List of Top UX Design Portfolios

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This will be a continually updated list of UX Design Portfolios I admire 

The UX portfolio. Annoyingly hard to build, ridiculously essential for getting a UX job. Throughout the years, I’ve been cataloguing & saving impressive UX portfolios. These portfolios all exhibit similar characteristics: in-depth case studies and clean design. Let’s dive in:

Alan Shen

  • Notable Case Study: Netflix – Immersive Storytelling
  • Good example of: in-depth, well written case studies. The “TL;DR” accordion is a nice feature that gives a high level summary of the project

Eric Bue

  • Notable Case Study: Exercise Tracker
  • Great example of: simple homepage with a memorable personality

Javier Ghaemi

  • Javier’s approach is an interesting example of a hub (personal website) and spoke (linking to case studies on Behance) model.
  • Good example of: showing off design work alongside other interests (blog articles)

Joshua Taylor

  • Notable Case Study: Evernote Web App Redesign
  • Good example of: weaving in business & user cases, talking about KPIs and metrics

Kristian Tumangan

Luke James Taylor

  • Beautiful website with direct links to client work
  • Good example of: UX + Frontend/Web Design portfolio

Matt Rothenberg

Nan Wang

  • Notable Case Study: Acton Rocket Skates
  • Good example of: immersive case study using animation, annotated wireframes & more
  • *UX Job Coaching Student

Nishtha Mehrotra

  • Notable Case Study: TurnedTables
  • Good example of: homepage with easy to access case studies + resume

Rebecca Li

Steven Barros

  • Notable Case Study: Lululemon Redesign
  • Good example of: Extremely in-depth spec work (embedded as PDF) with heavily annotated wireframes & flows.

Suzan Choy

  • Notable Case Study: Biggest Creeper
  • Good example of: homepage gallery layout, password locking certain content

Zach Kuzmic

  • Notable Case Study: Safetime for iOS
  • Good example of: From within his case study, Zach links to a separate PDF of an in-epth wireframe spec. This is a great approach to giving a high level summary while enabling your audience to see more detailed work.
  • I did an analysis of Zach’s UX portfolio a while back

Zhuosi Xie

  • Notable Case Study: Sidetrack
  • Good example of: minimalist look with content-first approach

_ _ _

Have a suggestion for an amazing UX portfolio or case study? Leave a comment :)

Top 10 UX Portfolio Best Practices

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There’s a sexy UX job you want to apply for. You’re putting the finishing touches on your UX portfolio. And since you don’t have time for in-depth training like The Ultimate UX Portfolio Course (or do you?), you want some tips you can implement TODAY.

That’s what this post is for – a “quick hits” list of the Top 10 UX Portfolio best practices. You can click the links below to jump to a more in-depth discussion of that tip:

  1. Aim for a 45 minute – 1 hour presentation window
  2. Make a slide-by-slide presentation
  3. Write your content first
  4. Show your best work upfront
  5. Separate UX work from other work
  6. Personalize your UX Portfolio
  7. Optimize design assets for fast viewing
  8. Consider password locking your portfolio
  9. Privatize sensitive content
  10. Don’t go overboard with the visuals
  11. *Bonus Tip

Tip 1: Aim for a 45 minute to 1 hour presentation timeframe.
For many designers, this means presenting around 3 case studies for an average length of 15-20 minutes each. If you prepare your content to last this long, you’ll be fine in almost any interview situation.

Tip 2: Make a slide-by-slide presentation

Due to the nature of presenting your UX portfolio in an interview, it’s more natural to walk through each case study slide by slide, instead of scrolling through a website. This way, you also have more control over the pacing of the presentation. I recommend presenting using software like Apple Keynote, Microsoft Powerpoint or Google Slides.

Tip 3: Write your content first

Start with the story you want to tell by writing everything down in words. Lots of us go about it the wrong way by focusing on design artifacts first. Instead, adopt a content first philosophy – not only will it help you create a more compelling story, but it’ll save you time from going back and forth doing the visual design that can come later.

The Ultimate UX Portfolio Course is built on the content-first philosophy, walking you from crafting your story (written text) first, then visuals, then packaging your portfolio altogether.

Tip 4: Show your best work upfront

Select 2-3 of your best pieces, and write in-depth case studies about them. A common mistake designers make is throwing the whole kitchen sink of their creative work into their portfolios. In fact, interviewers don’t need to see everything. They just need to see your most important work, the work you’re proudest of and can talk on and on about.

