UX Storytelling Techniques for Design Portfolios

ux-storytelling-techniques

By Daljit Ahluwalia, UX Writer

You passed the initial phone interview and now comes the final test to show potential employers what you are capable of: the UX portfolio presentation.

You might wonder…

  • Which projects should I talk about?
  • Should I just walk through projects on my website?”

The purpose of the portfolio presentation is not only for recruiters and UX hiring managers to gain a deeper understanding of your work, but also an understanding of who you are as a person. This is your opportunity to show employers your thought process through design problems and how well you communicate them to others. What’s easy to forget, however, is that UX portfolios should also be engaging.

In this article, we’ll learn how to apply principles of effective storytelling to present a compelling user experience portfolio. And we’ll explain the WHY instead of WHAT behind your decisions to help your audience follow along.

What Is UX Storytelling?

Storytelling is a way to capture users attention, take others on a journey and build bridges of understanding.
User experience storytelling uses UX methods and deliverables to communicate those stories. 

UX storytelling methods are commonly used when we think about UX design through:

  • User personas
  • User research
  • Storyboards
  • Customer journeys

These realistic representations of your target users help you visualize and create the appropriate narrative.

Benefits Of Storytelling in UX Design

  • Makes information more digestible
  • Can simplify complex ideas or actions
  • Delivers a more engaging experience

Example Case Study

Let’s use Johny Vino’s Fruits App case study as an example of how to structure a story…

ux-storytelling-1-Fruits App


Beginning: The first step when crafting your narrative is to set the scene: define the characters and entice the audience by explaining the why. Let them sense the journey they are about to embark on and why they should be interested.

For example, you can begin by introducing a user persona: explain who he/she is, what their behavior is like, what their needs and goals are, and perhaps even include a mini description or outline of why you have set out to create this design solution in the first place.

ux-storytelling-2-Persona

In this sample, we meet Gloria – a 34 year old who balances working full time as a salon owner with being a mother to three. She loves to feed her family nutritious meals, but her busy schedule makes shopping for groceries a stressful experience. She’s often in a rush and forgets to purchase healthier options(i.e. fruits!).

ux-storytelling-3-Job Stories

As a result, some of the problems realized are that: when people opt for shopping, seldom we may skip buying those fresh and fibrous fruits, or we may omit to add any needed fruit to our list, and sometimes we even forget what we have purchased.


Middle: Delve into the detail, including the twists and turns that add surprise and suspense. Make your audience understand the situation and build intrigue. This is a great time to summarize your design solutions.

ux-storytelling-4-Problems

Right after you summarize the problems being faced, immediately follow them up with your proposed design solutions, while also explaining why you proposed those specific solutions.

ux-storytelling-5-Design Solutions

Here’s an elaboration of weaving in UX storytelling – through the lens of interaction design principles – within a design case study.

Chunking: “Giving the fruits of various kinds in the app chunking the alike groups, which makes the process easy. Once you click the fruits list of a selective class, the fruit names and forms appear on the screen. You can just slide for the more varieties. So users can adopt the app easily as I have reduced the Performance Load.”

ux-storytelling-6-Chunking

Legibility: “The price of the fruits are given clearly near each type, with the search option and cart list on the top.”

ux-storytelling-7-Legibility

Forgiveness: “The user can also go back the screens and reelect.”

ux-storytelling-8-Forgiveness


End: The big reveal. Show them the solution, how you have overcome adversary and are now victorious. After you reveal your prototype, let them know how the future can look.

The conclusion of the portfolio is the perfect chance to provide the takeaway, and give a recap of the problem and how you believe you have designed a solution.

Don’t forget to reflect upon your learnings: What worked well? What would you do differently? How did you deal with your failures? How did you deal with your team’s failures? What lessons did you learn and how did this project impact you for the better?

ux-storytelling-9-Takeaways

And there you have it – an engaging presentation that blends storytelling with UX deliverables!

The story behind the design is often more compelling than the design itself. By being able to craft an engaging narrative for your presentation, you are able to prioritize what information your reader needs and focus on the vital moments of the project that make it interesting.

Lastly, don’t forget to PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE your presentation before your UX interview

For further reading, here are some classic storytelling techniques to help engage your audience for your next presentation.


Also published on Medium.

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