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4 steps to creating an impressive UX design portfolio

4 steps to creating an impressive UX design portfolio

Your UX design portfolio helps you impress future employers and attract clients. Here are four crucial steps to creating an outstanding portfolio.

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Design
4 steps to creating an impressive UX design portfolio

4 steps to creating an impressive UX design portfolio

Your UX design portfolio helps you impress future employers and attract clients. Here are four crucial steps to creating an outstanding portfolio.

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Written by
Webflow Team

Good UX design portfolios express your personality and process. Learn how to create a portfolio that balances these priorities.

The demand for user experience (UX) designers is growing — but the number of talented professionals vying for work is, too. A thoughtful, creative portfolio helps you grab attention, attract clients, and distinguish yourself from the competition.

What are recruiters looking for in a UX designer portfolio?

If you’re applying for jobs, your portfolio should convince recruiters, hiring managers, and future team members you’re a great fit. Make sure to include the following:

  • Relevant experience, communicated via detailed case studies
  • Evidence of excellence in user-centered design with samples of past work
  • Documentation of your problem-solving process
  • Proof you can conduct UX research
  • Metrics showing project results
  • Evidence of collaboration and teamwork
  • Information to help them determine personality and cultural fit

While creating polished visual designs isn’t usually part of the UX designer job description, presenting your projects beautifully catches the viewer’s attention and shows you take pride in your work.

What are freelance clients looking for?

If you plan to work on a freelance or short-term contract basis, create a portfolio that attracts new clients with different interests. Prospective clients typically want the following:

  • Evidence of projects in a similar industry and on a similar scale (e.g., working with ecommerce stores or creating sites for small businesses)
  • Indications that you’re reliable and enjoyable to work with
  • Social proof in the form of reviews and testimonials
  • A description of your process, from consult and contract drafting to project completion
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Creating a great UX design portfolio: 4 steps

The best way to demonstrate good UX design skills is through previous work. Case studies form the backbone of your portfolio — here’s how to select the best ones and present them effectively.

1. Choose projects to showcase

Pick past UX design projects that showcase an innovative solution to a complex problem.

If the portfolio is for a specific prospect, consider which projects align best with the job requirements.

If it’s to attract new clients, focus on projects that show off various skills, like creating complex wireframes and using various visual design software.

If you’re a student or recently completed a UX design course, feel free to use student projects. But if you do, note that you understand where they don’t line up with real-world work, discussing how you’d approach the project differently for a client. If possible, do some free work for a nonprofit or friend so you have a case study to complement the student projects.

If the portfolio is for a job application, discuss your UX design process in detail. Choose projects where you’ve documented this process through photos, sketches, and records of other preliminary work.

2. Craft the case studies

Before starting, ask for client permission for your chosen case studies. Some contracts prohibit you from sharing the work publicly.

After receiving approval, format your case studies as stories demonstrating a journey from problem to solution.

Start by introducing the client and describing the problem. Include your role, the constraints you were working with (e.g., budget, format, timeframe), and any client preferences you had to consider.

Screenshot from a designer’s portfolio showing the headings “About the project,” “Task,” “Solution,” and “Target audience.”
Mika Khassenova’s UX case study of a tour company project includes general information about the project, plus the task, solution, and target audience.

Then discuss the user research you did to guide your choices. If you created personas or mapped user journeys, include these details. Explain how you used data and empathy to understand your users’ goals wherever possible.

Screenshot from Wendy’s website showing descriptions of two personas, Amy and Megan.
Wendy Schorr’s UX design portfolio includes two personas she created for a spa client.

Next, describe how you approached the solution. List the tools used, talk the reader through your thought process, and show evidence of preliminary prototypes, sketches, or wireframes. Demonstrate how you structured the site or app’s information architecture in a user-friendly way. And if you have photos from meetings or workshops, include them. Each of these elements shows potential clients what you’re capable of.

The heading “Paper wireframes,” followed by text describing why Alexandra decided not to include a user forum in the app. Five images of hand-drawn wireframes.
In her portfolio, Alexandra Raquel Todd shows photos of early paper-based wireframes and describes how her approach to the Remote Llama mobile app changed over time.

Then, describe how you conducted usability testing and incorporated client feedback to refine the product, nudging it closer to its final form.

