How to Develop a Sound Product Design Portfolio | Tanaya Joshi | Skillshare

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How to Develop a Sound Product Design Portfolio

teacher avatar Tanaya Joshi, Product Designer based out of SF

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Building an About Me Section


    • 3.

      Showcasing Your Passion


    • 4.

      Highlighting Your Best Work


    • 5.

      The Essentials: Team Composition


    • 6.

      The Essentials: Problem Statements and Goals


    • 7.

      The Essentials: Talking About End Users


    • 8.

      The Essentials: Describing Your Process


    • 9.

      The Essentials: Final Wires


    • 10.

      The Essentials: Identifying Outcomes and Opportunities


    • 11.

      How to Continuously Improve


    • 12.

      Final Thoughts


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About This Class

This class is a primer in putting together a Product Design portfolio  I’ll will cover different components that are commonly seen in portfolio and then cover the most important piece - how to succinctly tell the story of your project.

You will learn how to showcase your projects, create an “about me” section, provide appropriate collaterals, all while bringing out your full self in your website!

My goal for you is to walk away with an understanding of how to lay down a portfolio and put together one strong project.

This class is meant for Product or UI/UX Designers, though UX and visual designers can also benefit from it.

All you need is a project ready to put in your portfolio! It will help to do some research beforehand and look into websites to host your portfolio. Some examples are: Squarespace, Wordpress, Adobe Muse, Wix, Semplice, Cargo Collective, or if you’re a pro, code it yourself!

Meet Your Teacher

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Tanaya Joshi

Product Designer based out of SF


Hello! My name is Tanaya Joshi and I am a Product Designer at Instacart. I have previously worked at Facebook, McKinsey Digital Labs, frog design, and John Deere. Originally from Mumbai, I moved to the U.S. at the age of 11. I have a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering a Masters in Industrial Design. I came upon UX by way of my work on a NASA project to create an online curriculum of aerospace topics. 

