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As a UX design mentor, students often ask me, “What tool should I use to build my portfolio?” Having been a UX Academy student myself, and then having been both an interviewer and interviewee, I have learned a lot about the best UX design portfolio website builders out there.
To start, you need to consider why you’re making your portfolio in the first place, and you should know your user (hint: we’re talking recruiters, design managers, hiring managers, etc.). Your portfolio is a UX project in itself. It’s very meta. Your personas are recruiters who have just put out a job posting and received over 100 submissions in the first two hours.
Recruiters look through portfolios very quickly for this reason, which might not seem fair, but that’s just how it is. How else can they get through all those submissions when they need to hire someone right away? Many recruiters are used to seeing a specific layout which helps them to digest the content quicker. To quote Korin Harris from one of my favorite articles:
There’s nothing that makes me happier than opening a portfolio and seeing eight equally sized, thoughtfully crafted rectangles. After all, recruiters have to skim hundreds of portfolios for hours at a time. We’re a lot more likely to go through every project in a portfolio if the landing page has an aesthetically pleasing system to it. It takes less mental energy to comprehend it!
Choosing the right design portfolio builder can be a daunting task-there are so many options, and it’s a lot of content to plan and implement-but don’t let it become so daunting that it paralyzes you. Think of your portfolio as a gift box. Don’t spend so long focusing on the wrapping paper, only to have the recruiter open the box to see a note that says, “Case study coming soon~”.
Here are some of the portfolio builders that our mentors and group critique facilitators suggest to our students-from those that require the least amount of effort, to those that are the most customizable. We hope it will help you decide what works best for your UX design portfolio!
Least Amount of Effort
These are some of the portfolio builders that require the least amount of effort, provided that you don’t mess around with the template too much. Keeping in mind that the most important part of your portfolio is finishing it and getting it out there, these options are speedy and convenient.
However, it’s advised to understand and accept the constraints that come with these types of builders. The templates are used for a reason, so don’t try to fight it by over-customizing.
Many UX and product designers use Squarespace. Designers who choose Squarespace do so because they do not have time to mess with the pixel-perfection of customizable platforms. What matters to them is getting the content out, front and center, for recruiters to peruse with ease. This platform utilizes templates that many technical recruiters are already familiar with, providing a meta UX experience for this particular audience.
Check out these examples of Squarespace portfolios.
Wix may have gotten some slack in the past but, like all products, it has been iterated and much improved. What’s also good to note is there’s a little more customization that can happen here that doesn’t require heavy lifting in the way that other builders do. There are some lovely, fresh new layouts that can catch the attention of potential recruiters while being user-friendly in displaying content.
Check out these examples of Wix portfolios.
If you are the type of person who is a natural perfectionist, you may want to try builders that provide nearly unlimited customization. However, we stress to our students that having a finished portfolio is a hundred times more important than having one that you feel is perfect. So definitely bear that in mind!
One of the giants of website building, Webflow, is a powerful tool with a steep learning curve for those who aren’t familiar with the basics of coding. However, it can be well worth the time investment!
Webflow is a good choice for those who want to explore creating a website from scratch with one of the highest degrees of customizability. Designers who would like to explore micro-interactions might find Webflow especially charming, however we’d always recommend taking the free Webflow 101 course before getting started. By far the most powerful part of Webflow is the ability to create custom responsive grids, as well as an array of handy features already included in the package.
Check out these examples of Webflow portfolios.
Kristina Wang (UX Academy graduate)
Ben Griggs (UX Academy graduate)
Semplice (WordPress Theme)
Semplice has an upfront cost, but there is no monthly fee like Webflow and other builders, and many UX designers have found this tool to be especially useful and delightful. This builder was specifically designed for UX design portfolios, offering custom fonts, an Unsplash integration, and many of the bells and whistles like Webflow. What’s more, there’s a Studio Edition with advanced features like custom grids, blocks, and an Instagram module.
Check out these examples of Semplice portfolios.
Alternatives Somewhere in the Middle
These are also options that aren’t meant to be website builders; rather they are built for consuming content in a no-nonsense way. These options are worth considering if you are of the “just get it done” mentality with your portfolio.
A recent trend is to utilize Notion to create work that is already easy to digest and will be online as soon as you’re ready. This is one of the most cost-effective ways to build a UX portfolio when you’re short on time and resources. Some designers have found that they can get their full portfolio finished within 6 hours on Notion! Don’t expect customization here; what Notion does well is that it conveys and shares information with folks with incredible ease. In light of that, let your visual work shine when using Notion.
Check out these examples of Notion portfolios.
This is a great platform, whether you’re getting your first draft off the ground or just want to get your portfolio done in record time. Some designers have used UX Folio as a home base for their case studies so they can see what it looks like in theory, only to find that it functions extremely well in practice. UX Folio is specifically designed for UX designers who are looking for a convenient way to display their work without needing to fumble with full-on website builders. It also has built-in mockups, so you can upload your work, and it will also automatically embed it in an iPhone for you.
Check out these examples of UX Folio portfolios.
It’s What’s On The Inside That Counts
The point of your product design portfolio is to get your work out there so that recruiters can find you, and so that you can show off your digital problem-solving skills. Your goal when seeking to make a career-switch to product design is to finish your portfolio and make it accessible to your users. You can’t apply to a job without a portfolio, so work on the contents of your gift first, rather than the wrapping paper. If you’re fighting with a design tool, you’re losing precious time and mental energy, so ultimately choose the tool that is most intuitive to you.
If you’re a designer, it doesn’t matter if you have a Crayola crayon or a fancy Copic marker: your wireframes are still going to look like wireframes. Now get out there and focus on finishing your portfolio!
If you’d like help creating an expert UX design portfolio, we invite you to explore UX Academy. By the end, you’ll have completed over 100 hands-on exercises, and built a portfolio with 4 substantial projects.
6 UX Design Portfolio Builders You Should Try [From Low Effort to Highly Customizable] was originally published in UX Planet on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.