How to write engaging case studies for your portfolio

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We examine 5 portfolios with powerful case studies.

Project case studies are one of the most important yet overlooked parts of building a design portfolio. In our efforts to design the perfect portfolio and showcase our visual work, we often rush the copy or omit it entirely, leaving only a shallow overview of who we are and what we can do. But dumping a bunch of photos on your project pages without any context sells your work short.

Case studies are so crucial to the success of a designer’s website that we built Semplice, a portfolio system for designers, entirely around them. (If you’re after design portfolio and case study inspiration, check out the Semplice Showcase.)

Your portfolio case studies are your opportunity to show prospective clients and employers how you think, how you work and what you can contribute to the world. Here are five examples of designers who do case studies well.

01. Liz Wells

Wells includes videos of her website designs in action

As a UX designer, Liz Wells has the unique task of making sitemaps, sketches, prototypes and user flows both visually engaging and concrete for her readers. She strikes the perfect balance in her portfolio case studies, highlighting work for brands like Google, Viceland and Spotify.

Wells shares the project story from challenge to solution, taking care to explain her process along the way. Photos, videos – even early sketches torn from her notebooks – are thoughtfully photographed and laid out. All of it works together to not only showcase Wells’ work, but also who she is and how she thinks.

Early brainstorms offer insight into the project

On my blog, I publish a series in which I interview top companies about how to get a design job where they work. Almost every company has voiced that they want to understand how you think and see your process.

Think about your project in phases and share your work – even the less glamorous notes and sketches, if they’re important to the story – from beginning to end, and you’ll find you have plenty to say. 

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