How might we help budding UX Designers improve their portfolios so that they can better prepare for the industry and have a higher success rate when applying for jobs/internships?
To create a real-time collaborative environment for budding designers to receive feedback from the design community and industry professionals on their portfolios.
“No more general feedback. This is exactly what I need. Looking forward to using this a lot!” — Shawn Wilson
Presentation Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i2t4UivVjgs
Our goal with Blocs is to address the problem budding designers have in regards to receiving critiques on their portfolios to better prepare them for the industry and have a higher success rate when applying for jobs. With our team being all designers, we identified a common problem we all experienced; having difficulty getting feedback on our portfolios. Currently, the only ways for designers to get feedback is through one-on-one sessions with designers, group sessions that charge a fee, or most commonly through Reddit or Discord where comments are usually lost under other people’s portfolios or comments, due to the volume of members in the channel or forum.
The first feature we included in our prototype was the “pick-mentee-portfolio” tab that can be accessed by clicking the relevant emoji role. Once you click the emoji role, the relevant portfolio tab will pop up and you will be able to view questions posed by the mentee and the link to the Figma prototype.
The second feature we included was Asynchronous feedback. Once you click the Figma link, the mentor will view the questions posed by the designer and can provide relevant feedback through the ‘Comment’ functionality and ‘General Questions’ component.
The last feature we included was Synchronous feedback. Within this feature, users can go back into the Discord server, click the queue bot, and will be entered into a queue to have a voice chat with the original designer. Once it is their turn to speak, the mentee will move them into the voice chat and the mentor can speak with them 1 on 1.
For our prototype evaluation session, we had three students (two team members and a class volunteer) offer their portfolios in advance to be critiqued and had class participants act as critique-givers. After walking participants through the prototype, we split into three groups of around 12 students, with each group focusing on one specific portfolio.
One drawback of our prototype session was that it required participants to jump between three different platforms: Discord, Figma, and Zoom. So there was some confusion at first when we explained the prototype. Moving forward, we ensured that giving both synchronous and asynchronous feedback, and networking with others, could be done from a single platform instead of jumping between different platforms.
Other issues our participants expressed include no incentive to review a portfolio, no guidelines on how to build successful portfolios and ask good critique questions, and not enough opportunities to get to know the reviewers and network with others. To address those issues, we added a points system based on a user’s activity and contributions, a resources page to get portfolio/critique advice, and live “design happy hours” for people to network and share their work in a group setting.
But overall, our participants reacted positively to our prototype and liked having the option to give both synchronous feedback through actual calls and asynchronous feedback through comments. All of our participants said that the critique cards were helpful when providing feedback, and the majority said that being able to receive asynchronous feedback from multiple people and comment directly on portions of someone’s portfolio were the most helpful features, because other platforms don’t allow a designer to receive specific, structured feedback on their portfolio.
Easy access and onboarding to Blocs through social media authentication.
Provide an open page where users can view the different types of portfolios available to review.
Specific mentee page where mentors can view questions posed by the mentee and leave feedback. Users can also join the queue or schedule a separate call. Tools are available to provide comment and annotation functionality.
In addition, we created a version history feature, similar to what Google Docs or Github has, for your portfolios where you can access different versions of your portfolio after receiving feedback. This feature might be very useful for mentors to check in on the portfolios they critiqued. Also, having contribution scores is a great incentive for mentors to keep helping budding designers.
Get advice on how to make a good portfolio, write effective critique questions, and learn how to give constructive feedback.
From our user testing, users wanted to be able to hop on group critiques on top of the 1–1 sessions, so we gave them that. Users now have the ability to jump into live chats and video calls with other designers and discuss a portfolio, or just have a casual networking session.
Schedule a 1 on 1 call with the mentee to speak more in-depth about the portfolio.
Social Structures / Complexities
Typically social networking sites need to be adopted by a wider audience before they can really gain traction and take off. The interaction between mentors and mentees would evolve over time creating a more personalized connection to the design community. We cannot anticipate how long it will take for the platform to be adopted by bigger designers in order to gain more adoption.
Our platform both supports crowdsourced design critique through the direct commenting feature and direct expert help through happy hours and one-on-ones. Research shows that crowdsourced feedback is a viable substitute for expert help.
If we’re able to create a safer space that allows people to comfortably get and receive feedback we should be able to overcome all these challenges. Our team believes that after we receive more live user feedback and integrate we can create an environment where designers regardless of experience can truly connect to one another through this community.
Team Name: Munder Difflin LLC TM
Adam Syed: UX Design, Prototyping, Visual Design, Competitive Analysis, Research Report, Notion Case Study, High Fidelity Prototyping
Yared Mekbib: Helped created discord server / low fidelity prototype, research, brainstorming, final slides, and a little bit of everything
Thi Nguyen: Helped come up with the idea, worked on the pitch draft on notion, the pitch slides, the research report, distributed surveys, helped make the figma for prototyping, helped make the final design, final slide.
Shimika Basuroy: ideation, user research, visual design on Figma. Contributed to slides for pitch decks, evaluation sessions, and final presentations. Contributed to the research report.
Taranjot Samra: Ideation, Pitch draft, worked on notion, Pitch Slides, Survey, Visualizations of Data, Visual Design — Figma, UX Research, final slides.