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Level: Intermediate

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1. Introduction: Hi, my name is Tania and I'm a product designer and this is my class on how to design a sound product design portfolio. This class is a primary bring together a good portfolio. What that means is I'm going to cover several components that go into a portfolio like get all section or how to showcase your talent and then get to the meat of it, which is how to tell the story of your work. This means you'll walk away having all of the collaterals required for a strong portfolio all while bringing your full self to it. My goal is for you to understand how to lay down one project or the story of normal work. The classroom work revolves mostly around that. All you need for this class is a project. It's fine if it's a project that you've already put in your portfolio or a project that you never had. Another thing to do in preparation would be researching where and how you're going to be hosting for your portfolio. Some common examples I've seen are Squarespace, WordPress, Adobe Muse. I've also seen people coded by hand. If that's something you're comfortable with, go for it. The assignment for this class is to share a fully finished project in your portfolio. Like I said, you could be either one that you've worked on before or when you have it. I'd love for you to put it together and using the template I'm going to share. Whenever you're done, either upload screenshots or share the link with your fellow classmates. In terms of what you need, I would suggest starting with pen and paper. I find it to be the best way to lay my thoughts down. Basically, I'd love for you to start wireframing this piece first using the guidelines I'll provide and then go ahead and take it into digital. I really hope you guys enjoy this class and get a lot out of it and I'd really love to hear any feedback that you have at the end of it. Let's get started. 2. Building an About Me Section: So the about me section actually varies pretty drastically between designer to designer. One thing that I've seen a lot of recently is the York template on Squarespace, which was pretty popular. What it allows you to do is when your user comes on the website, there's little blurb you can put of yourself, followed by titles of your work. People use the blurb to say stuff like, "Hi, my name is XYZ and I'm from this city." I've seen two big approaches to the about me section. One is more lean one like that and then the other one is where folks create a whole new page for the about me section. They had a photo and maybe a little bit information about themselves. I think what's most important to remember when you design in about me section is that people hire people first. Your section should be succinct and it should be something that your user looks at and understands that they're hiring somebody who is friendly, approachable, and easy to work with. So a couple of things you can include in your about me section are a photograph, or let's say for example, you draw or you're an illustrator and you've done an illustration of yourself. Go ahead and put that in there because I think that's a really wonderful and personal way to bring your skills outside of your work into your about me section. The other thing I'd say is try not to write paragraphs of information about yourself, but rather a few fun facts, especially if they make you a better designer. Like for example, if you speak a language or you know how to write in a language that has long strings of words. If you're a product designer, you think about that and you create affordances around that. That's a really valuable thing to bring to in about me section and then the last, but obviously not the least thing is links to all of your social media stuff. For example, LinkedIn, if you're on there, Drivel, I've seen folks put like a stream of their Instagram up on there as well. Especially for product designers, freelancers, photographers or maybe do illustration work on the site. They often go ahead and link that stream to the about me section. Also another really wonderful thing you can include is a link to email, so that your user can click on it, open it in their local email application and reach out to directly. Whatever you do remember to keep your about me section succinct and brief because this is where people should just come and get a quick glimpse of who you are. 3. Showcasing Your Passion: Showcasing your passion outside of product design can often help provide context of who you are and how you think, for example, if you like lettering or demonstration or photography, it's great to go ahead and include that in there, and maybe figure out a way to tie that into how that makes you a better product designer. For example, if there's an instance in which you did a demonstration or because you are a photographer, you think from this place of photography and heavy visuals and how you're tying that into your product design. I think that there's a really wonderful link there that you can leverage. Alternatively, if you do all that work as a freelance artist, you can also put inflow to that section in your portfolio and use that to sell your work. Ultimately, I think that showcasing your work just provides additional contexts on your skills and shows you off a little bit. Here's a thought exercise. What lateral skills do you have that you can bring to your work as a product designer? How do you consider that when you design? I would love for you guys to think on that a little bit and see if you can tie those two things together to really show an extra side of you in this section. There is two things that I've seen folks do, one is the traditional thumbnail format of just displaying your work. Another one is linking it to, as I said before, in your about me section, I've seen a lot of folks link their Instagram. This also another great place to link it. Both approaches are really valid as long as they are able to help folks understand how that informs your work. 4. Highlighting Your Best Work: All right. The third point here is to make your portfolio something that your user can look at in 5-10 minutes. Often when we're doing the actual work, we go and talk to our end users in multiple stages of the process. But I think that as designers, we forget to take a step back and