. Based in Austin,TX. Worked with clients such as Alcatel-Lucent, Ogilvy, RBC, Deloitte, Whirlpool, Polycom, Symantec, and Pebble. Matt teaches, mentors, and speaks about design, creativity, and fostering stronger connections within teams.