The UI Prep Syllabus on Design Portfolios

Written By
Molly Hellmuth
Read Time
12 min
Last Updated
August 10, 2023


Designing or redesigning a portfolio is no small feat. It requires you to revisit old projects and tell their story in a way that is compelling and accurate while highlighting your role in the process. Not to mention the blood, sweat, and tears poured into the website design, personal branding, and “jena se qua” that takes it from a good portfolio to a great portfolio. The good news is, that if done well, all that hard work pays off in the form of improved communication skills, creative expression, and most importantly, better job opportunities. 

The goal of this syllabus is to guide you through the process of creating a successful design portfolio no matter your experience level.  It breaks down the process of creating a portfolio with high-quality resources from established designers, recruiters, and other industry leaders. It will help you determine the goal and style of your portfolio, create compelling case studies, build your personal brand, and turn it all into a website that will get you hired.

This post is part of the UI Prep syllabus series, a set of posts dedicated to helping product people (designers, PMs, developers) deeply understand key topics to help them build world-class products.

Before You Start Portfolio

Determine the type of work you’re looking for

How to define what a “good job” is for you and setting yourself up for the best opportunities. 

The good, the bad, and the ugly of working in different work environments.

Logistical advice for getting, or working toward, your dream job. 

What to beware of and avoid when looking at UX job descriptions. 

Define the goal of your portfolio

Guide to how your portfolio should look and what it should include based on your goals.

Learn the needs of each portfolio user so you can better communicate your knowledge. 

How to determine which projects you should include based on your career goals. 

Why creating your portfolio should be a fun way to express creativity & improve your skills. 

The pros and cons of different portfolio types and how to apply the 80/20 rule.

How to create a portfolio with little to no experience 

5 paths to gain UX experience for your portfolio.

Tips and tricks for breaking into the industry with little experience. 

Suggested projects for your portfolio and guidelines on how to work through them.

Step-by-step guide to getting more UX experience for your portfolio.

Designing Your Portfolio

Creating a portfolio 101

Straightforward guide to creating a portfolio that will get you hired. 

Designing better portfolios that are user friendly and clearly communicate your experience. 

Step-by-step guide to showcasing who you are as a designer and what you specialize in.

How to showcase detailed & context-sensitive UX research without polished designs. 

Detailed list of what should be included in a product design portfolio. 

Why you should treat your portfolio like a product and how to get useful feedback. 

Focus on your thought process, not the end result

5 key elements to creating a case study that shows you’re a good designer.

Detailed case studies are more important than ever.

Step-by-step guide to creating a case study for your portfolio. 

Simplified guide to creating a case study for your portfolio. 

Expanding your career options by writing better case studies that articulate your design decisions.

Case study examples from designers at top companies like Google, Apple, and Spotify. 

Advice from recruiters 

How to design a strong portfolio that is aligned with your goals and speaks to your target audience. 

Advice and frequently asked questions from a UX recruiter. 

Tips to make your portfolio standout and leave a good impression.

How to create a portfolio that  catches the attention of a recruiter or hiring manager.

A “recipe” for creating a great product design portfolio with detailed examples.

Portfolio pitfalls

4 things to avoid in order to make a good impression. 

Common mistakes new designers make when creating their portfolio.

Where to host your portfolio 

Breakdown of some of the best websites to use for your portfolio. 

Comparison of common portfolio hosts with a surprising winner -- Notion.

Creating Your Personal Brand

Why you need a personal brand

How to create an authentic personal brand that will lead to more opportunities.

How to identify and grow your personal brand to open more doors.

Why having a personal brand is crucial and how you can start building one.

All the ways you build your personal brand and how it can give you the edge when looking for work.

Why your portfolio should represent you and your voice. 

Designing your logo

Understanding and appreciating logo design trends and how to stay ahead of them.

A collection of logo design courses for a range of still levels. 

Detailed process of creating and updating a personal logo.

Additional Resources

Case Studies

How Jingyi designed and developed her portfolio in 2 months.

How Nikhil designed and developed his interactive portfolio.

How Adham designed and developed his portfolio.

How she reverse-engineered her UX portfolio to change jobs in a short period of time. 


Understanding the employment process and advice on creating a stronger portfolio.

How Stephen created an award winning portfolio and what he learned reviewing thousands of other portfolios. 

Conversation with Conway Anderson on finding design, hiring, getting hired, and faking it. 

How to showcase your best work.

Inspiring portfolio examples

Communities to ask for feedback

Where to get a domain name

Where to build your portfolio

Beautiful device mockups

High-quality photos for your designs  

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