Why my portfolio is UX



Project Summary (TL;DR)

Problem: I was looking for an internship for Summer 2018 and wanted to build an impressive portfolio for my applications

Opportunity: Applying design thinking methodology in my internship applications using research and analytics to inform my design decisions.

Impact: My portfolio improved and I successfully got an internship! (became the first design intern in Sea Group’s R&D at Sea Labs in Summer 2018.)


Background Information

I've been seeking for a summer internship (2018) to further improve my design skills and for mentorship. The design portfolio is used to market a designers' skills and is usually necessary for job applications. When I was searching up on how to start, I stumbled upon this quote on a blog post on InVision‘Treat creating your portfolio like any other design project you’d take on’.

... ‘Isn't my design portfolio a UX project?

Details

  • Tools: Sketch, HTML, CSS, Google Analytics
  • Timeline: Apr 2018
  • Project Type: Side Project
  • Role: Designer
  • Skills: User Experience, Analytics, Rapid Prototyping

Goals



A look at the components of a UX project:

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... a look at how the same principles can be applied to present my design process:

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Goals

My goal for this project was to craft an impressive portfolio that impresses recruiters and communicates value and low risk in hiring me.

Questions to test:

  1. Will I be able to demonstrate the capabilities of the student?
  2. Does adding something 'unique' make an impact?
  3. Is my portfolio good enough that people want to talk to me?

Research

Target audience

Recruiters/HR Associates are my target audience. I dug out their pain points identified in each step of the hiring process through an interview with a HR manager. Hiring practices/decisions varies across companies but a typical flow is where primary screening is conducted and shortlisted candidates are forwarded to a hiring manager. These hiring managers conduct interviews to assess the candidate. If a candidate is suitable, a board would finalize the decision of an offer.

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User Research

Next was to find out what recruiters look out for in a potential candidate. Fortunately, I stumbled upon an article interviewing 20 experienced designers on what they want to see in a portfolio.

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Summarizing what they look out for:

Typically more than 3 pieces of previous work that:

  1. Showcase their technical skills on CV,
  2. Shows succinct communication and great understanding of the problem,
  3. Demonstrates design/decision-making process (the ‘Why?’ at every step),
  4. Tells your creative problem-solving askills and the impact you made with your solution,
  5. Their design knowledge and foundations,
  6. Whether they are a good fit in their company culture.

Competitive Analysis

The best way to make a good portfolio was learning from benchmarks and implementing what worked for them. I found a website cofolios, which showcased portfolios of former design interns at big tech companies, which was an excellent point of reference.

Minimum Viable Portfolio (MVP)

I challenged myself and build my portfolio from scratch using Jekyll. I also added Google Analytics and SmartLook to collect visitor data and understand how the users interact/behave on my website.


Resume

I spent a great deal of time perfecting my resume where I made tons of iterations. I referred to resumes of past interns for inspiration and developed a cleaner look for my own.



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'Resume of Failure'

Last summer, I read the autobiography of Elon Musk by Ashley Vince, which inspired me to craft my own ‘resume of failures’ documenting missed opportunities and failures along my journey.

Collecting data & gathering feedback

It was time to test if my portfolio answered the questions I set. I shared my portfolio to various design communities/channels on Slack including Designers Hangout and UX Design Community. I also shared it to HH Design, a Facebook group with more than ~16,000 members.


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Within 3 days, my portfolio got an influx of over 800+ new visitors.

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Making sense of findings

Data is logged from 02/05/2018 - 02/11/2018.

Resume of failures

Many commented that they really liked my ‘Resume of Failures’.

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Learnings: Should have implemented event tracker (click count).



Feedback

I got constructive feedback on improvement and what people are looking out for.

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Google Analytics

I excluded my own IP address to prevent my own visits from being added to the analytics.



Geography:

66.47% of visitors from the US, 12.4% from Canada, ~4% from India, ~3% from UK. A few from Singapore, France, Sweden, Spain, Malaysia. On the far end of the spectrum with 1 visitor, Egypt, Israel, and Ireland.

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Devices and OS used

~60% of visitors are desktop and ~40% are mobile users (Mostly iOS users).



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Page Views

The main page has the most views followed by my piece on 'StaffAny Design Sprint' followed by the 'Arch Design System' pieces were probably the most interesting pieces.

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Smartlook (Heatmap)

This is a heat map generated by Smartlook after a 1000 visits have been logged. The website has served it’s purpose with people clicking on the portfolio button, my blog, and my resume. I repeated the CTA of clicking on my resume below my description upon landing. The most hottest area was my resume of failure followed by my resume (animations probably helped in increasing interactions).


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Smartlook (Recordings)

With Smartlook, I was able to view the behavior of my visitors and how they navigate from one page to another.


Recordings of visit

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Comprehensive behaviour analysis of visitors.

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Conclusions

Looking back at the questions I have set:

  1. Will I be able to demonstrate the capabilities of the student?
  2. Will adding something 'unique' make a mark?
  3. and finally, is my portfolio good enough that people want to talk to me?

The data collected also pointed out the portfolio is decent as it communicates my design process but there were areas of improvement.

"Is my portfolio good enough that people will talk to me?" Yes. I have indeed make heads turned with emails and messages coming in after.

‘Will recruiters hire me?’ - Well, the summer application period is an ongoing process, and a big part of it is waiting ...

The Resume of Failures was a success with lots of positive feedback saying they liked it a lot! I really appreciate the extremely supportive design community for their help to make this piece possible. (It’s the community that makes learning more accessible from one another.)

Update (April 2018): I was offered an internship at Sea Group as their first design intern in the R&D department.

What could I have done better?

While the data collected was significant for answering the questions that I have set, I lacked qualitative data from actual design recruiters. The approach I took meant I couldn't tell who was reviewing my portfolio. It is logistically challenging to reach out to recruiters, and there is a low chance of someone getting back to me due to a recruiter's busy schedule.

The data collected was mostly quantitative from the nature of testing. I should have conducted A/B testing where visitors will reach different landing pages containing different Call To Actions. Right now, there are 2 main CTAs, so I could tell if the 'Resume of Failure' had a higher Click-Through Rate than 'Resume'.

I would share my portfolio to non-designers as well to get opinions outside the design community.

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