All things placement

So I will be using this post to organize and sort all my posts relating to placement and career boosting – make it a little bit easier to find my work amongst my organized chaos.

Me trying to sort out my work LOL

Placement prep and research

Talks and events I attended

Company research

Placement interviews

  1. FinTrU interview – this was the 1st stage of the interview process.
  2. Global Payments interview – This was the first interview stage.
  3. FinTrU interview – part 2
  4. Rapid 7 UX interview
  5. ESO interview with MT

Proposal research

I decided to start my research into design proposals, how to write one and how best use them. I read the book ‘A project guide to UX design’ I read chapter 3 ‘Proposals for Consultants and Freelancers’. It was an interesting read and it was were I got most of my information from.

What is a proposal?

A design proposal is a way to outline the work you expect to do and the time you will need to complete the client design brief. In this document you also highlight what the goals or aims for the project are and what the client expectations are for you as a designer. It can sometimes be used as a way to apply for a client brief when competing with other designers.

Do I need a proposal?

Yes! you should always write a proposal when working with clients. Not only are they a legal contract but they are also a way of protecting you. Promises can be broken on either side of the project so this is a way of ensuring that the work that is promised to take place, along with the payment is completed. The proposal will also ensure you as the designer are provided with the time needed to complete the project without being unnecessarily rushed.

A proposal also allows you to define terms that protect both sides in the event that something changes. If the client does not provide you with timely access to their resources, your timeline may slip; you need to make them aware of their obligations to the project’s success. If a client loses funding and kills the project and you do not have a proposal or other form of contract in place then you may run the risk of not getting paid for work you have already completed. Always write a proposal.

What should I include?

The sooner a proposal is approved and signed, the sooner you can begin work and-most importantly begin to get paid for the work.
The core components of a a good proposal are as follows:

1- Title page: This is what introduces your document. A typical title page consists of the following elements:

  • Client company name
  • Submission date
  • Client company logo (if you have permission to use it)
  • Proposal authors
  • Project title
  • Project reference number
  • Document type (proposal)
  • Cost
  • Version of proposal
  • Confidentiality

For your first proposal, include everything, except the client’s company logo, the cost, and (potentially) the project reference number. Why not include these elements on the title page? Includes things such as: client company name, project title, submission date etc.

It’s a good practice in general to send a link rather that an attachment so that things don’t get lost in the inbox.

Below is an example of a title page.

Next, on the first page inside I could include an introduction in the form of a short letter.

2- Revision history: This would be the amount of iterations made before getting to the final version.

3- Project overview/objectives: This would need to give a clear and solid overview of the project to be undertaken and the goals expected.

4- Project approach/my process: This is where you tell the client what your design process is like and how you will be completing their design brief. Here I could include client expectations, deadlines (my timeline)

5- Additional costs/fees and project pricing: Here you can break down the pricing into smaller segments. It is important to structure your pricing will pretty much define your relationship with the client.

For example: besides the logo design, you also list other items like: brand strategy that precedes logo design, and also stationery design or a style guide that follows logo design etc.

Keep in mind that it is easier to ask for a higher price and then lower it than it is to do the reverse.

A good practice is to give the client either a price range (if you charge a flat rate) or you can estimate hours (if you charge per hour).

6- Scope of work: This is where you say what aspects of the brief are your responsibilities or the clients.

7- Assumptions: Here you state what your expectations as a designer are of the clients.

8- Deliverables: Here you specify what kind of work your client can expect from you.

9- Ownership and rights: Copyright, ownership and how much or how little the client can use the work you produce for them.

10- Payment schedule: This depends on personal preference you could either have the client pay for a deposit before hand or they could pay you in instalments.

11- Acknowledgement and sign-off: This come at the end of the agreement were the client now has to sign the contract.


What kind of designer?

Guest speaker: Ronan McKinless

His experience:

  • 17 years experience.
  • Worked for large and small companies and startups.
  • Currently working for himself. He has worked within agencies, startups and now freelance.

