Is creating your UX writer portfolio taking you hours and hours?
Are you spending those hours and hours and not even sure you’re doing it right?
Are you looking at other UX writing portfolio examples and wondering how to create a UX writing portfolio like that?
Are you not sure how to create a UX writing portfolio, no experience needed?
Well, I’m here to tell you creating a winning UX writer or content designer portfolio doesn’t have to be rip-your-hair-out-hard. It can actually be pretty easy, and you can do the whole thing in just a few hours.
The key is to have strategic guidelines, which what I’m going to deliver in this 7-question checklist, so you can better design and critique your UX writer portfolio from the comfort of home.
Whether you have 10+ years of UX writing experience or you’re a newbie frustrated by the 3 – 5 years of UX writing experience “requirement,” this checklist will help you double-check your UX writer portfolio against some of the best in the biz.
What are these 7 magical checklist questions?
- Am I telling a compelling story?
- Is my UX writer portfolio stupid simple?
- Does my UX writer portfolio reflect my skills?
- Is my UX writer portfolio relevant to the kind of company I want to work at?
- Does my UX writer portfolio reflect the kind of work I want to do in the future?
- Am I leaving content to elaborate on in the UX writer portfolio presentation?
- Am I proud of my UX writer portfolio projects?
Let’s dive in…
1. Am I telling a compelling story
At the end of the day, UX writers are just storytellers — we guide people along a journey while communicating the conversation between the product and the user.
Your portfolio is also a user journey, and just like an onboarding flow, you have to bring someone along for the ride, so they convert into a happy user.
If you don’t view your UX writing portfolio as a user journey, your UX writer portfolio will be hard to follow, less engaging, and less interesting.
To make sure your UX writer portfolio tells a compelling story:
- Structure your case study clearly, or have solid information architecture, so someone can easily follow along
- Don’t overwhelm the reader with context, but tell them just enough, so they can easily follow along and grasp what’s happening
- Make sure your UX writer portfolio uses a logical, chronological progression, just like a story would
2. Is my UX writer portfolio stupid simple
You can stop spending 5 hours figuring out how to write a good UX case study. It’s not necessary, and can even hurt your chances of landing a UX writing job.
Because your UX writer portfolio is viewed at the beginning stages of the hiring process, the hiring manager isn’t ready to invest a bunch of time reading your in-depth portfolio word for word.
Hiring managers are busy. And at the early stages of the hiring process, hiring managers are just looking to see if you’re talented enough to learn more about.
To align with that, your UX writing portfolio should be simple, scannable, and easily digestible.
That means making your overview-based, and I have step-by-step instructions on how to create a winning, overview-based UX writer portfolio right here.
3. Does my UX writer portfolio reflect my skills
Essentially, are you showing off what you got, or are you just describing what happened?
The best UX writing portfolios highlight how someone used their UX writing skills to accomplish their goals. Average UX writer portfolio stops at describing the project.
- Highlight skills 👍: To declutter the screen of legal jargon, I organized close collaboration with our legal team and negotiated a compromise that was both user-friendly and legally-compliant.
- Describes project 👎: I worked with legal to make the screen more user-friendly while staying legally-compliant.
As a hiring manager, I gain much more confidence in the “highlight skills” example of a candidate’s ability to collaborate with legal (which is tricky business.)
4. Is my UX writer portfolio relevant to the kind of company I want to work at
Do you want to work at a big tech company, like Google? Do you want to work for a scrappy startup? Or do you want to do UX writing freelance style?
Either way, your UX writer portfolio needs to look different for each scenario. That’s because the types of projects you’ll be working in these different scenarios vary greatly.
For UX writing freelance, clients aren’t UX writers and don’t care about your process — they just want to know you can help them achieve a result. So in this situation, your UX writer portfolio should be the simplest it can be and spend the most time highlighting the actual work and the result you achieved.
If you want to work at a startup, you’re looking at probably being the first UX writer or content designer on the team. With that, you won’t be interviewing with a UX writer likely, and need to cater your UX writer portfolio to your audience (likely a designer manager or even the CEO, depending on the size of the startup.) Here, you have to keep your portfolio understandable by anyone (less technical) and simple enough, too.
Also, if you want to work at a startup, they want to know you can be scrappy, so highlighting work that shows you can work fast and with little resources is ideal. So, basically, if you want to work at a startup, show a startup project, not a Google-esque project.
And if you want to work for the Googles of the world, you’ll be interviewing with a UX writer, and you need to speak to them accordingly. Show you can work on complex projects that require many stakeholders. Show you’re comfortable working with process and structure. Show your technical knowledge of UX writing and content strategy the most in this scenario.
Don’t have a range of UX writing projects at different types of companies to pull from? That’s quite alright. Use what you have, and prioritize shaping how you format the story you’re telling to match how that kind of company likes to work.
5. Does my UX writer portfolio reflect the kind of work I want to do in the future
Are you a design systems nerd? Do you have a thing for fintech? Or are you in love with the new-user experience?
Make sure you’re looking for UX writing jobs that match the kind of work you want to do in the future, and make sure your portfolio aligns with that. (Hint: the UX writer job description can help a lot with that.)
That means, if you want to work in fintech, as best you can, highlight fintech work.
If you want to iterate on onboarding all day, show your expertise working with new users.
Even if you’re brand new to UX writing and are creating home-grown UX writing work samples, think about what you want to work on, and create portfolio projects that reflect that.
6. Am I leaving content to elaborate on in the UX writer portfolio presentation
It’s a grand misconception that you need to lay it all out in your UX writer portfolio.
If you put all the project details in your portfolio, you won’t have anything new to cover in your portfolio presentation.
Your UX writing job application is like an onion — you have to reveal details one layer at a time. That’s another reason why it’s critical to keep your UX writer portfolio stupid simple — the portfolio presentation is when you’ll have the hiring manager’s time and attention to dive deep.
7. Am I proud of my UX writer portfolio projects
If you’re not, stop right here and understand why. Is it that you’re not proud of your projects, or you’re not proud of how you’re presenting them?
If you’re not proud of your projects, reflect on why, and use that to better yourself as a UX writer.
If you’re not proud of how you’re presenting your UX writing projects, that’s what this checklist is for :)
UX writing portfolios don’t have to ruin your life (dramatic, I know, but it can feel like that sometimes.)
Now equipped with this checklist, you’re on your way to creating one of the best UX writing portfolios.
Happy UX writing 🖖