What tool should you use to build your UX design portfolio?
Is one better than another? Is it ok to use standard, basic layouts, or do you need to look for something more advanced?
Design portfolios are the crown jewel of a UX designer's toolset, and are often a make-it-or-break-it element of the job search. They're also a great way to showcase your creativity, technical skills, and design process.
But with so many website builders out there, it can be overwhelming to choose the right one. In this blog post, we'll explore some of the top UX portfolio website builders available to help you find the perfect fit for your needs.
Whether you're a seasoned pro or just starting out, our guide will provide you with the information you need to make an informed decision and create a standout portfolio that will impress potential employers.
- What Recruiters Look For In A UX Design Portfolio Website
- How to Choose the Right Portfolio Builder
- Best UI & UX Portfolio Website Builders
• The Designlab pick: Squarespace
• Notion + Super
• WordPress + Theme
- Key Takeaways
What Recruiters Look For In a Portfolio Website
Before you start testing out website builders, it’s important to remember that your portfolio is a UX project in itself.
Your personas are recruiters (or design managers, hiring managers, etc.) who have just put out a job posting and may very well have received hundreds of submissions in a short amount of time.
In general, recruiters spend very little time reading through a portfolio, and many are used to seeing a specific layout that helps them to digest the information quicker.
Korin Harris, a recruiter for Figma, shares some insight into their perspective of what a “pleasing portfolio experience” looks like for a recruiter:
There’s nothing that makes me happier than opening a portfolio and seeing eight equally sized, thoughtfully crafted rectangles. After all, recruiters have to skim hundreds of portfolios for hours at a time. We’re a lot more likely to go through every project in a portfolio if the landing page has an aesthetically pleasing system to it. It takes less mental energy to comprehend it!
So it’s important to keep usability (and scannability) top of mind as you create your portfolio, even as you consider how you might be able to stand out from the competition.
How to Choose the Right Portfolio Builder
Choosing the right UX design portfolio builder can be a daunting task—there are so many options, and it’s a lot of content to plan and implement.
When considering a good portfolio builder, it’s important to keep a few things in mind:
In the list of UX design portfolio builders below, we’ve tried to sort them in order of easiest to most complicated. At the beginning of the list, you’ll find some portfolio builders that require the least amount of effort, provided that you don’t mess around with the template too much. Keeping in mind that the most important part of your portfolio is finishing it and getting it out there, these options are speedy and convenient.
However, it’s advised to understand and accept the constraints that come with these types of builders. The templates are used for a reason, so don’t try to fight it by over-customizing.
If you are the type of person who is a natural perfectionist, you may want to try builders that provide nearly unlimited customization. However, we stress to our students that having a finished portfolio is a hundred times more important than having one that you feel is perfect. So definitely bear that in mind!
Free website platforms might be the route you want to take, and if the idea of paying a subscription for a portfolio is stressing you out … start with the free option.
However, if you find that you’re really frustrated with a simpler “free” platform, you might find that investing in a paid website subscription gives you access to the tools you need to get your portfolio ready and out into the world.
Every tool includes a learning curve
If you haven’t played around with website builders in the past, you’re in for a treat.
Look for a simpler, more intuitive website platform to test the waters, but don’t get discouraged if you find that it’s taking a while to get the hang of it. Similar to learning Figma, you might need to follow a few tutorials before you feel as if you’re getting the hang of it.
Done is better than perfect
The point of any UX/UI design portfolio is to get your work out there so that recruiters can find you, and so that you can show off your digital problem-solving skills. Your goal when seeking to make a career-switch to product design is to finish your portfolio and make it accessible to your users.
You can’t apply to a job without a portfolio, so work on the contents of your gift first, rather than the wrapping paper. If you’re fighting with a design tool, you’re losing precious time and mental energy, so ultimately choose the tool that is most intuitive to you.
Best UI & UX Portfolio Website Builders
The Designlab Pick: Squarespace
- Ease of Use: Beginner-friendly
- Design Flexibility: Moderate - High
- Price:14-day free trial. Paid plans start at $16/month.
- Best for: A professional, highly customizable website built with minimal effort.
