This is part two of a three part UX Portfolio Checklist series. If you missed the fist part that outlined the necessary elements that make up a solid portfolio piece, check out this post. In this article, I go over the necessary steps required to show your work in a PDF and Web portfolio.
UX Portfolio Checklist for a PDF
Aspiring designers often ask if they need to do a PDF portfolio since the industry often puts more value on a Web portfolio. I do not feel this is a choice. The Web portfolio is your public facing site. The PDF is tailored to your meeting with a potential employer. In the PDF, you can customize the content to better speak to employers and their customers. It is also an asset you can bring into the office and show without depending on company’s guest Wifi.
Use the PDF to control as much of the interview as possible.
UX Portfolio Coversheet
This is where you introduce briefly yourself. Who are you? What do you do? How can we contact you?
In general for a UX portfolio, you should have 3 – 4 solid project that have these elements.
Show that you did the research.
Step through your early work.
Zoom into your designs and annotations.
Bonus: Visual exploration and Hi Fi Mockup.
As UX designers, most of our responsibilities tends to be on the earlier side of the UX process (i.e. research to wireframes). If you can show that you can carry a project into visual design, this makes you more valuable.
Caution about Visual Design
I do often meet new designers who can confidently contribute to the entire UX design process. Most of the time, I see aspiring UX designers who try to show that they are not afraid of visual elements such as color. The results are often visually jarring and distract from the designers’ stronger abilities.
This does not mean you should ignore all visual design elements.
Use a consistent grid and layout.
Minimize the amount of type, but make sure it is all readable.
Remind the reviewer where they are.
It is ok to show early work in an unrefined state, but find ways to clean it up (e.g. Clean up sloppy pencil sketches).
UX Portfolio Checklist for the Web
In the PDF portfolio, you have refined how you visually communicate your process. For the Web portfolio, you can reuse most of this content to show your process and design abilities. The tricky thing is finding a way to best show this across multiple screen sizes.
Web domain and hosting
Whether or not you decide to host your own site, you will need a domain name. Most designers will default to their names. This is the easiest for potential employers.
Here are a few ways to explore and purchase a domain name.
WordPress and themes
There are a lot of option for putting your portfolio online. I lean towards WordPress for the flexibility and control. It has a vibrant design and development community. So there are a lot of themes and community support.
For more about other options, check out this post.
Navigation and Responsiveness
Show your slides and write a brief overview of the problem and your role.
Check how the theme behaves in different screen sizes.
Keep your navigation links short.
Showing your projects
This is a key part in selecting a theme. Spend some time on the theme to see how you can balance visual artifacts and text to describe your work. A lot of themes seem to be for photographers. So, there is very little space for adding in content around the project background, problem statement, and your role.
I have found that this WordPress theme, Salient, offers a lot of flexibility for UX design portfolios.
I can take the content from my PDF portfolio and display it in a linear fashion that works well for Web and Mobile.