17 Feb 22

Portfolios should talk about personal challenges

Interesting take by Tanner Christensen on what makes a good design presentation.

His point is that the common presentation structure, which follows the design process, doesn't tell anything about you as an individual:

  • We discovered a problem or business need
  • I did some research
  • brainstormed a few solutions
  • prototyped and tested those solutions
  • learned some things and shipped.

Instead, he argues the story should be about your personal challenges when designing something (by following a storytelling arc):

  • (Background) Business was booming until we realized there was a vital need from our customers.
  • (Conflict) As a designer, I had never worked on a challenge like this before. I was anxious and worried.
  • (Rising action) I spent time experimenting and failing. I learned the importance of collaborating with product management and involving engineers in research.
  • (Climax) Do you think I succeeded?
  • (Falling action) I learned about a new development process and ended up creating a solution in record time.
  • (Resolution) I later shared the process I learned in a company all hands, and the solution we built has been growing in usage ever since.

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