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How to Build a UX Portfolio With Zero Experience

Elena Mitsiou
•  02.10.2023
Are you a new university graduate, recent online UX course student, or shifting to a UX design career? If yes, it's time to build your UX portfolio. Creating a portfolio with no experience may seem overwhelming, which is why we've compiled this complete guide to effortlessly craft your UX portfolio.

Tempting as it might seem to start applying for UX roles without having a UX portfolio, we would suggest you think twice. With the competition for UX roles being fierce in the current market climate, creating a stellar UX portfolio with help you stand out from the crowd and get ahead of the curve. Even if you have zero professional experience it is possible to build a winning UX portfolio.

But let’s start from the very basics! What is a UX portfolio? A UX portfolio is a collection of UX case studies that have been created based on different UX design projects. Like every other type of portfolio, it is used to showcase your ability to find design solutions to complex problems when it comes to digital products or services. Having a stellar UX portfolio as a junior can make or break your career. Here is why…  

Key Takeaways

🤩 Crafting a killing UX portfolio can be the first step towards a successful UX career.

🔥 UX portfolios create great networking opportunities.

✅ Adding testimonials can work wonders for the effectiveness of your UX portfolio.

💡 Adding a fictitious project to your UX portfolio is a great starting point if you are a junior UX designer with no professional experience.

Why do you need a UX portfolio as a junior in the UX field? 

How to build a UX portfolio with no experience

Crafting a winning UX portfolio is the first step to a rewarding career. A UX portfolio is the most powerful tool that a junior UX professional can have in their arsenal. It is an unmissable opportunity to show what you know and how have you grown in the UX field.

Creating a UX portfolio even with zero UX experience is of critical importance and here is why:

Showcasing skills and knowledge

Your UX portfolio is the space where you will be able to demonstrate your wealth and depth of knowledge when it comes to UX design. This is your unique opportunity to show the methodologies that you are confident using as well as the tools that have in your arsenal as a UX designer or researcher. 

Standing out in job applications

In this highly competitive job market climate having a killing UX portfolio can truly set you apart from the competition. Believe it or not, there are a lot of seasoned UX professionals out there who never invested time in building their portfolios.

This is your chance to showcase your unique approach to problem-solving to recruiters without sweating it! 

Building credibility

Building credibility is the secret sauce to every successful career especially if you are interested in going freelance in the long run. Building a UX portfolio is an excellent way to build credibility and showcase your passion and commitment to the UX field.

Having a well-crafted portfolio will instantly give you extra credibility points! 

Nailing your interview

Having just an hour to convince a recruiter to hire you during an interview is a stressful task. Having a UX portfolio at hand during your interviews can help you to communicate your design through the process in a more cohesive way.

You can use the case studies as a reference point to start a conversation or answer an interview question. The visuals on your portfolio will give color to your storytelling skyrocketing the chances of the recruiter being highly engaged with you! 

Building your personal brand

Building a strong personal and professional brand as a UX professional will go a long way. Having a UX portfolio is a unique chance to develop and showcase this brand to potential employers or clients. Your portfolio can be a great indicator of the type of projects and industries that you are most interested in.

Getting Feedback

As a UX professional, you should never underestimate the power of feedback. One of the best ways to have a lingering successful career is to be open to feedback and quickly iterate. Your UX portfolio can be a great way to get feedback on your work and find ways to adapt and grow as a designer or researcher. 

Networking

Networking is the key to a stellar career and this is another area where a UX portfolio can come in handy. A UX portfolio can be a great way to connect with the UX community and create meaningful relationships with peers and mentors. Sharing your portfolio can be a conversation starter and you can use it as a reference point to engage in various conversations or debates.

What should your first UX portfolio include?

How to build a UX portfolio with no experience

We know that it might be a daunting task to create a UX portfolio with no experience. There are so many dos and don’ts out there making it quite hard to cut through the noise. This is why we wanted to highlight the 7 critical elements that every UX portfolio should include to get you started. 

Portfolio Introduction

Using an introduction to your portfolio is a great way to give your readers a quick overview of what it contains. This is the part where you can set the tone and ignite the imagination of your readers.

Contact Information

Adding your contact information in a visible place in your portfolio is another critical element not to be missed! Recruiters or clients will need to be able to locate your contact details should they want to come in contact with you. Don’t forget to add your email address, phone number, and a link to your LinkedIn profile.

A summary of who you are 

This is another element that can make or break the success of your UX portfolio. Adding a short blurb about who you are, and what is your specialization or interests when it comes to UX is a great way to personalize your UX portfolio and make it stand out. You can try including a fun fact about yourself to make it more memorable.

UX Case Study

Adding your UX case studies is the most critical element in your portfolio. This is the gist of your entire portfolio and it is your unique chance to demonstrate your problem-solving skills when it comes to UX riddles as well as your ability to use tools and methodologies to get to the desired solution. 

