Jess Ryan-Ndegwa, Creativity Works Design alumni, gives us her top tips for a great portfolio


My name is Jessica Ryan Ndegwa I am a designer, and have recently graduated from Creativity Works: Design, a six-week immersive skills programme aimed at giving a group of 25 young people access to and work in the field of Design.

As part of the programme, we were given the opportunity to work with lots of different organisations and leading design agencies. We also had weekly portfolio sessions and we were introduced to Tom White from the agency ‘Made by Many’.

Made by Many’ is a company of designers and strategists, all experienced and multi-talented people, used to working closely with the client team, capable of dealing with uncertainty and equipped to reach solutions faster. They help leading global companies bring great products and services to market, build their capabilities and transform their businesses.

We were given an introductory talk on the work Made by Many do by Head of Design, Tom Harding and Charlotte Hillenbrand, followed by a fascinating exercise around Creative Problem Solving. We then worked with Tom across a couple of sessions on how to build a stand out portfolio. The top tips for what to include and how to structure your portfolio are as follows:

1. Well organised, tailored to the position.

2. Put your best work first.

3. Reveal the problem and the solution.

3. Show process, from sketch to production.

4. Users embedded in process.

5. Use real content in your designs!

Furthermore, following these points, as a designer first impressions count. A messy, ill thought through portfolio will leave an impression.

Always strive to put your best foot forward! Start with your best piece of work, something you’re proud of. Make your content easy to navigate. If possible tailor your work to the people viewing it. What projects would they be most interested in seeing?

Get the basics right – Check spelling. Make sure all your links work. Keep it simple and consistent.

It is important to know the problem you are trying to solve, and what the brief was. Put a write up at the beginning of your project.

A MUST! Explain the process, just showing the end solution gives little idea about your thought process and does not explain how you tackled the problem.

Who are you designing for! Tell us about them (your end user!!)

How have you interacted with them?

How have you understood their problem?

How have you designed for them?

Use REAL content in your designs! Your designs are only made real by showing the relationship between form, content and interaction!

Example of a way to structure a Project:

1. Project title.

2. Brief and Problem.

3. Length of the project.

4. How I approach the Problem.

5. The solution.

6. Challenges and learning’s.

The experience of working with an agency as experienced as Made by Many across so many different areas of design was very inspiring and a real privilege for us all. These tips will stand us in good stead for any creative process and portfolio presentation so watch this space from the graduates of #Creativity Works Design 2016!

To read more from Jess and to see her designs go to