Create an Impact With Your UX/UI Portfolio: A Step-by-Step Guide

We rely on digital products like websites and mobile applications to facilitate almost every aspect of daily life. Banking, working, shopping, research, communication, navigation, and even most leisure activities have been digitized almost entirely over the past decade. This means that the work of UX/UI designers has a direct impact on how we live our lives. As more companies create UX teams to design their products, the need for individuals with knowledge and insights about user experience continues to increase.

This exciting field requires skills beyond graphic and user interface design. A UX researcher, for example, focuses on aspects of user experience that relate to discovery and problem-solving. There are also roles, like UX writer, that require skills like verbal communication and content creation more so than visual design.

Over time, you can grow your UX/UI career to qualify for management roles such as product manager for a leading technology company. You can also work with companies behind the breakthroughs that are transforming the way we do business every day. But first, you need to create a UX/UI design portfolio that can help you get your foot in the door.

What Do Hiring Managers Want to See in Your UX/UI Portfolio?

As you start developing your UX/UI portfolio, think of the hiring manager as the user. Regardless of your professional experience or what’s on your resume, the way you present your work will ultimately inform whether you truly understand UX/UI design. Beyond applying design thinking to the process of building out your portfolio, you should also be strategic with what you present for a given opportunity.

For example, if you have experience in UX research and UI design, consider creating two versions of your portfolio that distinctly relate to each role. This way the user will be clear about your qualifications for a specific position at a glance.

It might be tempting to try to include all of your diverse project experience in one portfolio, but given the short amount of time hiring managers have to screen candidates, you might end up losing out on a position because you tried to fill it with too much information.

If you are wondering where to start when building a portfolio, ask yourself these questions:

  • What industry do I want to work in?
  • What industries are hiring UX/UI professionals?
  • What is my desired income?
  • What is my desired workload and schedule?
  • What specific job titles do I want to pursue?
  • What relevant work have I done in the industry and role I desire?

If you are still trying to determine the best role, industry, location, or employer for you, use the infographic below to inform and refine your search.

Tips for Making an Impact With Your UX/UI Designer Portfolio

Before you begin building your portfolio, remember to focus on curation first and foremost. Walk potential employers through your process, highlighting relevant details, team collaborations, and top skills. Regardless of what stage you’re at in your career, don’t forget to let your personality shine through.

If you just graduated college or completed a UX/UI boot camp, you may be wondering what to include in your portfolio. Treat this like a user experience question: your portfolio should reflect how to solve that problem. With just two to three relevant samples, you have all that you need to at least get your foot in the door for most positions. It’s simply a matter of how you position your experience and skills.

You may have several projects under your belt at this point, but it’s important to limit the projects you feature in your portfolio to those using real-world constraints. Here are a few tips for deciding what to add:

  • Use professional case studies with real-world constraints (even if completed as a boot camp project)
  • Include as few as 2–3 relevant case studies
  • Include your role in each project
  • Include information about your research and process
  • Include your role in each project and an idea of what size team you worked with
  • Feature your soft skills and personality

If you are more experienced with UX/UI design, your challenge is one of curation. Try to avoid information overload — including all of your career experience can obscure the most relevant information to the hiring manager — and be strategic with what you choose to include in your portfolio. Most of the same tips for beginners apply to designers later in their careers, with some slight differences noted below.

  • Feature problem-solving, industry-specific projects
  • Include up to 3–5 relevant case studies
  • Include your role in each project and an idea of what size team you worked with
  • Include information about your research and process
  • Feature your soft skills, personality, and notable accomplishments

Ultimately, your portfolio should show more than just your ability to solve problems, understand human psychology, apply industry best practices, and develop soft skills. It should also show how you drive value not only for your user but for the organizations you’ve worked with. Details about your process are essential here. While you might be sharing the end product in your portfolio, this is also the place to walk a hiring manager through your decision-making process. This will demonstrate to them how you might be able to problem-solve and deal with real-world constraints.

Early Career UX/UI Portfolio Samples and Reviews

As you develop your portfolio, it can be helpful to see what others have done. The UX/UI portfolio samples below range from research to design professionals who recently completed a UX/UI design boot camp. We included takeaways from each to help you identify what might work for you.

UX/Graphic Designer Portfolio

Emma Corwin is a designer and artist based in Colorado. She has a background in fine art and graphic design.

View Emma’s portfolio:
What we like:

  • Good combination of relevant case studies
  • Emphasis on her fine art and design background
  • Straightforward navigation

UX Designer Portfolio

Christa Lee is a UX Designer with a background in industrial design and architecture. She received a Certificate of Completion from Georgia Tech Professional Education in 2021.

View Christa’s portfolio:
What we like:

  • Nice professional skills presentation
  • Includes top skills for UX/UI positions
  • Bright aesthetic and a sense of humor
  • Lists real-world constraints for case studies, including brainstorming and hiccups

UX Researcher/Designer Portfolio

Liz Sacks is a UX Research and Designer based in Washington, D.C. She has a background in marketing communications and a passion for storytelling.
What we like:

  • Easily scannable case studies
  • Includes roles and collaborators
  • Competitive analysis, key takeaways, and project details included in case studies

Build an Impactful UX/UI Portfolio in 3 Steps

Step 1: Curate Your Best Projects

One of the main constraints you will be dealing with when creating your UX/UI design portfolio is time. How much relevant and impactful information can help you stand out when you only have a minute or two of a hiring manager’s time? This is why the process of curating your best projects is key to grabbing their interest and moving forward in the hiring process.