really think about the end user of our portfolio itself. The end user is somebody who doesn't have a whole lot of time to read through every single persona or every single thing that you did. How can we take a step back and make that portfolio piece really meaning? That's the third high-level thing that I'd love to give you a heavy thinking about before we dive into the details. One piece of advice that has helped me is, can you design a portfolio for your 10 year old cousin? If you're designing a portfolio you took it and you say, hey, can you tell me what I did, what I learned, and what this pieces is about? Would they be able to answer those questions properly? If not, then your portfolio piece is probably too verbose. Oftentimes we're solely the weeds with our work that we forget to take a step back and really plug in the elements that are most important that made this piece successful. To wrap it up, I'd just like to remind you making portfolio that people can look at in 5-10 minutes and walk away knowing what you're about and what work is all about. 5. The Essentials: Team Composition: The first essential element is team composition. What I mean by that is, who all was on this team and who are you on that team? For example, were you playing the role of a UX designer and a visual designer and a researcher or was there a different research on this team and a different visual designer on this team? Often depending on the context of your work. Like for example, if you're in an agency, you might end up owning just one part of that. You might just be the UX designer in that. Whereas if you're in an in-house company, you might end up being a product designer, which means you must be responsible for the visual design and interaction design. So start by identifying your team, for example, if you had a product manager, maybe a handful of engineers, maybe an engineering lead, a researcher, whatever other types of designers you work with. Go ahead and write that down. Then [inaudible] yourself as this was my role on this team. I think that's important for a handful of reasons. First of all, it provides clarity on what exactly you owned and helps level set really well. For example, if you're a senior product designer and you owned stuff at a higher-level outside of pixels, it's important to showcase that. It's important to showcase your thinking. Second of all, that in turn is going to help the people who are hiring you ask questions directly to your thought process. Also you can speak really well to that though process, rather than just answering with oh, this person made this decision I didn't make it. So it really helps pull your work. Which brings me to my third point as to why this is important, which is to show that you can design within an ecosystem. For example, let's say you design a whole product, you as in your team and you owned a small part of that. Just show that you owned a piece that fits within a bigger ecosystem, might be really important, especially for an in-house somebody that looks at how you design within a pattern library. I think the key thing here is to go ahead and pull yourself out of a group of people who attributed to the success of that product. After all, the people hiring aren't looking to hire your team, they're really looking to hire you. 6. The Essentials: Problem Statements and Goals: After you've talked about your team dynamics, before you dive into your actual work, I think is important to write down your problem statement or your goal. This is especially important because as you start developing your piece and talking about the work that you did, everything should essentially tie into this higher level goal. A good problem statement identifies who you solving for, what problem it is that you're solving, and any major constraints. For example, if you had a group of users that was blind or visually impaired. What kind of constraints did you have as a result of that? If there was a certain device that you were limited to it in solving this, mention that. If you were limited on engineering resources, that's another wonderful thing to mention. As you can see on this slide, I've provided an example of a good problem statement and something that's a little bit weaker. The weaker the problem statement is very high level and doesn't really dive into what the actual problem is. Well, rather just rushes over the end goal. The actual problem statement talks a little bit about scoping. Why is it that you're solving this problem? Then goes into how it is that you're going to solve by saying, help users understand the value of our product. As you can see, the better problem statement is detailed but brief. Remember, you don't want to write a whole paragraph your for your problem statement of goal, but rather maybe a line about the background. Then another line above the three high level things I mentioned, which are who you are solving for, what problem you're solving and any constraints that you have. 7. The Essentials: Talking About End Users: the next thing is your users , I can't emphasize this enough. I really don't think it's worth putting down for others. The reason being, if we go back to what we talked about before we delve into the essentials. One of the things was, that your end-user is only going to have five to ten minutes to review your portfolio. if you put in two, three paragraphs or the personas or you have 10 personas as with the paragraph on each, likely they're not going to get read. But there is a way to distill all of that information and help your end user focus on the research that you did for who you're designing for. The most important thing that you really need out of personas is to show that you did some research on who your users are and you designed around that. For example, you could say something like, we interviewed fifteen users and made three personas based on their familiarity with this product or with this platform. You can talk about how you made certain decisions to help the low familiarity users be successful while using this product, while also making sure the high familiarity users remain engaged. Another thing you can do is as you're talking to your wireframes, mention maybe just do like a little blurb under the wireframes saying through our research we found this out, which is why I included this element. You can pull out pieces like that within your