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Inside your audience’s head
Yes, even a portfolio has different types of users. But let’s be real, how much effort have you put into really understanding the users of your portfolio?
Welcome to Learn Primitives!
Here's what you'll learn:
Gain a better grasp of the three main users of your design portfolio
What do they look for in terms of requirements
Who are they
and much more…
Let’s dive in…
How do hiring managers find a unique designer that stands out from the crowd?
What is their process for selecting a candidate to fill a position? Realistically, how much time do they usually spend going over each case study, and how much do they actually read before inviting a candidate for an interview?
Now, take a step back and imagine starting a design project without conducting any study and simply designing. Sounds like a disaster right?
We live in a busy world and YOU must take into account the requirements of hiring managers and recruiters if you want your UX portfolio to stick out to them.
Stop leaving things out to chance.
So… who are these users?
To help you get inside your audience’s head, we must first understand the differences between them.
Welcome to HR world.
At any given moment, the HR rep is juggling hiring for multiple positions. They go through resumes, LinkedIn accounts, and portfolios from applicants. These are skimmed and scanned by the HR rep for about 60 seconds. They quickly eliminate candidates as they read through their applications.
When a candidate's skills don't match those needed for the position, they instantly eliminate them. They require the visual presentation of the resume and portfolio to be clear and simple to read because they don't have time to read every word. They won't be able to locate the crucial information she needs if there is a lack of hierarchy and excessive text.
each project's name should be evocative - Explain it to me like I’m 5
include a table of content - Recruiters are busy
Can it fit in a Tweet - Focus on one headline and one main idea for each section
40+ portfolios per position: Hiring managers in larger companies review dozens of portfolios for each position they have to fill.
1-2 case studies per portfolio: Because their time is limited, most hiring managers do not go through a designer’s entire portfolio, but instead review a couple of case studies.
30 seconds per case study: Since they must review a high volume of case studies as part of the recruiting process, hiring managers rarely read thoroughly, but instead quickly scan students’ work in search of talent.
Hiring managers are really busy and don't have time to look over each candidate's information.
First I just do a quick scan. If the work looks interesting then I proceed to a more thorough analysis. This can range from 30 seconds to 15 or 20 minutes, it all depends on the quality and quantity of the work...
— Head of Design, 15 years of experience
In the initial stage of screening candidates I'm not reading things in detail, it's more of a scan...
— Design Lead, 13 years of experience
Hiring managers with more experience can evaluate if a portfolio is worth exploring in greater depth within a matter of seconds. If this is the case, why in the world would you make a giant long text page? Clearly, in 3 minutes for one page (generous overestimation), you have no chance to read the whole thing.
So what’s the point?
Hiring managers are looking for proof of your abilities and, more importantly, they want to get a glimpse into your thought process so they can understand not just what you did but also why you did it.
Potential work associates
Yes, future colleagues look at your work
Having peer reviews is fairly common in the workplace. This can either be done through an in-person interview or, by designers providing feedback on each potential candidate to the hiring managers.
A portfolio that presents detailed content in a clear and expert manner will always stick out to them, even though not all of them are visual designers. This is your chance to let them inside your brain. To see how you work and how you think.
This is your chance to inspire confidence in your prospective teammates that you'd be a great addition to their team.
Examining what went wrong. Not all UX initiatives result in 20% more sales. We occasionally make something, test it, and then see that we were in error. Tell us how you handled the project's sections that didn't go according to plan.
Take into account project and team dynamics: A timeline for the endeavor, team members, and any intriguing constraints should all be included. Was a portion of the squad distributed? In that case, how did it impact the project?
The learnings: This is likely to be a query in an interview. Find some lessons you can apply to future tasks from each project. Being introspective demonstrates your maturity and thoughtfulness as a designer
Setting up your portfolio
Now that we know the different users, how do you set up your portfolio to satisfy user requirements?
The difficulty lies in giving your users the degree of detail they require in the time they have while keeping in mind that you will never, in all likelihood, have three versions of your portfolio. The layout of your portfolio must be optimized if you want each of those users to find what they're searching for with ease.
You don’t need to overcomplicate things here. This is just about choosing the proper format (Website, PDF, platform, etc.) and executing the fundamentals behind visual hierarchy.
Remember that your language should vary depending on where you apply and to whom you speak. Ensure you write and speak the way you believe your audience would like to receive it.
You are only as strong as your weakest case study. Make sure to only put in what are you truly proud of.
Your portfolio's users are more likely to overlook you if you don't take them into account.
Similar to a product, if users don’t quickly see the value, they won’t use it. They'll then return to looking for another product that will satisfy their requirements.
The same is true of your portfolio.
Your portfolio will help convey the various levels of detail each user requires if you take into account their requirements.
Shaping your story to fit the channel on which it will be shared is crucial to making your work feel relevant and engaging. Sometimes that means creating multiple versions of the same study, perhaps tweaking the focus slightly in order to customize it for the medium.
Test out options. Learn from it and have fun!
Hey, Mitchell & Pascal here! Thanks for checking out this week’s free edition of the Shaping Design newsletter. We strive to send you the best tips and our very own unique perspective each week. Subscribe to get each article!
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