I found Ronan’s talk to be very helpful, afterwards he has a Q&A session, now this is what helped me the most. Here are pictures of the notes I made:

Ronan was also kind enough to give me his email so I could send him my portfolio for him to review and give feedback on.

Overall this session was very helpful.


It is easy to get lost in the infinite sea of information so I decided to make this a little easier to view by listing all my research blog post links and other relevant links here to keep things nice and tidy. I will also be organizing it by week.

Here is to hoping it works out!

Project 01 brief – Portfolio

Portfolio site and content strategy. Your Instagram, LinkedIn, Slack must be active and functional and professional ASAP – they should all match, think brand recognition.

This year I will need to create a new portfolio site. The portfolio should be simple and functional. A bit part of developing my website will be focused on research and learning from other more experienced designers.

Portfolio part 1

Week 01 – research conducted between 23/09/21  to  30/09/21

Portfolio part 2

Week 02 – research conducted between 30/09/21  to  07/10/21

Portfolio part 3

Week 03 – research conducted between 07/10/21 to 14/10/21

Portfolio part 4

Week 04 – research conducted between 14/10/21 to 21/10/21

Portfolio part 5

Week 05 – research conducted between 21/10/21 to 28/10/21

Something that really stuck out to me during this process is that feedback is gold, accessibility is a must, starting on paper is necessary and that a website is never fully finished and perfect and while my current website serves my current needs (showcasing my work for employers offering placement) it will have to grow with me as I grow as a designer. I have made small but good changes since having blogged my process. My website is changing along with me.


UX placement opportunities 2022 – 2023

Speaker: Damon Rodgers (UX designer)

Who will be conducting the interviews?

Andrew Rossborogh (Lead UX/UI designer)  he will interview for the role; he is a good mentor and was in Kyles university class.

What does he want to see?

Research –> Analyze (crazy 8s) –> Design –> Prototype –> deliver, test and reflect.

Who is FinTrU

  • Finance and security.
  • creating solutions for Investment banks that will be used throughout the world.
  • employer and company of the year.
  • Mental health support.
  • Hybrid working.
  • Coffee bar.

What we get

  • How to combine UX thinking with design execution.
  • Planning and running user tests.
  • Designing and prototyping elegant solutions for complex problems.
  • Supported by an assigned mentor.
  • Employee assisted program – they will fund you to study after degree.
  • Performance related rewards.
  • Training and development.
  • Competitive salary.
  • 23 days and 10 bank holidays off.
  • Can skip 1st year graduate program.
  • Comprehensive health and wellbeing strategy.

Placement students

  • Patrick Boutilier

Who are they looking for?

  • User research (survey, interview and usability testing).
  • Passion for quality.
  • Prioritize and plan your work.
  • Attention to detail.
  • Figma.


  • Examples of work including screen designs/prototypes.
  • How you can frame the problem you were trying to solve – research.
  • The process – decision making.
  • Ability to talk through your portfolio with confidence.
  • Ability to reflect on what you learned and how you grew.

How to apply:

Go to FinTrU website and apply there – apply to portal – then they select who they interview – then look at portfolio.

Interview question

  • Can you tell us your UX process relating back to your portfolio.

I also attended a career talk given by FinTrU; here are the notes I made:

The winding road to design

Organized by Ladies that UX Belfast


  • Rick Monroe
  • Conaill Hyndman
  • Anna Murray

New Ladies that UX leaders

  • Sam Nelson (design research lead at Deloitte Digital)
  • Rosie McKenzie (Service design consultant at EY Seren)
  • Eve McCann (Senior service design consultant at EY Seren)

I love solving problems for real people through my work.

