In the past few years, UX researcher portfolios have become much more common. There are multiple factors for this shift, such as job postings that require a portfolio, the need for candidates to stand out among their peers, and an effort to craft a better online presence. Despite these reasons, creating a UX portfolio is still an intimidating process that can turn off potential applicants. That’s why it’s important for them to take advantage of all the available resources that help build one quickly and effectively.
Building a portfolio is an essential part of showcasing your UX research skills. In this guide, we’ll provide an overview of the different components you should include in a UX research portfolio and a step-by-step process for creating one. We’ll also give examples to show how to effectively highlight your skills and experience when building your own portfolio.
What makes a UX research portfolio?
A user experience research portfolio is an invaluable tool for demonstrating your competency and displaying the breadth of your experience. It should include evidence-based case studies that showcase not only your final output, but also process work. UX researchers are especially lucky because the intricate nature of their work lends itself to more detailed case studies. This means it can be elaborated on much further than other types of portfolios.
Your portfolio is where you show off the fruits of your work experience. It’s the place to demonstrate the methods, tools, and software you’ve used in research projects. In addition, passion for UX shines when you display your custom-made processes and workflow techniques. Show us what insights you have gained through your professional journey!
What is a UX research portfolio and why do you need one?
A UX research portfolio showcases a candidate’s skills and experiences, providing employers with insight into how they approach their work. Through these portfolios or case studies, potential employers can get an idea of how a candidate will present their future research findings. To potential employers, the portfolio tells them about a candidate’s working style and professional abilities when it comes to research.
What’s the difference between a UX design portfolio and a UX research portfolio?
A UX researcher portfolio is distinguished from a UX designer portfolio in its focus on research methods, outcomes, and their impact on design decisions. These components are highlighted over visuals. This allows the researcher to demonstrate how they arrived at their conclusions and decisions when solving design problems.
UX/UI designers have the advantage of showcasing their creative work in a portfolio. For UX researchers, there is the opportunity to tell compelling user stories and to provide insights from data-intensive projects that are essential for the field. Understandably, research portfolios might be heavier on content, but this should not be seen as a disadvantage – rather, a unique way of illustrating valuable contributions towards creating impactful user experiences.
Having a portfolio as a UX designer and researcher is essential to showcase your skills, both design and research-related. A UX designer portfolio should focus on their design process, while a UX researcher should highlight the user motivation and problems, as well as how their findings influence the design decisions. Here are some useful tips on how to create successful portfolios and great examples of them!
How to make a UX research portfolio
Creating a UX researcher portfolio takes hard work and dedication no matter what stage of your career you’re in. Whether you’re just starting out or have years of experience, the best way to get started is with a well thought-out plan. Diligence and attention to detail have been key attributes that got you this far in your profession, so it’s important to make sure you’re following a structured approach when creating your portfolio.
- I have completed a number of projects over the past years. These are listed below in chronological order, along with the associated research methods I used:
- Project One: Used quantitative methods to analyze data.
- Project Two: Applied qualitative techniques to collect information.
- Project Three: Employed mixed-methods methodology to study behaviors and attitudes.
- Project Four: Leveraged experimental design principles to experimentally measure outcomes of particular actions and variables.
- For an effective portfolio, select three or four of your best pieces of work. Consider the project you are most proud of, a project showcasing significant technical skills, one that demonstrates your process to completion or research that had interest and impact, and finally the project that provided a great learning opportunity. Begin by selecting work which meets most if not all of these pointers.
- This outline will be the skeleton of your story. Consider the project’s milestones, techniques used, and actual results when drafting this structure. This researcher case study template may prove useful:
- – Product/Client
- – Problem/Challenges
- – Hypotheses
- – Solutions: Research methods and processes
- – Findings/Results
- – Takeaways
- – Personal learnings
Demonstrate your process
It’s essential that UX researchers clearly show their process as well as the final results. A great portfolio should provide in-depth insight into how they arrived at the conclusions they did. Demonstrating this not only helps maintain reader interest but also highlights the researcher’s workflow.