It’s ideal to show a diversity of work in your case studies, for example a mobile app project versus a responsive web design project.

Tip 5: Separate UX work from other work

If you have background in other disciplines such as graphic design or front-end development, it’s okay to put that in your portfolio – but just separate it in a different section. It’s not helpful to portfolio reviewers to see work like a logo and an in-depth case study all mixed together in the same space.

Curate yourself to give your audience a focused experience. On a portfolio website, for example, I encourage placing UX case studies front and center, then link to your other work as a separate menu item in your navigation. If this is a presentation, hold your other work in a separate PDF. Keep this in your back pocket if interviewers ask about any of your other skills or hobbies.

Tip 6: Personalize your UX Portfolio

You can personalize your portfolio in many ways. The first is to choose to show projects that are most relevant to the company you’re applying for. If you’re applying for an Enterprise UX role, for example, it’d be especially relevant to present a case study on Enterprise UX.

There’s other low-hanging fruit to communicate your interest. In a portfolio that you’re going to present in an interview, write that your portfolio is for the interviewing company.

Example: “UX portfolio prepared for X Company

You can also do this in the filename of PDFs you may have to send over for review

Example: “John_Doe_UX_Portfolio_CompanyName.pdf”

These may seem like small details, but they go a long way in communicating your interest. You’re presenting yourself in such a way that says “I like your company, and I made this case study for you to see.”

Tip 7: Optimize your portfolio & design artifacts

On the more technical side of things, ensure that your portfolio loads fast for your audience. There’s nothing worse than a bulky website that takes forever to load. Optimize your images using tools like ImageOptim and crunch down video sizes with Handbrake.

For an in-depth read on useful tools to help build your UX portfolio, read this post: Best UX Portfolio Building Tools

Tip 8: Consider password-locking your document

To help protect yourself and communicate to the interviewing team of your discretion, password lock your portfolio. Both Keynote and Powerpoint makes it easy to password lock presentation files.

It’s even easier if you have a PDF. On Mac, open the PDF you want password-protect in Preview. Go to File > Export > Encrypt, then set a password on your document.

Unfortunately this isn’t as easy to do on Windows – you’d have to use programs like Microsoft Word, Adobe Acrobat, or a free program called PDFMate.

Most cloud sharing services also offer password-protection. The only reputable company I know that offers password-protection for free is Sync.com. Sign up with my affiliate link and get an extra 1 gig of storage (for 6 GB total!)

Tip 9: Privatize sensitive content

Always respect your non-disclosure agreement and make sure to check in with a lawyer if you’re not sure about including something in your portfolio. For an extra layer of protection, I recommend privatizing your sensitive content in the following ways:

– blurring or whiting out content
– making content more generic
– stripping designs down to lower-fidelity wireframes

Again, the above tips only offer an extra layer of protection. Do consult legal help if you’re not sure about what to show in your portfolio.

Tip 10: Don’t go overboard with the visuals

The best portfolios usually focus on the content and don’t get too fancy with the visuals.

Remember that interviewers are usually scanning your work instead of examining them in detail. When in doubt, pick “easy to read” over “fancy visuals.” The two styles aren’t mutually exclusive of course, but let this thought guide you when designing your portfolio.

Using a minimalist aesthetic can save you time – it’s less colors and fonts to worry about, while helping you focus crafting a clean and readable case study.

Bonus Tip 11: Practice presenting your portfolio

Practice presenting your portfolio a few times, preferably live with a friend. Pay attention to the pacing of your presentation, and look out for anything that doesn’t make sense.

Also beware of sounding too rehearsed. You don’t want to be in a situation where you rely on a word-for-word script. That’s too much to remember and it won’t come off as natural in an interview. As long as you know the overall flow and main points of your presentation, you’ll be fine.

For an even deeper level of practice, record yourself on video. This way you can visually evaluate how you come across with in-person interviews.

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The Best UX Portfolio Building Tools

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Creating a UX Portfolio is hard enough. Luckily, there are a handful of tools that make the portfolio-building process much easier. Some tools are the obvious, popular ones. But I’m excited to share some “hidden gems” with you as well. My favorite UX Portfolio tools are organized in 4 different sections:

*Click on any of the above links above to jump to that section.

Working with Text

Google Drive – Docs & Slides (link)

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When writing your portfolio, use a collaboration-ready, cloud-based editor like Google Docs. Not only does this keep your work safe, but features like revision history and document sharing makes the writing process much easier.

