How to Build a UX Design Portfolio that Get’s You Hired

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Hi, I'm Chris and I'm super glad you're here. 7 years ago I taught my self-web design and freelancing. Now, I do my best to teach others what I've learned so they don't have to struggle as much as I did.

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Table of Contents

I don’t know about you but writing a resume freaks me out a bit. The idea that the future of your life depends on a small piece of paper is more than just a little bit nerve-racking.

AND, as a UX designer, you have to worry about more than your resume. You’ve got to think about your portfolio, too!

In fact, a lot of times your portfolio is the single biggest factor in whether or not potential employers even give you the time of day.

That is the topic of this week’s Self-Made Web Designer podcast and we have a UX portfolio pro. The one and only Sarah Doody.

The Secret to an Amazing UX Portfolio

As UX designers we spend a lot of time trying to see how other people will see the designs we make. We do make revisions and strategize all based upon the users perspective.

BUT, the funny thing is many UX designers fail to build their resumes and portfolios from the perspective of the people doing the hiring.

In other words, we aren’t UXing our own careers!

Sarah gives us some great tips on how to develop our UX portfolios in such a way that potential employers will not be able to resist.

How do I know?

Because she did it for me! That’s right. I am a student of Sarah’s advice. And, it was because of her that I was able to begin my career as a UX designer.

I know you’re going to love the advice she has to give whether you’re just getting started OR you’re looking to level up in your career.

Today’s Guest

Sarah Doody

Sarah Doody is a User Experience Designer, Researcher, and Founder. Sarah works with a wide range of clients and gives product and UX talks around the world.

Sarah is also the founder of The UX Portfolio Formula, a program that helps UX professionals learn how to create a portfolio, conduct their job search, and prepare for interviews. Her clients have been hired at companies including Home Depot, American Express, Salesforce, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, and more.

In 2011 Sarah created the original curriculum for and taught the first General Assembly’s 11-week UX immersive program in NYC.

You’ll Learn

  • How to define the different roles a UX designer can play
  • How to know what to specialize in as a UX designer
  • How to choose your career path as a UX designer
  • How to tell if a UX design career is right for you
  • The skills you need to be a great UX designer
  • How to use UX skills to truly understand what your clients are wanting
  • How to use Psychology to increase your skills as a UX designer
  • How to write good questions for user testing and interviews
  • How to show stakeholders and colleagues the value of user experience
  • How to use data points to justify design decisions
  • How to manage and design your own career
  • How to enhance your career by building a network of relationships
  • UX writing
  • How to write for the web
  • The core things to focus on learning when becoming a UX designer


P.S. I am an affiliate for Sarah’s UX Portfolio Formula course. But that’s only because I highly recommend it and know that it will help you a ton in your UX career. Use the link above and it helps me keep running what I do on SMWD.

Chris Misterek 0:02
What's up, everybody? Welcome to another episode of the self-made web designer podcast. Did you miss me? I know I missed you guys. And I'm excited to be back this week. We took a little break, we took some time to think about what's going on in the world. I asked myself some questions about how I could be a better part of the solution. And it was good, but I am excited to be back this week, and there's no better person to kick it off. Then with Miss Sarah Doody, and if you're not instantly familiar with that name, Sarah runs the And she is a genius at all things UX design, but also helps people who are trying to establish themselves as a solid UX design career person by evaluating and coaching them with their portfolios. And I don't know if you're like me, but when it comes to building a resume, it gets a little bit anxious, right? You start sweating a little bit when you just think about the word resume. But with UX designers and web designers, not only do we have to worry about a resume, but we have to think about a portfolio, we have to think about what a potential employer is going to look at, when it comes to how we prove the value of our work. And Sarah takes you through all of that, and she does it masterfully. I know personally because I looked to Sarah when I was first getting hired as a UX designer on how to cultivate a portfolio that would make me stand out amongst all of the people applying for the same positions that I was applying for. And as you've guessed it, because of her insight, I was able to land the dream job that I have now. I know that you're going to absolutely love the things that Sarah has to say you're gonna benefit from it. It's gonna be fantastic. stay to the end. Here we go. Well, hey, Sarah, thank you so much for being on the self made web designer podcast. It's an honor to have you.

Sarah Doody 2:21
Thank you. I'm excited to be here.

