15 mistakes to avoid in your first UX design portfolio

Creating an online portfolio to showcase your work is a straightforward concept, but the execution can be complex and fraught with decisions. Make the right choices, and you could secure your dream job; make the wrong ones, and you risk being overlooked. Drawing from our expertise in guiding students at Designlab, we’re highlighting frequent pitfalls in junior UX design portfolios. Use this guide as a reference when you’re updating your own portfolio.

Mistake 1: Ignoring the User Experience

Your portfolio itself is a UX design project. It needs to cater to various user groups, such as hiring managers, recruiters, and potential clients. These groups may differ based on your specialization and the level of roles you’re targeting. Make your site user-friendly and easy to navigate, as this reflects well on your design values. Additionally, analyze portfolios of competitors to understand how they’ve tackled the same challenges.

Mistake 2: Overloading with Projects

Including too many projects in your portfolio can overwhelm the viewer and dilute the quality of your work. The rule of thumb is to showcase only your best work. Evaluate each project and remove any that don’t score at least 9 out of 10. Think about the impact of each project as if it were the only one a visitor would see.

Mistake 3: Sparse Content

Having too few projects can also be a problem, especially for newcomers to the industry. If your portfolio only contains student work, consider adding personal, freelance, or pro-bono projects to enrich it.

Mistake 4: Excessive Narrative

Lengthy written content can be overkill, especially for junior roles. Use just enough words to convey essential information about the design problem and your approach to solving it.

Mistake 5: Insufficient Storytelling

On the flip side, lacking narrative can be detrimental. Your audience wants to understand the journey that led to the final design. Include 300-400 words of narrative for each project, supported by process images like sketches and wireframes.

Mistake 6: Ambiguity in Role

Design is often a collaborative effort. Be transparent about your role in each project and how you contributed to the final outcome.

Mistake 7: Uninspired Imagery

Avoid using generic images that don’t contribute to your story. First impressions are crucial, so make every visual element count.

Mistake 8: Ineffective Thumbnails

If your thumbnails are too small, users may not engage further with your work. Thumbnails should entice the viewer to explore more.

Mistake 9: Image Quality Issues

Striking a balance between image resolution and file size is essential. Keep image sizes under 1 MB while maintaining high resolution for retina screens.

Mistake 10: Typos and Errors

Attention to detail is critical. Typos or formatting errors can be a significant turn-off for potential employers.

Mistake 11: Trite Intro Text

Keep your homepage introduction simple and professional. Avoid buzzwords like “unicorn,” “ninja,” or “wizard.”

Mistake 12: Overused Fonts

Choose typefaces that stand out and avoid commonly used fonts. For example, consider using Nunito instead of Avenir.

Mistake 13: Neglecting Mobile Experience

Ensure your portfolio is mobile-friendly. Using square or portrait images can improve the mobile viewing experience.

Mistake 14: Overcomplicated Design

Your portfolio should serve as a neutral backdrop that allows your work to shine. Keep the design simple and minimalistic.

Mistake 15: Missing Call-to-Action

Include a clear call-to-action, like a “Get in Touch” button, and make your resume easily downloadable. Links to your Dribbble, LinkedIn, and professional Instagram can also help maintain connections.

By avoiding these common mistakes, you can create a compelling junior UX designer portfolio that opens doors to new opportunities in your career. Best of luck!

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