10 things to consider in the UX of your portfolio site
- Sketches need context
Placing sketches or whiteboards on your site with no context will do nothing for you. They serve no purpose except showing how you compile ideas, and how good or bad your drawing skills are. Sketches and process work needs context and they need to be explained. You wouldn’t show your sketches to a client or an employer and just leave it like that. You must decipher and explain it to your users and give them context. As designers, we are not just being hired for our aesthetics and making things beautiful but more so for our problem solving and design thinking skills, so make sure you show this.
- Storytelling wins the Interview
It's also not smart to just throw together all your process work, even if you do explain it. It's too much. No one is going to read through it, you, yourself wouldn’t even want to. This is where storytelling comes in handy and is a lot more important than you might think. The user doesn’t need to know about all the different products you researched for your benchmark analysis, sure it can help by showing them that you did the research, but that doesn’t help them understand your project. No one wants to read through that. You must be respectful of people's time. If they don’t know why it's important to your final project they won't read it. Your process work and research must relate back to your final solution. Forcing them to read a whole benchmark analysis is just disrespectful and expecting that they will is bad on your part. You have to be compact and be concise in your text and explanations on your site
- Don’t waste their time
You have to be considerate and think about your users, who are they, and what do they want to do? Once you figure this out you can figure out how to not waste their time. They will appreciate it and so will you as your engagement and page view duration will go up. New users that go on your site don’t know you and don’t know what to look at first. You must consider this into your UX, tell a story. Almost force your user through your site and let them know where to go. This also helps avoid them getting lost and potentially dropping off your site.
- Presentation is everything
Imagine your site is a presentation and, this is how you would present your project and findings to a client in real life.
- Come back!
Don’t let them leave! They might not come back. This includes external links. Please do not direct them to your social as their first call to action, they most likely just came from your socials and wouldn’t want to go back. Once a user lands on your page, you need to make sure that they stay and don’t leave. And when they do leave, they complete what you originally wanted them to do. Whether that be to contact you, buy something, hire you, etc. your portfolio site acts as the first impression for yourself, don’t screw it up. Everything that a potential new client, or employer, or whoever your target audience is, needs to be able to find what they are looking for on your site. If they have to go to an external page then your portfolio isn’t as effective as it should be.
Your site should be you, it should speak about you and should reflect who you are. It’s a professional website, but be fun with it. Show your personality through it, this will give users a better idea of who you actually are and what you do. Speak in your language and be personal with it. Of course, be professional but be fun with it. Maybe don’t include how you party every Saturday and are wrecked the next day. But do include personal aspects in your site. This gives conversation starters which are so important for interviews, it can really help get the conversation going. Employers aren’t just interested in your work and what you can do, but they also want to know if you will be fun to work with. If you think about it, these are the people that are deciding if they want to work with you in the future. So if it's all work and no play with you, and you come off with no personality, then who wants to work with that? Be fun but professional and respectful.
- Landing Page
Your site landing page needs to capture the user's attention right off the bat, you need them to want to continue going through your site. Use your landing page to create an intriguing base for yourself, maybe a brief introduction to who you are and what you do, and include a call to action on something you want them to do before they leave your site. Do not have a splash page as a landing page with a button to enter your site. If a person is visiting your site, they already want to visit it. Why would you create a block where they need to click an extra time? Splash pages are annoying and time-consuming. When done well they can be really eye-catching and intriguing for the user, but you are forcing them to click an extra time. So you better do something spicy.
For goodness sake, include your site URL in your resume, email signatures, and EVERYWHERE else. Don’t assume they remember it or will go looking for it, because they most likely won’t.
- Contact/About Page
Merge your contact and about page into one. So many times I will visit an about page and look for an email and, have to go to the contact page to see this. Unless you have excessive info on your about page, which is not always the best idea. Merge the two pages. Don’t give them everything, give them the incentive to contact you, if you already tell them about yourself then why would they need to bring you in for an interview?
- Title Hovers
Don’t use title hovers over your projects. It's a common trend and it needs to be put to rest. Hovers don’t work on mobile, and since most people these days are viewing your site via a mobile device especially when being referred from Instagram for example. So on mobile, they won't be able to see the project title unless they like a hard press for a while to see it. Which at that point they won’t even think to and just click on the project, which they will be going into with no knowledge of what the project is and what it's about. On desktop, you also can’t see the name of the project (again depending on what you include on your hover state) while viewing the actual photo at the same time. Because typically there is an annoying hover gradient overtop. So when looking at projects I would have to hover back and forth over each project to get the context and the image.