Chris Misterek 2:23
Yeah. So tell us a little bit about who you are and the journey to what got you where you are today?

Sarah Doody 2:29
Sure. So we have to rewind a little bit. I actually didn't plan to get into user experience. I didn't even know it was a field. But I was always really really interested in technology and also interested in kind of like artistic stuff, I guess that like balance of creative and technical. So long, long story short, I ended up taking a year off after high school stumbled into web design. I was given a Copy of Dreamweaver 3 in Adobe. And I really just taught myself web design graphic design, and did that for a couple of years. And then I was working on one project. And I remember thinking, why is the thing that we ended up with not exactly the vision of what we started with. And that led me into the world of user experience. I've been doing this for about 16 years or so. I have worked in house at big companies out a couple of startups. And then for the past, I think eight years, I've been running my own UX consultancy. And I also have my own product. Now I'm kind of one of those designer turned founders. It's a program that helps UX professionals learn to create a portfolio and prepare for their job interviews. So it's cool because I get to apply a lot of UX to it even though it's on an app or Something is all the same challenges and opportunities to,

Chris Misterek 4:05
I just have to thank you for all of the material that you have out there on portfolios and interviewing. Because when I was first going to get a job as a UX designer, I was just going through everything you had as much as I could, I probably owe you a lot of money for the job that I now have. So thank you for that.

Sarah Doody 4:23
I mean, I have a ton of free content out there. And I also have these paid programs and the paid stuff helps kind of fun, the free stuff I do. So it all works out in the end.

Chris Misterek 4:32
we've not really talked about the the role of the UX designer or what that means, in general, can you share a little bit to our audience about what a UX designer is and what their job would look like?

Sarah Doody 4:44
Yeah, so I will caveat this and say, there are many different words and lots of debates about terminology in the world of user experience. The way I see the world of user experience to try and simplify it, so see UX really breaking down into three different kind of buckets. The first one is really all about research, who is the user? Or what are they doing, why are they doing it? What are the business goals, etc? Then I see the next bucket as what I call experience design. And by that I mean, what are the user flows? What are the screens in terms of layouts and wireframes? How does maybe the email marketing interact with the website or the app, all of that kind of customer journey type stuff. And then I see the visual design side of things or interface design, but you could also kind of call the experience design some interface side. So let's stick with visual design basically, making it look awesome. What are the fonts, what are the colors what happens when you click on the date picker, all of that stuff. There's a lot more to it than that. But those are kind of the three areas that I see in UX. There's a lot of sub areas, but just to keep it simple, you know, there's two the main ones. And then you get into kind of really nitty gritty specialties, like information architecture, UX writing, like, every single word, on the button on the emails on the homepage, on everything. I mean, there's people who just live and breathe that stuff. So does that help a little bit? kind of clarify the world of UX?

Chris Misterek 6:28
Yeah, absolutely. I think I think that gives a really, really clear picture. And and you said something interesting. You said that there's a debate going on, on terminology and UX design, I think is somewhat of a fairly new field. You know, I mean, especially when you look at different fields like blacksmithing that's been around for centuries, that I've had have had time to kind of figure out what it is that they actually do and the right terminology and so you've come into it at the precipice and probably seen a lot of change. Can you talk a little bit about what that's looked like for you, and maybe even what it would look like going into the future, like how the field is changing?

Sarah Doody 7:07
So when I started out, like I said, I didn't know this whole field existed. I just made up titles for myself. I don't think I was really a hardcore information architect, but I know I had a business card that said that once upon a time. I think the way it's changed over the last, I don't know 16 or 17 years, just for me personally, is that I started out doing a little bit of everything. I was definitely a generalist type designer, where I would do research, I would make the site maps which are kind of like maps that show all the screens on a website, and how they all connect, I would make the wireframes I sometimes would write some code, I also break some code. I would make you know the buttons and choose the fonts and the colors and I would help QA this Once it launched, I did a little bit of everything. And I think many of us did a little bit of everything. And then over time, you kind of started to see these specialties breakout. We mentioned some of them like information architecture. UX writing is a big one right now. Even user research, I have friends that only do research. And I mean, they could make wireframe, but it would be horrible. So I think we've seen this specialization happen. And a lot of people ask me when should I specialize? Or how do I know what to specialize in? Should I even specialize? And I think the thing to keep in mind is, you also have to think about what type of company do you want to work at because large companies will have a budget to have specializations. A company like Amazon, of course, has their own user research team, but a small startup that's starting out. They probably want kind of a one person team. So, so this is gonna have its changed, I think in the future. It's interesting because in the in the moment right now, I think we're going to see a huge increase in demand for UX, which is great for all of us. Because so many companies are going to need to become even more digital than they already were, as they pivot. Think of the hospitality industry. They're so service based, what are restaurants going to do? Are they going to somehow pivot into digital offerings? I have no idea. Think of touch interfaces and tablets and kiosks, like what happens to them? Does voice become more important? I don't know. But I think we're going to see more demand. And I think just more demand in general.

