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:
- Working with Text
- Working with Images
- Working with Videos
- Working with File & Web Hosting
- The Ultimate UX Portfolio Tool
*Click on any of the above links above to jump to that section.
Working with Text
Google Drive – Docs & Slides (link)
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)
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 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
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!
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!
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!
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!
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)
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)
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 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)
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
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.
Siteground – My Preferred Web Hosting Provider (link)
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. I’ve switched from Hostmonster (OK) to Hostgator (AVOID) and finally to Siteground, which offers way faster and more rock solid hosting for the exact same price.
- Best portfolio features: Siteground 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.