What I learned after I started to treat it like a UX Design project
Or let’s call it the first pancake. We all know that the first pancake is always your tester… and usually not the prettiest. My first attempt at designing my portfolio was a hurdle. As part of a bootcamp, we had a 5-week phase at the end to develop our own personal brand, 3 case studies and a portfolio site. Sounds doable, right? I thought so too. And it is. But it was a hot mess.
One week to develop your brand, one week to design each case study, and one week to learn how to build a website and launch it all. But notice how there are literally no steps similar to any design process you learn at bootcamp…?
Where’s the research? Where’s the iterations? Where’s the testing??
A few months after launching my portfolio (and many rejected applications), I took a step back and had a clearer vision of how I should approach this — like an actual UX/UI design project 🤯.
So my personal favorite design process is the Double Diamond. It breaks down the process into four phases and demonstrates convergent and divergent thinking. And here begins my journey into redesigning my portfolio.
1. discover —
Eyeing up your competitors and seeing what they’re doing well, what they doing not so great, and assessing if there are any gaps is an important part of research.
I started by googling “product designer in san fransisco.” I want to know what the hot shots are doing! I browsed a few portfolios, reached out to a few people, and got overwhelmed because these portfolios were amazing.
I then realized that I cannot compare myself to people who have been in this industry for years. So, new approach — what are other fresh out of school designers producing? This is when I started to join in on portfolio reviews to see what’s out there. And let me tell you, they’re still amazing. But this inspired so many ideas for me. More specifically, an amped up About page.
Obviously as UX Designers, we can’t forget about our users. And who are our users looking at our portfolio sites? They are Hiring Manager, HR, Directors of Design and Lead Designers.
While we can sit here and assume what they look for in a portfolio, isn’t it better to go to the source and just ask? So that’s exactly what I did. I reached out to professionals in the field through LinkedIn and asked them if they would be willing to answer some questions on a Zoom call.
2. define —
After many conversations, I started to see 3 trends everyone mentioned they look for; Visual/UI Design (yes, even for you UXers), the ability to tell a story, and to be able to read and understand your design process in 1–3 minutes.
Well good news, I’m not starting from scratch. Even though my case studies aren’t so successful I took a look back and thought about what's good? What’s bad? What’s missing?
I then had a better vision on how to create a new frame work to better tell my story, to incoporate visual design, and make it easily scannable.
3. develop —
design & prototype
First came a few weeks of analysis paralysis. But finally I was able to get over my fears of failure and get designing. I created a new case study for one project using Figma. From there, I prototyped a few interactions (image carousels mainly) and sent it off to a few trusted friends for review. They were able to point out some areas of improvement, like upping my white space.
testing (where i’m currently at)
I then felt confident enough to loop back around to a few of the professionals I did the SME Interviews with and asked if I could have their time again to review my newly designed case studies. This field is filled with amazing people who are always willing to help out and I’m so grateful for that.
So far, I’ve only tested it one one person and got an overall good review with some direct, actionable feedback. I plan on testing it with two more professionals before making any changes.
4. deliver —
validate new case study layout
After I synthesize the feedback from my 3 tests, I’ll apply any of the changes to my case study. I’ll then move on to apply the layout to my other 2 projects in Figma before applying the changes to my website.
lastly, hit publish!
And hopefully have a gleaming portfolio that no one can say no to ✨