Chris Misterek 9:48
With demand comes a lot of people who are flooding to that opportunity. And then a few years down the road, you have a lot to people who are now UX designers who are like 'I actually hate this'. And so what what would you say to somebody who's trying to figure out, 'Is this the right path for me personally to go down?'

Sarah Doody 10:11
I love that you brought up this question because I'm super passionate about this, the idea that there's never been higher demand for user experience. It's also never been easier to get into user experience. Because when I was starting out, there were no UX boot camps. If there were programs you could take at university, I didn't know those existed. I think the closest would have been human computer interaction or something. So it's super easy to get into user experience. I think there's a huge misconception that you're gonna get into UX, you're gonna get hired immediately, and you'll make 80 grand or something. And all you have to do is do this six week thing and make a portfolio and you'll get hired and you maybe you will get hired. It depends on what you're coming into user experience from. There's so many fields that complement the skills of UX, I think psychology or journalism or even theater. I have friends that worked in Theater in New York, and some of them are using UX people now. But I think that the question that you really need to ask yourself are beyond just knowing how to move things on a screen and click buttons and no software because someone told you to learn figma or envision or sketch. Look at the core skills of what these people actually do. Like, do you enjoy problem solving? Do you like uncertainty? Are you interested in people and human behavior? Are you curious? If you're the type of person that just likes to paint by number, then UX is probably not the field for you. But might think, oh, what did I just spend the last two years doing with my life?

Chris Misterek 12:10
You know, what I've always encouraged people is that UX is such a good mixture of a creative mindset and analytical mindset. And it really brings both of those worlds together. You have to have a proclivity to stepping into one thought process and stepping out of it and going to another thought process. So that for sure can be challenging, but at the same time, it can be it can be a lot of fun.

Sarah Doody 12:36
Yeah, I think that curiosity piece is so crucial, because you're designing whatever you are working on. But I find I'm always applying UX principles to my client, or to my colleagues. When a client says I don't like that. Then I go into researcher mode, and I say, well, why don't don't you like it? I try and figure out what the root issue is. Just last night, I was on this panel. And we were telling funny stories about past experiences. And I had this client once we'd done a homepage for, and it had a bunch of orange and green on it. And the clients said, I don't like it. I don't like it. And finally, when we got to the root of it, it was because she didn't like the colors orange and green because she didn't like peas and carrots.

Chris Misterek 13:25
That's amazing. And so good to just be just be curious, rather than go to all the reasons why you don't like it. And then you start fixing things according to what your preferences would be versus like, okay, what is the user actually asking of me? I love the psychology behind that. And you mentioned this a little bit that you know, psychology is such a huge piece of the puzzle and there's an awesome UX designer, His name is Joe Leach, and he has a book that I just read called Psychology for Designers. I'd love for you to talk about how you use psychology in the designs that you're creating.

Sarah Doody 14:06
There's so much psychology that goes into it. If you just look at the research side of things, there's this psychology that goes into how to conduct a great user research interview, or even the psychology of designing a great survey, for example. I mean, what order are the questions in? How are you phrasing the questions? One thing I often do is, instead of saying, 'what do you think about e commerce of buying shoes' or something, you can rephrase that and say, 'tell me about the last time you bought shoes online?' That phrasing immediately switches things in people's brain, and they're going back to that last time they bought shoes, and they'll tell you how great it was or how terrible it was. When it comes to actually designing though, there's so much that goes into it in terms of the order of the content down the page. Home pages are a great example. Like, what is the journey you're taking people through? How are you highlighting a problem in their life? How are you showing them the solution that your product offers? How are you getting under their skin to make them realize it's really a big problem that they need to hire your product to solve? Then there's the psychology of color, the psychology of the words you use. I mean, it's, I think, if I wasn't doing this, I would probably like, be in psychology or psychiatry. I actually was going to study neuroscience. So it's not surprising we're here today.

