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Your portfolio is you. You are your portfolio

The real usefulness and impact of professional presentation by UX/UI Designers

Your portfolio is you. You are your portfolio


We already know that a portfolio is necessary for a UX/UI Designer to apply for jobs. But for recruiters and hiring companies, it is much more than just an overview of your best work: It is your representation. Besides being able to see your technical capabilities, the expectation is also to find out more about you, what makes you interesting, unique and deserving of a chance to prove your worth. In today's article we will look at "how deep that rabbit hole goes" and what you can do immediately to turn that key in your mind.



Damn, my portfolio

As we said in our article Why you need to do your homework, the portfolio should be a representation of the UX/UI Designer you are today. The biggest issue to be identified in that sentence is not so much the "representation", but rather, the "today". In years of recruiting UX/UI Designers specifically, what our experts hear most when requesting portfolios for evaluation is "uh, it's outdated", rather than "it's not a good representation of me".

As cliché as the phrase "What's the UX of your UX portfolio?" may sound, we see that it is still not even close to having any effect on most professionals interviewed in selection processes. UX/UI Designers tend to treat their portfolio as a mountain climb with a rock on their back, as if they were paying a vow. So, the challenge is not to facilitate the process of building and updating the portfolio, but to change the conception of what it is, what it is for, and who it is intended for. If you are a competent UX/UI Designer, then you should treat your portfolio as a case of UX/UI Design.

I remember back in college, in one of the introductory classes about the TCC, the advisor told us that there were general rules of the ABNT (Brazilian Association of Technical Standards) to be followed for the creation of this project in all universities alike: sheet size, font size and images, among others.  But, because we were studying Design, we would be "freed" from most of these rules so that the possibilities of visual creativity would be amplified, since this was one of the most important criteria for the professors-supervisors to evaluate. In other words, we were expected to break the rules in favor of Design.

When it comes to job placement, universally in all areas, professionals just send their resumes as an introduction to their profile; even if this simple document is not a representation of the professional, it serves as the first stage of evaluation. In the Design scenario, however, the resume naturally loses strength when compared to the portfolio. The impression that the evaluators expect is to immediately see your technical capacity, and then analyze your human profile and professional experience to formulate your value proposition. Therefore, we conclude that the portfolio is the UX/UI Designer's real resume. The fact of having a portfolio says a lot, and it is expected that your profession is explicit in this introductory and representative piece about you.



Changing the mindset

As we mentioned in the article Find your own professional value, defining and highlighting your unique portfolio differentiators is essential. Since job applicants are "technically similar", the biggest point of differentiation is not (and cannot be) knowing how to do, but rather the skills and qualities that build your professional profile along with your techniques. This is exactly why your portfolio cannot simply have your work in it, but must say who you are.

Imagine yourself on the other side of the table: On any given Tuesday, you start to receive the candidates for a job that you advertised days before. For the first 10 candidates you will pay more attention, read the contents and be patient with anything that is missing; from the 11th evaluated, your time will already be compressed, your tolerance will drastically be reduced, and you will come to the conclusion that the vast majority follow the same format. This is where the differentiation you need in your professional presentation comes in. 

I list below some aspects for you to evaluate yourself and convert them into action:  


A living, evolving organism

Your portfolio can't be seen as something you did on the spur of the moment just when you need a job opportunity. Since it says a lot about you, the impression might be that you don't care about your professional image, that you leave everything until the 45th minute, or that you can't organize your priorities well enough. The suggestion is to be guided by something bigger: Your portfolio is a living organism that needs attention, dedication, time and care to be always up to your level. If you evolve as a professional, it should evolve as well - ideally, having an annual redesign of your portfolio not only clarifies your evolution, but also keeps you ahead of the mainstream.


Present yourself in your essence

At such times, being a UX/UI Designer makes all the difference. You have a white canvas that is the opportunity to be 100% creative and not skimp on design, exploring all its positive points and making them evident and attractive to those who come to consume. You are the product. The suggestion is to talk to people around you or who have been part of your professional history to bring their individual views of you, providing relevant inputs to make your "About Me" page rich and interesting. These opinions will help a lot to see your true professional profile and the qualities that add the most to your value proposition towards the next big step of your career.


Get to know your user and have a goal

As said before, the evaluator or recruiter, among other users, is the one you are targeting with your portfolio. They are the end users who should be impacted in the right way with an outstanding experience with your product, so that they are compelled to want more. But remember: these users have little time, have already analyzed several other portfolios (and will directly compare you with other candidates), value details, expect you to surprise them in some way, and are eager to make a fair and right decision. These factors already guide the way to the success of your portfolio, not forgetting that even if your portfolio is visually amazing, everything has to work. Don't make gross mistakes like wrong links, not putting your contact data, or forgetting the "back to home" button: these mistakes directly compromise the goal of your portfolio and will play against you.


Tell stories, real ones

The reality is that what you do is not yours, and not for you. Since the companies you have worked for are the real owners of the products (and beneficiaries of the results) that you helped build, the best thing to do is to tell this experience in the form of an organized, consistent, interesting and direct story, so that this case can build the best image about you. Let your work speak for itself: Show it, don't tell.

Your cases need to explain what the project was, for whom, when, with whom, for what purpose, and what the results were like. And most importantly, they need to clarify what exactly you did in this whole scenario and your way of thinking.

Note that these indicators are independent of whether you are a beginner or a highly experienced UX/UI Designer.


No matter which platform

We get asked a lot what is the ideal platform to build a UX/UI Design portfolio on. The answer to this question is always the same: The platform doesn't matter, as long as the portfolio achieves its goal. Some are more robust and costly, others are extremely simple and costless, others are not even for that purpose but deliver well; In any case, it is clear that UX/UI Designers with their own website have a much greater impact because it evidences their initiative, care, and the ability to come up with custom results that "give them a pass". After all, if you want to act as a UX/UI Designer for digital products, not having an online portfolio is not only a basic, but a conceptual mistake.


Inspire others

The last (but not least) property of your portfolio is to inspire other professionals. And inspiring is not just for the more experienced: We've seen portfolios from early career UX/UI Designers that are highly whimsical, in-depth and with a surprising consistency, since they haven't had that much experience yet. So this pointer may well be your contribution to the worldwide UX/UI Design community (there are no more barriers) as many professionals feel lost when it comes to building their cases and presenting themselves well. And of course, an inspiring portfolio shines in the eyes of reviewers and makes them forget a bit about the huge amount of weak portfolios. Make their day when they seeyours.




A UX/UI Designer's portfolio cannot be just a selection of your best work. It needs to be much more. It is the representative in your absence, and needs to convey the professional you are in full. To guide you in building your professional profile, register with Deeploy.Me! We'll ask you the right questions to create a compelling profile and build a portfolio case to model all your cases.

About Mao Barros

Over 15 years in the Design field, working on visual projects such as graphic, illustration and Brands. For the last 10 years I've been working in digital projects as UI Designer, understanding UX and buildings processes using no-code tools to have a good deliverable to them.

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