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May 11, 2023
Yes, you need a portfolio for UX research. Here’s a list of UX research portfolio examples and templates to help you land your next gig.
Whether you’re just getting started with UX, are #OpenToWork, or looking to elevate your career, treat your UX portfolio like a product. It’s a “product” you’re selling to hiring managers. Much like a product that makes life easier for users, so should your UX research portfolio make the hiring process easier for you.
Get inspired by these top UX research portfolio examples from real researchers, plus you can browse through portfolio templates to help you get started.
Every work portfolio should include a short elevator pitch about yourself, work samples, and your professional contact info. But a UX research portfolio goes beyond this.
Here are the essential components you should include to build a strong UX research portfolio👇
UX researchers’ currency is evidence. Your UX research work samples should include research project deliverables that support your argument for being an ideal candidate, including:
According to a research study on UX research portfolios, 54.5% of respondents said the most important point in a case study is your research process. Focus on providing work samples that help you demonstrate your research process.
“Keep in mind that your portfolio isn’t a research readout to your stakeholders, it’s a self-portrait of you as a researcher.”
- Preeti Talwai, UX Research Lead at Google in Ask a UXR: Storytelling for UX Research Portfolios
Show the journey, not just the destination. While it’s important to include all the deliverables, explain the research process behind each deliverable and tell a story of your involvement.
Why did you choose to conduct usability testing instead of user interviews? Why did your team choose a specific research framework over other ones?
Craft your narrative and be clear about how you made certain research decisions.
“From choosing a research methodology to picking your sample and sharing your insights, you make tons of decisions as a researcher. It is important to share the decisions you’ve made and the thought processes behind them.”
- Eniola Abioye, UX Researcher at Meta in How to Build Strong User Research Work Samples
📘 Don’t know where to start? Get inspired by the Periodic Table of Storytelling, a graphic that showcases various different storytelling tropes that can help you structure your research journey. It’s also helpful to reference this when presenting your UX research portfolio during interviews when your audience is focused on listening to your explanation rather than thoroughly reading your portfolio.
What kind of UX researcher are you? What kind of UX research tools have you used to help streamline your work?
Here are some of the things to highlight in this part of your UX research portfolio:
How do you plan on communicating research findings? What metrics did you use to measure your success with past research projects? What business goals were tied to each project?
While you can summarize your findings from your research report, here are some artifacts to communicate research findings:
Some examples of metrics that demonstrate your impact include:
📈 Need help tracking your impact? Learn how to define impact, measure outcomes, and keep a record of your success as a UX researcher.
Now that you understand the anatomy of UX researcher portfolios, let’s get into some real UXR portfolio examples that landed jobs.👇
This junior-level research case study example showcases how a YouTuber named Tiffany Yang landed her first job as a UX researcher by creating a case study from scratch. While she admits this case study example isn’t her best work, Tiffany pointed out some things about her UXR portfolio that worked well for her:
💡Some other tips to take away from this UX research case study example is to:
This UX research portfolio by Rachel Hanna Green is crisp, clean, and easy-to-navigate. But above all, it prioritizes this Microsoft UX researcher’s case studies as the main focus of the portfolio. Each work sample block in this portfolio provides a short and sweet description of what the case study is about.
What’s interesting about this UX research portfolio example is that each case study is titled in a way that draws the site visitor in to learn more—the same way an interesting news article title would catch your attention.
This goes to show that your research case study examples don’t have to be boring. Engage the person viewing your research portfolio with interesting titles and copy as if they’re browsing through interesting articles.
You might notice that each case study is password-protected. Not a lot of UX researchers expose their UXR case study work for the public to see, which is something to consider when creating your own portfolio.
This UX research portfolio example is yet another example of how Theo Johnson, Senior UX Researcher at Microsoft, showcases his case studies. His case studies aren’t password-protected so you can see how he structured each case study page with:
Mia Eltiste is a UX researcher who put together a UX research case study focused on usability evaluation for a local startup. This case study example works well because not only does it show which research methods she chose, it explains why she chose them with resources to back it up. And for each research deliverable showcased in her UX research portfolio, Mia provides context and explanations for how each deliverable came to life.
