Project Completed: 2022
i’m not being conceited when i say ‘i’m really good at what i do.’ i also have a terrible time showing this “on paper” in a resume or portfolio.
why’s that you ask?
that’s a great question. but one thing that i have noticed is that for each task i’m doing for work, there are about a dozen or more pieces that go into that process that i just assume that everyone knows and/or does themselves. (i have no doubt that this is also related to being culturally conditioned as a female in the world, where things like confidence, intelligence, and decisiveness are painted as vulgar while being docile, helpless, and quiet are rewarded.)
so i put out my portfolio pieces, and expect them to speak for themselves. knowing full well that there are decades of unspoken skills that make up each and every detail.
let me explain…
if you are here because you are and employer looking for my UX portfolio, send me a message and i’ll email you the file directly. i have worked on a good share of corporate, NDA, and/or contract projects, so even though i don’t include sensitive examples in the portfolio, i still don’t feel comfortable posting it public on the web.
ok. now that’s out of the way…
i’ve been doing UX design for over two decades. and a lot of the time i’ve been self-employed, or working solo. so i’ve always been the one that has to do all the things. something comes up that i don’t know how to do? i learn it. a project runs into an unexpected problem? i figure it out. a client or company runs into time or budget constraints? i get creative and do what needs to be done.
even when i’m working as a part of a team in a big company or corporate situation and some issue comes up, i’ll jump in. for example, while doing UX on a big multi-million dollar project, my overseas development team was sending over work that was looking nothing like the design and functionality that i provided. after a few back and forth meetings that seemed to only resolve a small portion of the bugs, i finally got access to the source code, installed a local dev version on my computer, and pulled all the latest work. since the application was written in angular, i taught myself enough angular to pinpoint the issues in the code, created a new branch in the code repository to upload corrections to the designs, and had several meetings to address code standardization issues with the development team. i continued to run code review meetings as well as passed along concerns to upper management about the scalability of the code as it stood.
while this wasn’t technically in my job description, this was just a natural response for me. so to my surprise when talking to other UX designers throughout my career, i find out that almost no one had–or would have even thought of doing the same.
and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
it wasn’t until my 30’s that i became hyper-aware of communication struggles that are present for women in the professional world. anyone who has ever navigated business meetings as anything but a cis male will know all of this already. but to my surprise, still many people are completely unaware of all the extra work some individuals (like myself) have to perform when simply talking in a meeting.
let me preface this quickly. when i talk about those unaware, i mean those that literally have never been told or taught something. we don't know what we don't know, and that's never a judgment or personal attack. so this is to bring awareness to my experience not to accuse or offend. (unless you know these things already and make a conscious choice to continue to ignore voices in the room... just because you can... well, you are welcome to be offended. and please, feel free to take allllll the seats.)
so what do i mean about the communication struggles? i’m glad you asked. i’ll try to explain a bit of my experience with a story (or two)
many years ago, i was in a conference meeting, where i was one of the very few women in the room. i would speak up and present a solution or idea to the room in this brainstorming-type session. at the beginning, i noticed about 90% of the ideas i presented were completely ignored.
so within the first 10 minutes of the meeting, i took mental notes on everyone talking in the room (almost all men), noting everything from their body language, to how they spoke, the words they used, to how they were received when they said something. when i did say something, i noted who actually reacted and how receptive was their body language. from that, i could narrow down exactly who i needed to focus on to get my ideas heard. (pro-tip: it’s usually never the person leading the meeting) for the remainder of the meeting, i made sure my identified ‘target’ individuals heard my ideas, phrased them in a way that was familiar to them, and then when they would repeat them, the meeting leader heard and wrote them down.
at another meeting at a different company, i recognized right away that the male leadership was a bit of a ‘boys club’ and noticed how women in the company were constantly overlooked. (including being in a meeting room where there weren’t enough chairs… so the only other woman–who was EIGHT MONTHS PREGNANT, btw–was the one person sitting. on. the. floor. during the entire meeting. and not one person noticed) i knew right away that if i was going to be heard, i needed to mirror the alpha male in the room, EXACTLY. from which chair i sat in, my body language, to the volume and pace of conversation, and everything in between.
and guess what. it worked.
so while this all seems like a lot, it’s something that i do constantly. and i’m not alone.
this is just a natural survival process for any marginalized individual.
so i don’t really think about bringing this up, especially during a job interview. but you know what? this also helps me to have much greater empathy during user interviews, to see the subtle differences in what people say–both in words and in body language–to more clearly hear the frustrations, needs, passions, and pain points of people i meet.
but how exactly do i show that in a UX portfolio?
yeah. i don’t know either. but i did put together this multiple-page PDF to explain as best i can. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