work and you can show how they're informed by your users rather than spending so much time just talking about users. Ultimately, the reason we talk about users in our portfolios is to show how that informed what we ultimately design. Here are a few things you can include in lieu of personas. Number one, how many users were interviewed? Number two, what big concepts did the persona exercise reveal? And number three, how did you modify your product or your idea given all of that information? Try to synthesize all of that and tie that into your work. 8. The Essentials: Describing Your Process: This next section is describing your process. Often I see designers doing a little illustration of their design process. The truth is, the design process is the same pretty much across all of the portfolios. Instead of showing what your design processes, unless of course you've invented a whole new way of working. What's worth it is to bring that back to your work and reflect that in your work itself. For example, the first part of any design process is to define, and that comes when you articulate your problem statement or your goal. As we talked about earlier, this is also a great time to talk about your previous version of the product. For example, what's their version one? If yes, why didn't it work and what improvements are you making in this next version? That all falls under that define part of the design process. The second one is [inaudible]. This is a great place to show the work that you did with your team in a sprint for example, and what you got out of that. If you didn't do a spring, this is a great place to show wireframes, show higher level thinking, show who is informed by all of the persona's, just like we talked about earlier. The third part of the design process is prototype. This is where you show that the final wireframe, which means all these beautiful shots. How did we get to this stage? What decisions were made? This should be a very visual and interactive section with very few words describing maybe a feature or two that you want to call out. After all, you are a designer. You want to learn how to show in your portfolio [inaudible]. The next part of the design process is build. Did you work with an engineering team to build it? If yes, is there a link? Go ahead and show if there is. If there isn't, did you prototype, go ahead and make a link to the prototype. Oftentimes I've seen designers put it gifts or framer links to some of their prototype or even envisioned and bring them into their portfolio. The next step of the design process is to test. Did you test this with the end users? If yes, what did you find out? Where were your assumptions not right? What did you learn from giving this to the users? I've often found that when I designed and I give something to testing, it almost always breaks apart and red brick apart. I mean, there's always something that comes back that I could have done better. Write about that in this section. Finally, don't forget to share your glamour shots. People wanted to do some really High Fidelity wires, especially if you walk this thing through the end stage of visual design, and prototyping, and building. Show that up. In my experience, recruiters have really liked seeing wireframes and interactive prototypes. It will work in your favor to do that. 9. The Essentials: Final Wires: All right. Now we've come down to the final wireframes. Show your high fidelity shots. This is the stuff that you should be most proud of. There's a lot of mock-ups online that you can find that you can either pay for or artists have put up for free. This is really the section where you should be putting your best foot forward. Utilize all those resources and really make your work shine. Here are two examples to showcase your work. One, as I said earlier, was to include a prototype. Is there a GIF? Is there a video? Is there an InVision link? Is there a Framer link? What can you bring in where the user can maybe just watch your product, move around, or can actually interact with it and use it? The second, as I mentioned earlier, is to put your mocks into different devices that you can find online. This will really bring out the work that you did and put it in the context of the device that you designed it for. Here you can also do a couple of call-outs. For example, if you have a mobile version versus a web version and a mobile web version, it's a great thing to maybe do call-outs and show how a certain feature evolved between the three different states. It's also a great way to show how your visual design evolved between web, mobile web, and the app. Speaking of the app, did you design iOS and Android? If yes, put those mocks up. Maybe do a little bit of a call-out. You can just do a line coming from a feature and write a blurb on the side about why this feature is a little different in iOS versus Android, and how you design differently for the two different platforms. 10. The Essentials: Identifying Outcomes and Opportunities: This section is about identifying areas of opportunity and talking about what you learned. This section is important but often complicated. People want to see what kind of metrics did you drive with your design. You may not always have an answer to this, but you can talk to the section based on the work that you've done. If you've got good data, definitely show that off. If you don't have good data, that's fine too. You can talk about what metric it is that you wanted to move, and how it moved. If it moved in a positive direction, talk about that, and talk about what attributed to the success of that positive direction. If it didn't move in the positive direction, talk about what you learned out of that, and if you don't have data to show, that's perfectly fine too. It happens very often that you might leave an internship or a job before your product was validated or before the metrics really came out, and you might not have access to that data. Regardless, you could talk about what you could have done better. You can also talk about how you are planning on testing, what metrics you are testing, and how the test was set up. Really, this section is important, because what it does, is it kind of puts a bowl on your final designs. It's not important to just show the final work, but then talk about why the final work was good, or how it is that you're going to figure out if