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Why Taking a UI/UX Design Course is Essential for Your Career Growth
UI/UX design courses are becoming increasingly popular, and for good reason. In today’s digital age, companies are looking for designers who can create user-friendly and visually appealing interfaces that improve the overall user experience. Whether you’re a seasoned designer or just starting out in your career, taking a UI/UX design course can help you stay ahead of the curve and take your skills to the next level.
In this article, we’ll explore why taking a UI/UX design course is essential for your career growth and how it can benefit you in the long run.
Boost Your Skills
As technology continues to advance at an unprecedented rate, it’s important to keep up with the latest trends and techniques in UI/UX design. Taking a course can help you learn new skills and gain a deeper understanding of the field.
In a UI/UX design course, you’ll learn about topics like user research, wireframing, prototyping, and usability testing. These skills will not only make you more marketable to potential employers but will also help you create better designs that meet users’ needs.
Expand Your Network
Taking a UI/UX design course is also an excellent way to expand your professional network. You’ll be able to connect with other designers who share similar interests and goals. This can lead to valuable collaborations down the line or even job opportunities.
Many courses also have instructors who are industry professionals themselves. This provides an opportunity to learn from experts in the field who have real-world experience designing interfaces for large companies.
As more companies prioritize user experience in their digital products, demand for skilled UI/UX designers continues to grow. By taking a course, you’ll be able to demonstrate that you’re committed to staying up-to-date on industry trends and improving your skills.
Having additional training and education can make you stand out among other job candidates and increase your chances of landing a job. It also shows that you’re invested in your career growth and are willing to put in the effort to improve.
Improve Your Portfolio
Finally, taking a UI/UX design course can help you improve your portfolio. The projects you work on during the course can be used as examples of your skills and experience when applying for jobs or pitching to potential clients.
Having a strong portfolio is crucial in the design industry, as it showcases your ability to solve problems and create effective designs. By taking a course, you’ll have more opportunities to work on projects that demonstrate your skills and add value to your portfolio.
In conclusion, taking a UI/UX design course is essential for anyone looking to grow their career in the field. It provides an opportunity to learn new skills, expand your network, stay competitive, and improve your portfolio. With so many benefits, it’s no wonder why more and more designers are turning to courses as a way to advance their careers.
This text was generated using a large language model, and select text has been reviewed and moderated for purposes such as readability.
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How to write a UX case study
Sarah doody, • jul 19, 2019.
H ave you ever been told your UX portfolio lacks depth, or what you did is unclear, or that it doesn’t seem like you have enough experience, even though you know you do?
Or maybe you landed an in-person interview, it didn’t go very well because you stumbled through presenting and answering questions about your projects.
These are all symptoms of an underlying problem: your UX case studies are not written well enough.
After doing at least 100 hours of my own research through talking to UX candidates one-on-one, reviewing portfolios, and analyzing survey data, one thing became clear: UX professionals put too much emphasis on learning how to make deliverables, and not enough on articulating their design decisions.
When you can’t articulate your design decisions, it will make your day to day role harder, because you won’t know how to deal with pushback. And it will also limit your career options because your ability to write a strong case study is the foundation for creating a strong portfolio and doing well in interviews.
We’re going to go into:
- The role of case studies in your portfolio
- The anatomy of a case study
- The steps to writing a thorough, readable case study
Case studies are the UX application differentiator
It’s no longer enough to just show your work. According to the Center Centre , the job growth of UX designers is expected to rise 22% over the next 10 years. UX is a hot field, and there’s a lot of competition.
Your portfolio, therefore, can’t simply be a curation of sexy-looking deliverables. Recruiters and hiring managers need you to articulate your process and design decisions. A key skill for UX professionals is the ability to communicate; in any UX role, you’ll find yourself not just doing UX, but explaining it over and over.
If you don’t have well-written UX case studies, then how can recruiters and hiring managers trust that you’ll be able to communicate what you did and why you did it if they hire you?
Writing is a skill that we know is important, but as designers rarely practice or study enough. When it comes to UX case studies, though, the quality of your writing is one of the most important variables in the success of your portfolio.
Let’s be real, writing about your UX projects is not an easy task. However, the good news is that by following the steps that follow, you will clearly understand how to write more clearly.
Anatomy of a UX case study
When approaching your UX portfolio and case studies, my advice is to think like a lawyer. Because how do lawyers win legal cases? With strong communication, and even stronger evidence.
The projects inside your portfolio are like evidence in a legal case. And that’s why you must choose the projects for your portfolio very carefully.
Here’s what I recommend including in your UX case study:
- Problem statement
- Users and audience
- Roles and responsibilities
- Scope and constraints
- Process and what you did
- Outcomes and lessons
Want to download a copy of this template? Sign up for Sarah Doody’s newletter and get a free download.
How to write your ux case study.
As you write your case studies, don’t worry about length. Once you get it all on paper you can decide what to put into your portfolio. As you transition your written case studies to something more visual, you will edit them down and also consider how some of the text can be communicated visually.
Step 1. Give your project a title
The big mistake that people make is not giving the project title enough detail when a strong title can give context for the project.
Good: Home Depot user research for mobile app checkout
So-so: Home Depot user research
Bad: Home Depot
Step 2. Write an outline
Lay out your thoughts before you start giving up the details. An outline’s purpose is to help you understand the “big picture” of your project, so you can decide how to structure your case study or if the project is big enough to merit more than one case study.
Start your outline with the seven sections listed above, and start filling in bullet points under each section. Don’t worry about sentence structure; just write and get it out of your head. If you’ve been documenting your projects as you work on them , then you may have some of this already written.
