The Ultimate Guide to Build an Awesome UX Research Portfolio – with Great Examples

Tell the story behind your work and build an awesome UX research portfolio. We will give you some tips how!

Building a UX portfolio can seem daunting to those new to the UX field as well as those who have already had several projects in their career. Some might think building a UX researcher portfolio poses even a bigger challenge because you have fewer tangible results to showcase. Let’s prove them wrong!

We’ll give you some useful tips on how to create a truly appealing researcher portfolio without mastering design skills and also some of our greatest UX research portfolio examples.

What makes a research portfolio?

User experience researcher portfolios serve the same purpose as all the other kinds: to showcase skills and work experience through past projects for potential clients and/or employers.

A UX portfolio differs from the rest in that it documents your design and research process rather than just the outputs of your work.

But how do a UX researcher and a UX designer portfolio differ?

UX researcher vs UX designer portfolio

After working as a UXer a while, you’ve probably tried a wide range of tools and methods during projects. You might also have developed your own processes and workflows. Present exactly that in your portfolio regardless of whether you work as a researcher or a designer.

UX designer portfolios – and UI designer portfolios too, of course – contain more visual outputs (wireframes, sketches and shiny UIs) while UX researcher portfolios lean towards the more content heavy, emphasizing more of the research methods and processes. But this does not necessarily mean a disadvantage, because it offers you more opportunities for storytelling and explaining the background of your work.

We’ll give you some useful tips how and also show you some of our greatest UX research portfolio examples.

How to create a research portfolio

1. Make a list

The most difficult part in creating a UX researcher portfolio (or any other for that matter) probably comes with starting it. This applies to the beginner with little experience as much as to a senior with tons. But don’t worry! You don’t have to jump in right away. Your diligence and attention to detail have led you to work as a researcher, so start with making a plan!

  • Write a list of your past projects: Also list the methods in each one in chronological order if you can. Turn to your CV for support, so keep it up-to-date.
  • Select the best ones: If you have a long list of projects, select those you find the most insightful, interesting or have the most potential to showcase your skills. Juniors and those just starting as UX researchers should find pro bono work, a side project or a personal project, then detail the personal experiences. (We wrote about how to start your UX career in this blog post).
  • Write an outline for the structure: Once you’ve selected your projects to include in your portfolio, continue with writing an outline for each. This will form the skeleton of your story. Think about the phases the project had and the methods used in each step. Or follow the classical case study structure below. Here you can also find a well structured UX project case study example:
    1. The product/client
    2. The problem/challenges
    3. Hypotheses
    4. Solutions: Research methods and processes
    5. Findings/Results
    6. Takeaways

Create a solid structure to introduce your projects.
Portfolio by Marina Shapira
  • Identify highlights: Think about the main points you want to highlight in each step and list out a few keywords (eg. major challenges, goals, hypotheses, findings, learnings). This helps you find the focus point of each chapter and stick to it while writing the final content.
  • Fill up your outline: Now that you have the structure and some keywords, just fill it in with the final text. Remember to keep it short and focused. Find some useful tips below for writing the final content.
Your process is as important as your results
Portfolio by Lindsay Liao

2. Demonstrate your process

We must show the results of the work but explaining how we got there generates even more interest. Introducing the reader into your thought processes and methods holds the key to building a good UX researcher portfolio.

  • Tell your story: This gives you the chance to get creative and engage readers with a good story. Draw them into the world of your exciting projects. Talk about the challenges you faced and how you solved them. Demonstrate your thinking processes and your personal experiences. Bring readers closer to your users as well and what you found out about them. Dare to write in a personal tone of voice.
User quotes can help to make your story more personal.
Portfolio by Lindsay Liao
  • Introduce your methods: Talk about the exact methods in more detail – why and how you used them in the project. If you did something unique or experimented with new methods, share those learnings or even what you would do differently next time. Explain how you validated or unvalidated hypotheses. With our awesome research portfolio templates and guideline questions, you will surely not leave anything out.
We help you create a UX research portfolio template to present your methods.
They include helpful guidelines for content and a variety of options to personalize your visuals
  • Show outputs: Show the output of your work wherever possible in a visually appealing way. Also explain how you presented your research findings for stakeholders. In our templates you have a wide variety of options to customize your visuals to different screen types or simply use your own materials.
  • Share findings: Findings provide the highlight of research projects, so summarize them in a proper way. Support your statements with evidence you collected during the research – Add user quotes, screen recordings of tests, video snippets etc. This lets you give a more realistic picture about the users and their behavior.
  • Talk about firm results: Dedicate a part of your case study to showcasing the final product and how your research results contributed to the iterations (eg, comparing before and after visuals). Sharing some quantifiable business results does even better: growth in conversion rates, business goals met etc.
Show firm results of your work and how your research contributed to the product development process
Portfolio by Siraj Salim

3. Make it easy to read and understand

In the first chapter, we talked about the importance of creating a well-worked-out, logical structure for your case studies. Besides a good structure, you can take some formal improvements to make it easier for readers to digest.

  • Good titles: Give sections catchy titles that concisely summarize their content and encourage the reader to learn more. The same goes for the main title of your case study as well. Good titles add a lot to the storytelling part and help maintain your readers’ interest. See this portfolio as an example below.
Meaningful titles can drive readers to learn more
Portfolio by Jiawen
  • Text layout: Divide long text chunks into paragraphs for better readability. Avoid long sentences. Break them up into shorter ones. Use bullet point lists at the end of longer chapters to summarize main thoughts.
  • Simple language and wording: If you worked in a specific area where you had to use professional jargon (eg, healthcare or medical UX), translate phrases into everyday language. Keep in mind that readers might not have enough background knowledge in that specific field and they can easily lose interest.

4. Emphasize your skills

Employers and clients really want to know how they’d find working with you. They’ll ask how your research and personal skills can add to the success of their company. Highlight this in your portfolio as well.

  • Your role in the team: Emphasize the role of research in the project and how your work fit into the overall product development process. Show the final product and how it improved thanks to UX research.
  • Cooperation: Tell more about how you communicated and cooperated with other team members, how you found working with them, what challenges you faced and how you solved them together. Share your personal learnings and what skills you developed thank to this project.
UX Folio - UX Portfolio Builder Tool

Summary to build an awesome UX research portfolio

This article has given you some useful tips on how to build a UX researcher portfolio. The main points:

  1. Make a list: If you don’t know where to start, first make a plan. Write down your past projects, select the most interesting ones and create an outline of the major steps you want to detail out. Once you have a skeleton, filling it in with content will come easier.
  2. Demonstrate your process: Your thinking and work process counts just as much as the results. This provides the chance to get creative and to tell your story in an engaging way. Nice visuals of your outputs can support your message. Use our portfolio templates for more help along the way.
  3. Create a clear layout for better understanding: Give catchy titles to sections. Use bullet points and short sentences and paragraphs to summarize main thoughts.
  4. Emphasize your skills: Tell employers why working with you will benefit them and how your research skills can contribute to the company’s success.

We hope that this article has given you inspiration and a boost to start your UX research portfolio.

If you want to build a great portfolio quickly and easily, give a try. It is a UX portfolio builder platform designed specifically for UX professionals – with many specific features, UX portfolio templates and guidelines that will help you on the way!

Click here to sign up and try it out!
Tell the story of your UX research work today!

UX researcher, half economist - half sociologist.
Love to turn insights into products.
Reckless word-player, unstoppable globetrotter, hobby dancer.

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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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