Ask Spotify Design 06 | Spotify Design


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Spotify Design Team

Andreia Loureiro

Here at Spotify Design, one thing has develop into very clear to us: you’re hungry for our group’s recommendation on portfolios! We rounded up your considerate questions on this matter and put them to 4 of our designers — the individuals who know a factor or two about hiring design expertise. From the must-includes to the most important pitfalls, by way of the artwork of case research storytelling, learn on for his or her professional suggestions, accompanied by illustrated portraits by designer Andreia Loureiro.

How do you inform participating product design and course of tales in a case research?

The technique to inform an interesting product design course of story is to elucidate it such as you’re telling a narrative to a very good pal. The tendency is to stroll via step-by-step and clarify what was carried out at every level however when sharing in a public discussion board, it may well get repetitive and tedious, each for the viewers and the speaker. 

Structurally, all the time open up with the fundamentals: 

Then think about you’re sitting down at lunch along with your pal and so they ask you “what happened?”. Keep in thoughts that your pal is just not a product designer and has no concept in regards to the processes. Avoid acronyms and jargon, and use layman’s phrases. 

Think about:

  • Why did the enterprise determine to deal with this downside? 

  • How have been choices made? 

  • How did you collaborate and with who? 

Remember to not solely speak in regards to the steps however the expertise itself and what occurred in between every step which led to the subsequent.

Finish off your story with a mirrored image. Product design is a unending, iterative course of, so it’s good to see how somebody is just not solely interested by suggestions and iterations, but in addition the method itself. It’s additionally nice to share the missteps and the way you’d like to enhance on them sooner or later.


  • The classes you realized

  • The abilities you constructed upon 

  • What the subsequent steps have been or could be

  • What you’d change for subsequent time

The technique to be participating is to be trustworthy. There are highs and lows to each mission, and you must share them. Talk about: once you needed to tackle a brand new ability since you didn’t have a useful resource; the way you discovered decision along with your mission companions, and when stakeholders rejected your work midway via the timeline. Those might seem to be stuff you don’t need to share however these are essentially the most priceless issues. They present the way you apply the product design course of in your personal method and the way you navigate the ups and downs that include the work naturally. 

As product designers, we all know that the method is never excellent. There are errors, typically steps get skipped, and there are all the time obstacles. The method you inform the story ought to mirror the adaptability of the method, fairly than observe the method to a T. 

— Ashley Moody, Product Designer II

What’s the best portfolio construction?

The format: on-line portfolio or PDF?

The major consideration when selecting between an internet or PDF portfolio is what format you are feeling most comfy and assured presenting with. Which one serves you finest in presenting your self and your work? You might need to take into account each — for instance, an internet portfolio showcasing your whole work and a presentation you may tailor for an interview with a choose few initiatives.

If you go for an internet portfolio, prioritize digestibility for each recruiters and hiring managers. Think about issues like:

  • Hierarchy – what data would you like your viewers to see first? What data is most essential? 

  • Scannability – how are you going to use clear mission thumbnail photographs to entice the viewer to dive in? What visuals will finest convey your design course of and methods of considering? Are readers capable of rapidly ingest after which digest your content material?

  • Ease of use – is it straightforward to navigate and to dig into your work? 

  • Site/PDF structure – how are you going to show your inventive talents and your organizational and communication abilities by way of the way you construction and current your work?

If you go for a PDF presentation, make the most of the truth that you should have full management over the order by which the viewers will see your work. Think via the narrative arc: what initiatives do you begin and finish with? 

In each circumstances, take into consideration how one can thoughtfully craft a walkthrough and information the viewers. 

The excellent construction

While there’s nobody construction to rule all of them, there are some normal finest practices that might assist information you within the creation course of. Ultimately, you need your viewers to really feel one thing, so figuring out what you need them to really feel on the outset will enable you to construct the fitting construction to help your story.

Make certain to tailor your portfolio to its viewers – what do they need to see? What abilities are essential to showcase for the position you’re making use of for? For instance, if you happen to’re making use of for a task as a product designer, show impactful and progressive work, and methods you’ve labored with non-design disciplines to create one thing wonderful. Hiring managers like to see the way you’ve tackled an issue from begin to end. Entertain us with the ups and downs of the journey and share as a lot as you may in regards to the course of as the tip deliverable itself.

Introduce your self

Set the stage: showcase your background and expertise, share your goal and what drives you. Think about the way you need to place your self. What sort of designer are you? What are you good at? What form of issues do you need to work on? Where do you need to develop? What might you deliver to the crew? 

The work:

Impactful opening

Think in regards to the first impression somebody will get from the work from the opening mission slide or thumbnail in your web site. Entice them in with a single sentence in regards to the mission.


Provide related data that helps contextualize the mission. Ask your self: what is totally crucial for my viewers to know in regards to the mission to be able to perceive my choices and output? Consider issues like enterprise wants, your position within the mission, the section you have been in (was this a discovery mission, a imaginative and prescient piece or have been you bettering one thing that already exists?), in addition to the market and your crew’s mission. 

What was the duty at hand? What have been you requested to ship? Were there any necessities or constraints? What did you outline as success? Are there related metrics which are essential to share? 

Who was the supposed viewers? What have been their wants and behaviors? What do you know or not find out about them?

