6 Keys to Building the Ultimate UX Design Portfolio

Master these 6 key steps to building a successful user experience design portfolio. Study UX design with Kent State University.

Part of finding the perfect UX design career is building an awesome portfolio. Below, we’ve provided five easy steps to help you develop a portfolio that is sure to turn heads, helping to give you and your career the opportunity to excel.

1) Build a Website

UX Design Portfolio step-by-step infographic

This may seem obvious, yet there are still an abundance of portfolios in document form floating around out there. A PDF may work for an account executive, but it’s not the right space for a UX designer to demonstrate their ability to develop a positive user experience.1 Remember, your portfolio is your first chance to showcase your UXD skills to potential employers.

2) Hook Your Audience Quickly

It’s been said that websites typically have less than one minute to hook their audiences.2 Each visit to your portfolio could mean a potential client or career opportunity. These are visitors who’ve actively sought out your work, giving you the chance to wow them. So, go ahead—wow them. Remember that it’s vital to grab their interest in order to get them to move through the work you’ve spent so much time making.

So, how do you hook an audience in less than 60 seconds?

For one, storytelling is an important element.1 Creating a strong narrative of exactly who you are, why your process is valuable and how your perspective can improve user experience can help you connect with your desired audiences.

3) Keep It Simple

Another way to ensure visitors stay is to make the design and navigation of your site as simple and intuitive as possible.

While the definition of user experience design is not universally agreed upon, it can generally be thought of as a set of practices and processes used to “improve customer satisfaction and loyalty through the utility, ease of use and pleasure provided in the interaction with a product.”1

When a visitor moves through your site, they should be able to quickly understand where they need to go and how to get there. Your portfolio should use simple elements, graphics and icons to promote an intuitive and enjoyable user experience. You want to impress, but don’t overdo it.

Check out this portfolio from Kent State online Master of Science in UX Design alum Ken Jackson, MS ’17, a UX designer and product manager. His home page features exactly what he wants prospective employers to view: a collection of projects laid out in scannable tiles, which the user can click to learn more about a specific piece of work. His publications, resume, short bio and contact page round out the navigation, rendering his portfolio focused and accessible.

4) Lead With Your Strongest Work

Be sure to lead with your best work.1 Why? By starting strong, you’re immediately building your audience’s confidence in your ability. Chances are, if the work you lead with is strong enough, they may not even make it to your less standout work. And even if they do, their minds may already be made up in your favor.

5) Articulate Your Process

For a UX designer, process is everything. As the one laying out the blueprints and wireframes for how people interact with developing technologies, it’s important to establish your own process. While UX designers share the common goal of improving the way people interact with systems, there are several schools of thought on how to best go about making this happen.

For Kent State University’s UXD master’s program, it’s an effective step-by-step process for researching, understanding and outlining innovative UX designs and strategies.

However, the important thing for UX designers to remember is that it’s not necessarily which process you use but, rather, showing that your process is beneficial and can add value to an organization overall.

Take, for instance, this portfolio page from Kent State alum Kelly Van Wert, MS ’18. Here, she clearly outlines her process, from user research to finished design, to rethink a reminder app for a company as part of her coursework for the UXD master’s program. She also includes important lessons that she learned along the way, demonstrating how she’ll continuously improve her process throughout her UX design career.

6) Test. Revise. Repeat!

User experience design is only as good as the users’ experiences. Approach your portfolio with the same fine-tuned focus and process as you did with the work viewers will find within it. Test it among your friends, gather feedback and then implement their findings to improve their overall experience of your portfolio website. After all, it’s not UXD until it’s been used.

Make Your Case

The ultimate point of a portfolio is to demonstrate your strengths, personality and professional capabilities. For UX designers, it’s crucial for portfolios to be user-friendly and dynamic. Yet, perhaps the most important step to creating a UX design portfolio is: HAVE FUN. Make it your own. Let your skills and personality lead the way, and you will be just fine.

Interested in learning more? Take a look at some of the skills UX designers need, or check out some of the hidden industries of UXD.


  1. Retrieved on November 12, 2018, from uxplanet.org/how-to-structure-your-first-ux-design-portfolio-7b51576a04df
  2. Retrieved on November 12, 2018, from uxmastery.com/10-steps-to-a-perfect-ux-portfolio/
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