5 Product Designer Portfolios that Nailed Case Studies.
In a UX designer’s portfolio, what’s the key to a impress employers or clients? Case studies. What makes a case study great? It not only has a great final execution but also answers the following questions very well:
- What’s the problem you want to solve?
- Who are the users?
- What’s your role in the project?
- What’s your design process
- What are the design options and how decisions are made?
- What are the constrains and limitations?
- How to validate your design?
- What will be your next step?
Here are the great examples from designers who work at Uber, Airbnb, Google, VMware.
1. Dan Birman
Dan is a product designer at Uber and a RISD undergrad.
2. Rachel Schmitz
Rachel Schmitz is a San Francisco-based Product Designer interested in education technology and social gaming. She previously worked at Google, Rumble Games, AVG Technologies and Presidio Knolls School.
3. Mengdi Zhang
Mengdi a UX Designer at VMware and HCI master graduate from University of Michigan.
4. Vax Liu
Vax Liu is an Experience Designer at Airbnb and former UX designer at ebay.
5. Simon Pan
Simon is currently a Senior Interaction Designer at Google. He is former designer at Medium, Uber and Amazon.
By now you will be feeling the euphoria of having finalised your Major Design Project for Design and Technology. For some students, there may be a tendency to feel that Design and Technology is completed, but it is important to remember that the other 40 per cent of your examination mark, the written paper, is still to come. You should use the remaining time to consolidate your learning so that you ensure the best possible mark in the written paper.
The Design and Technology examination will be held on Tuesday, October 28, from 1.55pm to 3.30pm. The written paper component of the external examination will include questions on aspects of Innovation and Emerging Technologies and Designing and Producing.
Section 1 of the paper has 10 multiple-choice questions. You should answer all questions on the answer sheet provided.
Section 2 has one compulsory question requiring a number of short, structured responses. Answers should be written in the space provided in the examination booklet.
Section 3 presents three structured, extended-response questions. You should attempt one question only in a separate writing booklet.
Building on your major design project
You will have been focusing on a design process to complete your major design project and documenting this design process in your folio. The design process is a good starting point to build upon for the written paper.
There are excellent tutorials on the NSW HSC Online website that will assist you in preparing for the examination. For example, the tutorial Applying your Design and Technology Knowledge in the HSC Written Examination shows the link between the major design project, the innovation case study and the examination, and gives you practical tasks so you can draw on your experiences.
Using case studies
It is crucial that you have an understanding of design and its impact on society and a good knowledge of relevant case studies in order to support your answers to sections 2 and 3 of the paper. Seek out examples you understand so that you can easily recall them under the pressure of the examination.
The Fibre Bragg Gratings sample case study shows you the type of information that should have been covered for your innovation case study. Also, visit the Powerhouse Museum website to view a range of innovation case studies exploring design, technology and cultural diversity:
The AIS/RMIT Olympic Superbike.
It will be useful to identify which case studies best support specific aspects of the course content. For example, the Cochlear implant is a good case study for explaining the impact upon society. This strategy will help you in the examination to quickly recall examples that best illustrate the type of emphasis in the question, such as ethics.
There are some common themes that encompass the development of original ideas. These eight themes provide a link between how designers generate innovative products and/or processes and the types of products we see emerging throughout our society:
Superior solution to an old problem
Application of new technology
Exploring new shapes
Addressing a new user group
(Source: Adapted from Design Ability Group Pty Ltd 2000.)
The NSW HSC Online tutorial Choosing a Case Study explores these eight themes and provides some interesting examples.
Take some time to view other sections of the NSW HSC Online website, as many tutorials relate directly to the components of the Design and Technology course that are addressed in the written paper.
The Innovation and Emerging Technologies section of NSW HSC Online is particularly useful in preparing for the examination. Also take a look at:
The impact of emerging technologies.
The impact on Australian society.
Ethical and environmental issues.
It is also important that you reflect on trends in design as these relate to an understanding of current design issues in Australia.
As noted on the NSW HSC Online website, three influences for designers in recent times have been:
Cultural ethos brought about by immigration
The rise of the indigenous designer
The increasing role of collaborative and participatory design processes (designers working together).
To explore these issues, spend some time examining the following case studies on the Powerhouse Museum website:
Impact of immigration: Snowy! Power of a nation.
The indigenous designer: Paperbark woman - Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander fashion design.
Collaborative design processes: Peter Morrissey and Jacinta Numina Waugh
AIS/RMIT Olympic Superbike.
Preparing for the examination
Work out a time plan for each question, then write the time on the paper you need to finish each part so you won't need to re-calculate in the examination.
This guide may assist:
Section 1: 10 marks, 20 minutes
Section 2: 15 marks, 30 minutes
Section 3: 15 marks, 30 minutes
Checking: 10 minutes
Remember, it is crucial that you answer questions accurately and concisely. Read the question carefully and think about what the markers will be looking for in a good response.
Highlight the key words used in the question. The Board of Studies has published a glossary of key words used when developing examination questions. The list and a brief explanation of each can be found online.
It is important to understand these key words because they will influence what type of response is required. For example, define means you must state a meaning and identify essential qualities whereas justify means that you must support an argument or conclusion. Plan your response before you start writing.
Practise some sample questions.
Ask your teacher if you can access and use the 2001 and 2002 NSW HSC Standards Packages for Design and Technology produced by the NSW Board of Studies. These CD-ROMs provide student responses that represent different levels of performance for selected examination questions. Analysing these answers helps you to understand what the markers are seeking in a good response.
Remember practise, practise, practise. Practice and preparation are the keys to success in the HSC.
Sharon Stanley is a teacher at Henry Kendall High School and also lectures in education at the University of Newcastle. Sharon is a senior examiner for Design and Technology and was the adviser for the online Major Design Project forum presented on HSC Online in Term 2.
Julie King is the NSW HSC Online Node Coordinator for Design and Technology and an experienced technology teacher.
Bill Blake is Senior Curriculum Adviser, Technology, Professional Support and Curriculum Directorate, NSW Department of Education and Training.