Career Advice
November 24, 2021

3 common mistakes junior designers make on their portfolios

3 common mistakes junior designers make on their portfolios

As a UX Designer, our portfolios are one of our most important materials. And even though they should be personalized and unique, there still are some do’s and don’ts when it comes to perfecting yours.

As a mentor of many early-stage UXers, I have noticed several common mistakes that many just breaking into the industry tend to make. So here we go let’s get into my suggestions of what extra steps to take.

  1. Make it obvious at a quick glance what your current or ideal role is

Many Hiring Managers, Recruiters, and individuals looking at your portfolio only have a short time to see whether or not you are right for the job. That is why by calling out your title this individual right off the bat will know if you could fit the role. This way, they do not have to go through case studies to decipher whether you are a Generalist UX/UI Designer or if you are a UX Researcher (to name a few). Our job in the simplest form is to make experiences easy and seamless, so why make someone search for your title?

2. Your case studies should not be a list of deliverables

By completing a UX project you will have a pile of deliverables. However, what will make your case studies stand out is if you transfer these deliverables into a narrative rather than a checklist. One way to do this is to always accompany an image with corresponding text. For example, if you show a chart of a Competitor Analysis make sure underneath it that you have a few sentences or bullet points that explain the main takeaways. Think about it this way. If you are looking at a chart for the first time and are skimming will you be able to fully digest all the information? The answer, probably not. So why should you expect your reader to be able to?

If you are unsure of what information to add here I would recommend asking yourself some of these questions.

  • Why am I showing this?
  • What do I want my user to take away?
  • Why is this important to the final solution or narrative of this project?

3. You should think about your site as a personal website, not just case studies

I like to think of a portfolio as that individual’s personal business site. By doing this it provides a space to show off their work, skill sets, and personality. Rather than just a place to host projects. A great way to show your personality is through your copy and branding choices. I highly recommend designing your own personal brand of 1–2 colors and a font that you can then use on all your materials moving forward. It is a great way to show you are thinking in a Design System. In other words, it will most likely give you an advantage.

Another good trick is to create a section that highlights your areas of focus and abilities. Again you are making the life of your reader easier by calling out this information, rather than making them search for it in the case studies.

As I previously mentioned, portfolios should be designed to that Designers' style and preferences. However, my aim for this article is to help guide those just starting out with ways to help elevate their portfolios, while still remaining unique. Many UX Designers will have their own ideas of what is the “correct” way to a portfolio and I’m not here to say only my way is right. Rather I am trying to call out what I see many people do not do that I truly believe will help if more people did it.


Thanks for reading. Would love to hear your thoughts on this!

Want to know more about me? I am Frankie, an Experience Designer from New York City, passionate about building products within the Entertainment, Fitness, and Technology fields. Check out more of my tips here