Follow the example of these four designers.
As conversation designers, showing and documenting our work can seem like a daunting task at first. Unlike other forms of design, like graphic, industrial, service, etc., voice design is inherently invisible. It’s common for designers to follow the “show, don’t tell” rule when describing their work for an audience, but what about when there isn’t exactly something to show?
Botmock has joined forces with Techire. In this article, we highlight 4 portfolios of designers in the midst of exploration and transition to voice design roles. These designers are making visible the invisible so that their work can speak to recruiters and other audiences.
Challenges of showcasing voice design in a portfolio
Voice is not meant to be experienced visually. While chatbots and other conversation products provide some kind of artifact that can be seen, many voice experiences are entirely auditory. This process can be difficult to translate into something that has been traditionally documented with visual
Voice is not tactile. Voice-based products don’t inherently have a physical interaction point, or a tactile nature. This forces us, as designers, to re-contextualize the idea of a touchpoint and product personality. How might we showcase the ways that a voice experience is sticky and delightful
There are mushy rules around voice. Voice design is growing and changing so quickly that you cannot rely on a set of best practices to cross-reference in the way that one does in other fields of the design industry. We are in the thick of innovation, which is exciting, but this means we don’t always have examples to lean on.
With a lot of ambiguity around what we can do to showcase the depth of our process when working with voice, it’s important to talk about what is working and how emerging voice designers are taking different approaches to these challenges.
We want all aspiring voice and conversation designers to have examples of what others emerging the field are using to reveal the invisible in their work, paired with expert guidance from . This way we can help to continuing building collective knowledge around what recruiters are looking for when seeking out an awesome candidate for a voice design role.
Our voice designer portfolio showcase
Techire speaks to a lot of different companies within this space, so they understand what a hiring manager wants to see and what they don’t want to see. Leah brings her expertise in UX research and design to the table. Brielle also contributes her perspective, having been both an interviewee and a hiring manager for conversation design roles. In this article, all three of us document ways a designer can best showcase their experiences and skills in voice design!
Without further ado, here are the four fabulous portfolios.
Benjamin McCulloch defines himself as an Audio Specialist who works with many sound-based design projects, especially for films and entertainment. He includes voice and conversation design case studies in his body of work as he transitions into the world of conversation design.
What we love:
Ben’s introductory case study is entirely about giving the viewer the base knowledge to understand one key challenge in voice design, which is a great way to set the stage for the rest of his work. It also is a great way to display the depth of critical thinking that he puts into the specific implications and design challenges related to voice tech.
Below you can see how Ben begins with a preface for the viewer emphasizing the importance of experiencing the audio in order to get the full experience. A simple way to tackle the problem of invisibility — inform your viewer exactly how to view and why.
“This is a really simple and easy way to understand his logic and approach.”
“By declaring that there’s a big difference between reading and hearing, Ben demonstrates right off the bat that he has an advanced understanding of how voice design differs from other kinds of design.
The second thing that Ben does that really helps is including embedded audio/video clips in his projects.
“One of the stand out points on Ben’s profile is having audio/video clips that allow people to hear what he has created. But (importantly) he also backed it up with an explanation of the full process.
This is exactly what hiring managers want to see when viewing a portfolio. Having external links, etc, can add friction to the process. Doing it this way it makes it easy for whoever is viewing his portfolio to understand the full picture.”
Lastly, Ben does a great job of breaking down his thought process by showing his thoughts behind each step of his approach to a voice design challenge. He includes handwritten annotations of scripts that provide a human element to the process. He includes engaging images that show different ways to visualize voice flows.
Carol Cheng describes herself as a Voice UX Designer based in Seattle who is currently working at Interactions.
On her portfolio she notes at the top that she is currently exploring voice experience design. This is in line with expectations from hiring managers and Allys, who wants to understand exactly where you are positioning yourself in your career journey.
“Good portfolios will make it clear on where you are in your career and what your goal is. Articulating your transition is important.”
What we love:
Carol has a visually clean portfolio that takes an intentionally varied approach to showcasing voice design challenges. Her portfolio does a great job of laying things out in a way that is neat and easy to navigate.
“What I love most about Carol’s portfolio is the way she’s laid out each project overview page. It’s super easy to navigate and includes each step of the project. It helps the reader really understand the process end to end.”
