When starting a new career in UX, having a great portfolio is the best way to really set you apart from your peers. Once you have had a chance to start putting together work experience, here are some key tips to develop a portfolio:
Select the right platform for your portfolio.
When creating a new website there are so many options. Do you start from scratch with a GoDaddy Account? How about a WordPress site? What template to use, or should you use one at all? Sites like Squarespace, Carbonmade and Cargo Collective are great places to start. Here’s an article that compares the different sites available.
Develop an online brand for yourself.
In today’s digital environment, your online presence is what people see most often. I read countless articles about people who don’t get a job because of something on Facebook, or other social media sites. This doesn’t directly relate to building a portfolio, but I think it’s just as important. Before you begin your job search, Google stalk yourself. If you see things you wouldn’t want your employer to see, make sure to get rid of them right away. A gorgeous portfolio cannot save a disaster photo from someone’s bachelor party.
Create a logo and theme for yourself.
Whether you choose a pre-made template or create one from scratch, having a beautiful logo and design will impress those who visit your site. Work with a mentor to see what works best for your brand, and keep it consistent.
Make sure your site is well-categorized and shows a depth of experience.
When we recruit an applicant, we want to see how diverse their work experience is. Do you have prototyping experience? Wireframing? Design experience? Usability Testing? Including these types of categories in your website will diversify you. Also, make sure to highlight specific industry experience. When we have a new client that is looking for someone with experience in that respective industry, it is very helpful to be able to call it out.
Make sure your website is optimized for the User Experience.
I know this sounds like a no-brainer, but it is really important. Since the potential employers are experts in the UX industry, if there is a usability fail in your website, it would be the difference between getting hired or not, despite how great everything else is. When Key Lime Interactive updated their website, we actually ran a few lean UX tests to obtain feedback on the changes we made. This allows for another great opportunity to network with people in your community, and let them know you are serious about your career in UX. Once you have these pieces set up, you are ready to get out into the community and start interviewing. With a great portfolio set up, you should have the confidence to land your dream job.
One of the big themes of nearly every SXSW event we attended was personalization. Even events about the Future of TV had panelists talking about supplemental apps or making sure people could watch on the devices they chose. A news discussion with Dan Rather and Dan Pfeiffer also discussed how people consume news on the platforms of their choice, like Facebook and Twitter. Customers are looking for a more personal, customized experience in the place of their choice.
Predictive technology is making big strides in making these more curated experiences accurate. Facebook’s facial recognition technology is making use of their extensive data on user tagging so they can auto-tag your photographs when you post them. This technology may be more accurate than that of law enforcement. Netflix’s House of Cards was famously made by using data to understand that a political drama starring Kevin Spacey directed by David Fincher would be popular. An important consideration with using predictive data for customer recommendations is providing said data to customers.
Personalization is changing the landscape all over. I went to a talk by Karlie Kloss and Sara Wilson about technology and its role in Fashion Week. Models and editors can now deliver a more personal experience to a massive audience using Instagram and Twitter. They can let people into their lives remotely and enable fan interaction. Vogue recently had a cover featuring nine models with large Instagram followings.
Companies are integrating data into their operations in a variety of ways. Capital One is experimenting with personalized financial recommendations AND personalized offers / rewards recommendations in new apps Ideas and Level Money. Ideas provides recommendations for different types of activities in 4 beta markets: NYC, LA, Richmond, and DC. Level Money lets customers link accounts and program in budgets and receive alerts and content depending on their spending.
For television, companies are looking to make the experience more intimate for viewers. Some companies are experimenting with companion apps, especially in the UK. These might let viewers answer quizzes or play related games while watching. Other companies are trying to make promotions / advertisements more personal. For Game of Thrones Season 5, HBO ran a promotion called The Sight in which people would get text messages with video links that would disappear. The videos would be different for different users but communicate small snippets of information about the upcoming season in the guise of visions / dreams. In Spain, Canal + ran a promotion called 19 Reinos that turned all of Spain into an interactive Game of Thrones-themed game played via multiple different channels: Twitter, Facebook, brand websites, and physical stores. Customers all over the world are looking for targeted, personal experiences. User experience research is one way companies try to identify what kinds of experiences are most valuable to customers. Airbnb mentioned that when they redesigned their website, they made sure to keep the hosts involved in the process since their feedback was critical to its success. There was a fantastic talk by Etsy about how user experience feedback, both from users and from their clickstream data, was extremely valuable to their design process and their feature prioritization. Part of Capital One Labs’ approach to every project is a pilot study with 5-10k end users to understand how they’re using the product.
Stay tuned for more SXSW recaps in the coming months!