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how to create a great design portfolio

Cubcast Ep.3 – How To Create A Great Design Portfolio (aka Processfolio)

Raghu and Shashank discuss in detail the role of a portfolio in the hiring process, what he looks for in a candidate when hiring, and tips on how to create a portfolio that would impress design managers, or as Shashank likes to call it – a ProcessFolio.

Our Guest for the third Cubcast episode, Shashank Deshpande, has conducted over 5000 interviews to hire over 500 UX designers in product and design companies. 

We took this opportunity to sit with Shashank and discuss, in detail, the qualities that he looks for from the candidate when hiring a UX designer, the role of a portfolio in the hiring process, and tips on how to create a great portfolio (or ProcessFolio as Shashank likes to call it) that would impress design managers.

Here are the key takeaways from this session.

Why call it a Processfolio?

As a veteran designer and design leader, Shashank took the time to clearly explain why he would rather receive what he calls a Processfolio, rather than a generic portfolio in an interview.

In most cases, a portfolio only showcases the final outcome, the final design, but that is not what design leaders look for in a designer. Yes, the design outcome is important as that is the final stage of the process, but what’s more important when hiring a designer is understanding the thought process that went behind it. 

What challenges drove you to arrive at the design decisions you made? What was the process you used to achieve this result? How did you go about compiling these strategies?

That’s what design leaders look for in a designer as a primary trait, and that’s why Shashank likes to call it a Processfolio.

What do design leaders look for in a portfolio?

Regardless of what solution you’ve worked on, a portfolio in most cases only shows the final outcome.

In line with the previous point, design leaders can see the ‘what’, but they really want to understand the ‘how’ and the ‘why’.

There are a few key things that Shashank looks for in a design portfolio.

First off, you don’t need to include every single project you’ve worked on. Two or three of your best work that clearly demonstrates the depth and diversity of your understanding of design are what counts.

Secondly, it’s critical that you narrate the story behind your projects and not just the final design. The story has to start with a goal/objective or a challenge that was thrown at you and should go on to show how you applied your design thinking to overcome each challenge to reach to set goal.

Thirdly, how well can you demonstrate all the steps you took in this design process? 

  • How much time you spent on research, 
  • How well you understood the user, 
  • How you formed the hypothesis,
  • How you created a structure,
  • What went into the detailed wireframes, 
  • What tests you undertook to evaluate your product.

You need to be able to showcase the process right from research to validation in your portfolio.

Lastly, how many iterations can you come up with? This is not to say that you always have to have multiple iterations. What they want to see here is whether or not the ideas were truly yours or if they were something forced on you by a client or college project. 

If it was something that you had to do for a project or client, design leaders like to see an alternate design that tells them, “Yes, this is what they wanted and I delivered, but here’s my design solution for this particular challenge.”

To conclude,

The final outcome is not important to design leaders. It’s important, yes, but it’s not the crux of what they want to see in a potential candidate. 

Design leaders want to know the person and the brain behind a design solution. They want to understand whether or not you have an effective thought process that can align with any goal or challenge thrown at them.

Shashank also talks about a few great tools you can use to create a banger design processfolio, but that’s something we think you should check out directly from the podcast. We don’t want to give away everything here!

If you’d like to watch the whole session, feel free to follow the link and find out how you can create a great design processfolio directly from the expert!