Cellphone mockup of Google Translate with the top section (for text input) annotated “Things that matter” and the bottom section (four large icons representing “scan,” “talk,” “offline,” and “saved”), annotated “Probably ads.”
In Google Translate UX designer Pendar Yousefi’s portfolio, Pendar explains why his first approach (increasing user awareness of Google Translate tools by making the tool icons bigger) didn’t work: The users assumed the enlarged icons were ads.

Finally, add detailed visuals of the finished product. Include any metrics, user comments, or testimonials that showcase the value you added for the client.

Photo of a tablet, stylus, and cellphone with the texts “Crowdholding,” “Using wisdom of the crowd to solve business and product problems,” and “310% time per session, 3x engagement, 2.7x more sessions.”
Joe Sovcik’s UX design portfolio highlights metrics showing improved user engagement.

3. Choose a format

You have three main options as presentation formats for your digital portfolio: a portfolio website, a slide deck, or a profile page on a design site like Behance or Dribbble. If you’re invited to a face-to-face interview, you can bring in physical objects like sketches or hand-drawn wireframes, but you’ll send most portfolios digitally.

Websites help you create an online presence, attract new clients, and show off your skills with web-based effects. They do require some web design knowledge, but visual design platforms like Webflow allow you to assemble a portfolio website without coding experience.

A website-based portfolio usually includes the following:

  • A homepage with a brief mission statement
  • A Projects page with a brief description of each design case study and a link to a project-specific page
  • An About me page where you give visitors information about who you are as a designer (including years of experience and specialization areas)
  • A contact form or contact information

Slide decks don’t help build your brand. But they’re more flexible than websites, as you can easily take out any slides irrelevant to the job you’re applying for.

Profiles on design sites are less intimidating than building your own website, but they’re also less flexible and can have a standardized feel, making it hard to express your personality fully.

Make sure whatever format you choose isn’t too text-heavy, as some readers might find this overwhelming when scanning the portfolio. Prioritizing concision also means drawing viewer attention to important metrics and outcomes without burying the highlights in various paragraphs.

4. Get feedback

People without UX design knowledge and UX design experts alike should understand your portfolio. Recruiters often hire for roles they’ve no experience in, and you need their approval to move to the next round of hiring, where you’ll chat with potential coworkers. To get the opinions of UX design novices, send your portfolio to selected friends and family members and ask them what works and what doesn’t.

After receiving and implementing that first round of feedback, send your portfolio to a few UX design colleagues whose opinions you value. They’ll be able to give you more technical pointers.

Polishing your UX design portfolio

The best UX portfolios have something special that makes them stick in viewers’ minds. On top of more general UX design tips, here are a few ways to create a memorable portfolio.

Show off your personality as a designer

Your portfolio presents your skills, but it’s also an opportunity to emphasize your personality as a designer. Set yourself apart from other designers by incorporating your unique design style, highlighting the types of projects and niches you excel in, and demonstrating your approach to problem-solving.

Create interesting user experiences within the portfolio

While your portfolio is a collection of previous UX work, it’s also an opportunity to offer an interesting user experience. For example, Gavril Perov's portfolio, developed by Vlad Danilchenko, features a custom cursor that leaves a trail in a monochromatic color scheme as you move it, while Jake Louis’s portfolio uses a stylish custom preloading animation. And Kane Baker combines interaction design with personality: A smiling photo of Kane sits in the middle of his landing page, and his gaze follows the cursor around as visitors interact with the site.

Highlight teamwork skills

Collaboration is often essential for success in UX design. In your portfolio, emphasizing and elaborating on aspects of previous projects requiring cooperation, such as user research, usability testing, or working with developers to bring a project to life, shows that you understand the importance of teamwork and can collaborate with colleagues and stakeholders.

Offer a look at your process

Giving potential clients a glimpse into your design process reveals your ability to think critically about and reflect on your work. Go beyond featuring your final products by sharing the stories behind them, examples of what did and didn’t work in a project, and the key takeaways and insights you gained from the process helps you stand out as a designer who values continuous improvement and growth. 

Sharing your process also demonstrates credibility, transparency, and willingness to take risks, all of which are valuable assets to any team.

Create your portfolio in Webflow

Website-based UX design portfolios give you the flexibility to create a branded and interactive site that showcases your talent. Webflow offers free or paid portfolio templates, or you can build your site from scratch. Consider sharing your completed portfolio on Made in Webflow — we’d love to see it.

Last Updated
July 10, 2023
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