Step 3. Fill in the details
Now that you have an outline and you see the big picture, you can start filling in details.
Give the “Process and what you did” section the bulk of your effort. This is where you’ll document the steps you took, just like documenting science experiments in high school.
You should be answering these questions:
- What did you do? For example, what research method did you use?
- Why did you do it? For example, why did you choose that research method?
- What was the result? For example, did you achieve your research goals?
- What did you learn? For example, what would you do differently next time?
Continuing with our (completely fictional) Home Depot example:
BAD: “ We did usability testing on the checkout of the Home Depot mobile app.”
Why is this weak? Because it only tells the reader what you did. It doesn’t address why you did it, what happened, and what you learned.
GOOD: To evaluate the new checkout on the Home Depot mobile app, we relied on usage metrics in conjunction with 8 usability tests. This allowed us to gain deeper understanding through combining both qualitative and quantitative information. Although users were able to get through the checkout more quickly, they continued to struggle with the shipping section. Discussions with users discussion revealed that often times, products in one order have different shipping addresses, which was possible, but difficult in the current checkout.
This version is much stronger because it goes beyond just talking about what was done. Providing this depth is what will set you apart; articulating your design decisions and process will help position you as a more mature and thoughtful professional.
Step 4. Write headlines
At this point, you’re probably thinking something like “Who would ever read this novel?” Which is a good point. That’s why the next step will help you start to distill everything down so that you are focusing on the key highlights of the story.
The best way to do this is to pretend that you have to write your case study only in tweets. It sounds crazy, but it works.
For each section of the outline we’re working with, write a single headline or sentence—except for the Process section, where you’ll be focusing your energies. For the Process section, you’ll want to have a headline for each step. Using our previous fictitious Home Depot user research example, some of the headlines for the Process section might be:
- Step: What type of research you did and why you did it. Example: Analytics revealed customers struggled, and sometimes abandoned, checkout at the shipping section. To understand why, we conducted eight usability tests.
- Step: Findings from the research. Usability tests revealed that business customers, versus residential, had different shipping needs, which were not being addressed in the current checkout experience.
- Step: Impact of research on product development. We prototyped two new versions of the checkout, allowing customers to choose shipping address on a per-product basis.
By sticking to a 140 character limit, you’ll force yourself to identify the most important points of the case study—which will then become headlines when you create your actual portfolio.
A good way to test whether or not you have strong headlines is to ask yourself if someone would understand the main points of your project by skimming the headlines. If not, then re-write your headlines—because if you want the users of your UX portfolio to quickly understand your project, those are the most important points.
Step 5. Distill the text from your case study into your actual portfolio
Regardless of the format you choose for your portfolio , your writing needs to be clear and succinct.
It won’t happen in one edit! Let’s say you’re working in Keynote with slides, your process will look like this:
- Take the headlines you wrote and place one headline per slide in Keynote.
- Consider that you might merge some bits of information into one slide. For example, you might combine your overview and problem statement. It’s subjective, so you decide!
- Now, you need to go back and start to pull the most important and relevant details from your case study and put them on each slide, as supporting details or evidence.
Examples in action
Simon Pan’s UX portfolio website went viral because he had awesome case studies. Yes, he’s also a visual designer so it looks beautiful. But what you need to focus on is the content. His Uber case study is an excellent example, let’s take a look at why it works:
- Clear problem and framing of the project. Simon’s case study clearly states the problem and frames the project. So even if I’d never heard of Uber before, I’d have enough context to understand the project.
- Explanation of the process. Simon does this with a story. It’s easy to read and keeps my attention. It feels like a cool article that’s well thought out … not to mention the visual design helps draw key points out. In the screenshot below, he is explaining part of the Discovery process. It sounds like I’m reading an article, therefore it keeps my attention. And the use of a user research quote helps bring the story to life even more.
- Thoughtful conclusions and reflection. At the end, Simon concludes the case study with some results, reflections, and insights. People don’t just want to know what you did, they want to know the impact of what you did.
What comes next?
If you follow all these steps, you will have a longform case study edited down into something that’s more readable and scannable for the user of your UX portfolio.
And remember, the UX case studies you write serve many purposes. Of course, they are the foundation of your portfolio, but they also can feed into your resume, LinkedIn, cover letters, and what you say in an interview.
Want to read more by Sarah Doody?
- Seriously, you need to start documenting your UX work
- 4 steps for choosing the right projects for your UX portfolio
- How to create a UX portfolio without UX experience
by Sarah Doody
Sarah Doody is a User Experience Designer, Entrepreneur, and Educator. She is the founder of The UX Portfolio Formula, a UX career accelerator that helps UX professionals learn how to articulate their work so they can create an awesome portfolio. In 2011, she created the curriculum for and taught General Assembly’s first 12-week UX immersive, the genesis of their popular UX programs which are now taught worldwide.
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How to Craft an Outstanding Case Study for Your UX Portfolio
Writing case studies for your UX portfolio can feel opaque and overwhelming. There are so many examples out there, and often the ones that make the rounds are the stunning portfolios of top visual designers. It can be inspiring to see the most beautiful work, but don’t let that distract you from the straightforward format of a good UX case study.
At the core, a UX case study relies on excellent storytelling with a clear, understandable structure . This article breaks down the anatomy of a UX case study to help you tell a simple and effective story that shows off your skills. We’ll start with some general guidelines and structure, then break it down one piece at a time:
UX portfolio overview
What is a ux case study, general guidelines, how to structure a case study, how to fill in the details, defining the problem, understanding your users, early or alternate ideation, final design solution, next steps and learnings.
