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The Guide To Developing Effective Portfolio Case Studies

The Guide To Developing Effective Portfolio Case Studies

by Wishu
5 July 2021

A guide on developing effective case studies for creative professionals.

Write down your case studies before you do almost anything else

Write about your projects as early as you can, even if you have to adjust the copy slightly later to fit your final page layout. Think of your project in phases and start with Phase 1, which is usually the ideation or exploration phase. Write down your thoughts, and then continue to Phase 2. Don’t bother with images just yet, this is just for you to help you get it all down. If inspiration strikes otherwise, so be it. But in most cases, you will thank yourself later by doing this first.

Keep it brief & caption everything

People are usually scanning your projects to get a general idea of your skills and the way you work. Don’t write a novel, just share a short paragraph or two that makes your project interesting and relatable to your reader.

I’ve read research that says one of the first things people read in a newspaper are the little captions underneath the images. Think of your case study the same way. If someone scrolls through your case study and only reads the little 1–2 sentence captions, they should still understand your project. Focus on the captions first, and then fill in any lengthier content.

Think of each case study like a magazine feature

This goes for your content and layout. Using a similar page template for your case studies is fine, but you should at least adjust it to fit the project and look of the work.

Think of the way magazine articles are laid out. They’re designed to fully immerse you in the piece and create an experience. They include photos at specific places to illustrate a point or bring a scene to life. They use pull quotes to pique your interest or point out an especially memorable part of the story. They break up paragraphs with photos, but take care to not disrupt your reading experience.

Give credit & explain your role

This is especially important if it was a team project. If I just see a list of names without their roles, I might be a little suspicious about what you actually did on this project.

But whether or not this was a team project, it’s helpful for us to understand what role you played. This could be as simple as listing “art direction & design” beside the project summary.

Forgetting this detail is crucial and can mean the difference between getting hired or not.

Include the right details

It all depends on your personal style and you don’t need to literally copy/paste this format, but your case study should loosely follow this outline or provide this information:

  • Name of client, what they do & their location
  • Goal for the project
  • Your experience
  • The outcome


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