Chris Misterek 15:40
It brings legitimacy to the role to know that we're not just putting pretty things on a page. But I think, right now, as the profession kind of emerges, we have a little bit of convincing to do. So how do you encourage people to express their worth without sounding like they're being ultra braggy about what they're doing? Especially when it comes to a company who knew they needed a UX designer, but they didn't really know what they needed as a UX designer. So what does that look like?

Sarah Doody 16:15
There's a couple of parts to this. I think there's the part of how do you show your stakeholders and colleagues the value of user experience, especially if you're in a company that is trying to, or maybe is a little objecting to user experience or thinks that user experiences just making it pretty? And I think the other side of that is, how do you communicate your skills and your experience and the impact you've had, maybe when you're in the job search, so I have a great article we can link to it's all about how to deal with stubborn stakeholders, and then specific to user research because user research is often the thing that people Want to cut the first? Because they think, well, I just tweeted this the other day, I said, What's the pushback you get for doing research and people said, my boss says they know best. And we don't need to talk to the users, etc, is so we can link to those. But in terms of selling that value, I think part of it is really understanding the business goals and showing how the UX work is impacting those business goals. And also you have to apply a little user research to like, let's say you have Sally and she's not into whatever you created. Well, you have to do some research on her and figure out why isn't she into this? So she's objecting to research is that because she's under some time crunch and she needs this thing launched so she doesn't want to do research? Did she have a bad experience doing research before? Who knows? But if you try and always tie it back to data and metrics, then it's gonna be a lot easier. And it also can create the situation where you make people think some of the stuff you create is their idea, which is annoying, but it's a great, great strategy.

Chris Misterek 18:15
There's a lot of debate on the subjectivity of design. But I think that user experience can bring some objective points to the process of creating. So I'd love it if you talked a little bit about that about, you know, having some objective northstars when it comes to UX design, and what you're creating as a designer.

Sarah Doody 18:39
Whenever I start a project, whether it is for a client, or if I sit down to redesign the homepage for one of my offerings or something. I'm always thinking about, what metric do I want to impact through these changes? I don't just open up sketch and think Ooh, how can I make my homepage look cooler?! There's always some type of goal. And I think that's one shift that I've had going from designer to founder, of course, not that I didn't think about metrics before, but I just have so much more empathy and understanding, because now I know it might look nice, but if it's not performing well, this is pointless, you know, always having some type of metric that is created through not just the product team. Ideally, you want to gather people from across the company, like before you ever create a wireframe or something so you can do some research on them and come up with some common goals. So there's no surprises, three weeks, three months in. I love the word Northstar, it serves as a check and balance so every single thing you do, you need to be able to justify why you did it. This is a big thing I am very passionate about. Being able to articulate why you did something and justify your design decisions. Because if you can't justify it to yourself or to a colleague, then you're not going to look very good in a meeting when someone says to you well why'd you do it or something and you just say, Oh, I you know, liked the color purple that day.

Chris Misterek 21:34
Let's say people listening are sold they want to go into a UX design career. What do you feel like is the best pathway to success?

Sarah Doody 21:43
As we said getting started in UX is so easy right now there's so much content available. That also is hard. And I hear this all the time because there's so many options of programs you could go to and there's free degrees you can get online and then there's programs that cost $20,000 or more. Right? So getting started is I think the hardest because you just don't know which path to choose. And I think it really comes down to your timeline and your budget. I have another article, actually, we could link to it. I think it's, eight or 10 questions that you should ask before you enroll in any UX program. But it's not just like, Oh, my friend went to career foundry or general assembly. So I'm going to do that. You have to realize that each program is different. And every instructor is different too. So your experience could be very different than someone else, especially now as all these programs have to be online at the moment. So you're probably not ready to commit to some lengthly costly program, in which case, I would say go through some free or or something that fits your budget, get a general understanding of these areas have you actually talked about in the beginning. And then I would say download some software, there are free trials everywhere. Spend a little bit of time tinkering with stuff. You probably use a product or website every single day and you think this is horrible, it should be done this way. So okay, go fix that and use it as an opportunity to just practice like if I wanted to become a, baker and open a wedding cake shop, I wouldn't go rent a kitchen and sign a lease for two years. I would experiment and see, do I even like this process, maybe I get halfway through and realize I hate dealing with crazy brides. So find ways to get your feet wet a little bit and don't dive into some program without testing the waters. I think would be what what I would do, because really, when I was handed a copy of Dreamweaver and Adobe Photoshop back in the day, one of the very first things I did was they said, just make a website about anything. So I made some like ski resort websites. I'm a skier, and I wish I had it, but it was it. Just seeing it all come to life on the page made me realize, wait, I can do this and see it on the screen and I can write the code and I can design the graphics. And that's like, I guess kind of when it clicked for me.

