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How to use Motion in your Design Portfolio: an interview with Jennifer Darmour VP at Oracle

motion and ux Jul 30, 2020

Hi, I hope this finds you well.

Over the next 2 weeks I'm speaking with hiring managers at Apple, Facebook, and Google and asking them what they look for in designer portfolios with regard to motion. I'll let you know what I find out.

Last week I spoke with my friend Jennifer who is a VP at Oracle. She's had an amazing career and is a perfect bridge between design and business. She spent the last year building a brand new world class design team at Oracle. This meant she looked at a LOT of designer portfolios, and had a lot of insight to share.

Why is this important? 2020 is shaping up to be a year for the history books. I'm hearing from a lot of you who are looking to get hired and/or keep the job you already have. Nobody knows what's going to happen 6 months from now. A lot of folks are stressed.

We all need to level up, stay sharp, and put our best foot forward. Right now the career stakes are higher than they've ever been.

Motion can help with this. Hiring managers I'm speaking with really take notice when a designer has motion in their portfolio.

But unless you frame it correctly, you're toast.

In this 30 minute call, Jennifer shares the things that will set you apart, and the things that will kill your chances.

Specifically, Jennifer discusses her ideas relating to identifying the problem you are trying to solve, and what constraints you had in the project.

There is so much solid gold in this interview in terms of your portfolio, what hiring managers are looking for, and how to position motion.

Two caveats
Yes the video quality is terrible. Thank you Zoom.
For some reason it didn't record my face (honestly who wants to see that anyway), so I dropped in a photo of me when I'm asking questions). Thank you Zoom.
The link takes you to my YouTube channel. If you haven't already, please subscribe. I'd appreciate it.

Below are some of the highlights and time stamps from the call.

00:00 Introduction of Jennifer (we go back a ways)

01:30: Presenting motion in terms of problems and constraints

2:24: Jennifer: talks about starting brand new division from scratch. Hiring tons of UX designers worldwide to build world class team. Reimagining all 300 cloud based products.

3:18: Jennifer: looked at so many resumes around the world. Amazing how people will invest so much money in education and effort and sweat equity into projects and when they are representing them, there is no visibility into problems they are solving.

4:20 Jennifer: gorgeous portfolios but you question why they did what they did. No articulation around what the problem is. First and foremost thing I look for.

04:50: Jennifer: having the basic design skills around aesthetics is a required skill for being a UX designer.

05:20 Jennifer: we are looking for folks who can articulate a problem.

06:08: Jennifer: you might not know what the problem is but you can hypothesize. This will help frame the problem and constraints which leads to innovation and great design. This is key to show and articulate your work, especially in portfolios.

06:42: Jennifer: with portfolios people are putting their best foot forward. Have to be able to say "This is the problem I am trying to solve. I might not have solved it correctly but here are my results."

08:39 Jennifer: when you are starting off, you need to show capability but you have to avoid showing too much crazy stuff without constraining. Motion can be very subtle. People want to do cool things without defining the problem. Example of list to detail. Without constraints you can go too crazy with it. Is that the right solution to the task?

10:50 Jennifer: problem you are identifying and constraining

11:42 Jennifer: even a fraction of a second of motion can increase usability and emotionally impact users

13:20 Issara: defining context in your portfolio presentation is key. If you don’t do this, you’re toast.

14:00 Jennifer: fame your own work and the work of others, and setting expectations. Presenting and showcasing experimental work. Framing experimental work. Can still state problem and constraints.

15:40 Jennifer: portfolio reviewing and hiring based on how you think and problem solve. Applying critical analysis to your own work is critical and an indication of how you will collaborate on teams.

16:40 Issara: digging into constraints to include platform, users, context, product, brand, time, resources, environment, technical constraints.

19:55 Jennifer: creating patterns and brand language, common behaviors, an ecosystem, people out of school are not thinking in this way. Huge opportunity to create a whole language around motion and patterns.

22:42 Jennifer: looking for amazing talent who can clearly articulate a problem and how their explorations solve or don’t solve the problem and work within constraints and can frame the work well. Nobody works alone. You have to collaborate. You have to communicate your ideas and why your ideas contribute and solve problems. These are critical skills and you have to do this in your portfolio.

24:00 Issara: motion is challenging to describe, speak to the value to the user, the product, and the business. Don’t just describe the mechanics.

25:35 Jennifer: inspiration and using it to drive your work. Share it with people. Motion is all about details and subtleties. Showing inspiration is critical. Find things that feel right, not even solving same problem and be transparent about it.


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