Conaill Hyndman

  • How he became a developer to designer
  • UX/UI designer at Deloitte Digital
  • Joined as a front-end developer
  • 2 years as a developer
  • Always new he wanted to work on design – this was made apparent when he would work with designers
  • Fiona Sloan (UX lead at Deloitte digital) his sister – might be a good person to email asking for a job


  • Udemy courses on how to use Figma
  • Adobe Certified Associate in Photoshop 2017
  • UX/UI podcasts – Pablo Stanley
  • Accessibility – attended FE accessible courses

Learning on the job:

  • Trial and error
  • Allow for mistakes
  • Group design critiques
  • You will never be fully comfortable unless you get stuck in

Top tips:

  • No one starts out as an expert
  • Mistakes make a better designer
  • Make time to learn – do this before moving into the role
  • Ask questions, it’s never a silly one
  • Your pathway is your personal journey – always changing, always learning
  • Enjoy your experience

Rick Monroe

Connecting the dots

  • Use your experience to react better to situations


  • started off as a graphic designer – he was focused on style
  • Then became an interaction designer where he started working trying to create engagement and interactions
  • Got involved with UX – He started designing as an investment. He found his value. Started seeing his work as delivering values
  • Where he is heading – wants to deliver impactful outcomes.

The roles he has had since graduating did not exist when he first graduated, the industry grew and changed and he developed and adapted with it to change where he was an to become something different

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. You have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future” – Steve Jobs

Book recommendations:

  • Managing oneself – Peter F. Drucker

Success … comes to those who know themselves – Peter Drucker

This is how you learn, work with others, what your values are, how you work with others and your contributions. Self-awareness – learning as well as learning about yourself never stops. You can’t have self awareness without self reflection

  • The humble designer written by Rick Monroe – blog post
  • Quiet by Susan Cain – The power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking

Introverts have more empathy …

“An introvert is not a failed extrovert” – Susan Meindl

You are not a failed version of something else. Think long-term

Insert r4 image here

It is important to be kind to those (even yourself) who have not yet learned or experienced as much as others. Practice humility and self awareness and recognize when you are at the top of your game. Never be afraid ro ask for help and learn from people who have made it to the top.

“It’s all experience, son.” – Rick Monroe’s dad

Anna Murray

  • Works at EY Seren’s service design practice
  • Learning design on the job
  • Do not compare yourself to others
  • Asking for advice is a strenght not a weakness
  • Having different backgrounds in the room other than a pure design background always bring a wealth of value.
  • Testing and iterating is part of the process – we expect our product or service we are designing to need several iterations before it’s right (and even after that it’s a continuous work in progress) so we should look at our own journey like that too and be willing to test things out and have patience with the process.
  • A ‘typical’ designer does not exists!
  • “User need Enthusiast”
  • Celebrate and promote diversity of thought
  • Encourage others and ourselves to share our knowledge gaps
  • Actually be more comfortable with ‘failing fast’ or ‘failing at all’
  • Challenge the inclusivity and accessibility of design
  • Variety in experience and diversity of thought shouldn’t be limited to your CV, I also believe it’s life experiences, personal opinions, thoughts etc.

Things MT liked

  • Being able to pivot and transition
  • Willing to go away and learn
  • “User need Enthusiast”


Because of this talk I now understand more about the importance of design accessibility and how I should consider this at all times when designing. Even small things like colour contrast, typography, alternative text for images are so very important to ensure everyone can enjoy and see the content as best as possible.


What are they? A high tech security company

Headquarters – Boston

Belfast office

The Belfast headquarters is an innovation hub – named one of the leading places to work at.

Set up in 2014 with 1 employee, now they have over 300 employees.

The teams building owns all of the company flagship products.

They have an awesome reception, makers space and library, main café and a gaming space.

Placement program

  • Interns become valuable members of the team from day 1.
  • About 80% of the interns receive employment offers to return to work with them after graduation.
  • Around 150 interns have come through the process since it started in 2014.
  • Some of the initial interns are now Lead Engineers.

Jordan – previous intern

  • Started 7 years ago.
  • 9 Interns entered the office with a full time staff.
  • In the chaos he learned and became able to apply knowledge from university into his designs.
  • Has travelled all over – from being sent to courses, company kick off in Belfast or Boston.


