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Get your next UX job: Create a killer sample deck


When you set out to land your next UX gig, you’ll want more than a stellar portfolio. Today’s hiring managers also want UX sample decks—a simple set of deliverables showing your skills. Looking to illustrate your depth of experience, tech abilities, visual skills, and versatility? Here’s your shot!

Here are top 10 tips on creating an impressive sample deck:

  1. Choose the right stuff. Hiring managers want to see sample decks in the following categories:
    • User interview documentation
    • Taxonomy documentation
    • Personas
    • User flows
    • Site maps
    • Wireframes
    • Design analysis
    • Specifications
    • Usability test result analysis

    Choose samples for each category, then create a single document for each. Some folks take a large design spec and include a random set of pages; others include a few sets of wires created in different software tools.

    1. Keep it short and sweet. This is a sample deck, not a library stack. These are not meant to be huge; they’re just highlights of your best stuff.
    2. Check the file size. Keep the file size under 1-2MB so it’s easy to email and quickly access on your laptop during an interview. PDFs work especially well for presenting these decks. Tip: Don’t use Zip files, as they’re blocked by many firewalls.
    3. Make each deck meaningful. Choose wisely and pick your best illustrative examples. A single screen with 17 possible states could put someone to sleep! Pull examples that show off your best solutions, your cleanest design, and your rockstar approach to navigation.
    4. Make it versatile. Mix in application, commerce, and content projects if you have them. When creating a deck to cover user flows, demonstrating your concise visual communication skills is key, but a complex task path is still a winner when it comes to strutting your UX stuff. Pick work that combines the two and you’ll have a great start to your deck.
    5. Go beyond your comfort zone. Include samples that demonstrate your ability to not only create your work in your “tool of choice” but other in applications as well.
    6. Show you’re up to a challenge. Most projects come with inherent challenges, and they stick out to any UX hiring manager pretty quickly. Focus on the heavy hitters and your ability to work in multiple areas: content-rich or graphic-heavy web sites, productivity tools, enterprise applications, intranets, web sites with limited screen real estate, redesign work, cross-browser solutions, and multi-device work.
    7. Paint a picture. Show your range and creativity in persona development. If you created these work products differently based on your client or project, show off that talent. Also, make personas so clear (and beautiful) that your clients feel like they already know each user. This is also a great time to scan your work and include some sketches.
    8. Demonstrate your ability to communicate the solution to other team members by providing annotated wireframes, crystal-clear documents, and unambiguous site maps.
    9. Abide by NDAs. Remove any pre-production information, employee names, and any other proprietary information. Having some trouble here? Remember that presenting something is better than presenting nothing, so do what you need to do: block out areas, strip out a footer, change labels, or remove entire sections. You can even reconstruct the work if you need to.

    Have questions about creating an outstanding sample deck? Contact your Aquent/Vitamin T agent to learn more about sample decks.

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