Decolonization & Portfolio Tips

Today is Canada Day, but a lot of people (myself included) are not celebrating, choosing instead to reflect on decolonization and learn about Indigenous history.


Resource: Settler responsibility Google Doc

I went to a workshop on decolonization and being a good ally to Indigenous communities.

We went over the wheel of power/privilege and thought about things that weren’t included on the wheel (image below), like religion, age, access to resources, and attractiveness.

Dr. Chris Simpson on Twitter: "The wheel of power/privilege. It is the  responsibility of those of us with power and privilege to help to dismantle  this structure. #equity. I will work to
The middle of the wheel is where most of the power is concentrated, while the outside is marginalized. An example is the section on wealth, with rich on the inside and poor on the outside.

We also discussed what decolonization means and wrote a group poem. It was really engaging.

Mac vs Windows PC

I’m kind of worried that I’m at a disadvantage because I have Windows PC instead of Mac. For example, I can’t use Sketch, Principle, Origami Studio, etc. A lot of people told me Figma is usually used though.

The power of code and data

Cool site about the average colours of the world:

Portfolio Tips

I attended Design Buddies’ Portfolio Review event.

Full notes:

General tips

  • Have a strong personal brand that stands out
  • Be mindful of consistency, layouts, and accessibility (with colours, images, and animation)
  • Don’t have the “coming soon” (unclickable) at the top; if you can’t click it and it doesn’t add value, reconsider
  • Be aware of consistency in job titles – showcasing “Intern” versus “Director of Design” in the same portfolio
    • But also be honest of where you’re at in your design journey
  • Use storytelling throughout
    • Have an intro, rising action, climax/problem/turning point, falling action, and resolution for your projects (and you can use it for your about page and other pages too)
  • Adding a caption to explain the context of your work is always good, especially for pages like “playground” – this plays into storytelling as well
  • Recruiters and hiring managers are the target audience you’re designing for in your portfolio product
  • If you’re unsure of which job you want, you can tailor your portfolio for a specific industry
  • Tell a cohesive narrative, make sure loops are closed, and be picky about what you talk about


  • Have good art direction – your images/visuals shouldn’t be boring
    • You can use photo scenes of phones and mock up your app on those instead of floating phone screens
    • There are some free mockups in Figma plugins or Artboard Studio (not sure if these are still free though)
  • Angled/diagonal mockups are hard to read – they’re visually pleasing as a cover photo, but not when you’re trying to showcase an app mockup

About page

  • Show your personality
  • You can have a mission/vision statement too and what you’re passionate about (like accessibility and ethical design)

Case studies/projects

  • Example:
  • Add visuals for scannability and readability
  • Highlight key takeaways for skimming
  • If you have a demo video that’s long, embed an animation instead to highlight it
  • Use Grammarly to check how long of a read it is
    • If it’s longer than 10 minutes, distill it down; but scannability is more important than a specific time
    • The details are more for an interview; on your portfolio website, it should just be the highlights to entice the recruiter
  • It’s good if you write a short sentence about what the project is trying to do (not just saying the title of the project)
  • The titles of your case studies can be pseudo-goal statements
    • Example: “Incentivizing preventative health outcomes as part of the continuum of care”
    • Another example: Instead of saying I work at Thriver or going general and captioning with “Relaunching the platform” I say, “(Re)building a platform for a wide range of workplace services at scale”

Stating the problem

  • Be specific and tell a story
  • Include business problems
  • If you are specific, you can talk about the impact you had more effectively

Importance of metrics

  • Talk about the quantifiable impact you had
  • Metrics will depend on the problem you’re solving and your goal
  • You need to understand your metrics and explain why you chose it
    • The thinking is more important than the actual metric
  • What if I don’t have metrics?
    • Share what and how you would measure success (remember it has to make sense with the problem you’re solving)
  • Think about key metrics to validate your assumptions – what is your North Star metric?
    • Relate it back to your initial goal
    • If you’re designing to improve conversion rate, then it’s conversion rate
  • You can also measure user experience and business outcomes (task completion rate, increased number of subscribers, etc.)
  • Other metrics include:
    • Daily Active Users
    • Retention rate
    • Click through rate
    • Satisfaction with experience
    • Qualitative measurements of Net Promoter Scores
  • Some people don’t expect entry-level designers to provide numbers
    • However, the solution you designed should tie back to the user goals and outcomes you identified to be important during Discovery
    • It has to be a closed loop and you need to communicate that you satisfied that

Links to resources

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s