  1. What was your training before you went into Rapid7 Jordan? I’m just wondering if there’s a preference to what type of education background you’re coming from.   –  He went to Jordanstown not knowing real word experience. EAGERNESS is what they are looking for, don’t worry about feeling that you are not really. Prove that you are ready and willing to learn.
  2. Internships make a huge difference in building up your skill.
  3. Experience will not be a factor – they know we have just started to learn.
  4. There is room for transitioning between roles; even between different UX roles.

Opportunities available for me –> UX design & engineering and product management  5 going to UX design and 1 to product management

What to expect as an intern

  • Opportunity to work on real production code from the very start.
  • Formal training program to help you settle.
  • Learn lots of new technology.
  • Be treated as a regular team member.
  • Be assigned a mentor – guidance and assistance. Helps you learn at a pace that suits you best within the company.
  • We will give you an experience as valuable as possible, setting you up for a successful final year.
  • Offer to return as a graduate if you have been successful.

What do they expect from me?

  • Good attitude and aptitude.
  • Passion for learning technology.
  • Experience is not necessary they will provide us with the tools to learn and be successful.

Erin – previous intern (engineering)

  • She did not have the instill training interns get now.
  • Joined in 2016.
  • Only girl in the team – never felt like it though.
  • She was able to write code from the ground up and architecture information, take part in meetings.
  • Studied in Queens.
  • Questions were always welcomed.
  • Types of technologies she is using now – pretty much everything was new to her. Java, and really any new product or software that is relevant – you are constantly learning. Its a great way to mature in your career also.


  1. Ask questions.
  2. Learn through your mentors.


  • Attractive salary about £20000.
  • 24 days annual leave and bank/public holidays.
  • Private health, life and travel insurance.
  • Company pension plan with generous (7%) employer contribution.
  • Company shares plan at 15% discount.
  • Employee assistance program – mental health support.
  • When in the office, snacks and refreshments available.
  • Pool table, table tennis and board games available.
  • Regular office gatherings with breakfast, lunch or dinner provided. Monthly they do Belfast time hall to hear what everyone is working on and welcome new hires.
  • They have a speak easy pub in the office.

Next steps

  1. Apply!!!!!! closing date 29 October.
  2. Candidates will be contacted to schedule their own 15 minute pre screen interview with one of our engineering managers – COME PREPARED – big about CV, yourself, company and interest surrounding industry.
  3. If successful, you will be contracted regarding a technical interview. 90 mins – Check spam folder pls  These will happen in November. Puzzle you must solve with the team to see how you would work together.
  4. All interviews will take place via Zoom.
  5. the talent acquisition team will be in touch with applications outcomes and offers.

They have a take home challenge – get a design problem and solve it with wireframes and prototypes then get 15mins in the interview to explain it.

TIPS for the design challenge

  • Be prepared.
  • Do research, explore their products.
  • Avoid a vanilla CV.
  • What will make you stand out (in a good way).
  • Take your time with the design challenge. Don’t just show a polished design, show your thought process.

Final reflections

  • They will look to see when you join them what roles makes the most sense to your skills and designers and natural abilities – They will ensure you are doing the role that is best suited for you. Transition is an option.
  • Big JAVA house. C++ and Python.
  • For UX development they use HTML, SASS, react, vanilla ds.
  • UX design – figma, miro.
  • They are not super strict when it comes to time. As the norm expectation work from 10 – 4 or 9 -5. Really whatever works best, just use some sense and work in a productive way and in a time that works with your team.
  • Still working from home but they don’t know what will be happening next year.
  • Design challenges – hard design challenge of scale.

Rapid7 placement talk

Speaker: Mike

Date: 28/10/21

Who is Rapid7?

  • Service protection/security company.
  • Protection.
  • Prevention.
  • Security.
  • We are the force behind the people who protect you everyday – securing your connection online, making sure your connection, passwords and data is secure. They build this software.
  • We protect the tools that protect society: Cloud security, threat protection (Use AI to anticipate threats), Security automated, vulnerability management, application security, Incident detection and support —> could consider this a novel cause.
  • We are powering the cyber protectors.