- Final thoughts
1. Before we get started
Before we dive into all the art and science of the case study, here’s a quick refresher on what a job-winning UX portfolio looks like. In this video, pro designer Dee analyses various design portfolios to pick out what works—and what doesn’t:
Simply put, a case study is the story of a design project you’ve worked on. The goal, of course, is to showcase the skills you used on the project and help potential employers envision how you’d use those skills if you worked for them.
A case study is typically written like a highly visual article, with text walking readers through a curated set of images. Curated is an important word here, because it should be short and sweet. It’s a chance to share what you want potential employers to know about your work on this project.
With that in mind, case studies are really a UX designer’s secret weapon in two ways. First, they get you in the door by showing more about your work than a resume and a top UX cover letter ever could. Another benefit is that they’re really handy in job interviews. If someone asks about a past project, you can walk them through the case study you’ve already created (this is sometimes a requirement anyway).
I mentioned that UX case studies are about storytelling. I’d actually say they’re about stories-telling, since they need to tell two intertwined stories .
The first is the story of your project. This answers questions like what problem you solved, who your users were, what solutions you explored, and what impact they had.
The second story is about you as a designer and your process. This is more about which methods you chose to use and why, how you worked within constraints, and how you worked as a member of a team (or without one).
So what are the steps for an effective case study? Well, like most things in design (and life), it depends. Every case study will be different, depending on what stories you’re telling. The six-part outline below, though, should guide you through an effective format for any UX project story. Here’s the outline (we’ll dive into each component in just a minute):
- Defining the Problem
- Understanding your Users
- Final solution
It’s worth it to add a few general notes before we dive into each of the list items above. For each section, include 1-2 short paragraphs and an image of a deliverable that visually tells the story your paragraphs explain. A reader should be able to either just read or just look at the images and roughly get what this moment in the story is communicating.
When choosing images to include, focus on quality over quantity. Choose your best deliverables for each stage and briefly relate them back to the larger narrative. It can be tempting to overload the page with everything you created along the way, but these extra details should stay in your back pocket for interviews.
Lastly, make sure your case study is scannable . In the best of circumstances, people don’t read word for word on the web. Make sure your text is reasonably concise, use headers and strong visual hierarchy, and use bullet points and lists when possible. If you need a refresher on how to achieve this, check out our guide to the principles of visual hierarchy .
Ok, let’s take a look at each step in a bit more detail.
2. Anatomy of a UX case study
Like any story, the introduction sets the stage and gives much of the necessary context readers will need to understand your project. This is one section where people actually might take some extra time to read carefully as they try to discern what this case study is about. Make sure they have all the details they need.
Some key questions to answer are:
- What is your company and/or product?
- What user problem did you try to solve?
- What was your role?
- What tools and methods did you use?
- What are the major insights, impacts, or metrics related to the project
After introducing the project, dive more deeply into the problem you tackled. You touched upon this in the introduction, but this section is an opportunity to make a strong case for why this project exists. Did a competitor analysis or market research demand a new product? Was there past user research in your company that suggests a needed redesign of the product?
Remember that you’ll want to create a through line in the narrative, so try to lay out the problem in a way that frames your design work as a solution.
Deliverables that work really well for this section would be:
- Analytics or usage data
- Market research of internal business metrics
- Survey results or interview highlights
After explaining the problem, show how it impacts your users and their interaction with your product. If you did original user research or you’re seeking user research-oriented jobs, sharing interview scripts, affinity maps , and spreadsheets can be useful in showing your process.
However, this section shouldn’t be only about your process. A key goal of this section is articulating who your users are and what their needs are. These findings should set up your design work that follows, so try to set up that connection.
A few types of the deliverables you might share here are:
- User personas
- Mental models
- Journey maps or customer experience maps
Keep in mind you want to communicate users’ key motivations and challenges, as well as any more specific user groups you identified.
This section can really scale up or down depending on what you have to show. Research shows that hiring managers don’t just want the final product , so it’s clear that showing some of your process is helpful. Especially for students or designers without a fully built product to show, this can be a moment for you to shine.
Don’t worry about the low fidelity of these documents, but the rougher they are, the more you’ll need to guide readers through them. Everything you show here should teach the reader something new about your process and/or your users.
Artifacts you might include are:
- Pen and paper or low fidelity digital wireframes
If you did early testing or faced constraints that determined your future design work, be sure to include them here, too.
This section should include the most final work you did on the project (e.g. wireframe flows or color mockups) and any final product it led to (if you have it). Be clear, though, about which work is yours and which isn’t.
Explain any key decisions or constraints that changed the design from the earlier stages. If you incorporated findings from usability testing, that’s great. If not, try to call out some best practices to help you explain your decisions. Referring to Material Design, WCAG, or Human Interface Guidelines can show the why behind your design.
If you’re able to show the impact of your work, this can take a good case study and make it outstanding. If your project has already been built and made available to users, have a look at any analytics, satisfaction data, or other metrics. See what you could highlight in your case study to show how your design improved the user experience or achieved business goals. Ideally, you can refer back to your original problem statement and business goals from the introduction.
If you don’t have any way of showing the impact of your project, lay out how you would measure the impact. Showing you know how to measure success demonstrates you could do this on future projects.
Lastly, conclude your case study by sharing either your next design steps and/or some key insights you learned from the project. This isn’t just fluff! No project is perfect or final. Showing next steps is a great way to demonstrate your thinking iterative approach (without having to do the work!).
