Revisit Roundup: Building Your Portfolio

by Emily Jasper on September 1, 2016

Image from Jason Cranford Teague’s RUX presentation “Can I See Your Portfolio?”


First impressions matter. Whether you’re going on a date or a job interview, there’s always pressure to share the best parts of yourself. Most recently, Richmond UX hosted a talk with Jason Cranford Teague about portfolios. It gave me a chance to revisit several of my previous blog posts because a lot of the advice is still true.

Revisit: Doppelganger: There isn’t Just One Web You

Unless you have a very distinct name, it can be quite difficult to find the “you” that’s you online. There’s a good chance a recruiter or client will do a quick search on LinkedIn or Google to find you to check you out. It may not be an official vetting, but did they find the right you? The #PortfolioUX talk emphasized how important it is to own your domain and be consistent. Use the same photos, be aware of your doppelgangers. Take advantage of the fact most people don’t plan their social and digital profiles. Having the same photo and a clean look will help those important people know that they’ve found the right you online.

Revisit: Building Your Marketing Tool Kit

Your toolkit isn’t just your personal set of skills – it’s the team that you’re on. So as you build a portfolio, be clear about your role on the team in each of those projects. As Teague said, “Explain your work, but don’t embellish.” Your team might have a key person who drives the organization, project management, and keeps the trains moving. If that wasn’t you, don’t say you helped keep the group on task to deliver something on time or under budget. But if your job was innovative thinking to get to a specific campaign or solution, talk about that process. It will help the reader understand what skills you bring to the table.

Revisit: Get Your Own Case Studies

The dreaded case study. They can be boring and pompous at the same time. Your portfolio is a chance to showcase all your achievements like case studies. Think about ways you love to hear about stories or other people’s accomplishments, then use that style to help craft your own examples. But most importantly, if you’re missing a specific project or skill you want to demonstrate – then make your own opportunity. Take on freelance work, volunteer to do the project for someone, or just build a concept. Make sure you give it the same rigor you would have as compared to all the other examples in your portfolio. You won’t just be adding a new example either, you’ll be demonstrating how you can go above and beyond.

A Few More Thoughts

Teague’s presentation included a lot of great advice that in theory goes without saying. And yet all of us know, you still need to say it. Here are a few of his best tips:

Building your portfolio:

  • Only include the best. See above re: Case Studies. If you know you could do something better, then just do it.
  • Explain your work, but don’t embellish. This is critical as more projects include blended teams. Demonstrate where you really shined because it’ll result in the work you love to do instead of having tasks that someone else on a team should really own.
  • Create your story. This isn’t a “Once upon a time,” recommendation, but more like the age-old best practice of having an elevator pitch. Your digital identity is the new pitch, so make it compelling.
  • Keep it fresh. LOVE a project of yours from 10 years ago? That’s great but might not be so relevant to what you’re doing today. You want things from the last two years at the top, then really edit out old things from there. You can save an archive, but think about how you’d react to seeing someone’s best work was almost a decade ago.
  • It’s alive! In the digital age, you’ve got to make sure you’re sending people to a live site. I’m guilty of not checking back to this blog to make sure it’s still functioning. If you’re afraid something will be pulled down? Grab screenshots and comps so you have the records when someone asks about it in the future.

Check out Teague’s presentation and good luck with your portfolios!

In NOVA? Check out Teague’s workshop September 24-25 – You Are UX: Understanding Experience Design for Non-designers. This interactive workshop will train programmers, developers, managers, executives, and anyone else in your organization to empathize with the needs, wants, and desires of customers to create products people not only want to use, but love to use.


Ladies that UX Richmond: #WCW August

August 10, 2016

Ladies that UX (LTUX) wants to empower women in technology, and what better way to do that than share the stories of some badass women in Richmond? We want to shine the spotlight on ladies who are passionate, powerful, and making their mark in the community. LTUX Richmond is excited to announce a new monthly blog series: Woman Crush Wednesday […]

0 comments Read the full article →

Revisit: Were We Raised to be Generalists?

August 9, 2016

  After years of wearing all the hats, it turned out I could specialize in something. But only because I appreciate the greater context of digital marketing. I spent the last few years in marketing agencies and it’s easy to specialize there. You’re a copywriter, you’re a designer, you’re a developer. If you’re on a […]

0 comments Read the full article →

Smashing the Glass Ceiling in Politics

July 29, 2016

No matter how you feel about Hillary Clinton, you have to step back and observe this historical moment. The women’s rights movement wasn’t just about having the right to vote, shedding the demands of home, or being more like men. It was about having the same choices. Today, we have to acknowledge there is an […]

0 comments Read the full article →

Revisit: What Would Michelle Obama Do?

July 26, 2016
Michelle Obama DNC 2016

After last night’s DNC speech, Michelle Obama’s message, “Live your best life”, takes on a new perspective of hope and community. In 2012, Michelle spoke at the Virginia Tech graduation ceremony. I had tried to compartmentalize my frustration with how campaigning seems to permit public servants put their jobs on pause so that I could […]

0 comments Read the full article →

Revisit: Hi, My Name is Emily, and I’m Pro-Corporate

July 22, 2016

Yep, the corporate life is totally for me. Since I’m in a new role “in-house” after four years at agencies, it seemed like this was one of the best posts to revisit as part of looking back. I wrote the original six years ago before I was in totally free, creative environments. The fact that […]

0 comments Read the full article →

Going Back to the Beginning

July 20, 2016

“If I could turn back time…” “Yes, there were times, I’m sure you knew/When I bit off more than I could chew…” “Oh the movie never ends/it goes on and on and on and on…” Yes, I just quoted some song lyrics. There’s nothing like meeting a new colleague who’s already checked out your blog. […]

0 comments Read the full article →

Breaking the Bullseye: Blog Series Roundup

August 28, 2015

Problem: You want to authentically engage with a variety of customers, but your boss claims messaging to all of them is time consuming and expensive. You’re not alone. Recently, I worked on a blog series for the Create Digital blog. There’s a natural struggle between using all those personalization tools at your fingertips, but doing […]

0 comments Read the full article →

Seven Years…

March 13, 2015

LinkedIn reminded me that it’s been seven years since I started this little blog. What’s crazy is that I’m not even focused on writing about tips, tricks, and perspectives — I’m focused on applying it. But with a little reminder comes a nudge to revisit the blog that started it all and reflect. Yep, this is […]

0 comments Read the full article →