Why does UX matter in Cyber security?

  • We are designing the critical experience for our users. It must be powerful, reliable and extensive. But they are nothing if they are not usable – they must be user friendly.

3000 staff across the UK, Japan, US, Amsterdam, etc.

Design system:

  1. Discovery:   Brief –> 5 whys (Is it inline with user wishes, is it technically feasible, do we have the people to do it?) –> Heuristic review –> feasibility review (talk to some engineers, product managers before suggesting it) –> Competitor review (Help or support pages are great to show how they explain their process) –>  Tooling (What tools will I use to achieve this? It’s about choosing the right tool to create prototypes easily to then present it to the team – what is the tool quit of my team?) –> User research (what are your users really saying? User centered) –> Analytics () –> Market landscape
  2. Design: Insights –> Design principles –> Design system integrations –> Brand experience –> Artefacts –> Exploration  –> Progress review –> Prototyping
  3. Build: Learn at least the basics of HTML and CSS and Java so you can have an educated talk with the developers.
  4. Test: Prototype –> Peer test –> User test –> Device test (Put your designs in as many devices as possible as they will look different depending on their settings) –> Quality assurance (Don’t mark your own homework – you are not impartial) –> Accessibility test (Make sure whatever you create is accessible) –> Performance test –> Benchmarking (against other experiences – eg how many clicks does it take? How quickly can a user get through it?) –> Done criteria (Are you ticking off the criteria boxes? Can we automate this? Is it successful? … Ask for the definition of what being ‘done’ will be for this project)

They work in an agile way (2 week cycle for UX design).

At the end of the design system something gets pushed live.

What they are looking for:

  • Think in a problem solving way.
  • Accessible designing.
  • Being a great UX practitioner also means being a great storyteller – Tell them a good story of how you reached your design.

Design in an art. UX is a science

  • UX process can be learned.
  • Design is products solving, creating something that is aesthetic and usable.
  • Learn by doing it, living it and practicing it. Get your hands dirty. Learn through doing.
  • Understanding the why and testing ideas.

What to say in interview:

  • Want to work for this company as I believe the work they do is a novel cause that protects those that protect us.
  • Talk about design systems – how UX and UI should be implemented across.
  • Waterfall vs Agile design system – Agile is better but research it and make a blog post.
  • Be ready to tell the story of your work.
  • Be ready to tell your story.
  • Help design the critical experience and empower the protectors.
  • They like slack as a social platform.

Application process dates and info

  • How long until we hear back: Couple of weeks – November 8th.
  • They review websites as soon as you submit it #screed.
  • Remote and onsite work.
  • It will be a 10 month long placement.

At the careers fair event I had a few 1 to 1s with some of the members of the Rapid7 team – what I was able to learn is that they are a great company, that would offer any placement student a nurturing place to learn and grow.

Here are the notes I took:

Global payments

Deadline: 05/11/21

Apply on Workday with CV and portfolio

Interview process:

  1. Interview (30-40 mins)
  2. Second stage interview (present short design challenge)

  • Stephen Picton – director of communications – him and Jordan will be reviewing application
  • UX is the heart of the development process in Global Payments.

Intro to Global payments integrated

  • Focus on integrated payment solutions
  • Sites across the world
  • Allows users to manage account, invoices, credit card, etc…
  • 24,000+ employees
  • Dominic was a placement student last year
  • Belfast and Foyle sites accounts for 80% of the revenue for the company

Intro to technical communications

  • UX:  UX design system –> Ux practices and processes –> Customer feedback –> Accessibility
  • Tech Docs: API documentation (A way of interacting with the software) –> Compliance documentation (Finance, security and compliance) –> Practices and processes –> Style guide

Merges to create —> UX WRITTING

  • Hardware interface
  • Software interface
  • User guides
  • Help center

Accessibility is a huge thing for Global Payments especially since in the states by law the UI must be accessible. 