Also, many companies do (or should do) retrospectives after each project to identify challenges and improve future processes. Use this process and the insights you gain from it to inform your case study. Letting employers know you’re capable of reflection shows humility, self-awareness, and the value you can bring to a team.
3. Final thoughts
Since each case study is a unique story you’re telling about your project, it’s a little art and a little science. But starting with the structure laid out in this article will show who you are as a designer and how you solved a problem. And those are two stories companies want to hear!
If you’d like to learn more about how to craft a great UX portfolio, check out these articles:
- 5 Golden rules to build a job-winning UX portfolio
- The best UX design portfolio examples from around the web
- The best free UX/UI portfolio websites to use
- Salary negotiation for UX designers
The Complete Guide to UX Case Studies
Updated: October 23, 2023
Published: August 21, 2023
Writing a UX case study can be overwhelming with the proper guidance. Designing for the user experience and writing about it in a case study is much more than writing content for a webpage. You may ask, “If my design speaks for itself, should I include a UX case study in my portfolio?”
Yes, you should include UX case studies in your portfolio. And here’s why.
You need to make your portfolio stand out among the crowd. A UX case study is a great way to do that. Let’s take a minute to define what a UX case study is and look at some examples.
Table of Contents
What is a UX case study?
The benefits of ux case studies, examples of ux case studies, tips for creating a ux case study.
UX portfolios are essential to showcasing UX designer skills and abilities. Every UX designer knows better designs bring better results. Sometimes, it’s easy to let the design speak for itself — after all, it is meant to engage the audience.
But, in doing that, you, as the designer, leave many things unsaid. For example, the initial problem, the need for the design in the first place, and your process for arriving at the design you created.
This is why you need to include UX case studies in your portfolio.
UX case studies tell a curated story or journey of your design. It explains the “who, what, when, where, and how” of your design. The text should be short and sweet but also walk the reader through the thinking behind the design and the outcome of it.
[Video: Creating a UX Case Study: Right and Wrong Way to Approach It]
There are many benefits to including UX case studies in your portfolio. Think of your UX portfolio as a well-decorated cake. The designs are the cake, and UX case studies are the icing on the cake— they will catch your audience's eye and seal the deal.
Take a look at the benefits of adding UX case studies to your portfolio.
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How to Write Great Case Studies for Your UX Design Portfolio
Well, the answer is really simple: write your UX case studies like stories. You see, when you present your case study as a story, you’ll find it far easier to give it a satisfying structure and captivate your reader. What’s more, you’ll make it easy for recruiters to imagine what it’s like to work with you, as they get to understand how you work. This makes your case study powerful and increases your chances of getting your first interview. Let’s take a closer look at what makes story-based case studies so impactful.
Since your case studies first and foremost serve to help you get an interview in your job application, they should answer the following questions (grouped into three categories, based on you as a person, your skill set and the way you do things):
Who are you? What drives you and what’s your background?
What UX skills do you possess?
How do you approach and solve a problem? How do you work with others?
As it turns out, when you tell a narrative through your case studies, you answer these questions effectively. Here are the 3 main reasons why you should write your UX case studies like stories and how this helps you stand out from other applicants.
Because Stories Allow Recruiters to Imagine What it’s Like to Work with You
“Narrative imagining—story—is the fundamental instrument of thought. Rational capacities depend upon it. It is our chief means of looking into the future, of predicting, of planning, and of explaining.” —Mark Turner, cognitive scientist and author
When a recruiter reads your case study, they want to find out if you’ll be a great addition to their team. They want to know not only if you have the right skills and attitude, but also whether they’d enjoy working with you.
When you tell a story, you make it intuitive for a recruiter to imagine what it’s like to work with you . That’s because we use stories to learn and imagine all the time—in fact, people have since the dawn of human history. Therefore, recruiters will find it easier to look into the future and predict if they’d like to work with you when they read a story-based case study. They’ll find it easier to understand who you are and how you solve a problem.
Since the dawn of human history, we have used stories to imagine and learn about our world. Help recruiters understand you by telling a story about your design process .
© Mike Erskine, Fair Use
This sentiment is echoed by Sarah Bellrichard, Senior Vice President of Wholesale Internet Solutions & UX at the American bank Wells Fargo. She shared her tip on case studies and interviews:
“My tip would be, tell stories. When designers present a flat portfolio it doesn’t tell me about how they approach the work they do and how they deal with the ebbs and flows of design. Tell me how you navigate from start to end of a project.” —Sarah Bellrichard, SVP of Wholesale Internet Solutions & UX, Wells Fargo
Because Stories Give Your Case Studies Structure
“Sometimes reality is too complex. Stories give it form.” —Jean Luc Godard, French-Swiss film director
If you’ve worked on a design project before, then you’re painfully aware of just how messy life can be. Deadlines change, project goals shift, and new findings can fundamentally alter design specifications.
Stories will give your past experiences form and make your case studies better organized . You can re-arrange your experience into a meaningful sequence of events—i.e., progress—towards your results. Otherwise, your case study will likely seem chaotic.
The arc of a story—introduction, middle, conclusion—is the perfect order to tell your messy progress towards a project’s final results. Let’s illustrate:
In the introduction :
You set up the context of your project, for instance through a design brief.
You introduce your team’s main goals and some of the main obstacles you faced
In a classic story, this is where we meet the heroes and learn about the venture/goal they’re reaching for and why they’re not satisfied with their current lives.
In the middle :
You illustrate your approach to solving the problem.