Carol is able to cleanly showcase the nuances of the work that went into developing her voice experience. This approach is helpful because if one demonstration is not effective for a viewer, they have other ways of learning about the experience that meet them where they are.
Carol uses simple and effective animations to show the call and response demo as it is meant to work. This is a very quick way to demonstrate the hero flow of her product in an engaging way right off the bat, and doesn’t take up a lot of space in her case study.
But Carol doesn’t just stick to highlighting the hero flow. She also embeds specific audio clips directly into her case study, which is a fantastic way to allow the viewer to experience her work in the auditory format that it should be. She makes this even better by doing two things.
First, Carol clearly calls out the specific things to listen for in order to prep the viewer for what they are about to hear. This shows her ability to identify and articulate what she learned from this moment.
Second, she chooses a moment outside of the intended ‘happy path’ by instead selecting an instance that highlights where her user testing session did not go as planned. This shows her audience that she is willing and able to embrace failure, and strategically pivot when things don’t go the way they were intended to.
“A hiring manager wants to see that you’re willing to dig into the uncomfortable parts of the design process. For example, outline 3x more error pathways than happy paths, and detail the difference between each error type.”
Allys explained to us how important it is to include these moments when showcasing your design process —
“I think it’s super important that portfolios reflect the true story — the good and the bad. Carol includes issues faced along the way especially when it comes to prototyping & testing. Why is this important? Because hiring managers or prospective employers aren’t just interested in the impressive, shiny end product, they want to know the nitty gritty.
What problems did you face and how did you overcome them? What did you learn along the way? What would you do differently next time? This is the real important stuff.”
The last method Carol implements is that she uses clear and delightful visualization of a sample of conversation with helpful annotations.
Carol’s flow chart is easy to read and understand, and provides helpful annotation to call out important details of the flow that otherwise would not be visualized within the chart itself.
The combination of three different methods give the viewer the sense that Carol has comprehensive experience in both graphic and conversation design, and also that she is able to use them to help the viewer get a well rounded idea of her product and her process.
Marek Mís holds the title of Creative Technologist, and he writes that he aims to build interfaces and systems that deliver efficiency, engagement and loyalty. Marek highlights his voice design work on his personal brand website https://veeheister.com/.
What we love:
Marek takes another approach to showing off his voice design work. He forgoes some other methods that we see in Carol and Ben’s portfolios and simply gives a description of the product and a link for the viewer to demo it and see the work for themselves.
This is a great avenue to consider, especially if you’re looking for a simple way to publicize your work. Because Marek has launched several quality products that are publicly available, his portfolio page acts more as a resource to access all of his work in one place. If you are are still a beginner and want to take this approach, Allys recommends using it as a supplement to some of the other methods that we have already seen in both Ben and Carol’s work.
“Only linking out to the Google Store for example isn’t necessarily useful to hiring managers, but portfolios that also include a short snippet of the skill — whether that’s just an audio or video clip — is really useful. This way, you can listen to that and if you want to hear more, you can then go ahead to download the skill.”
“Marek’s graphic for Word Chain illustrates a few turns of dialogue. This is a great hook to get a viewer to try the game out on their own!”
Marek also includes a video of his voice experience Drum Metronome in action. A video is usually the most comprehensive way to show what your voice experience sounds and feels like.
Finally we have Gabrielle Moskey, a UX designer with experience in many different areas, from graphic design to ballroom dancing.
What we love:
Gabrielle takes a “yes, and” approach to what she chooses to share. In addition to including a link to a product demo her portfolio, she includes high levels of detail in the artifacts which depict her depth of understanding.
This is particularly apparent in her details regarding skills deconstruction and user stories. Her skills deconstruction and skill mapping illustrates her understanding and translation of the nitty gritty, while her user stories show that she is has invested a lot of time and intention into identifying and describing a breadth of use cases and how that connects to the requirements of the experience.
If you’re feeling lost about how much or exactly what to include and exclude, Allys provides a high level suggestion when thinking about your portfolio content.
“Don’t overkill it — Personally I’d much rather see fewer projects but lots of detail for each rather than lots of projects with little information.”
As always, it’s important to adhere to UX best practices when building your design portfolio. Botmock and Techire want to help you showcase the best side of your work at all angles.
Hiring managers are looking for the challenges, how you problem solved, the process, what part you played, and how you collaborated with other key team members. If you can illustrate this in your portfolio, you’re on the path to success! 🎖