One of the biggest considerations in this phase is to prioritize projects that directly relate to the job you’re looking for. So, if you’re applying for a role as a UX researcher, you want to prominently feature the case studies in which you led the research process. This also applies to the roles you would rather not pursue. If you don’t like prototyping, don’t feature case studies that involve you leading the prototyping phase.

The idea here is to stand out for the right reasons. What differentiates you from the rest of the UX professionals that are applying for the same position? What makes you unique? What are your natural talents and interests? Curate projects that help you tell the story of who you are, what you can do, and why you are the person for the job.

Step 2: Create Case Studies to Showcase Your Process

Now that you have completed the curation phase, it’s time to use storytelling to walk the hiring manager through your process. This is your chance to stand out and show rather than tell.

You want to showcase your expertise without overwhelming the user with technical jargon. Keeping your language simple demonstrates your understanding of the subject, so focus on being clear rather than using overly sophisticated terminology that can dilute your messaging.

As you design your case studies, lay out each phase of the project and your contributions along the way. Include information about specific programs and techniques you may have used, and highlight the contributions that made the biggest impact on the final product. It’s also helpful to include any roadblocks or obstacles that you helped overcome during the process. How did you employ design thinking and creative problem-solving to create value for the user?

6 Must-Haves for Crafting a Compelling UX/UI Case Study

To ensure that your case studies create the maximum impact include these six must-haves:

1. Your Role on the UX Team
Define your role in the project and include information about the UX team you worked with.

2. Problem Statement
Include a clear definition of the problem your UX team was presented with and the hypothesis you came up with to solve it.

3. Process Details
Give a glimpse into your process, including brainstorming, problem-solving, and details about how you came up with the solution you proposed. Many portfolios include photos of handwritten notes and whiteboards to show not only the final solution but the ideas that the team ultimately chose not to go with.

4. Decision-Making Details
Add an explanation of how your solution solves the problem and why it was the best way forward for the project.

5. Proof Points
Show data about how your solution solved the problem and created value for the user after implementation.

6. Takeaways
Explain how working on this project helped improve your understanding of the UX/UI design process and best practices.

Step 3: Choose the Appropriate Delivery Format for the Job Listing

Once you’ve completed the curation and storytelling phase, you’re ready to decide what platform and format to use to build and share your portfolio. There are many UX portfolio-building platforms available, some requiring additional expenses like hosting fees.

Expense isn’t the only consideration for choosing the right format, however. You also want to consider user experience, guidelines provided in the job listing, platform design features, and industry standards.

The two most commonly used formats for UX/UI portfolio design are web-based and digital decks.

Website builders (like Wix or Squarespace) are the most commonly used platforms to create a UX design portfolio. They don’t require coding and allow for easy navigation and functionality. There are also platforms like UXfolio that are specifically designed for the creation of UX portfolios and case studies. Finally, if you already have an Adobe Creative Cloud account, you can use Adobe Portfolio without incurring an additional cost.

While website builders allow you to apply user experience principles to the navigation and layout of your portfolio, a slide deck gives you the flexibility to customize the presentation for a specific role or job listing. For example, if you have both UX research and UI design experience, you may have case studies for each. When you are applying for a UX research role, create a portfolio that prominently features UX research case studies. This option is also more economical, as it involves the use of free, easily accessible platforms like PowerPoint or Google Slides to create presentation decks.


If you are dealing with time constraints when creating your portfolio, focus on delivering quality over quantity. Choose a couple of your best case studies that highlight your skills and experience. If you are using a website builder, take advantage of templates to minimize the time you spend designing the portfolio itself.

Showing photos or screenshots of your process notes is a great way to show hiring managers your ideation process. This allows them to understand your ability to choose the best solution for the problem given real-world challenges and constraints.

If you are a recent graduate or career switcher, your portfolio may not be as extensive as more seasoned UX professionals, but you can make up for a lack of case studies by following best practices when designing your portfolio. Focus on projects that are relevant to the position you are seeking. Make sure that the case studies you choose involve real-world constraints and business scenarios.

You might think that including numerous case studies from over the years is the best way to demonstrate the depth of your experience, but given the limited time hiring managers have to review portfolios, it’s best to narrow your portfolio down to only the projects that directly speak to the job listing. Including two incredible case studies is better than five or six less compelling options. When you’re narrowing down your projects, keep those that highlight your skills and competencies best.

When deciding on a format for your portfolio, check the job listing first. If a hiring manager specifies a format, that’s what you want to use. Cost and platform experience should also be considered in your decision-making process.

When crafting your case studies, you can highlight collaboration with team members as it pertains to the project being featured. You can also create a skills summary section to spotlight these skills, being careful not to list too many, which can reduce its impact. Focus on the top skills required for the job.