Companies and brands today are focusing more heavily on user experience. And the need for skilled UX designers has never been greater as demand continues to outstrip the talent supply. Companies are in tight competition for employees and freelancers with the right mix of skills and digital experience. That means compensation has risen as well. In fact, the UX designer salary range is now $69,500-$130,000, according to Cella's 2021 Salary Guide. So if you’re thinking about transitioning into the UX design space or you're a recent college graduate, now’s the time to get your UX portfolio in gear!
Remember, though, employers aren't the only ones facing competition. In addition to making sure your resume is in stellar shape, you also need to create a UX portfolio that’s both clear and compelling if you want to win over hiring managers.
Your UX portfolio should showcase far more than just beautifully designed final products. You’ll want to explain your design approach in the form of case studies. Many hiring managers expect to see context and the step-by-step measures that you took to strategically solve the user's problem. Put simply, tell a story about the challenge at hand and how you resolved it.
Ready to start crafting or revamping your UX portfolio? Here are answers to some common questions about how to effectively showcase your skills:
What should you include in your UX portfolio?
You obviously want to provide final versions of your work, but it’s also helpful to share the "not so pretty" parts of the creative project. Employers are interested in your sketches, mock-ups and wireframes because they can illustrate your design thinking process and how you tackle complex challenges.
Is your UX designer portfolio ready for prime time?
Should you turn your UX portfolio into a website?
This may be a no-brainer to some, but, yes, you should have a website! A cleanly designed, responsive website that highlights your work will tell hiring managers volumes about your skills, expertise and professional polish. Stay away from Behance, Wix and/or PDFs. Make the investment in a reliable content management system that's current and intuitive. Keep the design of your website simple. White space is your friend. Busy patterns and backgrounds are distractions you don't need – and so is any extraneous element that takes attention away from your case studies and the final product. These are the stars of your story. Let them shine.
Should you add some personality?
Yes! Add a personal touch. Creating a bio page on your portfolio website can help you differentiate yourself from the crowd. Listing hobbies or creative interests adds a personal flare and can help establish common interests between you and the hiring manager.
What are common mistakes in UX designer portfolios and how do you avoid them?
If you have links in your profile make sure they work – and always retest them before sharing your portfolio with a prospective employer or client. Including links to finished, live products is smart; but just one broken link can raise questions about your attention to detail.
Also, don’t be a glory hog. Make sure you properly highlight your contribution to large campaigns. Give credit where credit is due by mentioning colleagues you worked with to complete the project (such as UX researchers, copywriters or developers). Showcasing your collaborative mindset and team-oriented nature will only work in your favor.
Is it OK to highlight student projects?
Student projects are indeed OK. If you're a recent college graduate, don't be afraid to create a portfolio consisting solely of coursework. However, follow the rules above and clearly identify a course-related project in your case study.
Knowing how to make a UX portfolio takes time. Keep iterating as your talent and experience grows. Think of the portfolio as an ever-evolving work in progress. Refresh and update it frequently, and make a point to spotlight work that is particularly pertinent to the positions you are applying for.
Aim to stand out by taking some smart design risks with your UX portfolio. Adhere to the general blueprint above, and you're sure to be a memorable candidate for all the right reasons!
Looking for more tips on how to make your UX portfolio stand out? Check out How to Prepare A Portfolio That Showcases Your Strengths.