A recurring theme throughout most UX research portfolios with case studies is to explain why. Why did the researcher choose to do heuristic evaluation? Why did they choose to conduct user interviews? Make sure to explain the reasoning or thought process behind your research decisions at each step of the way like Mia did.
Thanks to UX research portfolio tools like UXfolio or Wix, you can build an aesthetically pleasing UXR portfolio without having to be a designer yourself. This design research and strategy portfolio showcases 5 case study examples that demonstrate Chloe Blanchard’s research skills in various industries, from digital banking to a senior companion platform.
If you have experience in various industries like Chloe, highlight the work you did in each industry. You don’t have to show research case study examples from only one industry (unless that’s the only experience you have so far!).
Another valuable aspect of Chloe’s portfolio is that she provides quotes and feedback from real users or stakeholders in each research project. Providing real user quotes and feedback helps narrate the journey and substantiate the impact the research had.
While the case studies in this UX research portfolio are password-protected, this UX research portfolio by Alexandra M. Nguyen, a UX researcher at Nuro, provides a high-level timeline overview of how she created her path to UX research.
With each past work experience, she provides context for what she did in each role and how it led to each step in her career—all the way leading up to her current role as a UX researcher. This might seem similar to listing out your past work experiences in a resume, but Alexandra made sure to tailor each work experience description to UX research in an engaging way.
If there’s anything to take away from this UX research portfolio, it’s to tell a story and describe your path to UX research. Explain how you leveled up in your skills with each position and show how that transitioned into the next step of your UX research journey.
This UX research case study example by Katie McCurdy showcases her research process for improving the health tracking process for both doctors and patients. Although you don’t have to draw your brainstorming process out by hand like Katie did, it helps to provide real screenshots of your work from each step of the project like she did.
Another key takeaway from this case study example is that Katie provided context to how her diagrams and notes helped her collaborate cross-functionally with developers and other teams. When you’re building your UX research portfolio, keep in mind that cross-functional collaboration is a key skill that many hiring managers might look for. Explain how your work helped streamline connecting with other teams and why it was important.
Building your online UX research portfolio is one thing, but knowing how to present your portfolio (asynchronously or live) for an interview is another skill to practice. This video is a great example of how one UX researcher presented her UXR portfolio through Google Slides.
When you’re presenting your case studies and portfolio work samples through Google Slides, you can take advantage of the Presenter View feature. This allows you to make notes for each slide in the presentation that are visible to you while presenting, but not the people you’re presenting to. Whether you’re presenting live or asynchronously, this feature is helpful for staying prepared.
We can’t emphasize this enough: Always remember to provide reasoning and context for why you chose a specific testing method. It doesn’t have to be a long-winded explanation, but identifying the “why” behind your research decisions is key to a winning UX research portfolio. Use this portfolio example for inspiration by senior UX researcher Benny Sun. Also, it’s important to include real feedback from the test sessions like in this UX research case study.
This UX research portfolio example by Jae Engle is in a PDF format, another common way to present your work samples. Some key takeaways from this portfolio include:
One important thing to take away from this UXR portfolio by Nikki Stanier-Anderson is to highlight the challenges you faced during the research process. Not every project goes as planned, and an important skill to have as a UX researcher is to navigate through different challenges and provide solutions with the resources you have.
Cyd Harrell, a civic technologist, shared her UX research project on Github, with all of the nitty gritty details. She even went as far as explaining why her team chose specific research questions to tackle and how each step evolved to the next. You don’t have to go as in-depth with the details like she did, but again, it’s important to highlight the reasoning behind your research process.
[embed video] time stamp: 1:57 for the actual case study
In this video by Vy Alechnavicius, an award-winning experience design leader and strategist, dives into a junior UX research portfolio that led to a job offer and explains what worked and what he could have done better.
Here’s a summary of some key points in this video:
This UX research portfolio example is by Aona Yang, a UX researcher at Google who makes UX research-related content on YouTube. The portfolio pictured above was an example case study she walked through in this step-by-step YouTube tutorial to demonstrate what a clear and concise UX research case study should look like.