Chris Misterek 24:33
So so maybe talk a little bit about some of the big mistakes that people make in the process of becoming a UX designer and determining like, Okay, I'm gonna go for this career as a lifelong goal.

Sarah Doody 24:45
Right now. It's really about setting the right expectations, and I will gladly point the finger at the way UX is marketed today in terms of your education programs, making grand promises. of getting hired for big salaries and you know, out of the gate, you'll be working at Apple or something. Not to say that can't happen. It depends on your experience. If you're coming as, like someone who studied psychology and you're a graphic designer, and now you're doing UX that might be possible. But I think understanding your North Star, your why, you know, like we said a little bit ago, why are you getting into user experience? Is it just for the money? We all need a job right? But making sure that you are in it for the right reasons, and more importantly, having the right expectations. I think another mistake I see people make is not managing and designing their own career. I see this so much. We spend so much time designing other people's products, but we don't sit down and think to ourselves like where do I want to be in the next Next 18 months or 24 months? Come up with a little product plan for yourself. I always say, the most important product that you'll ever work on is yourself. And I'm such a strong believer in that. The other thing would be thinking that taking a UX program and ticking the box of 'did my program, made my portfolio, gonna get hired' is not how it works. You also have to build a little bit of a network and I know that is such a polarizing term and activity, right. It's kind of sleazy sometimes, I think it's never been easier to develop your professional network without having to go to all the weird in-person events. There's so many online communities and honestly, I think that most people get hired because of some personal connection or they saw job in a group or something like that. That it breaks my heart when people email me or I talk to them and they say I've applied for 200 jobs. And I haven't heard back and I think after 50 didn't you try and change something about what you're doing? Like it just gets so sad about all the time that people spend, and then don't step back and apply UX to this and think, what is not working? Is it my portfolio? Is it my resume, like what piece of the puzzle is is broken? So if there's one big thing I would say is you have to UX your own career.

Chris Misterek 27:37
it's so funny that we miss that being UX designers.

Sarah Doody 27:41
So ironic. Even your portfolio. I look at hundreds of portfolios and I think like, this is terrible, like apply some UX, don't have a font that's 10 point, light gray and all these basic things. So It's weird. It's like you're your own worst client, the doctor who is a doctor never wants to go to the doctor. So it's that weird psychological thing. I'm sure there's a name for it. I don't know what it is.

Chris Misterek 28:11
Well talk a little bit about portfolios. You are the resident expert in this field. So what makes a portfolio that is irresistible to the people who are hiring?

Sarah Doody 28:25
I think the big thing when it comes to portfolios are that there is a misconception that portfolios are an art gallery of the final product. And that is not true. You have to put yourself in the the people hiring you's shoes. I was just updating a blog post about this. You have to think if you are going to hire someone, you want to know the journey that product, project or product was on before it launched. So you have to show the process you have to be able to tell the story of what happened. Why did it happen? Maybe you did some research on a prototype, and then you realize we got it all wrong. And then we had to move in this other direction. Not being afraid to talk about when you're wrong too, because that comes up quite a bit, though I just said, tell the story and show all the details, knowing the balance of how much to show and it kind of goes back to you axing your portfolio because the recruiters and hiring managers are really busy and they're not going to read essays upon essays of the project. They need kind of the Twitter version. I liken it to this: you've probably been doing a lot of cooking and one of my pet peeves is when I go to a recipe, and I get to the page, and I have to scroll through, like photo essays and big emotional reasonings as to why this recipe is so amazing. Just give me the recipe. That is the experience, and I have had people complain about this to me without ever bringing it up. I know we're all feeling this pain, which it's a great analogy, but you don't want the recruiter or hiring manager to feel like that when they're going through your portfolio. So one of the tips I have is focus on the content first, and then move it over in to the design. Know that half the words that you write in a Google Doc about what you did on that project may not make it over into the final portfolio, whatever format that is. But at least now, you've thought through the whole story of what happened. And then bonus points, you're way more prepared for the interview.