Squarespace is a great option for those who want a professional looking website (read: great UI design) that’s fully responsive and easy-to-use, without having to wrestle with trying to build something pixel-perfect from scratch.
Squarespace is typically our first recommendation for UX designers. It gives you the best looking portfolio for your effort and is seamlessly responsive … as long as you don’t alter the padding or insert custom design code.
When you log into Squarespace, you’re treated to a clean UI and easy, logical navigation that allows you to quickly jump from design to admin settings to inserting custom code (if you want) into your site.
Squarespace helps you kickstart the design process by offering dozens of full templates—including multiple portfolio-specific options to choose from. Each template is fully customizable via the drag and drop visual builder (which is also grid-based!).
Each paid plan comes with a free domain, and includes features like password protection, SEO settings, and blog capabilities.
Ready to get started? Squarespace offers an intuitive onboarding process, as well as a robust Help Center to ensure you have ready access to the tutorials and setup guides you need to confidently navigate the platform.
While Squarespace is our first recommendation, there are many other platforms out there. Here are six more that offer a variety of “best for” features, from easy to set up to more advanced.
A note: Keep in mind that portfolio solutions like UXfolio and Notion are quite rigid in their layout and design capabilities, which can be a severe limitation as you seek to showcase your design abilities.
- Ease of Use: Beginner-friendly
- Design Flexibility: Low to moderate
- Price: Free for 1 portfolio and 1 project. Paid plans start at $9/month for unlimited portfolios, unlimited projects, and password protection.
- Best for: Designers who are looking for easy setup with minimal customization
UXfolio is a quick-to-setup platform, whether you’re getting your first draft off the ground or just want to get your portfolio done in record time.
Some designers have used UXfolio as a home base for their case studies so they can see what it looks like in theory, only to find that it functions extremely well in practice. The platform is designed for UX/UI designers who are looking for a convenient way to display their work without spending extra time on creating a unique or custom layout.
UXfolio also includes some extra support for the unique needs of designers, from text prompts to help with your case study writeup process to a built-in mockup generator that allows you to upload your design screens and have them automatically embedded in an iPhone image.
- Ease of Use: Beginner-friendly
- Design Flexibility: Minimal
- Price: Free. Paid plans start at $8/user/month for unlimited file uploads, 100 guests, and more.
- Best for: A quick, no-nonsense portfolio that focuses on the content
A recent trend is to utilize Notion to create work that is already easy to digest and will be online as soon as you’re ready—and is one of the most cost-effective ways to build a UX portfolio when you’re short on time and resources. In fact, some designers have found that they can get their full portfolio finished within 6 hours on Notion!
Don’t expect design customization here; what Notion does well is that it conveys and shares information with folks with incredible ease and minimal maintenance.
Thinking about using Notion for your design portfolio? Check out their Guides and Tutorials for easy to follow instructions on getting started.
3. Notion + Super
- Ease of Use: Easy, minimal code
- Design Flexibility: Low to Moderate
- Price:Free tier includes design templates and asuper.so domain. Paid plans start at $12/month for custom code, custom themes, a unique domain, and more.
- Best for: Adding some design to a Notion-based portfolio site.
Intrigued about the idea of using Notion for your design portfolio, but hoping for just a little more design customization? Integrating your Notion site with Super might be the UX design portfolio solution you’re looking for.
The first step is to set up your content inside Notion, with each page corresponding to a website page (so you’ll want to roughly plan out a homepage, Case Study pages, etc.)
Then, you can head over to Super to sign up for your account, integrate with Notion, and start setting design parameters that will be automatically applied to your Notion site. I found the live view particularly helpful, since I could see a real-time version of what my website looked like after any design tweak in Super.
While you can absolutely upgrade to a paid account to access custom domains, code, etc., the free tier provides a great “step up” from a basic Notion site that’s quick to set up and easy to maintain.
Intrigued about using Notion + Super to build your UX design portfolio website? Check out the helpful Guides from Super to get started.
- Ease of Use: Beginner-friendly
- Design Flexibility: Moderate
- Price: Free for a website with Wix branding and ads. Paid plans start at $16/month for a custom domain, no Wix ads, etc.
