Industry Research – Primary Sources

After researching companies and taking time to study their company websites and values, I began to see a few core themes that I’d like to carry through in my work. These included maintaining a clear and concise message in the written content, being selective with case studies and explaining the process that led to the final product.

Professional Feedback

As well as this research, I decided to ask some of my previous employers and people in the industry what they look for in a portfolio when they are hiring someone. I first spoke to Patrick DiMichele, a partner at MU/DAI and head of Experience Design, about what he liked to see. He told me,

“I love to see process. So portfolio pieces that start with the end product but then move backwards into showing the work / thinking / exploration that got you to that point are always most interesting to me.

Be proud. Meaning, it’s your work, own it. Be proud of it. Talk about how awesome it is. And even if the client you made it for ended-up making all sorts of bad decisions that compromised it, don’t focus on that… focus on the good parts / strengths.
Detail your role. A lot of portfolios I see include projects that were clearly a team effort. But they don’t always detail the role that an individual played in bringing a project together. To the extent possible, highlight where your role began and ended. And if it was you alone throughout, cool… say that.”
I then spoke to Kate Fitzgibbon, Associate Director of User Experience at MU/DAI. Kate has a background in HR, and now works in the design world. She said she likes to see,
“process not just pretty images. Give them a clear understanding of what you did and why.”
This feedback from both Patrick and Kate rang true to the insights that I had picked out in my previous research. They both were very interested in process over pretty pictures. While I think the final output is important, this has made me think a lot about constructing case studies for each piece of work that I do.
Another thing that they both mentioned was to detail my role in each project. This is something that I had not thought about too much, and now that they have said it, it makes a lot of sense. I want to be creating a clear portfolio that is transparent about how I am and what I can do. I shouldn’t have them search for my work. By detailing my roles, employers will know exactly what my strengths are as an individual.
As I move on to develop my site, I will take these pieces of advice on board. From Patrick’s and Kate’s experience as hiring managers, I know that their opinions reflect the opinions of many others who could be potential employers for me in the future.
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