Chris Misterek 30:48
You mentioned UX writing a little bit earlier and talking about content and messaging and I'm kind of coming to grips with the fact that I'm kind of low in that skill right now. So I'm going back to the drawing board and going, what things do I need to learn? What do I need to be practicing when it comes to my writing and my messaging? And so, I wonder if you could maybe talk a little bit about that. What are some good resources for people who are great designers, maybe even great researchers, but struggle with the communication portion of it. Because even if you're not getting hired for the communication portion of it, you're gonna have to sell yourself with the messaging and the content that you're giving to the people who are doing the interviewing.

Sarah Doody 31:36
So there's a couple of things I would suggest. One of the most important skills that I am so glad I focused on was creating a blog. I think the first posts go back to 2007 or something, who knows what I wrote, but I thought to myself, I need to have a blog because that was cool at the time, but I wanted to get better at writing and I'm so glad I did that. Because writing isn't just about writing, it's also about thinking. So being able to be analytical and practice critical thinking. A lot of times if I didn't know what to write about, I would just respond to a cool article in Fast Company or something like that. So even I find, when I'm composing tweets, it would be embarrassing the amount of minutes I spend rewriting tweets. But I think it's a great exercise to try and convey your point in the length of a tweet. And I often say to people, in many conversations, even with clients, they'll say, well tell me what you do, but in the length of a tweet. And it's so, so helpful. When it comes to the portfolios, I often tell people, let's imagine your portfolio is a PDF. I often recommend that before you go into all the details of what's going to be on every single slide, just open up keynote. Let's say, and at the top of every slide, put the one big idea for that slide. And it can't be any longer than a tweet. And then once you get all that done, then you can start to fill in the blanks. But here's the reason why that's so important because A, it helps you become a better writer. But b) when you think of the experience of the user of your portfolio, They're probably only reading the big text at the top of the page or the big text as they scroll down the website. So figuring out what that text should be is super critical. I know there's tons of online communities about UX writing, I forget what they're called, but I could include some links, I just have to Google them.

Chris Misterek 33:45
I've been going through a ton of material and even some courses on on copyblogger. And, it's funny, because a lot of the things that are true for good writing is the same exact thing we're doing as UX designers. So empathy maps and thinking about the journey that you are taking the reader on and writing headlines that are scannable. And really draw people in, you know, we're speaking the same thing in different languages. And so, I don't feel like you could go wrong with learning some of that stuff and reading. So I think that's great insight.

Sarah Doody 34:27
I think another thing too, is you always have to be separating the content, the words from how the words look, in the tweet, or in the email or on the page. Just yesterday, I tweeted something. And instead of it all being like all together on three lines, I made, the first little bit one line and that has space and the next slide. So knowing how to break up a bunch of texts and paragraphs. into something that is more readable scannable skimmable, all these very non technical terms which are so crucial, using bulleted lists, knowing how to adjust the spacing on bulleted lists, how to make things readable, you know, instead of one paragraph with seven lines, could that be three paragraphs of three lines? I remember when I was like, earlier in my career, there was this woman I worked with, and she was really passionate about writing for the web. And I remember reading some articles and things, but the whole takeaway was people read at the time very differently online than they did, you know, physically, but I think now, people read so much online, like, the way that physical things are read needs to be adjusted.

Chris Misterek 36:23
Well, I mean, even when you think about how we consume television shows, you know, it's no longer that you get one show a week, and then you've got to wait. I think the world of blogging has been based on that, you know, like, you write one blog post a week, and then you wait, and then you get another one. And so Darrell Lesterfelt from copyblogger has talked about this, and they redid Pat Flynn's website to mimic this to where they don't write a blog post a week, they have a chunk of content that comes out and it's essentially like eight chapters. You can go through it as much as you want. So, such a really interesting time, for the nature of how we are consuming things digitally and offline as well.