Your design course of 

This is the chunkiest a part of the case research and your alternative to articulate your course of and the completely different steps you took from starting to finish. Hiring managers need to perceive your considering, insights, and design strategy. 

What actions have been you answerable for? What steps did you’re taking? For instance, did you conduct any audits, assessment present knowledge and analysis? What strategies did you employ to give you concepts? What inputs helped to create your perspective?

How did you interpret data from analysis periods or A/B take a look at outcomes? How did you make sense of the knowledge to type robust hypotheses? How did you derive perception and make design choices primarily based on these findings?

What ideas did you discover?How are you able to curate essentially the most related explorations to share? What design iterations did you make and what was your rationale behind your design selections?

What is the refined design route that was chosen? Were there any collaborations that came about to get to the ultimate article (e.g. with UX Writing, Legal and so on)?

Shipping your answer 

What did this a part of the method appear like? How did you collaborate with engineering to ship your deliverable? Did you’re employed with anybody else on this section (e.g. Marketing or Editorial)?


What was the impression? Are there any outcomes or learnings you may share, both quantitative or qualitative? 

The outro (after your case research)

Remember to finish on a memorable excessive — this is a chance to share a remaining pitch and show the worth you may deliver to the corporate you’re dreaming of working for! You can present any suggestions or testimonials right here to point out how others have felt working with you. Make certain to supply contact data to make it straightforward for the hiring supervisor or recruiter to observe up and get in touch with you (e-mail, cellphone quantity, social hyperlinks).

Extra issues

Consider the precise design of the portfolio (typography, hierarchy, guides/grids) 

Apply design ideas to form the appear and feel – it’s in itself a design train.

Consistency of construction throughout initiatives 

Create a construction that may work all through – it helps to create a cohesive narrative that’s straightforward to observe.

Be conscious of the steadiness of textual content 

How can textual content help the visuals? How would possibly you concisely annotate the work and leverage image language to not make the presentation really feel overly text-heavy?

Consider a various vary of initiatives

This might help to showcase your flexibility to adapt to completely different issues.

Make one thing you like

Most importantly, when making a portfolio, make certain it’s one thing that you simply love and really feel enthusiastic about sharing!

— Rosie Ferris, Product Design Manager

How do I hold the steadiness of creativity and professionalism in my work?

Good information! Being a product designer means a part of your job is to be inventive. I imagine that the extra you should utilize creativity deliberately, on this case in service of displaying off your personal design competencies, the higher.

First establish what your depth is as a designer. Different out of your breadth of abilities, your depth is the kind of work you end up gravitating in direction of naturally. What initiatives excite you essentially the most? Are they on the illustration and visible design finish, or movement and animation initiatives? Do you take pleasure in technical challenges and prototyping in code? 

After you establish your depth, you should utilize it in a significant technique to exhibit your portfolio initiatives. Not solely will this enable you to differentiate your portfolio in a sea of submissions however it is going to additionally assist recruiters and designers see what kind of labor you most take pleasure in, regardless of the precise initiatives you might have labored on.

For instance, if you happen to’ve bought wonderful visible design chops, I’d hope to see this mirrored within the structure, styling, and private branding in your website. If you excel in movement design, you can experiment with including little animated prospers all through your portfolio.

Vicki’s animated portfolio website

The purpose of your portfolio is to assist others perceive in case your expertise and skillset could be a very good match for his or her crew and firm, but it surely’s additionally to know the place you naturally excel and the place you would possibly need to develop in direction of.

— Vicki Tan, Associate Principal Product Designer

What are the most important pitfalls to keep away from when submitting a portfolio?

The portfolio solely works in a single display decision

This looks like an apparent one but when your portfolio is just optimized for large screens, anybody with a smaller display decision may have a tough time making an attempt to navigate and browse your portfolio. Test your portfolio on completely different screens earlier than hitting the ship button!

Sending a portfolio with damaged hyperlinks

This is a real mistake that the majority of us make in some unspecified time in the future. Check that every one the interior hyperlinks are working and in case you have password-protected case research, make certain to incorporate the password alongside your software.

Having a portfolio with quite a lot of case research

Think about your portfolio like a store window. Stores do not put all of the stock within the window; they simply add the chosen items they need to spotlight that season. Your portfolio ought to be comparable: select 3-4 case research that finest characterize who you’re as a designer.  

Having an excessive amount of (or not sufficient) data within the case research 

Your portfolio ought to be straightforward to scan and browse, but it surely also needs to talk your course of and impression on the mission. Finding the steadiness of offering sufficient context with out getting an excessive amount of into the small print is tough to attain. If you are not fully certain, put your self within the footwear of the recruiter or hiring supervisor reviewing the portfolio. Is this data obligatory? Would it nonetheless talk the primary problem if I eliminated it? Is it clear what my contribution to this mission was?

Having solely remaining mocks within the case research

Final designs are important however they are not all the pieces. A case research ought to present your course of, from preliminary sketches and wireframes to iterations on the ultimate UI. Don’t be afraid of including issues that are not polished or did not make the lower.

— Daniela Estevez Fernandez, Senior Product Designer


Spotify Design Team

We’re a cross-disciplinary crew of people that like to create nice experiences and make significant connections between listeners and creators.

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Andreia Loureiro


Andreia is a designer (and occasional illustrator) primarily based in Portugal, working broadly between digital, editorial and branding initiatives.

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