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How to write a UX case study

Case studies are an essential part of any UX designer’s portfolio. They will fill up the main part of your portfolio while you try to land that new job you’ve been looking for.
How to write a UX case study

When looking for UX design jobs, it is of great importance to have a UX portfolio that is on point. Your portfolio needs many components. One of these components is at least one excellent case study that shows your previous UX work.

Here’s everything you need to know about UX case studies. We’ll discuss everything ranging from structure to content. I’ll also share my UX case study template below.

Table of Contents

What is a UX case study?

Let’s start at the beginning. What is a case study exactly? If you bring it down to the core, a case study examines your design process around a particular project or job. In the case of a UX designer, this can be a project you’ve completed previously at a company or client.

Your case study can be an individual document or be part of a more extensive document like a pitch, proposal, or your UX portfolio. The goal of a case study is always to show your process and skill as a designer.

Speaking of your portfolio. You can share case studies on platforms like Dribbble and Behance or your website. Be visible! It’ll help you reach a larger audience full of recruiters and potential clients.

How to structure a case study

A UX case study that will show your skills as a UX designer requires a clear structure. Did you know recruiters only take a very short look at your work? Your UX case study structure is essential because it gives your readers something to hold on to. It makes your work scannable and easy to digest. 

In that way, creating a thorough case study that is easy to read is the perfect job for any UX designer.

Structure your case study using the ‘STAR’ method. This is the abbreviation of situation, tasks, activities, and results. If you follow this method, your case studies will be a breeze to go through. Let’s dive in.

  • First up is the situation. You can also call this part the challenge or problem statement or your project. In this part of the UX case study, you discuss the current situation. A business goal needs to be achieved, or a problem must be fixed. You’re hired or assigned to get the job done. State your role and responsibilities in this part of the case study.
  • Second, we have your tasks. What tasks did you have, or what tasks were you assigned to complete? This is the place to name them. As a UX designer, these could be anything from conducting user research to delivering a state-of-the-art visual design concept. Make sure you mention skills and tools relevant to your role and the role you’re looking for. 
  • Activities show what you have done to complete the tasks above. If we stick to the user research example, activities might include recruiting participants, conducting the actual research, and presenting your findings to stakeholders.
  • Finally, results. Link your results to the ‘situation’ part of your case study. What was the original problem or goal, and what was the result of your work? Make this as concrete as possible. Focus on the impact you have made as a UX designer. If the situation was a low conversion rate, mention the new and improved rate that was only made possible by your work. It is okay to exaggerate a bit here.

If you put this all together, you will get a nice block of text consisting of about 4 paragraphs. That’s one paragraph for each of the STAR letters. It is also okay to combine the situation and tasks in one paragraph.

You do not have to name every paragraph after the ‘STAR’ method. You can call it after something that fits your personal style or branding. Or even better, do not name your paragraphs at all. Instead, go for a fluent story. It is better and more fun to read.

To make an even stronger UX case study, I recommend adding relevant pictures to specific paragraphs. These could be images of your progress, photos of workshops, or pixel-perfect visual design mockups.

There’s no good or bad in this case as long as the pictures are relevant to your case study. You can add extra paragraphs to zoom in on a particular skill you want to highlight. But more on this in the UX case study template below.

UX case study template

Let’s be honest for a moment. Even when using the information above, creating a UX case study is much work. Especially when you want to make multiple case studies.

I’ve made a template to help you create a UX case study within 24 hours. In addition, I’m sharing a step-by-step guide on how to do it and where to share your case study in the same template.

You’ll learn how to make your UX case study stand out compared to other designers looking for the same job as you. You can get the UX case study template for 4 USD on my Gumroad page. Check it out below.

Examples

That’s the theory behind case studies in the field of UX. Now it is time to look at some inspirational UX case study examples.

These case studies have been carefully curated to display the theory as we have discussed it previously. Take a look!

UX case study example by Johnnie Gomez on Dribbble
UX case study example by Johnnie Gomez on Dribbble
UX case study example by Katerina Krukova on Dribbble
UX case study example by Katerina Krukova on Dribbble

Further reading

I can’t stress enough how important case studies are for a UX designer. Case studies are a part of every UX portfolio. They are critical when looking for UX design jobs or when you are developing your portfolio. Check out our posts on these subjects!

About the author

Hi! I'm Nick Groeneveld, a senior designer from the Netherlands with experience in UX, visual design, and research. I have completed a wide range of projects in finance, tech, and the public sector.

Take a look at Nick's LinkedIn and Medium for more.

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