Sunday, July 21, 2024
InícioCAREERDesign Better Portfolios

Design Better Portfolios

Before we dive into my advice, please understand that this is only my advice — this isn’t a secret recipe or the universal truth of design portfolios. In fact, as cliche as this sounds, there’s no such thing as a perfect portfolio. Your portfolio should be about you. Be creative and tell the story of who you are as a designer.

But I hope the advice I share can be incorporated into your portfolio as a starting point to a good portfolio. These guidelines not only helped my recruiters understand my design knowledge, but also helped me clearly explain my projects during interviews (and yes, I got and accepted an offer from Facebook). I hope the advice is helpful. Here we go.

  1. Make it easier for the recruiters.

Put yourself in a recruiter’s shoes. You have to go through countless portfolios.

Take a look at the BAD design above. You see 9+ projects all side-by-side. There are two big problems with this:

  • You don’t know which projects to dive into — where to start.
  • You don’t have any hint of the story behind this designer.

Compare this with the GOOD design that breaks the projects into sections. Now things are different:

  • You know where to start, because of the sections the designer has included.
  • The sections can tell you a story — you can see what this designer is passionate about.

Tip: Your portfolio itself tests your skill in creating information hierarchy and your ability to present yourself.

2. Present the process, not the product.

The BAD design shows the most common mistake I see in portfolios. The designer presents only the end result, and leaves out how they got there.

The GOOD design shows a designer who knows the design process and answers the important questions:

  • Problem/Goal: what were you trying to achieve?
  • Research: who did you talk to? Did you interview anyone? Do you have any evidence to back up your solutions?
  • Ideation: what explorations did you do? How did your research shape your ideas?
  • Team: did you work with anyone? If not, that’s okay, but who did you interview?
  • Wireframes: what kind of design decisions did you make? How does this affect the user experience?
  • Deliverables: what does the final product look like? Did you make a prototype? Did it ship? If not, why not?
  • What’s next?: if you had more time, what would you do next?

Tip: You aren’t being recruited for the app you made. You’re being recruited for your potential to contribute in the company.

3. Add flavors to wow.

The BAD design here isn’t wrong, it’s just plain.

I personally like portfolios that are creative, like the GOOD one, but it’s more than just my personal preference. Recruiters also agree —they like portfolios that stand out from the crowd. Maybe you’re good at illustration or have insane Javascript skills. If you have these additional skills, then your portfolio is the best place to show them.

Tip: But don’t break the flow of your portfolio just to show off. (Easier said than done, I know.)

4. Get feedback.

Even after you’ve followed the advice and you think your portfolio is perfect, show it to your friends and family. Do they understand what you’re trying to say? Have you simplified and clarified your story enough? We become blind after spending time on a design, and we need fresh perspectives to see our work clearly again.

Tip: If you want feedback from other designers, there are some welcoming design communities who’ll be happy to critique your portfolio:

Thank you for reading! I hope my advice helped. If you have other tips — something I’ve missed — please comment below. I look forward to connecting with more people.

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