You bring your reader through your journey of how you used industry standard practices to tackle the problem. It’s important that you describe what you did and what your team members did, so the recruiter knows what skills and knowledge you possess.
In a classic story, this is where we follow our heroes struggling to conquer the beasts, villains and problems as they strive to reach their goals.
Finally, in the conclusion :
You showcase the final product and the results you and your team achieved.
You reflect upon what you’ve learnt and recount any follow-up tweaks you’ve made to the product.
In a classic story, this is where the heroes reach their goals―they experience personal growth , reap the rewards of their hard work and live happily ever after.
See how nicely it all fits into a story arc?
When you arrange your case study in a story arc, your journey becomes more ordered and meaningful.
© Teo Yu Siang and the Interaction Design Foundation, CC BY-NC-SA 3.0.
There’s more! You’ll also find it easier to write your case study when you arrange it like a story. You see, the introduction-middle-conclusion structure of a story forms a skeleton for you to fill in the “meat” of your journey. On top of that, recruiters who read your case study will also find the familiar arc of a story satisfying. Talk about a win-win situation!
Because Stories Captivate
“Tell me the facts and I’ll learn. Tell me the truth and I’ll believe. But tell me a story and it will live in my heart forever.” —Native American proverb
Okay, your case study will most likely not live in your recruiter’s heart forever, but your story-based case study will definitely stand out from other purely fact-based case studies, as your story will engage and captivate your recruiter. You see, a narrative is more engaging and provides a better reading experience than a dry, factual account ever could. It naturally makes the reader feel involved in the story and weaves a common thread throughout the case study.
UX recruiters are incredibly busy. They’ll typically spend only 5 minutes scanning your case studies because they have so many applicants to process. Given that, you have a much better chance if you can capture your reader’s attention for the whole 5 minutes.
And there’s no better way to captivate someone than through a story.
Let’s demonstrate that in an ultra-brief case study―yours should be more detailed and in-depth. Below, you’ll find the same journey told in two ways: first in a factual manner, then in a narrative fashion. See which version you find more engaging.
Factual : User interviews were conducted with 12 people to evaluate the effectiveness of the prototype. The main finding was that the assumption that users shopped based on their weekly nutritional needs was invalid. This finding was used to create a new iteration of the product, which was tested and found to be 50% more successful than the previous version.
Narrative : We conducted interviews with 12 people to evaluate if our prototype was effective. Our finding threw a giant spanner in the works. We realized our assumption—that users shopped based on their weekly nutritional needs—was dead wrong. Undefeated, we scrambled to create a new iteration, and ran another round of tests. This time, it worked—the success rate shot up by a whopping 50%!
You probably find the narrative version way more interesting—and so will your recruiters.
Notice in the factual version how flat and lifeless the account is? Sure, the figures are there, but it looks as if you’re reporting on what someone else did. This tells a recruiter that you’re distant and non-engaged—that you didn’t take ownership in what you’re talking about.
So, embrace the liberating and captivating format of a story. Go ahead and describe how your finding proved you dead wrong and how you scrambled upon meeting a temporary setback.
Convey your emotions and write in an active, engaging tone of voice .
Include the team’s frustrations, problems you faced and new insights you learnt.
Include people: write “we”, “I” and “our team”.
This way, you’ll give your case studies flavor . Furthermore, you’ll reveal who you are and how you work―and your recruiters will come back for more.
Stories naturally captivate us—use that power to captivate your recruiters, too.
© Prasanna Kumar, Fair Use
Turn Your Case Studies into Stories
Of course, we’re not saying that you should write a novel to explain what happened in your project. Your case studies should still be short and sweet, but they also should be punchy and engaging.
In fact, when we sat down with Stephen Gay, Design Lead at Google’s AdWords, to ask him about the importance of a portfolio, he explained that he sees UX case studies as stories about the applicants.
To a recruiter like Stephen Gay, case studies are stories that tell him about the applicants. Author / copyright holder: The Interaction Design Foundation . Copyright terms and license: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0.
As Stephen astutely pointed out, we UX designers regularly use the power of stories in our work. So, use this same storytelling approach in your case studies, too!
The Take Away
The best way to write a case study is to tell it like a story. This way, your case studies become a vessel through which recruiters can imagine a future working with you, since they get to experience and understand exactly how you solve a design problem. Your recruiters will also enjoy the familiarity and structure of a story arc, and they’ll find the reading experience much more engaging. So, go ahead—inject humanity, color and passion into your case studies. Be a storyteller.
References and Where to Learn More
You can find Sarah Bellrichard’s tip on case studies in this article by Justinmind, which gathers tips and insights on how to do well in interviews.
Hero image: © Rawpixel, Fair Use.
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How to present a UX design case study
A well-written and formatted case study can make the difference between catching a hiring manager’s eye and being overlooked.
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Case studies are the cornerstone of any UX design portfolio. A well-written and formatted case study can make the difference between catching a hiring manager’s eye and being overlooked.
However, it’s not easy to figure out the best way to present a UX design case study, especially if you haven’t created one before. How much detail should you go into? How many images should you include? Should you only present polished final work, or should you show the iterations and setbacks you went through along the way?
This post will demystify the process of presenting a case study in your UX portfolio. While there is no one-size-fits-all method for creating a case study, these guidelines will give you a clear structure to follow.
We’ll first provide an overview of what a case study is, as well as a basic outline for writing them. Then we’ll dive deeper into each section that should be included in a case study, complete with real-world examples.
Here’s what we’ll explore:
What is a UX design case study?
