How to write project case studies for your portfolio

How to structure your case study

We’ve listed the most important questions that hiring managers want to be answered in your portfolio or past work presentation. Use them or the STAR method to prepare your slides.
  • People or business problem
  • Solution and key design elements
  • The role, individual contribution, XFN
  • If you feel more comfortable with STAR (situation, task, actions, results), use that.

We highly recommend answering the most questions we provided here to build a story about your project. We have also found that for some designers, it feels intimidating to answer some of them for whatever reasons. If that’s the case, try using the STAR approach.

We would not go deep into STAR because there is a lot of information about it on the internet, and it is more of a generic approach (which still could be a great starting point).

Instead, we will list questions and subjects that product designers are usually pretty fluent.

Tell a story while showing your work.

We noticed that some designers tend to answer questions and publish them on a website as sections. That might be cool and all, but when people listen to a presentation, they remember stories better. Also, people love reading stories. So, you might want to end up with is a story about a project.

Usually, a story has a beginning and end, some plot, actors, and so on. People that would listen to your presentation want to know the context — what was the problem or task you had to deal with, then they want to know how you solved it, then they want to know how you know that that was a good solution. The characters in your story would be your colleagues, clients, and you. The story arc is that clients had such and such problems, and your team and you had such and such adventures while you were solving the problem, and the happy end is the result — how your designs helped.

We recommend that you will write down the answers to the following questions. Think of them as of your storytelling bullet points — that is what you want to tell when showing your awesome designs.

The overall structure can be boiled down to three sections:

  • People or business problem — what was the problem you were trying to solve and how you found out about that problem.
  • Solution and key design elements — start with what final screens/layouts you have delivered and explain why and how they solved the aforementioned problem.
  • The role, individual contribution, and XFN examples. The hiring party wants to know what it would be like working with you. Specific examples of your collaboration would paint the picture.
How to talk about the problem statement and research
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