  • Best portfolio feature: The “suggestions” mode alone is the reason you should use Google Docs instead of non-cloud software sitting in your computer. Send your draft to your friends and see them make comments and suggestions live – without altering your existing text unless you allow it.
  • Price: Free

Copy’em Paste Clipboard Manager (link)

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If you don’t already use a Clipboard Manager, you need one. Why? First, the clipboard manager is a handy everyday utility that saves your brainpower by allowing you to save text + images by simply copying it. But clipboard managers are especially useful for all the editing, copy & pasting of content you’ll be doing when building your portfolio.

  • Best portfolio features: Copy’em Paste is jam packed with useful features beyond clipboard management, such as it’s nifty screenshots tool. I also love how you can easily search and star your clippings.
  • Price: $10 USD

Hemingway (link)

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Hemingway is a free webapp that helps you write better. Copy and paste your text (such as content from UX case studies) and Hemingway will highlight content with suggested edits.

  • Best portfolio features: Hemingway helps you identify run-on sentences, superfluous words and more. Clear writing leads to a portfolio that’s easier to understand by all audiences.
  • Price: Free Webapp, $10 Desktop App

Working with Images

ImageOptim (link)

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This incredible free app helps reduce image sizes without sacrificing quality. I use ImageOptim almost on a daily basis and am impressed at how much it can reduce image file sizes!

  • Best portfolio features: drag and drop images right into the ImageOptim window to quickly reduce file sizes. Speedy and leads to faster loading times for your web or PDF portfolio.
  • Price: Free!

Nimbus Screenshot Browser Extension (Chrome Extension and Firefox Add-on)

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When building a UX case study, it’s often necessary to take screenshots of existing webpages. Think before-and-after design comparisons, or if a product you’ve worked on has already launched, you’ll want screenshots of the live product. Nimbus provides several ways to capture your screen: visible part of page, selected area, entire page and more.

  • Best portfolio features: After taking your screenshot, Nimbus allows simple edits before saving your image. You can resize, crop and even add annotations to your screenshot. The resize feature is especially handy for using consistent image sizes in your portfolio. Example: if you need to capture a series of images in 640×360, but your screen dimensions capture at 1280×720, you can quickly size your desired output up or down before saving. This saves tons of time :)
  • Price: Free!

LibreStock Stock Image Search Engine + UnSplash (LibreStock and UnSplash)

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We’re in a golden era of high quality stock images. Dozens and dozens of stock image sites now exist…but why go through each one individually? LibreStock searches through 43 stock image sites and provides you with do-whatever-you-want, Creative Commons Licensed photos.

You might also be wondering about the 800lb gorilla in the room, UnSplash. Unfortunately, UnSplash isn’t indexed LibreStock. I use the two websites in conjunction to find the exact, high quality image you need.

  • Best portfolio features: LibreStock links to stock image sites that often allow you to download images at a certain dimension. No more downloading giant images then having to crunch them down :)
  • Price: LibreStock and UnSplash are completely free!

InstantLogoSearch (link)

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If you’ve worked with at least a few brands, you know it can be difficult to find a high quality logo – even through Google Images. InstantLogoSearch lives up to it’s name with a very fast search across a large database of brand logos.

  • Best portfolio features: InstantLogoSearch offers most of its logos in both SVG and PNG format. This is really handy because if you want to include a logo in your vector design file (like Sketch), SVG can be imported and edited easily.
  • Price: Free!

Icon Tools (FlatIcon, Icons8 and NounProject)

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Everyone needs icons. Icons help add visual flair to your portfolio. Out of the thousands of icons out there, only a few stand out. I’ve been using FlatIcon.com for the longest time because of their extensive search and ease of downloading vector icons. Vector formats are the most versatile for editing and resizing :)

For even speedier design, use desktop apps like Icons8. Icons8 is a completely free desktop app that lets you search, drag n drop icons straight from your toolbar into Sketch, and Photoshop. It’s so fast and easy, it almost feels magical. Advanced features like selecting different file formats (.SVG) does require a paid upgrade though.

NounProject comes at a close second because the features are the same, but it’s a free 14-day trial that eventually requires you to pay a monthly subscription.

