Designers, Lose the Mystery Meat

I would blame Dribbble, but I’ve seen this designer portfolio mistake for far longer than Dribbble has existed. I made it myself, back when I was a designer.

Mystery meat portfolio

See those 6 image boxes? Those are the mystery meat. There is nothing about that tiny snippet of visual display that tells me anything useful.

I can’t tell if you’ve used visual hierarchy appropriately to help customers focus on what they care about most, or if everything is bright and eye-popping.

I can’t tell whether this is the mockup you threw over the wall, or the design that was actually implemented (making it through scope cuts, misinterpretations, and negotiations with your developers).

I can’t tell anything about your thought process. Did you make the hard decisions, work around constraints, seek to understand the problem space before you jumped into pixels?

Let’s assume I decide to click into one of these squares.

There’s no way that all 6 (or however many mystery-meat squares you have on your portfolio) of these projects are equally good in terms of showing off your skills and problem-solving ability.

There’s also no way that I’m going to click into more than one of these if the first one isn’t great. (And no, you can’t assume that every hiring manager will click on the first square).

Pick one project and highlight it. Tell your story — what problem you were presented with, how you gathered insights and asked questions, what limitations you worked around — and do it right on the homepage. I’ll keep scrolling if you’ve caught my interest. But I won’t keep clicking. Just like the customers you’d be designing for once you were hired.