Illustration by Lidia Lukianova
As a UX designer, your portfolio is your business card. It shows what you do, how you do it, and how well you can demonstrate it. For most designers, getting started on your portfolio is the biggest challenge and, for many of us, the best way to jump that hurdle is to get some inspiration from other designers.
Here, I’ve compiled a shortlist of some UX design portfolios that I found inspiring, along with some tips to help you show off your work in the best way possible.
Building your portfolio: Where to start
The best approach to creating a stunning portfolio is to blend strategy and design into an iterative process, just like you do in every project you work on. This means you shouldn’t dive straight into building out your website on Webflow or Squarespace, unless you are a website building pro.
Instead, start with a concept sketch to hone in on how you want your portfolio to look, then move into mid-fidelity to refine your layout, and finally move into high-fidelity adding your color palette and visual elements. This way, by the time you start building the website, you know exactly what you want, where you want it, and how you want it to behave.
Now, let’s dive into a few common UX portfolio styles and some inspiring designers who have put them into practice.
Long-form case study portfolios
Long-form case study portfolios are an industry classic that we all know and love. They allow us to fully demonstrate our design thinking and show off all our design artifacts. While case study portfolios are one of the most common forms of doing this, they are also the most difficult to do well because you have to make each part of your design process as clear and detailed as possible without going on for too long.
The key to getting this type of portfolio right is to take a hard look at your process and focus on the most influential parts. Where in the project did you learn the most? Which artifacts gave you an “Aha!” moment? What was the most crucial problem you attempted to solve? Remember to streamline as much as possible and design for scanning, so that the person viewing your design portfolio stays interested and engaged all the way through.
Nan Wang, senior UX designer at Rokid Inc., does an amazing job at this – of balancing the needs of a case study portfolio. Each project page has its own look and feels customized to the product and the case studies are balanced with text and imagery. With Nan’s portfolio, you feel like you’re being immersed into each project and you simply want to learn more about each product.
Another amazing UX design portfolio comes from Bianca Salomon, product designer at Dockwa. Bianca has a passion for clean lines and simplicity that is evident in her UX design portfolio. She fully details her design thinking and shows all of her artifacts in a tidy layout that makes it easy to scan. Bianca is a recent UX bootcamp grad who landed her first role in less than 2 months of graduating. Her portfolio, design thinking, and grit have helped her succeed. You can get to know Bianca better at the Adobe Career Bootcamp, a pre-Adobe MAX day of inspiration and networking, where she will be a panelist sharing her experiences in the UX design world.
Pro Tip: Bianca designed her entire portfolio in Adobe XD before building it out in Webflow.
These are essentially the, “I know who I am and what I want to do” portfolios, and they come from UX designers who have chosen a specific path. Think of specialized motion designers, UX writers, or AR/VR designers; they work on teams with a variety of specialized designers and can focus highly on their discipline. These portfolios are some of the most inspiring and engaging because they are executed with precision and focus on one aspect of the design process.
This type of UX portfolio is for designers who know exactly what they want to do and have chosen to focus their attention, skills, and energy in that direction. While focused portfolios are best used for specialized roles, we can learn a lot from the way these designers strip down their case studies to focus on the most essential and relevant details. These portfolios can inspire us to find ways to trim out unnecessary details and bring more of ourselves into our case studies.
One of my favorite focused portfolios comes from Anjana Menon, a senior UX writer at Spotify. She offers a simple site with only the essential interactions. Your attention is brought immediately to her work and she guides you through each project with a trimmed down case study focused on her contribution. It’s clean, easy to digest, and very clearly shows you what she brings to each project.
Isa Pinheiro, a senior designer at Hello Monday, has another inspiring portfolio. She hits you immediately with a dramatic and simple interface. Her case studies focus on the design and graphics of her projects with brief, contextual descriptions that speak to her impact on the project. Isa is clearly a designer, through and through, and she makes that abundantly clear through her portfolio.
A rising trend in the UX portfolio world is the ultra-minimalism seen from some senior designers. Rather than focusing on laying out their design thinking in long, formulaic case studies, they instead focus on simplicity. These portfolios have sleek, pared-down interfaces that link out to the designer’s body of work.
There is a small caveat when it comes to these minimal portfolios, for them to be effective the designer needs to have a good bit of work under their belt and products that have launched or have landing pages. You also have to be relatively sure that your resume and your work can and does speak for itself.
One of my favorite portfolios in this style comes from Kyle Ribant, currently working for Airtable as a designer. The site is beautifully austere with no frills and no fluff. He has created a stunning interface with subtle color transitions, simple interactions, and just a hint of intrigue. Beyond creating an engaging single-page portfolio, he has curated his projects to demonstrate cohesion in style and execution. Each product link leads to a page with similarly intriguing design touches. The simplicity of the portfolio allows his work to take center stage.
Another inspiring minimalistic portfolio comes from Daniel Rodriguez, aka Danny from Miami, who works for Facebook as a product designer in AR/VR. Danny recently transitioned from long-form case studies to the simplified portfolio. His site is clean, easy to navigate, and full of personality. His introduction is one of the most engaging I’ve encountered and every time I read it I wonder what it must be like to be on his team.
Creating a portfolio is a daunting task, luckily we are all part of a global design community from whom we can learn and draw inspiration. When it comes to creating your portfolio, starting your designs in Adobe XD allows you to quickly create interactive portfolios that can be used for job hunting while you build out a site. For portfolio inspiration, check out this curated list of amazing UX portfolios that cover the spectrum from traditional case study layouts to hyper-minimalistic designs.