Client Matters: Process, Not Portfolio

UXmatters, a web magazine about user experience, just published the second article in my new bimonthly column, Client Matters, where I give UX professionals an honest look at initiating and managing relationships with clients.

The latest article is titled, Process, Not Portfolio. In it I argue that showing your previous work in a portfolio isn’t what is going to turn a prospective client into a paying one; rather it’s how you did the work and how well you can explain how the process affected the outcome that will help you land the gig.

When I have a meeting with a prospective client, I don’t show my resumé and go through the whole chronology of my previous work. A lot of my projects are showcased in my online portfolio, so if they’re curious to see what I’ve done before, they can have a gander. Instead, I focus the discussion on a single project—one that involved a problem that is similar to the one they are facing—and I walk through the process I used to help discover the best solution.

I’ve gotten pretty comfortable doing this spiel. I start off by setting the stage: This is who my previous client was. When we started, these were their goals; their challenges. Then, while I go through each deliverable for the project, I recount the evolution of how I analyzed the problem space, identified the areas of opportunity, and facilitated the planning of a holistic design solution. As I describe my process, give examples of my insights, and explain how they informed the design, I can see their eyes light up.

Read the article on UXmatters, and stay tuned for future articles in my Client Matters column.

Huge thanks goes to Al Abut, Chris Avore, Elizabeth Bacon, Will Evans, Chris Fahey, Robert Gorell, Paul Hibbitts, Andrew Hinton, Gabby Hon, Matt Nish-Lapidus, and Mary Shaw, who all shared their experiences and helped me mold my initial argument into something much stronger. And to Pabini Gabriel-Petit, founder and editor-in-chief of UXmatters, for her skilled “red pen”.

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  1. says

    “it’s how you did the work and how well you can explain how the process affected the outcome that will help you land the gig.”

    this is so true… I have found (in my experience) that clients do appreciate a nice portfolio, but they appreciate a record of success even more… hearing the process and how you have helped previous clients achieve their goals can speak volumes.

    Great read once again

    ~ Aaron I


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