Although there is not a single formula for a successful case study here is our industry-approved winning format:

UX Case Study parts

What to write…

The problem statement

This is where you would need to clearly define the problem or challenge that you were tasked to resolve.

The research stage

Outline the research methods, tools, and key findings when researching the problem.

The ideation stage

Walk the reader through your thought process and idea generation process. What has led you to take a particular course of action?

The design stage

Add early designs, wireframes and prototypes of your design.

The testing stage

Explain the methodologies and tools that you used to test your designs and how you applied the feedback that you received.

Results

Quantify the impact that your design brought to the product or business. Here you should add specific UX and business metrics.

Learnings

Reflect on what you have learned from this project or anything that you would have done differently!

Testimonials and Recommendations

This is an element that often gets neglected but can be a powerful way to earn extra credibility points for your work. You can ask your peers or mentors to write a recommendation for you and your work.

 

How to build a UX portfolio with no experience?

How to build a UX portfolio with no experience

If building a portfolio from scratch with zero experience seems an impossible task, we are here to tell you that it can be certainly done! From creating fictitious projects to redesigns here is how you can build your UX portfolio with no experience.

Yes, you read that right no professional experience what so ever: 

1. Create a fictitious project

A great idea to create a UX case study for your portfolio is to create a fictitious project. Simply identify a problem or an unmet need that a digital service or product could potentially solve and then design the solution for it. When creating a fictitious project, highlighting the user research stage is of utmost importance.

This is where the whole project is based so make sure to conduct thorough user research and do not forget to communicate your research findings. Tools like UXtweak can help you get started on your user research as they offer a user panel that will save you the time to recruit and vet user participants.

Although this is a fictitious project, it is also important to outline your whole thought process from conception through to execution.

2. Do an unsolicited redesign

Another great way to go about creating a case study for your UX portfolio without previous experience is to do an unsolicited redesign. Simply choose a website or app where you think that the user experience could benefit from a redesign and get to work!

Start by doing a thorough UX expert review to address any early findings and then engage in rigorous UX research. Again here user research is one of the most important parts of the redesign so make sure to do a few usability tests that will give you great user insights. You can use online tools like UXtweak’s usability testing tool to achieve that!

Conduct UX Research with UXtweak!

An all-in-one UX research tool to help you visualize your users’ frustration and better understand their issues

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3. Take a “portfolio-building” UX design course

Another clever idea is to take up a portfolio-building UX design course. There is an abundance of both online and in-person courses out there that cover not only the theory of UX design but also offer the chance to complete practical UX projects that you can then add to your portfolio as UX case studies.

4. Land a volunteer job or internship first

Last but certainly not least, landing a volunteering job or a short-term UX internship can be a great way to get your foot in the door and add some case studies to your portfolio.

This is a fantastic way to gain real-world experience before landing your first job and showcase the learnings of real-life projects to your portfolio. Nonprofit organizations or start-ups are your best bet when it comes to landing a volunteering job so these are a great place to seek out those opportunities.

UX portfolio templates to get you started

Here are some handy UX portfolio templates to get you started:

  • UX Designer’s Portfolio template by The School of UX provides a simple-to-follow template on how to build a UX portfolio. This template is free and you can use it by simply making a copy and adding it to your own project in Figma.
  • UXfolio has put together a highly detailed and easy-to-use UX portfolio template. This template goes the extra mile with step-by-step instructions on how to use it. 
  • Career Strategy Lab is another great resource to get started on your first UX portfolio. This template is really comprehensive and it requires you to sign up to fully access it.

Ready to create your first UX portfolio?

Crafting a UX portfolio without previous professional experience can seem like a daunting task but it is absolutely essential in kick-starting your career as a junior UX professional. UX portfolios can offer a host of advantages and they can make you stand out from the crowd in this competitive job market landscape.

Even with the absence of real-world professional experience, you can craft a winning portfolio by adding fictitious projects, unsolicited designs, or case studies from any volunteering work that you might have completed. A UX course can also help you further enrich your UX portfolio.

Don’t forget, when in doubt you can always use UXtweak to help you nail your first UX case studies and guide you to a winning UX portfolio! 

 

FAQ: How to Build a UX Portfolio With Zero Experience

Can you get a UX design job without a portfolio?

The chances of landing a job without a UX portfolio are quite slim, especially for a junior UX designer. Make sure to set yourself up for success by building one now! 

What should I put in my UX portfolio if I have no experience?

Fictitious projects, unsolicited redesigns, or projects from volunteering opportunities or courses are all great ways to enrich your UX portfolio if you have zero professional experience.

How do I start a UX portfolio for beginners?

You can start your UX portfolio by documenting your UX design process from research to final designs. You can then apply those to fictitious projects to create your first case studies.

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