Sarah Doody 37:11
And you made me think that's a really important skill or area that UX designers need to be aware of and constantly learning because there's so much emphasis on software and pressure. You need to learn figma and sketch and this and that and every other thing and know the inside out of every Adobe product. It's like, well, you don't really need to, you're better to invest your time in these areas that are kind of timeless, the writing, the understanding how people consume content, all the marketing, I think too, so so important, even if you don't work in a marketing department.

Chris Misterek 37:53
So it's really focusing on the big picture things rather than the tools that help us with those big pictures.

Sarah Doody 38:00
Totally. Focus on the skills and the culture at large. I mean, I know that sounds very, very broad, but the overlap of digital and life and society really, and can't become an expert in all of that, but I think you'll gravitate towards certain things. This is one thing I encourage people to do as they kind of design their careers. Like, if you're very passionate about healthcare and technology will then go get really curious about that. We'll be able to translate into learning set. Even if you never work at a healthcare company, you'll find patterns that can apply to maybe work in a financial company. And you're like, well over here in the healthcare world, you know, I have these observations and they actually apply over here because it's the same behavior. It's just a different context. Does it make sense?

Chris Misterek 39:01
Yeah, no, that's great. And you know, because inevitably, UX design will change in probably ways that nobody was anticipating. And so if you garner those skills just to be valuable across multiple disciplines, no matter what we're calling it in the next 10 years, then you'll never struggle to find work. So I think that's such a valuable insight. Well, I could talk about this stuff all day long, and you have such great insight. I wonder if there's one thing that you could leave the audience with, before we wrap up? What would it be?

Sarah Doody 39:33
I think it's just to always stay curious. Treat curiosity like a muscle that you're always developing because that curiosity is going to allow you to get really good at spotting stuff, whether it's problems, opportunities, behaviors, trends, patterns, whatever. It's gonna create a magnet in your brain. And you will be armed with all of this knowledge and insight that you can just kind of like, at the drop of a hat, pull out. So many people that I've worked with in the past have said like, 'how do you remember that thing from this project three years ago? How did you connect that? You know how this website does this with this thing we're working on?' And I think I have just always been curious and amass this strange library of knowledge, which has served me really well because I said no to becoming an expert at visual design or learning flash or, you know, knowing how to truly code beyond HTML and CSS, and you kind of have to choose how you spend your time. So I would say stay curious.

Chris Misterek 40:49
That's awesome. Thank you so much. And if somebody were trying to find you online or wherever, where would they do that?

Sarah Doody 40:57
The best place is And I'm SarahDoody on all the YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. I think those are all the places I hang out. And then if you're kind of at the stage where you are thinking about your UX portfolio or interviewing, I have another site called And that's kind of the universe of all things related to that.

Chris Misterek 41:28
Yes. And I highly recommend that you go there, because it has helped me a lot in my journey. So the only other question I have is, when the book launches, will you come back on the podcast so we can talk about it?

Sarah Doody 41:41
Oh, yeah, I would love to. And, you know, I haven't announced what it really is about yet, or the title because it's a little bit in limbo. But the whole thing is taking UX principles and applying them to our everyday life. And I may have created a monster with this book. We'll have to wait and see but there's a lot of design that's gone into it. So I'm very excited.

Chris Misterek 42:05
Awesome. Can't wait to see it. Can't wait to read it. Sarah, thank you again for being on the podcast. Thank you. Wow, such fantastic insight from Sarah, I hope you benefited from it. I hope you got a lot out of it. I hope it helps you understand how to UX your own career, how to how to look at your own career and how you're applying for jobs in such a way that you see it from the potential employers perspective, because that's what UX is all about, right? It's all about trying to see things from different perspectives, so that you can make the best decision on what to do. And I know that it was helpful for me all those years ago when I was first getting started, and I'm sure it's helpful for you as well. Hey, I can't wait until next week. We have Mr. Chris Coyier and he is the founder of CSS tricks and He is a monster when it comes to all things front end web development, and we had a great chat. It's coming out Tuesday morning 12am set your alarm clocks, set your calendars. It's gonna be fantastic. You're not gonna want to miss it. We will see you there.

How to make a winning ux design portfolio || Two ux designers working on a project together


Hi, I'm Chris and I'm super glad you're here. 7 years ago I taught my self-web design and freelancing. Now, I do my best to teach others what I've learned so they don't have to struggle as much as I did.

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