How should a case study be structured, what should be included in each case study section, final thoughts.
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A UX case study is a detailed summary of a project you designed. Case studies go beyond the polished final product of your design work to tell the story of one project from beginning to end. That means explaining through both text and images what the project was, how you and your team tackled the design problem, and what the final results were.
The objective is to give hiring managers insight into the way you think, including how you approach and solve UX problems and how you overcome challenges. This will help them understand how you’d fit into their UX team if they hired you. Each case study you include in your portfolio is a chance to showcase how you employed your strengths and skills as a UX designer at each stage of the design process .
As a result, the UX case studies you create will have a big impact on whether you are selected for a job interview. And, during an interview, you’ll likely be asked to talk about your case studies so hiring managers can learn more about your past UX design experience.
Case studies can help your UX portfolio stand out from other job applicants—but only if you can clearly articulate your design thinking and process through them. The best way to do this is to think of each case study as a story with a beginning, middle, and end.
Each section of your case study should build on the previous section as you guide your reader from the inception of the project to your final deliverables. Along the way, you should include clear, concise explanations of what you did alongside images of the project. In addition, each section should be presented with a strong visual hierarchy so that readers can easily understand both the project and your contributions to it by scanning your case study .
Each case study will be different depending on the project you’re explaining and the details you’re highlighting. However, the following is a general outline of the main sections to include:
The problem, process and iterations, final design solution, results and key takeaways.
Let’s outline the key information you should include in each section of your case study.
In this section, you’ll provide context for the project. This is often the part of the case study that readers will pay especially close attention to, so it should be brief but informative. You’ll start with an overview of the project, including the company it was for and the product that you were tasked with designing.
You’ll then articulate your role and responsibilities on the project. Be honest about what you did and how you contributed. If the case study is about something other than a client project, such as a project for a class, you should mention that too.
You can also include details about the project that you’ll expand on later — such as the problem you were presented with, how you and your team began to approach the project, and some information about the results of the design you ultimately delivered.
For visuals, you can include anything from the logo of the company you were designing for, a picture of the “before” state of the product if you’re detailing a redesign, or an image of the final product you designed.
A good example of a case study introduction can be seen in Yi Tang’s case study for a game discovery experience , designed for the gaming company EA.
Source: Yi Tang’s portfolio
In the introduction, he provides a good overview of the project, including the client and the goals of the project, and his role and responsibilities are clearly articulated. Most importantly, the information is easy to scan and understand.
This is where you’ll start to get into the specifics of the project by explaining the design problem you were tasked with solving. Why was this project valuable to both the product’s users and the company’s business goals? Include any research or competitive analysis data that helps explain why the project was important, including any surveys of users or usage data.
Source: Helen W. Bentley’s portfolio
Meanwhile, in her case study for Udemy’s online quiz experience , Frances Tung uses a combination of text and images to explain the problem and why a redesign of the experience was necessary for both the company and Udemy’s users.
Source: Frances Tung’s portfolio
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In this section, you’ll go into more detail about who your users are. This section is the place to showcase any user research that was done for the project, and is especially important if you’re applying for a position as a UX researcher . If that’s the case, you might want to include images of transcripts or other documents that specify how you used research to better understand your users.
This section should also describe any findings about users’ goals and needs when it comes to the product, and include deliverables such as user personas and journey maps.
For one example, check out Simon Pan’s redesign of the Uber app’s pickup experience .
Source: Simon Pan’s portfolio
User research was conducted to understand users’ pain points with the current app. In just a couple of sentences, Pan explains the study that was performed to capture how users were thinking about the app experience. Pan then describes the findings that came out of it.
For UX designers, this is the most important part of the case study because it’s a chance to demonstrate your design thinking skills, including how you make design decisions and how you respond to challenges and setbacks.
Here you’ll explain the steps you took to solve the problem and why different design decisions were made. Don’t be shy about detailing several iterations of the project as you got closer and closer to the final design solution. If you worked within specific constraints, encountered setbacks, or had to make compromises during the design process, describe those as well. They’ll help hiring managers understand how you respond to adversity.
You can include a range of deliverables in this section, including:
- Whiteboard or paper sketches
- Low or medium fidelity wireframes and prototypes
Of course, you can’t include every document showing every iteration the design went through. So choose some good representative examples to give hiring managers an idea of how the project progressed over time.
Source: Emily Yeh’s portfolio
This section is reserved for revealing the final design solution you arrived at. You should explain what went into any final design decisions, and include images of the final product (or high-fidelity mockups), as well as the final UX documents that you created, such as prototypes or wireframes.
One good example comes from Ariel Verber’s case study of a redesign for a movie ticket booking app.
He uses both text and images of the final product mockup to clearly explain how his solution arose from his user research.
After you’ve presented the final design solution, it can be tempting to call it a day. But don’t! This final section will make a strong conclusion to your case study by explaining the impacts of your design solution (if you’re aware of them) and what you learned from the project.
For projects that have been launched, you should detail any results that demonstrate how the product improved the user experience and helped meet business goals. This could be analytics that show an increase in the number of users visiting or the average time spent with the product, metrics that demonstrate an increase in sign ups or purchases, or any data about improved user satisfaction you might have access to.
It’s also worthwhile to include a retrospective of the project that describes any learnings you took away from the experience. After all, no project is perfect. This is an opportunity to explain how working on the project helped you grow and evolve as a UX designer, including the next steps you’d like to take to make further improvements to the product, and anything that will influence how you approach other UX projects.
