How to write project case studies for your portfolio

How to pick projects for portfolio presentation

Even seasoned designers struggle to pick the right projects. Our process guides you to build a presentation based on the hiring manager's expectations.
  • Create a list of projects you have completed in the past three years.
  • Carefully review the following questions.
  • Assign a point for each affirmative answer.
  • A higher score indicates a greater likelihood of the project being the fittest for an interview.

Do you have high-definition layouts you can use in a presentation?

You'll need large, high-fidelity layouts to use in your presentation. Say yes if you have layouts you can demonstrate, and they are of good quality.

  • You can fine-tune your existing layouts if it helps explain the story better.
  • If you are interviewing in English, but your layouts are in a different language, consider translating them.

Was this project released to users with your participation?

Such experience helps you answer the question about what you would have done differently next time (reflection), which demonstrates that you care and are able to learn from each launch, especially if your designs affected metrics and/or user behavior. It can potentially be a good example of cross-functional collaboration.

Do you have user research or data analysis to support your design decisions?

Qualitative or quantitative research results can be a good way of explaining your design decisions, why it was the problem in the first place, and presenting the results.

Have you tested different hypotheses?

A hypothesis helps you to prove or disprove the assumption. They are either proven or disproven using research and experiments. Usually, it helps find the fittest solution and explains your thought process during the interview.

Can you state a user problem in one sentence?

Designers often fail to communicate the problem statement of the user or business clearly. If you can reduce the statement to one simple sentence without extra complications or explanations, then you've got it. If you have a lot of explaining to do, you probably lack a simple problem statement.

Have your designs improved relevant product metrics?

E.g., you intended to boost the metrics, and your design was the driving force of the team’s success. If you performed A/B testing, let that data support your story. Presenting this data will help you answer the question, "How did we know if we solved the problem?"

Were there any measurable improvements in the user experience?

If you measured user satisfaction: the usability index, error rates, the speed of solving the problem (from the user’s perspective), or even the net promoter score or lifetime value. Usually, they are measured before and after the implementation. Knowing these measures will help you to answer the question, “How did we know if the problem was solved?”

Can you clearly explain your individual contribution?

Since you are filling in this questionnaire honestly, tick this box if you are 100% confident that the team wouldn’t have done this project without you.

It is essential to highlight your input because much success comes from teamwork, and some candidates hide behind other people’s achievements.

Do you have an example of cross-functional collaboration on this project?

Also known as XFN.

How you solved problems and came up with solutions with teammates or people from other departments (e.g., the development team, marketing, research, data scientists, support).

Extra points if you have designed for multiple platforms:

  • Your designs were made for native mobile platforms (iOS, Android, etc.). It can be mobile-only or a cross-platform solution, including wearables (mostly watches).
  • You designed a desktop app with GUI—macOS, Windows, and Linux. E.g. browser, media player, etc.
  • You designed a web app (something users can interact with inside a browser). Usually, exclude landing pages and static websites.
  • You have examples of VR or AR for mobile apps, glasses, etc.

Do you have a prototype that you can use during the presentation?

Having a prototype in your possession, preferably one you can share on your website, might help you build a portfolio or explain your design process or problem solution during the portfolio presentation.

Do you have a reason to be proud of your work on this project?

Answer "yes" if you are really proud of your input for some professional reason: significant improvements, implementation speed, craftsmanship, XFN, 3D, visualizations, or awards.

Have you participated in quality assurance testing of the final product?

Some designers find it essential to participate in development processes and QA to make sure their designs were delivered correctly or if there were improvements they could help deliver ASAP. This can be a good example of XFN and might help answer the question about what you would have done differently if you were about to work on this project again.

Did you help with the launch?

Some designers participate in the product launch by working on marketing materials, from communication strategy and visualizations to media planning and polishing loads of banners or videos. This can be another example of XFN collaboration to mention.

How to structure your case study
Get ready.
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    Presentum helps designers practice portfolio presentations with peers and connects them with hiring managers.

  • Prepare.

    • Use our step-by-step guide to optimize your prep.
    • Read our FAQs to avoid common mistakes.
    • Ask questions: we are happy to help.
  • Practice with peers.

    • Practice in a safe environment.
    • Get live experience and proper feedback.
    • Book peers whenever it‘s convenient.
  • Get hired.

    • Share your practice video on Presentum.
    • Hiring managers and recruiters will watch it and contact you if there is a match.
    • Improve your presentation any time.