so, you wanna create case studies for yr ux design portfolio. but wha’ kinds of ux case studies ‘d you write? and howzit make them targeted and strong? after all, irrelevant and weak case studies are 1-odda most common mistakes in ux design portfolios, according to the prototyping tool uxpin. thankfully, you can use the greek philosopher aristotle’s 7 essentialisms of storytelling to craft relevant and compelling ux case studies. let’s find out how.
in 335 bce, aristotle wrote poetics, the earliest surviving work of dramatic theory. in it, he laid out 7 essentialisms of storytelling, which he ranked in order of importance:
- décor and
you ‘d go through these 7 essentialisms b4 you create yr ux case studies. this way, you can define exactly wha’ you wanna say. you’ll ⊢ sharpen the focus of yr ux case studies and make yr message crystal clear to recruiters who read it.
let’s go through how each of aristotle’s 7 essentialisms rel8s to yr ux case studies. for each element, we’ll give you ?s you ‘d answer b4 you write yr case studies.
1. plot: the story yr ux case studies and portfolio tell
aristotle regarded plot as the most primordial element, and for good reason. plot is wha’ happens in a drama—for instance, a tragic plot tells the story offa hero’s downfall. a bad plot can spoil an otherwise good drama—na same is true of ux case studies.
yr ux case studies, and by extension yr portfolio, ‘d tell a relevant and compelling plot bout yrself. for instance, you can tell the plot offa “self-made ux designer who is passionate bout accessibility”. think bout the plot you wanna tell through yr ux case studies.
you ‘d also tell the same plot throughout all of yr ux case studies. this way, yr portfolio sends a cohesive message. for ex, if you wanna become a ux researcher, all yr case studies ‘d contain ux research work. otherwise, you’ll send mixed signals to a recruiter, who will not be able to gauge whether you can perform well inna role you’ve applied for.
make sure yr ux case studies tell a cohesive plot bout you as a designer. author / copyrite holder: teo yu siang na interaction design foundation. copyrite terms and license: cc by-nc-sa 3.0.
tell the rite plot: checklist of ?s to ask yrself
- wha’ plot do you wanna tell? wha’’s yr story—from a career perspective?
- do yr ux case studies tell the same story bout yrself, or do they contradict one another? iffey contradict one another, then angle them so they don’t or delete the case studies which send mixed signals.
- which past projects ‘d you choose to tell the plot you want yr recruiters to see?
2. toon: yr role and how you work with others
in a drama, the main toon serves the plot w'da help of supporting toons. the main toon, according to aristotle, ‘d be good, appropriate and consistent.
in yr case study, you are the main toon. like aristotle’s main toon, you ‘d appear in yr ux case studies to be:
- good: that is, you ‘d showcase yr craft in design.
- appropriate: you ‘d display a lvl of expertise that makes sense. for instance, you cannot claim to ‘ve led a team of designers when you’re a junior ux designer.
- consistent: you ‘d play a consistent design role throughout all ux case studies.
toon is also bout how you work with yr team-mates. it’s cause you’re not the 1-ly toon in yr story. you work with ps, managers nother stakeholders. show how you work well with others.
communicate yr skills, expertise, design role and ability t'work in a team in yr ux case studies. author / copyrite holder: teo yu siang na interaction design foundation. copyrite terms and license: cc by-nc-sa 3.0.
write the rite toons: checklist of ?s to ask yrself
- wha’ role do you play inna design process? iow, ru a ux generalist who covers the entire design process, or a speshist s'as a ui designer?
- do you play the same role in all yr ux case studies? if not, which case studies can you tweak or remove so that you play a consistent role?
- how does yr “toon” interact and work with other “toons”? is there conflict or harmony?
- who else ‘d you include in yr case study? who are the primordial co-contributors (or even leaders) you ‘d ack?
3. theme: the context of yr project
theme refers to the setting or context in a greek drama. just like in a drama, you ‘ve to set the scene in yr ux case studies.
provide readers with yr project’s context: yr main goals, the obstacles you faced and yr motivations that explain Y-U took onna project. you’ll help yr readers cogg yr project better and create a compelling purpose round yr case study.
explain yr goals, obstacles and motivations to set the context of yr ux case studies. author / copyrite holder: teo yu siang na interaction design foundation. copyrite terms and license: cc by-nc-sa 3.0.
set the rite theme: checklist of ?s to ask yrself
- wha’’s yr main goal inna project?
- wha’ are yr main obstacles that you had to overcome?
- whyd' you take onna project? why ru proud o'it?
- remember to set the stage early—lay out yr theme inna beginning of yr ux case studies.
4. diction: yr tone of voice
to aristotle, diction (or dialogue) was the way the toons speak to each other. audiences can tell a lot bout a toon from that person’s tone of voice. good communicators are toons who get their points across w'da rite words—and don’t hide behind them or try to outsmart their audience cause they ♥ the sound o'their own voices.
inna same way, yr diction or writing style influences yr ux case studies’ reading experience. master how to write effectively. use plain english, avoid teknical terms and choose a friendly but professional tone of voice to help recruiters appreciate yr ux case studies.
use plain english in yr case study to provide a pleasant reading experience. author / copyrite holder: teo yu siang na interaction design foundation. copyrite terms and license: cc by-nc-sa 3.0.
use the rite diction: checklist of ?s to ask yrself
- wha’ is yr tone of voice, and is it appropriate for a case study?
