As a rooki designer, you may not have as much work or experience as other candidates for jobs you apply for. However, experience is not the only thing that recruiters and managers look at. Use your portfolio to show your passion and willingness to learn with these project ideas:
Add a feature to a product you love.
Wish Spotify had a mixing feature? Should there be a way to differentiate live product work on Dribbble? Put together a small case study addressing a really specific problem or opportunity you see in a product you are very familiar with. It’s constructive, and shows your passion for bettering experiences. Hirers will respect your thoughtfulness in addressing their product.
Illustrate a comic strip user journey.
Storytelling is one of the most powerful ways to get buy-in for any type of design concept, whether its a design for a chair or a new app. Show off your design communication skills and your understanding of the power of empathy in design by illustrating or animating out how an existing or hypothetical product enhances user’s lives.
Write a short, weekly medium post.
Write about anything! Past work you've done, your latest inspiration, anything. Putting your voice out there will separate you from other candidates, and make you more than just a resume. Writing and communication are valuable skills for a designer, and starting now will get you a head start on a potential book one day.
Put together a business strategy for your product.
You’ve designed something awesome, great! Stand out by showing how you might go to market. What types of customers are you targeting? How would reach them? What would your adoption strategy be?
Check out these resources:
How to develop and measure a product adoption strategy
User adoption, sometimes called on-boarding, is the process by which new users become acclimated to a product or service…mixpanel.com
4 User Adoption Strategies to Help Employees Embrace New Tech
Getting employees to adopt new technology should be a no-brainer. After all, your organization has invested a…highfive.com
Make a lightweight chrome extension.
If you have even introductory knowledge of HTML & CSS, try building out a lightweight chrome extension! It’s very simple to build an extension that opens an HTML page in a new tab. Maybe there is a to-do list in your new tab, or maybe it integrates with Yelp API to show you the closest place to get fries…
Show off your interaction design skills in a series of prototypes.
Take it a step further than the Dribbble shot. Show your entire thought process behind a certain UI or mockup you’ve designed. Instead of putting together a heavily curated Dribbble shot, make your UI or interaction in InVision Studio or Framer, and post the prototype online so that a recruiter or hiring manager can click through it. Usable prototype > Hypothetical animation > Static images.
Do an in-depth research study.
Try diving deep into a particular topic. Identify something you would like to shed light on, put together a screener survey and research script, and talk to some people. Take rigorous notes and compile your findings into an in-depth research deck or document with key findings, user needs, and recommendations for a designer. Specify the different research methodologies you used (qualitative, quantitative, direct, indirect, etc). Show your understanding of how research informs design — it’s an invaluable part of the design process.
Document a design system.
Instead of trying to make your own design language or design system, which often times are done by large teams of expert designers, try cataloguing one of an existing product you love. Deconstruct a piece of furniture you assembled, or pull out components of an app you love and create a guide with use cases. Get as detailed as you can!
There's lots of possibility for your portfolio! Show your passion and stand out by putting a little extra love into your work.