What Is a Product Designer Portfolio? (How to Create One)
By Indeed Editorial Team
Published November 22, 2022
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
When applying for product designer positions, you may be required to include a portfolio. This showcases your best work and shows prospective employers why you're a good fit for the position. Learning how to create an effective portfolio can help improve your chances of receiving an invitation to interview and later, a job offer. In this article, we explain what a product designer portfolio is, tell you what elements to include one, and offer steps you can follow to create your own.
What is a product designer portfolio?
A product designer portfolio is a collection of a professional's best work. Product designers create digital products, like websites and apps, that are aesthetically pleasing, user-friendly, and meet their clients' needs. When applying for product designer positions, employers may ask you to provide a link to your portfolio. They do this to assess your work and determine whether your skills and experience align with what they're looking for in a candidate.
Product designers typically use case studies in their portfolios to discuss their experiences. Case studies may include text and visuals, such as sketches or photos, that represent the design process for a particular project. Product designers may include one case study to showcase the project they're most proud of, or include a variety of case studies to highlight different skills and experiences.
What do you include in a product designer portfolio?
Here's a list of elements you may include in your portfolio:
The challenge you faced
Start by discussing the challenge you faced that inspired you to design the product. For example, you may start your portfolio by saying, When reading reviews for a competitor's calorie-tracking app, I realized most users wanted a feature that tracked their nutrition as well, so I created that app. This is essentially an introduction to your project that explains why you started it.
The team you worked with and your role within it
Next, discuss the members of the team and what your role was within it. It's important to give credit to everyone that contributed, but try to keep most of the focus on yourself. Briefly mention everyone's name and role, then spend a bit more time discussing your own role and how you contributed to the team's success.
The research you conducted
After discussing your role, you can start sharing your design journey. Describe the process step-by-step, meaning what step comes first may change for every product designer, but most professionals start their projects by conducting market research. Describe the research you conducted to get to know your target audience, competitors, and similar products that were already available. This may include interviews, competitor analyses, or customer journeys. Describe each research method you used, explain why you chose it, and discuss your findings.
The target audience's pain points
Go into greater detail about your target audience next. Discuss everything you learned about them so prospective employers understand why you decided to include or omit certain features. Discuss the audience's pain points that you hope to solve with your product. Pain points are a persistent problem customers have that a product can solve. For example, a customer's current budgeting app doesn't allow them to create multiple budgets. If you notice many members of your target audience have this problem, that can be the pain point you plan to resolve with your own app.
The product ideas you had
Once you knew what your target audience's pain points were, you likely brainstormed ways to resolve them. Share the ideas you thought of in this section of your portfolio. You can include any ideas, even ones you didn't use in the end, to highlight your problem-solving skills to prospective employers. You can include visuals like early sketches or brainstorming charts to further explain your ideas.
The validation of these ideas
Next, discuss the idea you and your team chose for your product and how you validated it to ensure it would be successful. This can include creating prototypes or completing testing, like fake door tests or user tests. Discuss all your experiments to show prospective employers why you chose your final design.
The final design
Impress prospective employers by including details about your product's final design. Try to include visuals, like pictures or videos, that display the product and its features. Include text explanations that describe why you chose certain fonts, colours, or other design elements. If possible, you can include the final product in your portfolio for employers to assess themselves. For example, if you designed a website, include a link to it in your portfolio.
End your portfolio with an explanation of what your client or customers thought of the final product. For example, you may include product metrics, reviews from customers, or references from clients. You can also use this time to discuss what you learned from the project and how you plan to apply your success to future designs.
Tips for creating a portfolio as a product designer
Here are some tips you can consider applying to improve your portfolio:
Choose your best work
The point of a portfolio is to showcase your best work, so include projects that highlight your top qualities as a product designer. Try to include your most recent work, as it can show prospective employers your up-to-date skills and knowledge. If you have limited experience, it's best to showcase fewer projects rather than including work you're not completely happy with as you've since improved.
Adapt your portfolio to the employer
If you're applying for multiple product designer jobs, try adapting your resume and portfolio to each employer. This shows them you understand and meet their requirements, which can improve your chances of receiving an invitation to interview. Consider the type of projects you may be working on with the employer to determine what work you want to highlight in your portfolio. For example, if the company exclusively creates apps, you can include different apps you worked on in the past. This shows employers you have the skills and experience they're looking for in an ideal candidate.
Choose the right format
When applying for a product designer job, employers may list in the job posting that they want you to include a portfolio in your application. They typically note the type of format they want the portfolio in to make it easy to access. If they don't, try contacting them so you can adhere to their preferences. For example, one employer may prefer a PDF, while another may want a link to a website that hosts your portfolio. Ensure that no matter what format you use, your portfolio is easy to access. If it's not, employers may pass on your application because they have too many other portfolios to assess.
Related: How to Make a Portfolio
Ask for feedback
Before submitting your portfolio, ask your friends, family members, or colleagues to look at it. They can assess your content and offer feedback on ways to improve your portfolio. For example, they may notice spelling mistakes or omissions you didn't notice. This ensures your portfolio is professional, helping you make a good first impression on prospective employers.
Highlight your design skills
While the content of your portfolio is the most important part, making it visually appealing is also important, as employers want to assess your design skills. Use the same design principles you use in your work in your portfolio. This can help you display your creativity and technical knowledge of design. Ensure your portfolio is user-friendly as well, so it's easy for employers to navigate. If you're including images, ensure they're high quality as blurry pictures may distract from the message you're trying to convey.
Include all necessary information
Ensure you include all the details employers may be looking for in your portfolio. To do this, ask yourself whether your portfolio answers all the following questions:
What was your target audience?
How did you learn more about your target audience?
What problems did your target audience face?
What ideas did you have to solve these problems?
How did you test these ideas?
Was the final product successful?
How do you plan to apply this success to your future products?
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