Portfolios (was: Guidance for someone interestedinyour field)

14 Apr 2004 - 6:30am
10 years ago
7 replies
277 reads
Dave Malouf
2005

Gary, asked if "just doing it", i.e. making your own projects, something
that me as a hiring manager would want to see. My answer to him is YES!

It shows me a bunch of things (btw Gary I'm in your boat too w/ dated or
bubble bursted stuff). The main thing it shows me is determination and moxy.
I love those two qualities in a prospect. But if done correctly it also
shows me a designer.

I do have to say though that I think we are getting caught in our own
confusion. Portfolios show visual things, but we are not visual designers.
Yes, I can put a wireframe set or something else like that in a portfolio
(usually its wrapped under confidentiality agreements) but those really
don't present well in portfolio.

I'd like to offer my portfolio site as an example. It's a bit "off" but it
has a case study of something I'm proud of and limited past work of my
designs in the areas that I've done work while presenting them as mini-case
studies.

http://resume.htmhell.com/

-- dave

Comments

14 Apr 2004 - 7:49am
Josh Seiden
2003

> This is the work history I definitely have, and some
others
> might too.
> I've been designing websites and thinking about
design for 10 years
> now, on and off. I don't have much of a portfolio to
show after all
> this time.

Your case is the rule, not the exception.

> I've been wondering, what would you as a hiring
manager say about
> personal projects included in design portfolios?

Yes. I say yes I say. This is the place to really show
off what you can do.

> Also, what about spec redesigns? 37Signals took four

> sites, Paypal, Fedex, a car site, and a bank site to
show how they
> would redesign and re-architect them given their
druthers. In a
> single screenshot they outlined their thinking
process and
> made a very
> clear case for their design methodologies.

Yes to spec projects. No to "single screenshot"
approach. If you are going to do spec work, then
demonstrate some behavior with an interactive mockup.
This is about interaction design, after all. To the
credit of 37Signals, their "Better" projects have some
interactivity.

Also, for both personal and spec projects, remember
that your work has to speak to hiring managers, though,
so make sure the problem you choose to solve is one
that they can understand quickly. (I have an example I
show in the supply-chain management domain, for
example. After months of blank stares, I realized I
could only show it to people with a background in SCM.)

JS

14 Apr 2004 - 5:07pm
John Vaughan - ...
2004

Pabini
> ***A well-written, detailed specification certainly demonstrates one's
> design ability. Of course, they can't be posted online.

*** Agreed. But why NOT post them online?

And the relevant questions is: If I do, Will anyone read it? Well, yes -
and no. I doubt that many people looking at my site want to read a detailed
tech spec cover-to-cover. But they DO want to get a sense of my approach &
credibility. So sometimes I'll present a thumbnail view of the larger doc:
I'll extract some context (the Overview or Summary), give a sense of scope
(the Table of Contents) and a focus on a relevant example (a cogent snippet
that struts my stuff). Hopefully, it's digestible - and satisfies.

John

----- Original Message -----
From: "Pabini Gabriel-Petit" <pabini at earthlink.net>
To: <discuss-interactiondesigners.com at lists.interactiondesigners.com>
Sent: Wednesday, April 14, 2004 4:28 AM
Subject: Re: [ID Discuss] Portfolios (was: Guidance for someone
interestedinyour field)

> Joshua Seiden said:
>
> I'm hiring designers. Thus, I need a
> demonstration of design ability, not just speaking
> ability. So, to my original point, I want another (or
> an additional) tool.
>

>
> Pabini
> ________________________________________
>
> Pabini Gabriel-Petit
> Principal & User Experience Architect
> Spirit Softworks
> www.spiritsoftworks.com
>
>
> _______________________________________________
> Interaction Design Discussion List
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15 Apr 2004 - 5:57am
pabini
2004

In reply to my posting:
> > A well-written, detailed specification certainly demonstrates one's
> > design ability. Of course, they can't be posted online.

John Vaughan said:
Agreed. But why NOT post them online?
> And the relevant questions is: If I do, Will anyone read it? Well, yes -
> and no. I doubt that many people looking at my site want to read a
detailed
> tech spec cover-to-cover. But they DO want to get a sense of my approach
&
> credibility. So sometimes I'll present a thumbnail view of the larger
doc:
> I'll extract some context (the Overview or Summary), give a sense of scope
> (the Table of Contents) and a focus on a relevant example (a cogent
snippet
> that struts my stuff). Hopefully, it's digestible - and satisfies.

Hi John
It was interesting to read your viewpoint about what one can and cannot
include from a specification in one's portfolio.

To everyone:
I'm am currently working on my online portfolio and am curious to know what
other people think about this. What is proper? What have you found
effective?

Thanks, Pabini
________________________________________

Pabini Gabriel-Petit
Principal & User Experience Architect
Spirit Softworks
www.spiritsoftworks.com

15 Apr 2004 - 6:14am
pabini
2004

Elizabeth Dykstra-Erickson said
> Specifications written for a company's product belong to the company
> and are confidential. Consider that before you post a spec
> illustrating your talents.
>
> It's a sad but true limiting factor to what most of us can show.