Intro to Genius

Team goal

  • Promote Ux
  • Conduct research
  • Collaborate across disciplines
  • Deliver design decisions
  • Create solutions
  • Seek feedback and validate design


  • Lean product strategy
  • Agile product development

What to expect

  • You will be part of the team

Gemma’s placement experience

  • Built out interface devices
  • Prototyping used tool called protopie
  • Communicating with others, at home and overseas
  • Journey maps
  • empathy maps
  • Creating device illustrations
  • How you can apply
  • Hypothesis mapping
  • The mad hackathon (Allows employes to present ideas they think global payments should develop)

  • Start date: July 2022 for 12 months
  • Working hours: 37.5 hours per week Mon -Fri 9:00 – 5:30

Key skills they want

  • design for accessibility
  • UX writing
  • Illustrative skills
  • Design thinking – they are not that worried about the portfolio
  • Brush up on understanding of UX process for interviews. How to put yourself in the mind of the user
  • Design UX and UI for design thing with one of their screens and show them?
  • Empathy maps

What makes a good cover letter?

I found this article on the Interaction design foundation that was very helpful when researching what would work best for making a good impression for future employers. Click here to read the article.

What are UX Cover Letters?

UX cover letters are short letters or emails that designers send with their portfolios and resumes to apply for jobs. These are personalized to introduce yourself and briefly explain why you are a good fit for the business. The cover letter will give the employer the first impression of you as a designer and whether or not you would be a good fit.

“A great, relevant cover letter can make me think twice even about weak candidates—think what it can do for strong ones.”

– Joel Califa, Senior Product Designer at GitHub

A Cover letter is a way to introduce yourself and support your portfolio and CV. A cover letter is a vital when having initial contact with any recruiter. It must pack maximum persuasion into the least space and in the right words to make the best first impression. As recruiters consider applicants for UX roles, they evaluate what they declare and how. In one page, you should convince a recruiter why you’re the best fit for:

1. The UX role offered.

2. Their organization overall.

When you bring your passion and dedication to life on your cover letter, you’ll help a recruiter envision how you might be the best candidate for that role and their team and working culture. Your UX portfolio and resume should reinforce that impression. While your portfolio will carry the most weight as recruiters consider your application, your cover letter is how you get them interested enough to do so.

How to Write a UX Cover Letter

Email generally suits most situations. However, judge how formal your approach should be when you research the organization, you should:

1- Personalize your letter.

It is always a good idea to personalize the cover letter and address it to the recruiter so when the time comes to applying to roles I could even call the company and ask who would be interviewing me so I can address it to them.

Don’t begin with Dear Sir/Madam. This sounds lifeless and gives the impression you’re applying to a generic recruiter in a scattershot approach. To prove a dedicated effort to reach that recruiter, find and use the name of the contact (typically in HR). Decide whether to use a title-and-surname approach (safer) or a first-name approach to access them in a friendly, professional way.

Match your tone of voice with the company’s personality. If your recruiter is trendy and bubbly, reflect that nature in your email. If it’s a more traditional organization, a formal writing style is better.

2- Keep it short and sweet.

Use one page. Recruiters are usually time-starved individuals who won’t handle lengthy letters. This puts pressure on you to fine-tune a concise message in which you show extensive knowledge about the company and role.

3- Show why you’re a good fit by explaining:

Why you want to work for their organization. Say what they have that attracts you: e.g., their values, teamwork style.

Why you want that UX role. Ensure you show you’d love it as a valuable next step in your career, rather than somewhere to escape to because you dislike your current situation.

How they will benefit from hiring you. You should declare your strengths and interests by showing how these can add value to a team. Flip your words around to hear how you sound from their side. Try to portray a proactive problem-solver who wants to grow with team-mates.

4- Read and re-read the job posting carefully.

Provide the materials they request. To filter out inattentive applicants, many recruiters include a question or prompt to mention a word/phrase.

5- Proofread, re-read and read it aloud.

