What makes a good UX researcher portfolio? Part 3: Presentation (Project Page)

I’ve finished updating my own portfolio with a few projects I completed over Fall of 2013. I’ve also redone a lot of the project posts for previous work.
To recap my original post on designing a portfolio, there are three essential components:
  1. Organization of the content
  2. Visual presentation of the content
  3. Textual presentation of the content

There are also three qualities or features that each one of these should present

  1. Clarity
  2. Conciseness
  3. Context

Some feedback I received from my original portfolio was that the process I outlined was super detailed. Yet, at the same time, some recruiters, hiring managers, and UX practitioners who interviewed me appreciated the brief but clear outline I provided. This clash is something we all face in building our portfolio. I decided to stick with the brief approach in order to focus recruiters’ attention on my critical thinking and writing skills since I am looking for UX research and UX design jobs rather than positions more focused on visual design or development. This rationale and outline was inspired by a great article in Smashing Magazine

An interesting insight from one conversation during an interview, as well as several conversations during my internship, was that recruiters wished portfolios could be designed in multiple ways for multiple audiences. While at first this idea of a “context-aware” portfolio may seem difficult to actually build, I thought of an appropriate solution. At its core, this trade-off is an issue anyone in UX faces:

  • trying to summarize months or years of work into an outline with tangible and actionable items
  • trying to detail the journey and the process of solving a design problem without being overly detailed

Based off of these conversations, I rethought the next iteration of http://www.davidhmunoz.com. Rather than try and solve both problems with a single interface and outline, I decided to have two separate views for eacah project:

  • a slightly shorter version of my original “research outline”. I named this view the “Executive Summary”
  • a detailed chronological description of the work involved in the project, appropriately titled “Design Process”

The “Executive Summary” focused on brief and concise text with links to relevant materials such as reports, posters, or other deliverables.

The “Design Process” focuses on a linear description of the work involved in a project. However, it starts off with a brief overview to frame the question, stages of the project, and any key deliverables or results (e.g., submitted to a conference). I use writing to explain design decisions and also include pictures of design artifacts where appropriate.

It is extremely difficult to be clear and concise while also providing appropriate amounts of context in a portfolio. This iteration of my website hopes to address both by acknowledging the difficulty through the creation of two separate views for each project. We’ll see what recruiters and UX professionals think!

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Design insights from reframing your research question

Can’t believe my master’s program here at Georgia Tech is almost done! These two years have flown by. Been a busy week already too. The CHI Student Design and Research competitions were yesterday so I was working on those over winter break. Finally figured out my courses. Now updating my portfolio with recent projects.

I had an interesting insight this morning in regards to the WIC project. I still need to think about this more, but I have realized that the focus of my project should not be on technology itself. I did user research in the fall and learned about WIC parents’ familiarity with technology, their preferences for technology, and values (such as convenience, desire to learn, and trust in content) that affected these preferences.

The goal for this semester was to focus on testing technology (mobile app, text messaging, digital kiosk, website) to see which one is most effective for delivering information about children’s development. However, I was having difficulty envisioning how to address this question through user testing. I reframed the most basic question: “What is needed in technology to track milestones”? and listed different features. I realized there was a mismatch between some technologies. I also noticed some are much more critical than others in terms of delivering basic information (e.g., “View a list of milestones” is essential, as compared to “notifications”). Others still are more critical in terms of ACTUALLY getting parents to use whatever technology (e.g., seeing example pictures of each milestone may be extremely helpful)

I am going to use the Kano method, a tool that arose from market research in order to find what features most impacted customer loyalty, to determine which features are most important.

Sometimes it really is all about taking a step back and rethinking why you’re doing research in the first place. Great insights can arise 🙂

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