that work is good. By good, I mean, how does that tie into your problem statement? Does your design meet your goals that you set out to initially accomplish? Does your data show that it meets the goals? Does it do a good job, of being of service to the users you were designing for, or users you interviewed before you began designing? This is a great section to talk about all of that. Pull that in and really sum it all up. 11. How to Continuously Improve: Finally, remember that your portfolio piece is a working progress. I don't think I've met a single designer who's ever happy with their portfolio. To keep improving, you can do a handful of things. If you use a platform that allows you to look at metrics, go back and track them. What pages are users visiting very often? Is there a drop off? So for example, if you have four different projects outlined, are users interacting with your first two and then there's a drop-off from the third one, what is the percent of drop-off? what's causing that drop off? are your users getting fatigued because your portfolio pieces are too long? How can you keep them engaged? so look deep into some of those metrics and see what you can do to make your portfolio better. Your portfolio is an ongoing project with your end-user, so the entire design process should apply here, which means we're going to be in constant state of testing and iterating. As you analyze data also look at some work that isn't getting much attention, is there a reason why? do you think you can make it better? do you think you can tell your story better? do you think you can make visuals more compelling to bring the users into that product. Especially if it's a piece that you're particularly proud of, maybe you should move it ahead in the queue, try out a couple of different things and see how that piece ends up performing. Another thing is feedback. Constantly seek feedback from your peers and your mentors. If you apply to a job that you really want and you don't get it, don't hesitate to reach out and ask what you could do better. Feedback is so important, especially when it comes to your portfolio. As designers, we're constantly improving our scale and our craft, and that feedback really helps us continue to move on in the right direction, especially if it comes from a future employer. It also helps you know exactly what that employer is looking for versus another employer because feedback will differ from person to person. Really my advice here is don't suffer on your portfolio, anytime you feel like you could do something better, or you feel like you've improved a certain part of your craft, go back and add that to the piece. One thing I see designers doing all the time is keeping on improving their portfolios. 12. Final Thoughts: Thank you so much for hanging out with me and learning how to make a good product design portfolio. I really hope you guys have taken away all the key elements that attributed building a successful portfolio piece. To recap, we talked about first the About Me section and how you can talk a little bit about yourself and talk about skills that tie to making you a better designer. Second, we talked about showcasing your work outside of product design that makes you a better product designer. Whether that's illustration, photography, what have you. Third, we talked about some high-level things like highlighting your best work and making sure your portfolio a succinct and that it can be read by your viewers in 5-10 minutes and they walk away knowing exactly what you're about and what a thinker you are. The fourth thing was essentials, the first element was identifying who your team is. Writing down all your team members and writing down what role you play within that team. This is going to help your users focus their question toward your work and better understand what it is that you run into this product. The second was a problem statement. To write a problem statement that describes what your problem is, who you're solving it for, and any constraints that you have. Be that resourcing or the platform you're designing it on, or what have you. The third thing was end-users. Remember, you don't want to spend too much time talking about your end-users. Ultimately, end users are important because they inform the work that you do. Is there a way that you can sell up that data in a really wonderful way to make it super digestible? Like for example, bringing that into your wireframes and talking about how the work that you did or the wireframing that you did was informed by the users we're designing for. The forth is process. Rather than showing your design process, which is probably the same for everybody, using that process to outline the working your portfolio. The fifth thing was testing and validation. Then next thing was vital wires. What's the best way to showcase your work isn't an interactive prototype? Is it a gift? Is it just some mocks using templates you found online. The next very important thing was identifying outcomes and areas of opportunity. Did you take this product to test? If yes, how did it perform? What metrics went up? What metrics went out? Why did they go down? Or what are you going to do better when you design the next version of this product? The last thing that we talked about was continuously improving. Use any analytics platform that your web hosting platform offers. Look at the data and look at what people are really interacting and with to get rid of drop office and see what you can do better. Get some feedback and keep iterating on your portfolio. As you become a better designer, you'll find that you want to go back and rework some of your stuff. That's perfectly fine. After all, design is a process. Why should their portfolio be? I hope this class has been helpful in helping you put together a portfolio. I would love for you guys to take some time, take a step back, looking at all these essentials that we talked about. Take some time to wireframe of piece that either you've done in the past that you went to rework or maybe a piece that you haven't put in your portfolio yet, put down on paper seal, all of these pieces fall in place. Then put it up in a digital format, I would love for you guys to either share a link or share screenshots and really show off that piece so that you can get some good feedback and keep iterating like we talked about. Thanks again.