One tiny typographical error will almost certainly ruin your application. So, use your spellchecking and grammar-checking software, re-read your letter and read it aloud until you’re sure about it.

Remember, your cover letter is critical to what happens next with your application. You have only moments to represent yourself to the recruiter through it—every word must count.

I really like how simple and clean this cover letter looks. It is easy to read and view.


This one I like but the content looks a bit too heavy.

While this one is nice I worry about adding a picture of myself. It feels a bit unprofessional.

Portfolio research and Inspiration

As a way to improve my portfolio website and my career prospects I decided to conduct some research but first I decided to make a list of the things I would like my portfolio to be:

  • Portfolio site and content strategy. My Instagram, LinkedIn, Slack must be active, functional, consistent and professional; they should all match, think brand recognition.
  • My portfolio should be simple and functional.
  • I will aim to tell the viewer a story when writing my case studies.
  • Skills I would like to include: Wireframing, prototype testing, web development, illustration, branding, Iconography.
  • Design experience I should include: feedback Stephen (client) gave for the work I did on the ice cream shop logo as a quote for my portfolio page on the logo design.

Learning from others

I started off by looking for inspiration in Pinterest and then created a Pinterest board – I will be updating this board as I work on my portfolio throughout the semester. Here is a link to my board.

So I decided to take a look at some of the portfolio websites some previous IXD students completed while at the same stage that I am currently at to better understand what the expectations are and to learn from them.

Calum Dixons

Dixons website attracted me due to its simplicity. In his main/home page he uses a main title and a secondary title (information architecture) as a warm and short introduction. It makes me as the user feel welcomed and drawn in, this is something I would like to do in my own website.

He also added a little cute thing in his title home page where he added gifs over the underlined words. This adds a level of quirkiness and familiarity that made visiting his website all the better.

I noticed that he doesn’t have a full CV, just a sort summary of one. Nice and brief. I would however have added a call to action button to download his full cv, personally I think it would have polished his ‘About’ section and allowed possible employers to get his full experience. I do however like how he gave a short summary of his experience. It made it easy and simple to digest. I really liked the aesthetic he created by being consistent with his black and white theme. This also made it easier to digest the information.

These design principles – especially his idea of a summarized CV is something I would love to include in my own portfolio website.

I liked his use of relaxed and informal language in his contacts section of his website; I appreciate the fact that he didn’t use an email box and instead he put his email address with a link to send the user straight to their email to contact him. He used playful language for his social media handles which was funny and cute- a very nice idea I would like to incorporate into my own website as it fits my brands tone of voice.

Take notice of how he added a bit of playfulness to the image introducing one of his case studies by adding a little motion for his case studies when you hoover over it – its awesome. I also like how he very briefly introduces his work in his home page.

He shows his research first, then his rough drafts, then his thoughts, then final products and reflections (they are super important).

Matthew McLaughlin 

When you first enter the site, you are met with big text introducing his skill sets and ability to produce clean and simple design – his ‘home’ page is easy to read and follow. I like that he gave a quick, short bio about his skill sets, values and where he can be found on social media.

I like how he uses colour without making it overwhelming or overpowering and how his consideration for colour, type and information architecture ensures that the content is accessible.

Overall I think that this page is simple and aesthetically pleasing which easily engages users.

His layout never chances for his case studies, it gives a nice flow and continuity for the site. The length of his case study is ideal – not too long but with enough information to interest prospective employees or clients.

I also liked his use of a sticky navigation bar as it made it easier to find your way back and navigate the site.

I really enjoyed his tone of voice throughout the site – relaxed, friendly yet professional as it made you feel like you were actually talking to him and it also reflected on him making me think he might be a friendly person in real life.

Alex McCormick 

*** Her website is no longer available so I can not show any pictures of it ***

Alex works in whitespace now (small company, they only ever take one student on). She shows more than the app design, she also shows the different elements and illustration she created for it. I really liked how she also showcased her other interests that are still relevant to her thought process or how she tackles a design problem.