John Vaughan said:
> >But why NOT post [specs] online?
> >And the relevant questions is: If I do, Will anyone read it? Well,
yes -
> >and no. I doubt that many people looking at my site want to read a
detailed
> >tech spec cover-to-cover. But they DO want to get a sense of my approach
&
> >credibility. So sometimes I'll present a thumbnail view of the larger
doc:
> >I'll extract some context (the Overview or Summary), give a sense of
scope
> >(the Table of Contents) and a focus on a relevant example (a cogent
snippet
> >that struts my stuff). Hopefully, it's digestible - and satisfies.

Elizabeth, I agree with you about it being improper to show specs online, as
I said before. I've planned to show thumbnails. However, now that we've
established what is improper, what are your views on what it is proper to
show? Would you recommend following any of John's suggestions?

Pabini Gabriel-Petit

15 Apr 2004 - 7:54am
Elizabeth Buie
2004

Elizaeth Dykstra-Erickson writes:

>But a spec is the property of the company for whom it was developed.
>They are *always* considered proprietary and confidential as far as I
>know.

Not if the "company" is the US Government.

If the spec is a formal deliverable, and if the project is not classified
or "for official use only", I suspect the spec might be made public. US
Government documents are not copyrighted.

Elizabeth

--
Elizabeth Buie
Computer Sciences Corporation
Rockville, Maryland
301.921.3326

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15 Apr 2004 - 3:49pm
Elizabeth Dykst...
2004

Hiya,

I'm a fan of "think on your feet" (design exercise on premises) than
"homework." I'm also a fan of seeing candidates who have worked on
multiple releases of the same product, and have a philosophy about
design consistent with the hiring organization. And of course there's
the personality card. But I'm NOT a fan of working as an unpaid
candidate to "prove" yourself, nor of extended exercises done
off-site -- I think it shows a basic disrespect for a working
professional and makes the employment interview something else
entirely.

I think a portfolio of work SHOULD show some improvement over a
period of time, should declare what some of the issues and
improvements could be, and does not need to declare precisely what
part of the product the candidate thought of or built herself -- lots
of teams operate on consensus making it impossible to make exclusive
claims.

An interaction portfolio is particularly difficult since it's hard to
avoid visual impact when you're not the visual designer. So I favor
treatments of method --- I did *this*, and this is how I arrived at
it, and this is what I would choose to do differently; and this is
how I responded to certain elements.

I'm more interested in how a designer gets along with other people,
particularly engineers, than I am with the specific work they've done
in the past. A lot of training happens on the job. What I look for is
competence, the ability to articulate, and a workable balance of
hubris and humility.

Elizabeth

At 4:14 AM -0700 4/15/04, Pabini Gabriel-Petit wrote:
>Elizabeth Dykstra-Erickson said
>> Specifications written for a company's product belong to the company
>> and are confidential. Consider that before you post a spec
>> illustrating your talents.
>>
>> It's a sad but true limiting factor to what most of us can show.
>
>John Vaughan said:
>> >But why NOT post [specs] online?
>> >And the relevant questions is: If I do, Will anyone read it? Well,
>yes -
>> >and no. I doubt that many people looking at my site want to read a
>detailed
>> >tech spec cover-to-cover. But they DO want to get a sense of my approach
>&
>> >credibility. So sometimes I'll present a thumbnail view of the larger
>doc:
>> >I'll extract some context (the Overview or Summary), give a sense of
>scope
>> >(the Table of Contents) and a focus on a relevant example (a cogent
>snippet
>> >that struts my stuff). Hopefully, it's digestible - and satisfies.
>
>Elizabeth, I agree with you about it being improper to show specs online, as
>I said before. I've planned to show thumbnails. However, now that we've
>established what is improper, what are your views on what it is proper to
>show? Would you recommend following any of John's suggestions?
>
>Pabini Gabriel-Petit

15 Apr 2004 - 6:17pm
whitneyq
2010

At 01:49 PM 4/15/2004 -0700, Elizabeth Dykstra-Erickson wrote:
>An interaction portfolio is particularly difficult since it's hard to
>avoid visual impact when you're not the visual designer. So I favor
>treatments of method --- I did *this*, and this is how I arrived at it,
>and this is what I would choose to do differently; and this is how I
>responded to certain elements.
>
>I'm more interested in how a designer gets along with other people,
>particularly engineers, than I am with the specific work they've done in
>the past. A lot of training happens on the job. What I look for is
>competence, the ability to articulate, and a workable balance of hubris
>and humility.

One of the best portfolios I ever reviewed (that is, the portfolio that
gave me the best sense of the person's capabilities) was put together from
pieces of several different projects, but organized as though it was a
single project.

At each "stop" she was able to show her best work in that area, while
talking about several projects and different teams.

I got a real sense of how she worked with different teams, what she
contributed to projects and where she was strong and where weak. One of the
interesting things was that this allowed her to show a great piece of work,
even if it was not on her favorite project. There was a very nice bit of
work for a project that she thought had failed in the end --not the sort of
thing you would normally show in a case study -- but in talking about it, I
got a really good sense of her ability to see a bigger picture.

Now that I think of it, it was sort of like a "portfolio persona" - a
composite that brought out critical points.

Whitney Quesenbery
Whitney Interactive Design, LLC
w. www.WQusability.com
e. whitneyq at wqusability.com
p. 908-638-5467

UPA - www.usabilityprofessionals.org
STC Usability SIG: www.stcsig.org/usability

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