  • Best portfolio features: All these products provide icons in vector formats, which is key for design flexibility (resizing, change colors). The desktop apps are especially useful for their quick search + drag n drop functionality. Need to pop in a quick icon into your UX case study powerpoint? Just drag it in!
  • Price: FlatIcon is free, Icons8 is mostly free and NounProject is paid with free trial

Lingo App (from NounProject)

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Collecting design inspiration is a messy thing. Lingo App helps you build a centralized library of visual assets in an easy-to-use Mac app.

  • Best portfolio features: In the UX portfolio building process, a lot of your time will probably be spent on choosing the right design artifacts to show. An app like Lingo can help you stay organized…create a folder for each case study, an quickly drag n drop all relevant assets into that folder. You can also name & tag assets for quick searching later. I actually love using LingoApp to collect competitive research & design inspiration when I start new projects.
  • Price: Free for personal use, paid subscription for team & collaboration features

Working with Video

Camtasia by TechSmith (link)

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If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video is worth thousands of pictures. I recommend UX Beginners include a video or GIF in their portfolio pieces, especially when demonstrating application flow. Camtasia is invaluable for this use case because it’s the easiest video editor I’ve used, packed with useful features. It’s the only video software I use to create my UX Portfolio Course and UNBOX Wireframing Course.

  • Best portfolio features: Easily record your screen, your face (using front-facing camera) or both at the same time. You can also choose to record a specific area of your screen (let’s say a 800x600px region in the upper right hand corner), which I’ve found handy for explaining my designs. Export options are available in multiple formats and dimensions as well, making Camtasia versatile for including video in whatever format your portfolio is in.
  • Price: $99 for Mac and $299 for Windows. Camtasia has a free screencasting tool called Jing, but obviously comes with much less features.

Handbrake (link)

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Handbrake can significantly reduce the file size of your videos, often at no compromise to video quality. The best part is that this piece of software is completely free, which boggles my mind.

  • Best portfolio features: just as with ImageOptim, Handbrake can export your optimized video in a variety of outputs. The standard settings (H.264) compression is good for reducing the file size of videos for uploading to your portfolio website or sending as a cloud-hosted link.
  • Price: 100% Free!

GIF Brewery (link)

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GIFs are getting more and more popular as a way for designers to show flows and animations. The process of making a GIF, however, is still cumbersome. Imagine GIF Brewery as the ImageOptim for GIFs…it helps you optimize GIFs file size and quality.

  • Best portfolio features: similar to what is said about the other video tools, GIF brewery helps you reduce the file size of GIFs (often at no compromise to quality) so your GIFs load fast in your portfolio. There’s a variety of options to tweak your GIFs too – speed of playback, colors, and more.
  • Price: $4.99 one time purchase, Mac app only

Working with File & Web Hosting

Cloud Hosting Providers (Dropbox or Sync.com)

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I’m a proponent of creating an “offline UX portfolio” using something like PowerPoint or Keynote. Why? Because you can make your portfolio online instantly by uploading that presentation to a cloud hosting service like Dropbox. I teach this process in The Ultimate UX Portfolio Course.

If you don’t have a Dropbox account already, sign up through the UXBeginner link to get an extra 500mb free. Dropbox is the de-facto cloud storage provider. It’s fast, has super easy sharing features, and has the best user experience out there.

BUT…there are some serious contenders out there. If password-protecting your presentation files is a must, then sign up for Sync.com.  Not only will you get an extra 1gb (6GB total) with my referral link, but Sync is one of the few is hosting providers that offers free password-protection. It’s design is clean and easy to use as well (reminds me of Box.com actually).

  • Best portfolio features: Once you upload a presentation to PDF, the sharing features of these hosting companies means you can have an “online” portfolio without making a website. If you absolutely need password protection, Sync.com is the only major player in the game offering it for free.
  • Price: Sync.com offers free 5GB to start, and 1GB free with my referral link. Dropbox offers 2GB storage to start, or get an extra 500mb with my link.

Hostmonster – My Preferred Web Hosting Provider (link)

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Need a way to host your online portfolio? Shared hosting is cheap and offers more than enough hosting & bandwidth for most users – especially if you just need to host your portfolio. l’ve been using Hostmonster for 10 years (since I started my first website in high school) and they’ve been consistently reliable.

  • Best portfolio features: Hostmonster offers 1-click install of WordPress, a platform that offers plenty of free portfolio themes. It also offers the flexibility of hosting different websites under one account at no extra charge. For example, if you have mainwebsite.com and just started a new website portfoliowebsite.com, you can host both websites under one account. In fact, you can host unlimited websites (as long as they don’t take up too much space) under one account. Pretty neat feature that you can’t do with SquareSpace!
  • Price: $4.99/month for long-term plans, standard pricing when compared to other hosting providers.

