This is one of the most common problems I see with UX portfolios –
Designers will show their work without context…
“This is a wireframe. This is a user flow. This is a sitemap.”
It feels like the designer is just going through the motions of what they think they’re supposed to show.
When a UX case study lacks context, it feels like fast food.
Just servin’ up deliverables.
Which makes a UX hiring manager think: what’s the point?
At the end of the day, a good case study is a good story.
And one of the best metaphors I have for storytelling is fine dining.
Fine dining is good storytelling + presentation skills
When you go to a fine dining establishment, the waiters always do this…
They walk you through the menu, and highlight the day’s specials.
They’ll pronounce the impossible-to-pronounce French dishes.
Most importantly, they’ll go into detail of why a dish is so spectacular:
“The ginger chicken is a crowd favorite, it’s caramelized with almond butter and is meant to be shared.”
Just the way some waiters talk about food makes you salivate. It’s good sales.
And that experience is what we should be aiming for in the case studies we write.
Of course, we don’t want to overdo it a la this hilarious Youtube video.
So what does this look like, vis-a-vis the fast food method?
|Fast food presentation style||Fine dining presentation style|
|This is a sitemap.||I removed unnecessary hierarchy, simplifying the navigation from 3 to 2 levels.|
|I created a set of 5 wireframes.||Based on user testing, I created a new onboarding sequence to explain how this new feature works.|
|Here are some photos from our user testing.||I recruited 7 users from varying backgrounds to evaluate the usability of the sign up process.|
You see that creating a “fine dining” user experience in your case studies doesn’t require that much more effort. Here are some ideas:
- Describe why a deliverable is being shown and why it’s important to the process
- Highlight an interesting insight or user research learning
- Point out a specific part of a deliverable you’re showing (no one’s going to analyze your giant user flow)
Most designers with a completed case study won half the battle already. All it takes is a little bit more to move the experience from fast food -> fine dining.
But what if I like fast food?
Design roles that are heavy on the visual element (“UI Designer, Visual Designer”) can get away with more of the fast-food experience of showing one deliverable after another.
Some designers truly do enjoy being on the production side of things and don’t mind cranking out UIs and wireframes.
And I won’t lie – some hiring managers, even in UX roles, do come from heavy graphic design backgrounds and care about seeing polished, pixel-perfect screens.
But if you are trying to make your mark as UX designer whose work is more closely aligned to strategy and process, do consider the fine dining route.