Budi Tanrim’s Portfolio Advice

Budi is a designer I’ve admired for a few years now. His advice for building an effective product design portfolio is something I have also told many young designers.

A poor portfolio for product designers is when it only shows the artifacts (e.g. the screen). I’d consider it as a weak portfolio. Because it doesn’t help me to know whether a designer can make a good decision or at least have a good line of thinking. I don’t even know if the outcome help the team achieve the goal or learn something.

It does not matter how beautiful your mockups or screenshots are. I just wonder where they come from, why they exist, what problems they solved, etc.

An okay portfolio describes the problem and the result. I generally encourage people who don’t have enough time to go with this format. I will mostly be interested in this portfolio when I hire a junior-mid level.

This is crucial. Beautiful mockups are a start, but what problem do they solve? Your portfolio and presentation should be a series of problem/solution pairs.

A great portfolio provides context on why this project started. What are the customer problems and business challenges? Then the result of their solution. The approach is a bonus tho, I’m still okay when it doesn’t show a detailed process. Because at this point, I’ll be interested if I see they solve a complex problem before and can articulate it clearly.

Context, context, context. Do not simply give a real estate tour of an interface you designed. Focus on the story. What was the problem, why did you and your team work on this, what did you learn, etc.