- The methodology used in this project was based on our research findings. We sought to develop methods that would help validate or disprove hypotheses and further explore the research area. In order to do so, we experimented with different techniques, while bearing in mind the impact of these changes on the accuracy and reliability of our results. After evaluating their effectiveness, we validated or invalidated our hypotheses accordingly. By doing so, we are able to continually refine and improve our methodologies for future projects.
- Visually demonstrating the output of your work will go a long way in making your case study impactful. Take a few moments to put effort into refining any spreadsheets or screenshots you use – this could involve changing fonts and colors, cropping away unnecessary elements of images and such. These minor changes will significantly enhance the overall look of your presentation.
- When compiling a UX research case study, it is essential to convey findings in an organized and concise manner. Citing statement + evidence pairs is an effective technique to ensure that these results are explained properly. Additionally, it helps to incorporate user quotes wherever possible – as this lends credibility and helps personalize the report.
Emphasize your skills
As an applicant, employers and clients want to know what it would be like to work with you. To demonstrate the value you can bring to their team, include information in your application regarding your research expertise and personal skills. Doing so will help showcase how your data-driven solutions and technical knowledge can lead to successes within the organization.
Make it easy to read and understand
In Chapter One, we looked at how crafting a well-structured case study is critical for success. But beyond that, you can use copywriting best practices to make the content easier to understand and remember:
- Subtitles are Essential for Flow and Engagement
The section titles and main title you choose can do a lot to support storytelling and maintain the reader’s interest in your case study. If you struggle with finding something creative, opting for something descriptive is also a great choice. Descriptive titles are key in keeping your case study detailed, yet impactful.
- Breaking down large texts into shorter chunks increases readability. As a best practice, try to limit paragraphs in case studies to three sentences and four lines. Additionally, consider spotlighting important points with subheadings or bullet points which helps narrative flow smoother and adds more visual interest.
- As researchers, we often lament the lack of attention given to our work. However, UX research can have a profound impact on product design and user experience. Here’s a tale that shows exactly how powerful this research can be. By detailing user challenges and the solutions offered, readers can come to understand better what those users needed and valued in their experiences. We vividly recall roadblocks along our way, but were fortified by demonstrating how conclusions were drawn and implemented. UX research is no simple task, but it does tell an important story about improving users’ experiences – one worth telling!
3 key elements of a UX research portfolio
In order to create an exceptional portfolio, it’s important to be able to articulate the rationale behind your work. While the ‘what’ is certainly important, don’t underestimate the importance of explaining ‘why’ as well. Having a comprehensive understanding of both what and why you did something can significantly improve your portfolio.
As a researcher, your project involves making numerous decisions no matter which stage you’re in. It’s critical to share the rationale behind these decisions and clarify how you navigated them. Was there an alternate methodology that was considered? How were recruitment efforts segmented, and did any constraints arise? Providing insights into how findings were socialized is also key; discuss what audience events you chose for presentation and why, as well as the strategy tailored for each venue. Application of this information to the overall narrative helps illustrate how research projects are shaped based on choices made along the way.
The final result
It is essential to illustrate the output from your research, display how the data is put to use, and include sample deliverables in portfolios. To elevate your portfolio presentation, it is advised to discuss your initial strategy for setting expectations with stakeholders and subsequently following through on those agreements at the delivery phase while making sure insights are of practical value to each stakeholder. Additionally, pay attention to how you explain the insights and ensure they are tailored appropriately depending on who will be viewing them.
You should demonstrate a well thought-out process for the projects in your portfolio, including what methodology and resources you used. You should be able to answer questions about the problem statement, stakeholder communications, data gathering methods and analysis practices, as well as your deliverable production process. Articulate how your approach is influenced by the objectives of both your team and business.
In order to showcase both forethought and creativity, be sure to discuss the timeline of each project included in your portfolio. Don’t leave it up to readers to interpret the problem statement or parameters – explain them clearly so that your audience understands the scope of each project. Additionally, articulate your own role within the project. This will demonstrate your capabilities and skill set as a research leader.
It’s essential to list the research tools that you have experience with and the various methodologies for each one, so potential employers understand the extent of your abilities. To help demonstrate this, include a list of your go-to research tools and be prepared to discuss their merits and drawbacks. This will show that you are knowledgeable about these tools and can transition quickly into any role.
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