Source: Helen Bentley’s portfolio
Creating a UX design case study can feel overwhelming. But remember: you know your project best and should be able to clearly articulate it, both in writing and through images. While the focus in UX is often on designing deliverables, written and visual communication is also an important part of the job. A UX case study not only shows off your design thinking skills; it’s also a chance to demonstrate your communication abilities. If you can combine the two into a stellar case study, you’ll be all the more likely to get a hiring manager’s attention.
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5 December 2023
How to Write a Killer UX Case Study?
We are glad to present our comprehensive guide on how to create an outstanding UX case study. These case studies are the core of every design expert’s portfolio. They define whether a dream company will hire you and whether you will get a higher salary. Like any meaningful story, a case study shows your achievements in UX design most effectively. So, how to craft your secret weapon? Let’s see...
The Role of Case Studies in Your Portfolio
UX design is a very hot field and getting a job offer from a dream company is far from easy. You need to stand out to get it! Showing your work results is great, but employers are too busy to solve the puzzle themselves. They want to see your most significant milestones in one place. Your portfolio needs something more substantial than just nice deliverables and screenshots of web and app interfaces.
One of the core components of UX design is communication, so you have to communicate your success to potential employers. So, writing skills (or, rather, storytelling skills) are as crucial as design-related ones.
The Anatomy of a Good Case Study
How can one fit years of experience into a couple of case studies? Let's find out and start with the principal components of a good product design and user experience case study.
#1 — Overview
An overview is a quick summary of a product, a service, or a company. Mention all the basic things about the project you have been working on.
#2 — Problem Statement
Here you state your goals. Why did you work on this project? What was its goal?
#3 — Users and Audience
Briefly describe the target audience you had in mind while working on the product or service. Who exactly was it meant for?
#4 — Roles and Responsibilities
What was your team like and how did you share your responsibilities? Were you the only expert or were you leading your own team of designers?
#5 — Scope and Constraints
What were your working conditions? What were your limits? These may be tight deadlines, a low budget, working across different time zones, etc.
#6 — The Working Process and Actions Taken
This is an essential stage of your story. Describe what you did step-by-step. Specify each step and why you did that (for example, to increase conversion, or to solve user pain points etc).
#7 — Outcomes and Takeaways
This is the grand finale to your story. Tell the readers the result of your work. What goals have you achieved? Which lessons have you learned? What experience have you gained?
The Power of Storytelling
Even though images and pictures cause a stir on socials, fascinating stories continue dominating the market. People use stories to learn, share information, impressions, and emotions — and to pose questions and find solutions for their problems.
- Easy-to-read design case studies command a potential employer’s attention because they are representative. With only one case study on a designer’s portfolio site, recruiters and team leads can make conclusions on one’s design thinking.
- Also, they show how designers work. Case studies answer all the possible questions and employers can decide whether these tactics fit their usual workflow.
- Future team members see how a designer acts when they’re having issues. They grasp one’s way of learning from challenges and mistakes.
As you can see, UX design case studies are a great way to showcase both your hard skills and soft skills! Why not make one?
The Steps to Writing Your Best Case Study
Let’s get started with your best UX case study ever!
1. Name Your Project
The title should reveal the main features of the project. Make it detailed enough and mention your activities (e.g. user flow research), the product (e.g. an app), and the platform (e.g. mobile and desktop).
2. Create an Outline
This should be a short schematic for a bigger picture. You may use the blocks from the ‘The Anatomy of a Case Study’ section. Write a draft for each part.
3. Add Details
Once you have the backbone of your case study, add some context about your design decisions to the process section. To get more ideas, answer these questions:
- What exactly did you do?
- What was the purpose of this activity?
- What results have you achieved?
- What have you learned?
As a product designer, you may mention such important stages as user research and user testing . There are lots of UX activities that go beyond design itself. When writing descriptions, don’t be too vague and keep your content deep and concise. This will create an image of an experienced professional who knows what they’re talking about.
4. Add Attractive Headlines for Activities
User interface and user experience case studies might look like novels. So, take care of those who are about to read yours. Spice up your long story with short and to-the-point headlines. Your reader will take a look at those and get the main idea before reading into the details. Sounds good, doesn’t it?
5. Edit Your Story
Once you’ve done with your case study, look it over again. Make the text more logical and coherent. If it sounds bothersome, keep in mind that even world-known authors always edit their books. Some of them even do that several times. The goal of editing is to achieve exceptional quality. This means more chances that you’ll be hired by your dream company!
Using Case Studies
Any UX design case study is too good to be confined to your hard drive. Share yours online! Make it work in favor of your image — you might be surprised that recruiters actively search for and contact candidates who have prominent case studies published on the web.
- The best format is a web page on your site or blog. If you choose web pages as containers for your brilliant UX case studies, make sure that they work equally smoothly on mobile phones, tablets, and desktop computers.
- Then come text docs, PDFs, and presentations. Downloading a file is an extra step for the reader — and an extra step between you and your dream company. Keep this in mind!
- If you don’t have your own site or blog, use specialized design platforms like Dribbble, Behance, blogging platforms like Medium, or socials like LinkedIn.
Tracking the performance of your UX design stories will give you an understanding of what works best. You’ll know that you’ve done it right when you’re invited to your next interview!
The Best Examples of UX Case Studies
To give you an idea of what to strive for, we collected the top 5 examples by experienced designers:
- Here is an example you might like the most . Lucy Qi has a marketing background, which is noticeable. Her case study is logical and well-structured. Her approach is classic and can be used as a tutorial for creating top-notch UX case studies. Everything is mentioned in the story. You get the ultimate answers to any question. This is brilliant!
