Is it time to ditch the UX portfolio?

This week’s UX roundup has 2 article highlights, 2 design tools, 1 design quote, 1 UX book recommendation, and 1 case study review.

DISCLOSURE: This post may contain affiliate links. When you click a link and make a purchase, we receive a commission. This is at no cost to you. Thank you for supporting our ad-free site!


It’s Time to Ditch the UX Portfolio

“I found myself extending offers to designers who didn’t even have online portfolios. And many of those who did have portfolios, didn’t have very good ones.

…And you know what? Every single one of them — every single person we hired was fit for the job. Not only were they fit, but they also excelled in their positions.” 

These thoughts come from Chris Keiss, a design manager who once rejected applicants based on nit-picking their portfolios, but then realized that this approach was not working. Some high-level takeaways:

  • Past performance is a poor predictor of future results.
  • The initial portfolio review is often a way to weed out candidates, and rely on (un)conscious biases
  • Should the UX industry place so much emphasis on a superficial (visual) depiction of work?
  • There aren’t any standards for constructing or judging UX portfolios

This article reminded me of Jared Spool’s tweet where he says “If you’re trying to hire designers and require a portfolio, you’re not gonna get top talent. The best designers don’t have time. Too busy.”

Continue reading Jared Spool’s thread on Twitter

Despite being in the early stages of my career, I agree with Jared Spool and Chris Kiess’s stance that portfolios don’t always show a designer’s full abilities. As much as I enjoy presenting my work and design thinking process, my cookie-cutter portfolio wasn’t doing it for me. 

I wonder if the solution is for the design industry to emphasize behavioral and skills-based tests for applicants. Although this would take more time to schedule, this can result in a more humanized hiring process that goes beyond the superficial way that portfolios are judged. 


Fix Contrast – FixA11y

Here’s a browser extension that works for Chrome, Edge, Brave, Vivaldi, and Opera to help automatically increase contrast on sites. You can set your preferred contrast levels based on ‘medium’ or ‘high’ presets or customize them to your needs. 



“Do you think that– clicking a bunch of forms that indicate that you understand the new COVID policies, do you consider that a journey?” 

This episode from Users Know is fantastic as a reminder that sometimes, we can get a little grandiose about some of our terminology. Which ties into the idea of UX being complex and sophisticated. But then, what is a journey, a trip, a task, and an errand? How do those weigh out for a user? To me, a journey is a start to finish experience of a product and I wouldn’t quantify a user journey by the number of clicks because frankly, there could be lots of variation. 


The 2021 UX Research Tools Map

This map is such an interesting visual representation of UX research tools. It is composed of 94 tools that were trimmed down from the 137 tools that were included in the 2020 edition of this project. This map is so fun because it helps you navigate the software landscape, discover new tools, and identify gaps in your user research toolkit.

Interestingly enough, I feel like I only know a handful of the tools on the list so I think I have so studying to do! 


ADHD Bri’s How To: Writing Alt Text

Following on the heels of last week’s guide to alt text, I found this comic strip that has a humorous take on the topic:


“Look at usual things with unusual eyes.”

Vico Magistretti 


Should you do free work?

Watch Chris Do’s take on free design work. Here are UXB’s 8 reasons for and against doing free work, with the main point that free work should only be done if you get something of value in exchange, like a solid case study or good connections. 


How to use graphic design to sell things, explain things, make things look better, make people laugh, make people cry and (every once in a while) change the world

Some might say that this book is less of a ‘how to’ and more of a  collection of stories from Michael Bierut’s design portfolio. With his graphic design background, this read features lots of fun clients — museums, art galleries, cultural institutions, and the iconic NYC Department of Transportation. The visuals in the book are sure to inspire a designer at any stage of their career.


Promo’s Free Image Resizer

Mocking up or designing for social media? Well, you can resize your images in 3 easy steps: upload an image, select the size, and download. 


Yelp Activity Map

Designer: Gabrianna Dumaguin

Case Study: Yelp Activity Map

This project explores how one might be able to easily access a centralized place of their activity on Yelp and a look into what a visualization of one’s geographical history could look like and mean to our users.

Why this case study is awesome: 

  • Scannability: upon arrival to the case study, readers can scroll up and down to catch the main points – project goals, concept testing, final deliverables (to name a few)
  • Final deliverables: the results are mocked up on both an Apple and Android device for readers to imagine what it looks like and there is a video to watch the interactions 

As cities reopen today, this idea of an Activity Map is relevant for users to explore reviews, photos, check-ins, etc. The designer in this project was real with readers, admitting that there was a time constraint that limited the view to half-map, half-list. 

What I’m interested in seeing more of? Early sketches and ideation. This case study included very mid- to high-fidelity mockups and prototypes which make the artifacts all very clean and detailed, which left me wanting to see more of the design thinking and creative process. 


If you’re looking for the best educational options in UX, we’ve done the hard work for you. Here are some of our most popular guides on UX bootcamps and learning platforms:

Have a review of a course or bootcamp you want to share with us? Hit “comment” to this post to get in touch.

liked this article? tell everyone!


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.