What Makes a Successful UX Case Study?

If you’re a designer looking to break into UX, here are the 5 things your case study should demonstrate.

Maddy Beard

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a woman writing notes on a ux wireframe drawing
Image from Unsplash

1. It should demonstrate design thinking and problem solving.

The number one mistake I see designers make is re-skinning popular apps or websites for their portfolios. This is a great way to practice your UI skills, but it doesn’t show that you’re capable of creating a good experience. Visuals are just one part of experience design, so don’t ignore the other part which is, according to Eric Reiss,

“the conscious act of coordinating interactions that are controllable, acknowledging interactions that are beyond our control and reducing negative interactions.”

In order to practice this and demonstrate it, make sure you’re choosing a design problem to solve and not just an app to re-skin. Think about a problem that you care about and imagine ways it could be solved. Unpopular opinion: It doesn’t even have to involve an iphone screen!!! Focus on choosing a problem and THEN decide the best medium for the solution.

Wireframes from Jan’s case study
Image from Jan Josef

For example, instead of re-imagining the visual design of Facebook Messenger, my friend Jan decided to design a new feature for Facebook Messenger specifically to help college students collaborate on group projects remotely. You can check out the case study here. Because this feature doesn’t yet exist, they were able to think about the problem and ideate solutions using the existing Facebook Messenger platform as a foundation. This made the project feasible yet open to a new perspective. In working with Jan, I brought up a few ways to improve the design of the case study itself, but there is no denying that it demonstrates that they knows how to think and problem solve like a designer. And that’s what matters the most!

2. It should show the problem, process, and outcome.

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