Here are some of her tips:
In this video, Kelly Frost Davis, a former user researcher, goes over a real research case study example that landed her a full-time job as a UX researcher. This is a good example of how to present your work samples in under 10 minutes. She explains why she included certain images and information, and what hiring managers are looking for.
Watch this video to help you prepare for your next UX research case study presentation!
At this point, you’ve probably digested a lot of different UX research portfolio examples and have a basic understanding of what to include in yours. The next step is to build your own!
There are so many different ways to approach your UXR portfolio, but we’ve compiled a few templates to help you get started.
FernandoComet, a design technologist, conducted some research on UX research portfolios. One important insight he found was that one of the most favored structures for UX research case studies was: Problem/Approach/Process/Artifacts/Impact/Learnings.
He provided this template example that outlines this favored case study structure so you can fill it out on your own. You can use any case study outline you prefer, but this is a general outline that covers all your research process bases.
📎 Find the template here.
Slide presentations work well in showcasing your UX research portfolio. 52.7% of UX researchers in this survey prefer to use Google Slides or a ppt builder to build their UX research portfolio.
This UX research case study presentation by Val Az provides a good outline for your projects. One key point that makes this template great is that it includes examples of some impact metrics you can include, such as reduced dev time spent on building faulty design, improved user experience by X or describe in qualitative terms, increased signups / activation / engagement by X, etc…
📎 Make a copy of this case study presentation here.
We all love a good Google Doc template. This UXR case study template by Nikki Anderson provides a good overview of how to structure your case study.
📎 Make a copy of the template here.
This UX research case study template on Figma by Aadil Khan, a design researcher at IBM, includes:
This UX portfolio case study template from UX Design Mastery is designed for UX designers. Although design portfolios are different from UX research portfolios, it’s important to include the UX research that went into your design process.
📎 Get a copy of this template here.
And one more thing...
UX research portfolios are not the same as UX design portfolios. While both types of portfolios should showcase deliverables, UX research portfolios focus more on the research process that went into making certain design or business decisions.
And while design work is often more visible than research, it’s important to understand how research sets the foundation for design decisions:
“The more you expose your designs to usability testing, the better your future designs will become…You can know all the Figma shortcuts, have a great symbols library, and use gazillion plugins, but if this ultra-optimised workflow doesn’t produce designs that serve the objectives, it’s worthless.”
- Bas Wallet, former UX Lead Design Manager at Cern on 9 bogus reasons why some designers claim UX Research is a waste
Being a good designer means knowing how to apply research-backed insights to decisions that ultimately make the user experience better, not just being a designer that makes pretty logos and symbols. And being a good UX researcher means knowing how to conduct research that impacts not only design decisions but overall business decisions as well.
Here’s a simple graphic that outlines the difference between UX research portfolios and design portfolios. 👇
Both UX design and UX research portfolios use case studies, but design portfolio case studies are more focused on the design thinking process and design frameworks or methods.
But UX design portfolios should also include research! Make sure to include the research that serves as evidence for your design choices.
However, UX research portfolios can still be presented visually. Some visual deliverables you can include are personas or customer journey maps. While UX researchers are not visual designers, you can use your portfolio to showcase the research work that underpins a lot of the designs you’ve been involved in, rather than just showing examples of user interfaces.
Whether you’re creating a research-focused portfolio for the first time or sprucing up your existing one, consider using a tool to make a visually engaging and easily navigable for hiring managers.
Here’s a list of tools and website builders to help you create a winning UXR portfolio:
Now that you’re ready to build your own UX research portfolio, here’s a rundown of the key points to keep in mind:
Need high-quality participants for your next UX research case study? We don’t have a template for that, but we can get you matched with the right participants in a matter of hours.
Demonstrating your ability to streamline various parts of the research process through tools like Recruit, our participant recruitment solution, is another key skill you can highlight in your UX research portfolio. Your competence as a UX researcher isn’t just about how well you can do research, it’s also about how you solve the logistical challenges you might face during the research process.
Get started with a free account today and start streamlining your participant recruitment to focus on the actual research.
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