Building a Portfolio

The Problem

Sometimes it’s good to stand out in a crowd. 🙂

Companies are wanting to see a portfolio of work earlier in the interview process. And recruiters absolutely love knowing as much as possible before they nominate someone and stand by them. Normally, waiting for the in-person interview to show this level of detail is fine…but I want a leg up on the competition!


I’ll be honest. Deep down, I’m a RESEARCHER, not a designer or a developer.  I knew this endeavor would take more than a weekend to spit out. Not to mention the challenges of telling my story in a concise way to a wide audience while protecting my NDAs.


I wanted to do the bulk of the work on my own this time. I intend to consult with friends and family to make sure I’m getting my message right, but challenging myself to do more design and developing is part of the goal here.


  1. Decide on tech and budget (wordpress, less than $100/year)
  2. Envision a rough idea of the layout and story (see sketch below)
  3. Competitive analysis – it’s actually tough to find UX Researcher portfolios!
  4. Find templates that match my rough sketch
  5. Redesign (b/c of course the template doesn’t actually match the sketch!)
  6. Inventory the work and projects I’ve done
  7. Group and pair down the projects into clear, powerful stories
  8. Gather images and assets from each project (stock pics are mostly
  9. Draft copy, build layouts
  10. Test with friends – huge thanks to family, friends, and Ben Sykes for the professional review!
  11. Rinse and repeat!


Key Findings

I was spot on with how I was telling stories. Recruiters especially seemed to like the skimmable format of Problem|Constraints|Team|Process|Findings|Results.

People loved the clean look of my original WordPress theme, but didn’t like that they needed to mouse over each picture to see the title of the post. This wasn’t a good experience for either mobile (they never saw titles) or for desktop (they had to highlight each one before selecting one to read first). After struggling with WordPress, I decided to ditch the free theme and get something that automatically had the titles in the image display.


Another issue was that blog posts and portfolio posts were both showing up on the index pages. After some digging, I found the “portfolio” shortcode and realized that I needed to create a new page, add the code with some sorting options, then set the page as the static landing page. We’re getting there!

As of December, I’m toying with themes and will be doing some testing with each.

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