2019 Audit of UX Portfolios

In 2019, I began a project to audit over 85 portfolio websites. The result is the 122-page presentation below. The surprising results helped me in the design of my own portfolio.

Last year, I wrote a few blog posts about my portfolio updates and research process. Yet I’ve never shared my full findings. I hoped I’d be able to present my findings at UX Camp 2020, after giving a talk in 2019. But it’s 2020 and everything is cancelled.

In lieu of that, I’m sharing my process and findings here on my blog. I’ve also included links to my previous, portfolio-related posts.

Enjoy and please share feedback in the comments.


I. Portfolio Resources

Contents

  • Part 1 – Overview: Introduction, methodology, and general caveats. Or, why I conducted this research, how I analyzed my findings, and what to keep in mind when reviewing the findings.
  • Part 2 – Review: Analysis and quantitative findings. Includes examples of tools, labels, images, layouts, and more.
  • Part 3 – Summary & Final Thoughts: Summary of findings in Part 2 and final thoughts for designers and hiring managers.
The Google presentation includes 122 slides. The slides will auto-advance after 10 seconds after hitting Play. You can also use navigation arrows to navigate through the slides.

II. Previous Portfolio Blog Posts

A few of my previous posts about my process and portfolio updates.

Sept 17 2019: Portfolio Resources. A collection of sites, tools, and people I learned about during my research. Organized into the following lists:

  • Sites – Guides, essays, and portfolio collections
  • Tools – What people use to create their portfolio
  • People – A small handful of portfolios

Nov 4, 2019: Portfolio: Pólya Principles Applied. This post is about how I used ideas by the mathematician, George Pólya, to break down my portfolio issues into manageable subtasks. I’d written about Póyla‘s method, a few weeks earlier.


Nov 11, 2019: My Tachyons Portfolio. A review into the [then] state of my portfolio and thoughts for the future. This post occurred after my research, so I go into design questions. It also gets into some of the questions I hoped to uncover with my research.

  • How many portfolios are from students and do they seem different?
  • What types of profile images to designers use of themselves?
  • What is the most common greeting on portfolios?
  • How many designers use their own domain?
  • What do most people use to create their portfolio?

Thoughts? Questions? Feedback?

I found the results really surprising! How about you? I’m very interested in your feedback. Did you find this information helpful? Was it surprising? Do you have questions? Comments are open below.

If you’d prefer to leave an email, please visit alliwalk.com for my email address.

World Information Architecture Day 2017, Slides

In a previous post, I mentioned attending World Information Architecture Day 2017, in New York City, and how I connected with a few of the presentations. I also mentioned a decision to put together a post collecting videos and links from other cities.

Since I only speak English, I’ll only include the videos and presentations that are in English. But, presentations took place all over the world and there are presentations in other languages, so do your own search if you are looking for more presentations.

It was a little difficult to find presentations, but I found some from 5 cities. I’ll post more if I find them.


New York, NY USA

Flag for New York City
Flag for New York City

line drawing of a woman in marker on a sticky note
From the presentation activity

 Leading Creative Ideation – World IA Day (NYC) 2017

 

Washington, D.C., USA

Coat of arms for Washington, DC.
Coat of arms for Washington, DC.

Monterey, CA USA

Flag for Monterey, California
Flag of the city of Monterey, California

Also available as an essay on Medium.

Okinawa, Japan

Flag of Okinawa Prefecture
Flag of Okinawa Prefecture,  Japan

Vancouver, BC, Canada

Flag of the city of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Flag of the city of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Older man with brown skin standing by a road
Not an image from the presentation

Empathy is Not Enough – Designing Systems for Emerging Markets

I like this insight: “When we look at our products in North America, trust is generated by institutional cues, like how well a company did the past year, how many awards a product has won, etc. But in others cultures, people’s trust in a system is highly dependant[sic] on already uses it.”

Impressions: World Information Day 2017 and Meetup

Several weeks ago, I attended World Information Architecture Day, held at Bloomberg. In case you’re wondering what World Information Architecture Day is, here is an explanation from their website:

“World Information Architecture Day is a one-day annual celebration hosted by the Information Architecture Institute and held in dozens of locations across the globe.”

It takes place in 58 locations, across 24 countries, on 5 continents on one day. Pretty neat. As it was one day long so there weren’t that many presenters. Two presentations stuck out for me.

Favorite World IA Day Speaker Presentations

The first presentation was about team building and team dynamics. It was called Designing Teams for Emerging Challenges – available on SlideShare.

The speaker had a friendly demeanor and it’s easy to feel an emotional connection to the topic of team dynamics. I felt an easy connection to this presentation. On slide 24, the speaker talked about helping people feel comfortable being themselves. He warned that this is not the same as fitting in. He made the observation that sometimes team members can end up forming little cliques, because people like hanging out with others who are like them.

The other presentation was called Beyond User Research. It promotes using a combination of quantitative and qualitative research to continuously improve a user interface. This presentation got me thinking about the field of User Experience and remembering that it’s not all about making things look pretty. The speaker made a well-observed comment about introverts, which I connected with, too. 🙂

The presentation showed that in order to provide real value, UX designers and architects should regularly incorporate a wide variety of research into their practice. UX architects should be open to using web analytics research, in addition to traditional UX research.

I liked slide 36 because it was easy to see the relationship between the different research techniques in one view. The slide comes from an article from Nielson-Norman Group, called When to Use Which User-Experience Research Methods:

Summary: Modern day UX research methods answer a wide range of questions. To know when to use which user research method, each of 20 methods is mapped across 3 dimensions and over time within a typical product-development process.

Another Speaker Event, Meetup

Meanwhile, I’ve been trying to get out more and attend more Meetups. Shortly after the World IA Day event, I attended a Digital Product Design Meetup for the first time. The speaker for this event gave a presentation called Evolving the Design Game. There is a link to a video of the presentation. (This is video is expertly produced. Very well done.) There is no link to the slides themselves.

I didn’t have the same takeaways with this presentation as I did with the other presentations. However, the presenter did get across that he felt his work was misunderstood and under appreciated, and he felt that was true across the industry.

At one point in the presentation, he asked the audience about their experience with a CEO making a color change request. He said that he did not have a solution to stop that type of behavior.


A dark brown chess piece with a gold crown sitting on top, resembling a queen.

Finding Solutions

At its heart, engineering is about using science to find creative, practical solutions. It is a noble profession. – Queen Elizabeth II (http://Read more at: BrainyQuote)

What popped into my head as a solution to this problem was slide 26 from the Beyond User Research presentation. I was thinking about research, not design.

I’ve observed a growing emphasis on the visual design skill of UX designers, including mandates for specific wireframe software. In contrast, I observe very little emphasis on research methods. My conclusion is that non-UX designers, coming into contact with the field, end up doing the same thing: overemphasizing looks and under-appreciating research.

The solution could be as simple as getting back to basics. A long-term commitment to research, treating every aspect of the work thoughtfully and deliberately, might help designers earn greater respect and appreciation for their work from their clients and co-workers. In an upcoming blog post, I’ll write about using the UX audit as a part of a UX research plan.


Old tube-style TV

Or…maybe the answer is to watch more videos from World IA Day! In an upcoming post, or on my Tumblr, I’ll post videos or links. Or you can search on Twitter at #WIAD17 or #wiad17.