Why I Hate Behance Portfolios – and Why I Prefer UX Case Studies Instead

At UX studio, we are constantly hiring new designers so we have seen myriads of portfolios from applicants all over the world. We hire talented young designers, but every time I see an applicant with a Behance or Dribble link for their UX portfolio, without UX case studies, I start to get suspicious.

Behance does great for visual designers. It has a strong community, and getting appreciations, comments and project views doesn’t hurt. I have seen really nice projects in the areas of photography and desktop publishing. But for UX? Not really. Although it has a tag for the field of UX, I have hardly ever seen a really good UX case study when I clicked on it, just nice mockups from the same freebie sites that everyone uses.

From my point of view, Dribbble does even worse. It has an audience a bit narrower and closer to what I’m looking for. I have seen some inspiring shots in there. But 99% of the projects don’t go beyond nice and useless interface parts and imprudent animations made with Principle. Sometimes I feel designers in Dribbble think design only involves animations and interactions, but it doesn’t and you know that.

And blame doesn’t fall on the designers. These platforms do great things, they just have a different purpose. They don’t support UX storytelling or a bit more explanation of a problem. You can put images one after another, or just show “shots” in the case of Dribbble.

What do I mean by story?

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate visuality, and I usually don’t have time to read long paragraphs when I’m reviewing a UX designer portfolio. So when I say stories, I don’t expect a novel, but I still want to see how you are thinking. Your problem-solving skills. What tools you have, when you are facing a problem. What did you fuck up? What have you learned? I want to see how you get from A to B even if it means that you share not-so-nice first sketches.

I believe, nowadays presenting nice UIs does not come so hard. Follow the latest trends, download some templates, and you can easily create an eye-candy UI. Real-life projects don’t prove that easy. What looks great in a Dribbble doesn’t necessarily mean a good solution when it comes to usability.

Eye-candy UI

The birth of the product UXfolio

This frustration with portfolio platforms came up in UX studio as a breakfast conversation a few months ago. So we started to think about this problem and decided to design a UX portfolio tool which supports the needs of a UX designer or researcher.

UX Folio - UX Portfolio Builder Tool

As just an idea at first, we used the topic as a sandbox to try out and practice some tools. We conducted interviews with designers and recruiters, did a quick validation round, and then held some brainstorming sessions.

From the interviews, we found some patterns that seemed worth dealing with. As their greatest problems, the designers don’t have time, and they hate writing when it comes to their portfolio. But from the interviews with recruiters, we found that they expect to see the story behind the UI mockups and how the applicant can solve problems. They like to check the candidate’s design process and read about the design decisions they made. So basically they expect to get UX case studies from the applicants.

How can we help UX professionals?

We came to the conclusion that we could develop a quick UX portfolio product that supports writing in a case study format. We would like to help both UX designers and UX researchers create UX case studies quickly and easily. Currently, in MVP phase, it has tons of ideas we haven’t yet developed. At the moment we expect we can continue the development according to your feedback.

If this interests you, try it out; we would like to know your opinion.
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A typical mistake I see in UX portfolios is lack of content explaining their contribution to the effort, the images are only the final product and not the process to get there.

UX is very much about strategy and if the person is not showing how they got from A to B, they appear to be another UI trying to move into a UX role.

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