How To Build A UX Writing Portfolio that Actually Gets You Hired (Even With Zero Experience)
A UX writing portfolio is one of your most important professional assets, whether you’ve been in UX writing for several years or just starting up and looking for a first job. If you want to get hired by a brand-name company or at least get an interview invitation, make sure you have a well-structured portfolio on hand.
So let’s see how to build a UX writing portfolio, what types of UX copy it should include, and how to structure it.
Why Build A UX Writing Portfolio?
A polished UX writing portfolio will present you as a strong candidate to companies seeking UX writing talent, which is extremely valuable in an incredibly fast-growing industry!
The bad news is that a mere CV may not get you hired, even if you had previously worked as a UX writer for a brand-name company. Employers want to make sure your writing style matches their brand voice, and that you have what it takes to be a successful UX writer. The good news is that with the thought-out portfolio you can land a dream job even if you have zero practical experience.
A UX writer portfolio should not just showcase different types of UX copy, but offer an overview of the work process and, if possible, the measurable results (e.g., increase in product sign-ups).
Beginner UX writers might find it hard to back up their writing portfolios with some quantifiable data, so instead, they should highlight relevant skills to demonstrate they are qualified for the job.
What Should You Include In Your Writing Portfolio?
Consider putting yourself in your potential employer’s shoes when building your UX writing portfolio. Ask yourself why companies hire UX writers in the first place, what they expect to achieve by hiring a UX writer, and build a UX writing portfolio that meets their needs.
For example, if your portfolio is hard to navigate and it’s not clear what exactly you did for the project you showcase, how are you going to convince the client you will create an easy-to-use UX copy for them?
Remember to include at least these five components into your portfolio:
- Personal statement: As we already discussed in this article, soft skills are a game-changer in UX writing. Training someone how to use prototyping software or other technical tools needed for this job is an easy task compared to learning team-working skills or empathy.
UX writing requires a lot of teamwork and interpersonal skills, and employers are looking for people who will understand the users’ needs and will communicate effectively with their co-workers. This is why companies do give preference to those who possess outstanding soft skills.
So tell your potential clients/employers what kind of person you are, what your superpowers are, and how you’ll use these skills in a work environment.
- Contact information: If you want your UX writing portfolio to get you hired, make it easy for hiring managers/potential clients to contact you. Having only a contact form or a specialized social network for designers as a way to connect to you is a bad idea. Consider adding as many contact details as possible: email, phone number, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.
- Testimonials: If you have already worked as a UX writer, be sure to include testimonials from your previous clients/employers.
- Your actual work: Provide the best UX writing samples and case studies as long as they are not under NDA (non-disclosure agreement). We’ll show you how to create compelling case studies that showcase your best skills below.
- Hard skills: List the tools, project management methodologies/frameworks (e.g., Agile, Scrum, Kanban, etc.) you are familiar with.
These are the types of UX copy that would benefit your portfolio:
- Call to action buttons
- Product newsletter (e.g., sign-up newsletters)
- User onboarding screens
- Landing pages
- Error notifications, etc.
Demonstrate your work with case studies, not just simple screenshots. A case study offers both an insight into your creative process and a visual representation of the product before and after you stepped in.
How many case studies are enough for a convincing UX writing portfolio?
In most cases, 3 to 5 would be sufficient. Just as nobody reads boring multi-page resumes, nobody will sift through case studies on every tiny project you’ve ever done. Therefore, keep it short.
How To Write A UX Writing Case Study That Will Get You Hired?
Case studies help to illustrate your role in a project, the problems you discovered, and how you solved them.
Here is a sample structure for a case study:
Give your UX writing case study a clear, concise title that will identify both the key focus of the project (e.g., “Writing user onboarding screens for a parking app”).
Now describe the project context, your role (e.g., “I wrote copy for 2 landing pages as well as 5 onboarding screens”), and an outcome (e.g., “The app was launched in August 2020 and gained 1 million installations within the first two months”).
Project goal and timeline
Describe what and why needed to be done, what was the overall project timeline.
What were the challenges/limitations you had to deal with? Maybe, the navigation was too complicated and required a revamp? Or did you first have to verify that users really needed the features you were supposed to write copy for? Define the issues you had to fix before you started writing to demonstrate to potential employers/clients your analytical and problem-solving skills.
Your role in the project
What exactly did you do: research, microcopy, or something else? If companies are looking for people to fill similar roles, this part of the case study will help them understand whether you will be a good fit.
Describe the UX writing process step by step, to help others understand why you made the decisions you did. For example, you used website analytics to identify user personas you would be writing for, and adjusted your brand voice and tone accordingly.
You need to quantify the results of the project, not just describe them (e.g., “New email taglines had a 30% increase in open rate”): this is how you show your impact on the overall product performance and prove your value to the customer.
Lessons learnt (optional)
Share some insights you had during the project or mistakes you made and fixed. This part will show your commitment to professional growth, self-criticism, and analytical skills.
How To Present Your UX Writing Portfolio?
Website portfolios and PDF portfolios are the most popular ways to approach this, and both have their benefits.
If you decide to go with a website portfolio, the easiest way is to use a platform like Squarespace or Wix. These content management platforms offer both a personal domain name, hosting space, and customizable templates with no coding or technical skills required.
Both Wix and Squarespace offer templates specifically designed for portfolio websites, which makes the design process much faster.
An additional advantage of having a portfolio website is that you can use analytics to track visitors, get insights into their preferences, and turn these findings into yet another UX writing case.
As for PDF portfolios, you do not have to pay for a domain name, hosting, or using a content management system. You can also print out your portfolio and take it with you to interviews.
On the other hand, you will need to invest more time into designing your PDF portfolio from scratch. Keep in mind that ATSs (applicant tracking systems) have limitations on the size of files you can attach to your job application. So think twice before you decide to go with a PDF portfolio instead of a website.
How to Build a UX Writing Portfolio If You Have No Experience?
If you are new to the UX writing industry and have no experience, creating a portfolio may seem impossible. But it really isn’t!
Ask someone who runs a business (it can be a local cafe with a one-page website, actually) if you could write a microcopy for them. Document the entire process and here you go – your first case study!
Another approach could be to pretend that you’ve been hired to improve the UX copy for an existing website. Make screenshots, explain what you would change, why you would change it, and how you would go about doing so.
You could also show initiative and offer such a UX copy makeover to a company you want to work for. Just make sure not to be too critical: after all, you don’t have the necessary data to decide what works and what doesn’t.