5 Steps to Create Your Own UX Case Study
UX is a hot field today and the competition is to be reckoned with. According to the « Center Centre », UX Designer jobs are expected to grow 22% over the next 10 years.
That being said, simply submitting a typical resume stacked with expected deliverables is no longer enough to land you that UX position you’ve been eying for a while now.
If you want to enjoy success and for your application to stand out in the eyes of recruiters while skimming through a huge pile of profiles, you need to have a selection of high-quality and engaging UX case studies within your portfolio as a web designer, developer, or even a UX consultant.
Table of contents
- What is a UX case study?
- Why should you add UX case studies to your portfolio?
- The power of storytelling in UX case studies
- UX case study structure
- 5 steps to create the perfect UX case study
What is a UX case study?
Before we jump right in, let’s start with the basics. A UX case study is an example of design work that is included in a designer’s portfolio. Through written content and images, designers tell compelling stories that show how they tackled certain problems throughout the designing process of a specific project.
A UX case study can also be an effective tool to showcase a designer’s skill set and how they think, as well as articulate their design decisions clearly. In other words, a UX case study tells the story of each design project.
Why should you add UX case studies to your portfolio?
Long story short, UX case studies are the cornerstone to an excellent designer portfolio. They are the window to your professional practice, showing how you adapt, cooperate and ultimately solve challenges.
A key skill for UX professionals is the ability to communicate the reason behind any design decision. It’s not just about doing UX work, but also answering the “why” you did it.
It typically takes 5 minutes for recruiters to decide whether you’re a fit while skimming UX portfolios. Boosting your portfolio with 2-3 case studies will persuade recruiters by showing your skillset, thought process, and providing context to your actions and decisions.
Still not convinced? Well, let’s talk about how your career would change if you could write a clear and powerful story about each project in your UX portfolio.
Stating the obvious, we guarantee you would apply for more roles and get more interviews, but what’s even better is that you would make it further in the interview process with a lot more confidence.
And since recruiters are looking for candidates who can communicate through designs and are able to explain themselves clearly and compellingly, a well-groomed UX portfolio with good UX case studies will make you stand out as an effective communicator.
You would also get more offers and reach your next role faster with a well-brushed portfolio boosted with fine UX case studies.
Now that we’ve unraveled the powers of case studies and their impact on your career, let’s move on to the elements that make a UX study a good one.
“Every great design begins with an even better story.”– Lorinda Mamo, Designer and creative director
The power of storytelling in UX case studies
A UX case study is all about the art of storytelling. It has to have text and images compelling enough for the recruiter to want to invite you and know more about the project and you. It practically allows the recruiter to see the project through your own eyes and gives them an idea about how you are going to be solving their wicked UX problems.
Did you think we would leave you without some tips on structuring a good UX case study? Of course not. UX case studies have a structure similar to that of an ideas story. Ideas stories have the structure of discovery, and the questions “how”, “why”, and “what if”, questions typically asked by a UX designer. So, in this context, we have:
- A question that generates an answer; this is the UX problem
- The protagonist; you as a UX designer telling the story of how you answered this question and went through the process
- And finally, a conclusion, or in the other words the answer to the question; this is your final product.
Now you can almost see that, just like any story, a UX case study has a clear outline: a beginning, a middle or as we are going to call it a “process”, and an end that we will choose the word “conclusion” for.
UX case study structure
1. The beginning
Obviously, in this part, you should be explaining the question you are trying to answer, or the UX problem you are trying to solve. We recommend you write a clear statement that includes the goals, vision, and challenges to be addressed in your project.
It’s also important to mention your role in case you were part of a large UX team.
2. The process
This is where you should highlight the actions you took on your journey to solve the problem, and include appealing visual support of any design artifacts that you produced, such as sketches, diagrams, or photographs.
Keep in mind that the focus here is on the process, so it’s crucial to emphasize challenges, alternatives, decision points, and conflict resolution. Also, note that describing how the evolution took place from the point of depicting the problem until reaching the solution is also very useful.
3. The conclusion
Congratulations, you just completed your first UX case study. This part shows the final answer to the original question. But don’t just stop there. It’s not enough to simply show your final deliverable, you should also demonstrate the impact of your designed product and show how it improved the initial situation.
Add to that the lessons you learned throughout the process and how you used them in your experience later on and you’re good to go.
“We use stories not only to learn but also to speculate, to pose questions and then find solutions.”-Shannon Turlington
However, if you are still at a bit of a loss as to how to create your own UX case studies, either for the first time or because your previous efforts have been less than desirable, then you have come to the right place.
Let’s be real, writing about your UX project is not a piece of cake. But hey, we got you.
Below are five simple steps that are guaranteed to help you create a flawless UX case study with minimal effort and maximum results.
5 steps to create the perfect UX case study
Step 1: Write an overview
The beginning of any UX case study worth its salt should include a brief overview of the case study in question. This should include a short description (no more than four sentences) of the project and another paragraph about your specific role in its success.
For example, what were your main responsibilities? What specific services did you provide?
Step 2: Illustrate the problem & goal
A crucial part of the overall storytelling process is that you need to clearly explain your client’s problem and the goal the project aimed to achieve.
Try to give as many details as possible during this section, including specific numbers that will stand out to potential new clients.
For example, the client struggled to gain new email subscribers and set a goal of gaining 5,000 new ones.
Step 3: Identify the target audience
You need to ensure that you clearly identify the target audience within your UX case study, as this will give people a better insight into your overall design process.
Aim to detail:
- Who are they?
- How does the problem identified in step 2 affect them?
- What insights do you have about them?
Step 4: Describe the process
This will form the main part of your UX case study and should include, in detail, the different steps you took to complete the project.
Now is the time to show off what you can do. Don’t be afraid also to showcase ideas that didn’t make the cut but that you believe had great potential.
Elements that you may want to include in this section are:
- Any research you carried out on users
- User journey mapping
- Your choice of wireframes
- Any user testing you carried out
- UX writing
- UI design
If any collaboration was involved in the project, you should include this within this section as it is always a good idea to show that you can work well with others and as part of a team.
Step 5: Show the outcome
At the end of your UX case study, you should clearly demonstrate how you reached your desired goal and how you measured the project’s success.
Ensure that you include screenshots of the work you delivered and, if possible, any additional documentation that you created, such as style guides.
Now is also a good time to add a sentence or two about what you learned from this project, such as how it has helped you grow as a designer. Keep this brief, and don’t be afraid to mention something that went wrong as long as you show how you overcame it.
Now that you have the right tools, it’s time to dig deeper and start grooming your portfolio by building appealing UX case studies. It’s okay if you don’t get it right from the first try, you will get there!