When the time comes I would like to also have a section for my illustrative work.

Gemma Ferguson

What stood out to me the most in Gemma’s website was her layout for her case studies as it was clean, simple and easy to follow – it felt like I was being guided through the information.

I also liked how she used a banner at the top of her case studies as a way of a preview – I also really appreciated the fact that she toned down the colours of the banner so it would not take away from the information and allow the writing to be seen clearly.

Gemma utilizes white space very successfully and consistently in her case study area making it easy to read and understand. I also like how she showcased her sketches as a way of explaining her design thought process.

Reflection: I would like to apply a similar style in banner as a quick introduction or preview into the work explained in the page. I also want to step out of my comfort zone and maybe use my white space more successfully.

I then decided to look at some more experienced designers


Illustrated by Mabel

This was a happy accidental find. I like how she used a collage styled way of showcasing her illustrative work while still keeping the artwork organized in a grid layout.

I am not in love with her menu bar – I think it gets confusing and that she added too many options making it easy to get confused, I think that for example the ‘How can I help you’ section of the menu bar is not needed and that the ‘contact me’ section can just as easily cover this need.

I like that she kept a white background so her work would not be obstructed or upstaged.

I really liked how when you hover over one of the items on the menu bar they are highlighted in pink and underlined, it is a small touch but it really helps to draw in your attention and it fits her website style perfectly. I do however think that the pink is too light and a slightly darker colour would help resolve the contrast issue.


This is an incredibly beautiful website and it was an honest joy to scroll through it and view it. It left a very positive and lasting impression (Something which I would ideally be able to do with my website).

It was different, memorable and kind of quirky – the message she shares as part of her intro is also perfectly complemented by the artwork behind it. It is simple and uncomplicated and while it is a drastic change in style compared  to the previous websites I have looked at; it proves that colour when used correctly can be incredibly successful.

The text stands out and the call to action button comes in at a perfect time to encourage interest.

Something I found quite interesting is that while she does provide a brief preview of her work, her case studies are explained in medium so essentially her portfolio is an organized guide or way to show her work a posted on Medium and Dribble which is a very interesting way to utilize a single page website.

Brief and to the point – you can see everything is very carefully considerate and refined and after reading her blog post on re-designing her website I can see why as she has been working under the name ‘owltastic’ since 2008 meaning that she has been able to refine the design and use her many years of experience to make the successful website I see now. Practice really makes prefect.

Vandana Pai:

Her use of typography is awesome. It takes a real skill to reduce a site down in the way she has done it.

Her logo is also incredible – I am kind of in love with it tbh.

The way the case studies have been displayed is simple gorgeous. A quick and simple description is given. The only part of the text that overlaps with the coloured boxes are the titles for each project.

Simple, collected and easy to use.

I like how she continued with the same box as she puts in a small box as part of the preview of her case study in the main page. I would argue that the content is lengthy – especially for my purposes but display wise her design is very easy and simple to understand – very successful.


Here are other great examples I also looked at but did not decide to talk about in great detail

  • Dawson Andrews is a great local NI company.
  • Jordan Moore
  • Jack Mcdade has a great and unique website with funny little intros of himself. It was enjoyable and entertaining but it did feel crowded. I must give it to him though, it was not boring.
  • John hicks designhas a great layout example for the case studies.
  • Xavious Cusso – now this is a cool website although it was at times complicated and kind of confusing. Very cool and engaging though
  • Tiffanie Mazellier– Incredible, simply incredible. It is definitely worth a look. She was featured as Site of the Day for May 23, 2020 in Typewolf

I like how when you hoover over an option in the menu bar, it is highlighted by a cool little doodle looking circle.

I kind of lost my mind when I saw the cursor change to be a circle with the phrase “See case study” – breathtaking.

When you hoover over the line drawing a real-life picture of the designer comes up which as you move the cursor over the image becomes distorted – again very interesting and engaging.


The best design is the design where there is nothing else to be taken away