- Another great example is brief yet informative. The summary of adding learning value to quizzes on Udemy by Frances Tung . Everyone knows Udemy and you might have even participated in their quizzes. If so, now you know that they are so witty and informative thanks to this product designer!
- Remember we told you that UX case studies can be published on your blog? Here is an example from Danielle Borisoff . A clear structure, an abundance of important details, and a description of each stage all make this story a perfect example for newbies.
- Another interesting case study of cinema UX has been published on Medium by Ariel Verber. It tells us about the steps Cinema City took to make their iOS app outstanding. The structure of the study is concise and clear — as well as the results the company achieved!
- And the last — but certainly not the least — brilliant case study about a cooking app resides in Vitaly Dulenko’s Medium blog. Everything necessary is mentioned and shown in pictures, even the process of creating the IA (Information Architecture)!
Have you received enough inspiration from these UX case studies? If yes, try creating your own success story with FlowMapp . It’s easy and convenient.
A good UX design is the end product summarizing all your activities. This is what sells you as a professional. It drives your image and lets this image work for you. Creating a great case study to showcase your achievements might take you a couple of full-time business days, but you will be more confident in your future success — so it’s definitely worth the effort!
Show your future employer your way of thinking and convince them that you’re the perfect match for their UX design team. Surely you have at least one case study in mind? Grab our guide, sign up to FlowMapp for free , and start telling your success story right away!
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How To Write a UX Case Study in 5 Steps
When you’re starting out as a UX designer, you know that you need case studies for your portfolio. People have different expectations for UX case studies, but we’ll give you the 5 basic elements they should all include.
The first day I sat down to write a UX case study, I had no idea what I was doing. I remember that I wanted to write about an app that I was using constantly, called MyFitnessPal. I had done a bit of research, but when I sat down, my mind went blank and I ended up writing a 900-word diatribe about the social aspects of the app.
To this day, I can’t believe I had the audacity to show anyone this case study. When I showed my friend, he just laughed at it.
“This is a Medium article,” he said, “not a case study.”
When you’re starting out as a UX designer , you know that you need case studies for your portfolio. However, there’s not a lot of concrete information out there on exactly what should be in a case study. People have different expectations for UX case studies, but I’ll give you the 5 basic elements they should all include.
A quick note—case study styles are like Thanksgiving turkey recipes: everyone has one and they all come out a little different, but in the end it won’t ruin the holiday meal. As long as your case study is all meat and bone with no wasted space, it’ll be fine.
Step 1: Define the Scope
Ideally, the first paragraph should tell the reader what you’re planning to talk about. You may want to highlight a problem, show off a stunning design, or highlight a change.
Step 2: Define the problem
Readers of your case study want to see the problem clearly defined. An issue that new UX designers have often is identifying that there is a problem but not identifying the problem itself. A common bad statement might be something like “this app is frustrating for users and they have a high bounce / uninstall rate.” A better statement is something like “users have trouble accessing and understanding their account overview, and navigation to and away from this page is buried in menus.” This outlines the problem clearly and sets you up to solve it concisely over the next few paragraphs. If you’re designing an app from scratch, this section should talk about what problem you are hoping to solve, and why your solution is the cleanest and most effective one.
Step 3: Define the Audience
Not every app is for everyone. An easy example is something like Blind, which is a forum app designed for tech professionals, particularly engineers, to discuss work life at their jobs. Being designed for tech professionals means that it doesn’t have to necessarily be awe-inspiringly beautiful with jaw-dropping animations. It can be austere, and even a bit spartan since the people using it are working in a heavily analytical industry. Even the job posting section of their website is just an Airtable.
Understanding your target audience for a product will make analyzing the success of that product much simpler, as design, copy, and architecture should all work together cohesively.
Step 4: Solve the problem
There are several ways to do this in a single section, but generally, this should be a paragraph or two outlining A) what your solution for the problem is, and B) how you arrived at the solution to this problem. Both are vital to include. An easy way to start is to write something like “I decided to solve this problem by taking these actions,” before outlining the actions you recommend.
Step 5: Show your work
I’m an ignoramus, so algebra never came easy to me. I especially hated when I would arrive at the right answer and be asked to show my work. What does it matter how I got there? I got the correct answer, didn’t I? Let me be the Algebra II Top Gun of this school and leave me alone.
Unfortunately, in design case studies showing your work is necessary, and this is where you get a chance to show your UX design process . How did you arrive at this solution? What steps did you take to ensure that you were being circumspect in your reasoning? You can’t be the Diogenes of UX, hanging out in the middle of the agora shouting dichotomies and hoping someone listens. You have to walk the reader through each step of your thought process.
This is where you get to show off your screens, your prototyped animations, your Tableau repositories, your Typeform and Google Sheets research, your pivot tables, Miro flowcharts, Hotjar heat maps, and beautifully animated PyViz scatter charts. This is where you get to blow your reader’s mind.
Take a look at the case study example in Derrick's profile , one of the Verified Designers on Uxcel.
A quick tip: Head over to Coolors or Adobe Color and pick out a nice cohesive palette to put all your research in. This is an easy way to ensure that it doesn’t confuse the reader (wait, red is good now?) and looks clean and consistent.
Writing a UX case study is incredibly important to your career path, especially when first starting out. However, by ensuring that you have every necessary step in your case studies, you can create beautiful qualitative and quantitative research and design that blows your readers’ minds and lands you your dream job. Happy hunting!
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