Sparks from a sparkler

Unveiling the Mystery Behind a UX Portfolio Review

With user experience designers in high demand, we screen a lot of candidates in the UX space. Many roles require a portfolio review, but what does that entail, exactly? Let’s lift the veil on that mystery. I usually consider these three categories when reviewing a UX-related portfolio. They apply in different weights to different roles, of course, but they give you a general idea of what’s involved in a portfolio review.

1. Esthetics.

Yes, you can judge a UX candidate by his or her “cover.” Clearly, with any design-related job, the design samples are most important. Elements like color palette and a clear focal point come into play here.

Overall, the work should be appealing, pleasing in its own way. A site for video gamers would feature completely different content than a cooking blog, but good design principles apply no matter what kind of content you’re presenting.

2. Functionality and ease of use.

I look at how patterns are used and if menus and navigation make sense. Tasks or calls to action need to be clear so I understand the goal of the page, content, or app interface I’m using. I look for a logical flow of content. Does the structure or architecture make sense? I don’t know about you, but for me there’s nothing more frustrating than feeling lost in an app, website, or any other interface I’m using.

3. Content quality.

Speaking of logic, the content on a site should follow a consistent tone and voice, or perspective. The identity of the organization it’s representing should be clear in imagery; word choice for body and display copy; graphics; videos; and infographics.

The copy should be easy to understand, communicating clear messages. We want our users to spend their time interacting with our content positively, not trying to figure out what we’re trying to say…or struggling to read it. Users need to be able to easily read and understand your text. Don’t obscure text with tints that don’t contrast enough against a background or a font that’s too thin or small.

While this isn’t an exhaustive list of factors to consider in a UX portfolio review, it gives you an idea of the criteria involved in evaluating the quality of work a UX candidate has produced.