How to create effective design portfolios and presentations

March 7, 2022


5 min read

Design Team
How to create effective design portfolios and presentations

Interested in joining our team at OpenTable? Here’s a guide for how to nail the portfolio case studies and portfolio presentations.

Portfolio case studies: The opening act

We’re looking for portfolios that show a balance of process, craft, and a clear understanding of the user and the business. Start by creating 3–4 case studies of shipped work that you want to be hired to do. 

For each case study, create short sections that discuss the user problem, business goals, research, sketching, wireframes, iterations on the design work, visual design, and project impact and metrics if possible. We’d also recommend noting the role, responsibilities, who else was on the team, and the project duration. There’s little need to share branding or print work unless your product design case studies don’t have strong visual design elements.

Think of a portfolio as a balance of show AND tell. By “show,” have images of sketches, wireframes, collaboration with stakeholders and cross-functional partners, iterations of screens, and visual design. By “tell,” have 3–5 sentences describing the user problem, business goals, research, and why those led to the design decisions they made. 

Portfolio presentation: Telling your story

The art of presentations is all about storytelling. For a product designer, it’s the story of a project that best represents the type of work they want to continue to do.

To make the most of our time together, we ask that you prepare a portfolio presentation of two projects that you are proud of and have recently completed. Plan on about 45 minutes of presentation, and then 15 minutes for discussion.

We strongly recommend that you prepare a presentation deck, versus presenting directly from your site or design files.

We’re looking to better understand your design process and would like to see slides covering research, white-boarding, prototypes, iterations, to high fidelity visual design. Demonstration of craft is important to show at all levels of product design.

Here’s a sample presentation outline to help tell the story of your product work. These work well as individual slides.

1. Who I am (1 min) — (feel free to note your preferred pronouns)

2. My design process (1–2 min)

3. Case study 1 (20 min): 

  • Role, responsibilities, project duration
  • User problem
  • Business goals
  • Users
  • Workflows as flow diagrams or white-boarding
  • Qualitative and/or quantitative research: sales feedback, competitive analysis, executive insights, anecdotal feedback
  • Connection between research insights to design decisions
  • Design iterations and wireframes
  • Visual design
  • Impact (success metrics, OKRs)
  • What would you have done differently? What surprised you?

4. Case study 2 (same information as above) (20 min)

5. Visual design examples (Optional) - If your case studies don’t show much visual design and craft, share examples that you personally worked on of icons, illustrations, motion, or any other ways you’ve found to show visual delight in experiences.

Share how you approached problems

We also want to understand how you approach tackling design challenges, so take time during the presentation to talk about how you:

  • Incorporate empathy and user pain points
  • Work within design constraints
  • Factor  business goals into your design work
  • Overcome challenges and obstacles
  • Generate ideas and design directions
  • Work with cross-functional team members
  • Persuade others of the soundness of your decisions
  • Handle complexity, such as implications across other parts of a platform or cross-platform
  • Measure outcomes, based on research or testing

Less is more

Now that you have the outline, here’s are some final tips for each slide: 

  • Include two to three short bullet points or sentences on each slide. No need for paragraphs; this is distracting to the interviewers if you’re reading something different than what’s on-screen. 
  • Show 1–2 UI screens at most per slide. We are evaluating craft so we need to see the UI elements on-screen. Don't force us to squint or ask you to zoom in.

Practice and embrace feedback

The best way to do well in portfolio presentations is to practice and embrace critical feedback. We recommend finding time to present your portfolio to multiple mentors on ADPList.

Want to join our table?

If you love solving complex problems for some of the most passionate and relatable customers you’ll ever meet, and want to work with a close-knit, collaborative team then get in touch.


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Design Team

We're a global team of designers, content strategists and leaders. We love helping diners experience the world through dining and helping restaurateurs run thriving businesses.