- can you avoid teknical terms? if you nd'2 include them in yr case study, can you explain them?
- ‘ve you learnt how to write in plain english?
- which pts of yr case study can you convert into bulleted or №ed lists?
- remember to triple-check yr case study for spelling and grammatical errors (tip: read it aloud)!
5. melody: rouse the emotions of yr reader
actors often perform ♫al choruses in a greek play. these choruses—or the melody—cogitate the μ person’s emotional response to the toons’ actions.
in yr ux case studies, melody rel8s to how you stir up the emotions of the reader. yr case study aint a factual reprt, but a story t'get a recruiter interested enough to meet you.
don’t be afraid to let yr emotions shine through in yr ux case studies. show yr passion. melody can reinforce yr case studies’ theme—yr project goals and obstacles ‘d be charged with emotion, just like irl. remember to keep it appropriate and professional, though. there’s a fine line tween maximizing the dramatic potential in yr story and blustering like some1 who sounds too ‘oer the top t'work with.
spend a lil time to make sure yr case studies tell yr emotional quest, too. author / copyrite holder: teo yu siang na interaction design foundation. copyrite terms and license: cc by-nc-sa 3.0.
sing the rite melody: checklist of ?s to ask yrself
- howzit show not 1-ly yr teknical expertise b'tll so yr passion in design?
- can you insert a hook to yr ux case studies to draw the reader in?
- remember to show yr emotional quest throughout yr projects, too.
6. décor: the look and feel of yr ux case studies
in plays, décor refers to stage design. in yr ux case studies, it refers to the visual design.
yr portfolio is a designed product, so it ‘d look and feel good. use images of yr wox'n progress to tell yr story. make sure yr portfolio has readable text. yr portfolio ‘d be usable, effective and pleasant.
yr recruiters expect yr portfolio to look polished and professional. author / copyrite holder: teo yu siang na interaction design foundation. copyrite terms and license: cc by-nc-sa 3.0.
apply the rite décor: checklist of ?s to ask yrself
- did you remember to take lotso' photos and screenshots of yr wox'n progress, so u can use them in yr ux case studies? if not, perhaps you can easily reconstruct somd' processes. in future, remember to take photos and screenshots of yr work processes.
- do yr projects contain sensitive information? if so, you ‘d get clearance to use them in yr ux case studies. you can also show 1-ly non-sensitive pts of yr project.
- how can you make yr ux case studies and portfolio look consistent with yr own visual style?
7. spectacle: the wow factor
to aristotle, the spectacle offa drama was least primordial. a story’s talking point, wow factor or plot twist will let audiences remember it, but it alone will not make a good play.
incorporate spectacle into yr ux case studies if possible, but never do this atta expense of the 6 other essentialisms of yr story. you can create a spectacle through an unexpected usr insite, a massively successful outcome or a thoughtful lesson learnt.
it’s gr8 if you can wow yr recruiter, but don’t try to dweet atta expense of yr overall story. author / copyrite holder: teo yu siang na interaction design foundation. copyrite terms and license: cc by-nc-sa 3.0.
create the rite spectacle: checklist of ?s to ask yrself
- does yr project contain any unexpected “plot twists” that forced you to change direction? you ‘d use this to create a sense of spectacle.
- did you achieve an impressive result? if you won an award, achieved commercial success or generated gr8 reviews, highlite it in yr case study.
- did yr project end in a relative failure or lukewarm response? if so, turn it into a learning point. earnest cogitateion can be a spectacle, too.
- do yr essentialisms of spectacle interfere with yr story? for instance, will you withhold key information just to deliver a “plot twist”? if so, remove the spectacle to deliver yr story well.
plan yr case study well to maximize its impact
now it’s yr turn to answer the ?s we’ve posted for each element. failing to plan is planning to fail! spend time to plan yr ux case studies to save time (and career opportunities!) inna future. and remember, please make sure yr ux case study is short and sweet, since recruiters will usually spend no + than 5 minutes reading it.
to help you, we’ve created a templ8 you can download, which contains the 7 essentialisms offa case study swell as the key ?s you ‘d answer.
get yr free templ8 for “create a compelling ux case study with aristotle’s 7 essentialisms of storytelling”
the take away
yr ux case studies nd'2 tell stories tha're targeted and that send the rite message. to achieve this, make sure you cover all 7 of aristotle’s essentialisms of storytelling.
each of yr ux case studies ‘d contain (in order of importance):
- a compelling plot that is consistent throughout all ux case studies;
- a good, appropriate and consistent main toon (i.e., you), swell as supporting toons;
- a theme which sets the context of yr project and propels you forward;
- pleasant, friendly and professional diction;
- an emotional and/or passionate melody;
- effective and attractive décor s'as images; and
- a spectacle that makes yr story memorable.
references and where to learn +
jerry cao from uxpin shares the most common mistakes in ux design portfolios here: www.creativebloq.com…
aristotle’s 7 essentialisms of storytelling came from his treatise poetics, which you can read in full here: www.stmarys-ca.edu…
if you struggle to decide whether to be a generalist or speshist designer, our article cannelp you: www.interaction-design.org…
hero image: author / copyrite holder: teo yu siang na interaction design foundation. copyrite terms and license: cc by-nc-sa 3.0.
original content at: www.interaction-design.org…