Mingxian was recently talking about using structuralism to analyze interaction design portfolio sites. I think this is a great idea, and it prompted me to think about what constitutes a good portfolio site for an interaction designer. I am particularly interested in the role of design process in an interaction design portfolio.
A quick survey of interaction designers portfolios finds that some designers, like Jeff Howard (http://howardesign.com/4.1/thework.php), talk about problem interpretation and process, while other interaction designers, like Adrian Tavares (http://www.adrianatavares.com/), show only photos and brief descriptions. So should interaction designers talk about their process in their portfolios? Is process important?
In design, good process does not equal good design. The design itself is the only thing that matters. You can do years of ethnography, thousands of usability tests, hundreds of sketches, and still end up with a bad design that people do not like or use. A person with no formal training in design can create things people love. The design itself is the only thing that matters.
Despite the fact the process is not the measure of success in design; it can still be an important part of the interaction designer’s portfolio. I think the decision of including the process depends on how much experience you have as a professional interaction designer. The relationship between showing process and professional experience can be represented like this:
On the right side of the spectrum is the professional designer with a lot of experience. She has designed successful interfaces for 30 different applications. Who cares what her process is, she gets the job done. On the other hand, a student without much professional design experience has very few designs that have been released to market. This means showing screenshots and the final design is not enough for the student. The student must show process and a thoughtful application of interaction design methods and theory to persuade the employer that he will be able to create successful designs for the company.
Does this sound right? Or am I way off base? What do you all think?