- Best for: A website with moderately flexible design templates and easy customization.
If you want a no-fuss website that has decent design templates out of the box and quick customization options, you might want to test out Wix.
Wix offers a streamlined, easy to follow onboarding process that helps you get your website set up with a title, basic branding, and a template. You can even choose a portfolio-specific template, which is helpful as you begin to customize your site content later on.
From your Wix account dashboard, you can further customize the site branding (typography, colors and logo), add pages or portfolio items, and access the visual editor to add or remove visual elements from the page.
The biggest thing to note is that, while further customization is possible beyond the templates and layouts that Wix provides, the real strength of this platform lies in quick, basic editing for colors, backgrounds, and text.
Want to get started with a Wix site for your design portfolio? Check out their tutorial hub, Wix Learn, where you’ll find everything from basic setup guides to more advanced how-to’s.
- Ease of Use: Steep learning curve, requires some knowledge of code
- Design Flexibility: High
- Price: Free for a basic site with up to 50 CMS items and webflow.io domain name. Paid plans start at $14/month for a custom domain and additional site bandwidth.
- Best for: Designers who want to spend extra time crafting pixel-specific portfolios
Webflow is a popular website platform name among designers and design agencies who have custom—and even intricate—design needs. It’s a powerful tool with a steep learning curve for those who aren’t familiar with the basics of coding. However, it can be well worth the time investment!
Webflow is a good choice for those who want to explore creating a website from scratch with one of the highest degrees of customizability, including some micro-interactions and the ability to tweak things like margins and padding without having to dive into the code. By far the most powerful part of Webflow is the ability to create custom responsive grids, as well as an array of handy features already included in the package.
Intrigued about the idea of having complete control over padding and margins … without having to write custom CSS? We recommend taking the free Webflow 101 course to help you through the initial learning curve.
6. WordPress + Theme
- Ease of Use: Steep learning curve, requires some understanding of hosting + domain name setup
- Design Flexibility: Low to high, depending on your theme and plugin setup
- Price: Variable, depending on your hosting and theme setup
- Best for: Power users who are looking for the ultimate customization options
WordPress.org is a powerful website platform that gives you full control over your website hosting and domain setup, as well as the features and visual design tools that you’d like included with your portfolio.
The first step with a WordPress site is to pick a hosting provider (Flywheel, Siteground, and BlueHost are popular options), where you can then host your website files, link your domain, and begin setting up the site itself with a theme (that provides the visual building blocks and layout possibilities) and plugins (add-ons that extend the functionality of your site, like adding signup forms, social links, etc.)
If you’re already familiar with WordPress and are looking for a good theme to use, a few options you might gravitate towards include:
- Semplice: A paid theme with a visual builder that’s specifically designed for UX design portfolios, offering custom fonts, an Unsplash integration, and many of the bells and whistles like Webflow. What’s more, there’s a Studio Edition with advanced features like custom grids, blocks, and an Instagram module.
- Elementor: Another WordPress theme that delivers extremely flexible layouts and design customization. It offers a visual WYSIWYG drag-and-drop builder to create a stunning portfolio website on Wordpress that showcases your design skills and case studies. Choose from over 90 widgets to add anything from social media icons to layered graphics and video content to your portfolio pages, along with motion effects that can be implemented with a click of the mouse, no code required. Whether you use the more limited free version or invest in the full theme, Elementor offers some great functionality to help make your portfolio website stand out.
Important: When creating a WordPress website, you will also need to design for responsive experiences.
- As a UX designer, your portfolio is one of the most important tools in your job search.
- When designing your portfolio, it’s important to keep usability and scannability top of mind to help recruiters and hiring managers quickly find the information they’re looking for.
- Each portfolio website builder has a unique set of pros and cons—but all come with a learning curve. Take time to test out your top tools to get a better understanding of how they work.
- You don’t have to spend time on a fully custom website—unless you want to. Aesthetics and layout are important, but what matters at the end of the day is that you have a functional portfolio with well-written case studies that showcase your skills and critical thinking.