The Ultimate Tool is Knowledge

What’s more important than all the above tools combined? The knowledge and process to put together a stellar UX Portfolio.

Shameless self-plug, but I created The Ultimate UX Portfolio Course because it’s the only training of its kind in the market that’ll help you craft an oustanding UX portfolio that’ll grab the attention of companies and hiring managers. Sign up below to access to an exclusive 30% off coupon.

The Text-First Portfolio

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Creating a UX Portfolio is daunting. It’s been a long time since I’ve revised mine, and I’m dreading it. It’s going to take so much work!

I realized that it wasn’t the amount of work that scares me, but it’s these factors instead:

  • Making my portfolio eye-catching
  • Redesigning my personal website
  • Getting all project assets together to make my portfolio

Then something struck me…I’m worrying about the little things.

I get caught up in looking at other people’s beautiful portfolios, and end up worrying about the aesthetics of the portfolio more than the story itself.

Because what is it that actually matters at the end of the day?

It’s the content.

The story behind each project is what matters. The process you went through. Conflicts you resolved, or didn’t. New ideas that you tried.

So if you’re like me, and got paralyzed about making a pretty portfolio, try this:

Write your portfolio first. 

On numerous occasions I’ve bent myself into a corner with a certain WordPress Theme or template, and used that as a starting place for designing my portfolio.

To use a frontend markup analogy, I should have focused on producing my content first (like writing HTML), then worry about styling later (like CSS).

This approach is fast and requires no images, no code, no website.

But the most important step is the simplest of all of all – turning your thoughts into words.

So, let’s explore how to create a Text-First UX Portfolio

_ _ _

Part 1: Choose your weapon

First, pick your word processing application (that sounds so 90s) of choice. My favorite is Google Docs because it’s simpler than Word, easily shareable, has versioning built in, and the minimalist interface helps you focus on writing.

Here are a few other writing apps I love and switch between them depending on my mood:

  • Draft – minimalist, revision-enabled webapp
  • IA Writer – no frills minimalist Mac app
  • OMM Writer – emotional writing Mac app

But really, any software will do.

Part 2: Outline

Outlining is a skill. Start with the most important project you want to show off in an interview, and start outlining the things you want to talk about.

A straightforward outline can start with the Situation – Action – Result framework, which I wrote about in Minimum Viable Portfolio. Sample outline:

Mobile App Portfolio Project

  • Intro
    • What the project is
    • Who the team members are
    • Your role and contribution on the team
  • Situation
    • How/why the problem exists
    • Why the problem matters
  • Action
    • The process you and your team took to get there
    • UX Deliverables/activities done to help solve problem.
      • Personas
      • user research
      • wireframes, etc
  • Results
    • Stats, analytics
    • User testing feedback
    • Survey scores
    • What you learned from the project

One of my favorite quotes:

Freedom without structure is its own prison

With a simple outline, we give structure to the otherwise chaotic process of creating a UX portfolio.

Part 3: Write the damn thing

Now, flesh out your outline with real writing. Just start with the first paragraph and feel out the story you want to tell with each project.

As you write your project, you may be distracted by all the media and assets to include in your portfolio piece. How do you stay focused?

Use a simple notation method to indicate the types of assets you want to use.

If you know you need to show an image related to your project, consider using [brackets] :

We did collaborative design sprints to figure out how to increase bookings.
[image of me sketching with team]
This was one of the iterations that we made:
[GIF of prototype]
Finally, these were the results from our user-testing study
[Screenshot of Google analytics page]

The content in brackets are notes to yourself, so when you finish writing everything you can focus on putting the assets in.

_ _ _

I’m done writing my portfolio…what now?

Sure enough, you now have the bones of your portfolio. Having this structure allows you to take your portfolio piece stylistically wherever you want.

Feel free to add in vector icons, fancy graphics, or even CSS animations.

But the truth is, all of that is just icing on the cake that your portfolio piece must deliver.

If you’re getting stuck on wrapping up the aesthetics of your portfolio piece, consider just making it into a great-looking blog post.

This has the benefit of forcing you to publish and share your portfolio piece, and takes the pressure off of creating stunning visuals.

You can use WordPress or Medium to do this. The strategy doesn’t change: a compelling UX portfolio piece is simply a compelling story. 

Remember, the best portfolio is the one that can be seen!

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