Portfolios (was: Guidance for someoneinterestedinyour field)

15 Apr 2004 - 4:41pm
10 years ago
12 replies
400 reads
kjnarey
2004

For what it's worth, I agree with Elizabeth here.

When all said and done we are looking for a quality candidate. Whilst first
impressions do last, the interview really takes about three months; after
which you will be happy that the candidate has expressed enough through
their probationary period for you to give them a permanent contract (or
whatever).
Putting people under severe pressure to perform to a high level in a
contrived environment will prove valuable in that you can discover a
baseline skill set (parallel with written examinations), but I find the real
value is in discovering someone's work ethics.

rgds

KN

-----Original Message-----
From:
discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesign
ers.com]On Behalf Of Elizabeth Dykstra-Erickson
Sent: 15 April 2004 21:49
To: discuss-interactiondesigners.com at lists.interactiondesigners.com
Subject: Re: [ID Discuss] Portfolios (was: Guidance for
someoneinterestedinyour field)

Hiya,

I'm a fan of "think on your feet" (design exercise on premises) than
"homework." I'm also a fan of seeing candidates who have worked on
multiple releases of the same product, and have a philosophy about
design consistent with the hiring organization. And of course there's
the personality card. But I'm NOT a fan of working as an unpaid
candidate to "prove" yourself, nor of extended exercises done
off-site -- I think it shows a basic disrespect for a working
professional and makes the employment interview something else
entirely.

I think a portfolio of work SHOULD show some improvement over a
period of time, should declare what some of the issues and
improvements could be, and does not need to declare precisely what
part of the product the candidate thought of or built herself -- lots
of teams operate on consensus making it impossible to make exclusive
claims.

An interaction portfolio is particularly difficult since it's hard to
avoid visual impact when you're not the visual designer. So I favor
treatments of method --- I did *this*, and this is how I arrived at
it, and this is what I would choose to do differently; and this is
how I responded to certain elements.

I'm more interested in how a designer gets along with other people,
particularly engineers, than I am with the specific work they've done
in the past. A lot of training happens on the job. What I look for is
competence, the ability to articulate, and a workable balance of
hubris and humility.

Elizabeth

At 4:14 AM -0700 4/15/04, Pabini Gabriel-Petit wrote:
>Elizabeth Dykstra-Erickson said
>> Specifications written for a company's product belong to the company
>> and are confidential. Consider that before you post a spec
>> illustrating your talents.
>>
>> It's a sad but true limiting factor to what most of us can show.
>
>John Vaughan said:
>> >But why NOT post [specs] online?
>> >And the relevant questions is: If I do, Will anyone read it? Well,
>yes -
>> >and no. I doubt that many people looking at my site want to read a
>detailed
>> >tech spec cover-to-cover. But they DO want to get a sense of my
approach
>&
>> >credibility. So sometimes I'll present a thumbnail view of the larger
>doc:
>> >I'll extract some context (the Overview or Summary), give a sense of
>scope
>> >(the Table of Contents) and a focus on a relevant example (a cogent
>snippet
>> >that struts my stuff). Hopefully, it's digestible - and satisfies.
>
>Elizabeth, I agree with you about it being improper to show specs online,
as
>I said before. I've planned to show thumbnails. However, now that we've
>established what is improper, what are your views on what it is proper to
>show? Would you recommend following any of John's suggestions?
>
>Pabini Gabriel-Petit

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Comments

15 Apr 2004 - 8:34pm
pabini
2004

In response to Elizabeth Dykstra-Erickson's statement:
>
> >But a spec is the property of the company for whom it was developed.
> >They are *always* considered proprietary and confidential as far as I
> >know.

Elizabeth Buie wrote:
> Not if the "company" is the US Government.
> If the spec is a formal deliverable, and if the project is not classified
> or "for official use only", I suspect the spec might be made public. US
> Government documents are not copyrighted.

Thanks for your reply Elizabeth. Interesting. You may just have motivated a
lot more of us to do some government work. :-)

Pabini Gabriel-Petit

15 Apr 2004 - 10:32pm
pabini
2004

Hi Elizabeth

Thanks for your thoughtful reply. It's good to have your perspective on
these issues. I've responded to some of your comments below, following
strings of asterisks.

Pabini Gabriel-Petit

Elizabeth Dykstra-Erickson wrote:
I'm a fan of "think on your feet" (design exercise on premises) than
> "homework." I'm also a fan of seeing candidates who have worked on
> multiple releases of the same product, and have a philosophy about
> design consistent with the hiring organization. And of course there's
> the personality card. But I'm NOT a fan of working as an unpaid
> candidate to "prove" yourself, nor of extended exercises done
> off-site -- I think it shows a basic disrespect for a working
> professional and makes the employment interview something else
> entirely.

***I totally agree with everything you've said here. When interviewing
people, it's good to actually see how they approach a new design problem.
I've always thought Cooper's policy of requiring applicants to take a test
was asking too much. It does show a certain disrespect. I'm sure they miss
out on interviewing a lot of good people who just aren't willing to take
their test.

What I look for is
> competence, the ability to articulate, and a workable balance of
> hubris and humility.

***The last phrase made me laugh out loud, because I know exactly what you
mean. :-) Well said.

15 Apr 2004 - 10:41pm
pabini
2004

Whitney Quesenbery wrote:
> One of the best portfolios I ever reviewed (that is, the portfolio that
> gave me the best sense of the person's capabilities) was put together from
> pieces of several different projects, but organized as though it was a
> single project.
>
> At each "stop" she was able to show her best work in that area, while
> talking about several projects and different teams.
>
> I got a real sense of how she worked with different teams, what she
> contributed to projects and where she was strong and where weak. One of
the
> interesting things was that this allowed her to show a great piece of
work,
> even if it was not on her favorite project. There was a very nice bit of
> work for a project that she thought had failed in the end --not the sort
of
> thing you would normally show in a case study -- but in talking about it,
I
> got a really good sense of her ability to see a bigger picture.
>
> Now that I think of it, it was sort of like a "portfolio persona" - a
> composite that brought out critical points.

Very interesting. Do you happen to have a URL for this portfolio?

Thanks, Pabini Gabriel-Petit

15 Apr 2004 - 10:41pm
Wendy Fischer
2004

My advice is not to send a spec to anybody. It's the
company's property that you work for.

Create a faux spec if you need to to showcase
communication ability and writing style.

-Wendy Fischer
--- Elizabeth Dykstra-Erickson <eade at mail.kinoma.com>
wrote:
> At 7:34 PM -0700 4/15/04, Pabini Gabriel-Petit
> wrote:
> >In response to Elizabeth Dykstra-Erickson's
> statement:
> >>
> >> >But a spec is the property of the company for
> whom it was developed.
> >> >They are *always* considered proprietary and
> confidential as far as I
> >> >know.
> >
> >Elizabeth Buie wrote:
> >> Not if the "company" is the US Government.
> >> If the spec is a formal deliverable, and if the
> project is not classified
> >> or "for official use only", I suspect the spec
> might be made public. US
> >> Government documents are not copyrighted.
> >
> >Thanks for your reply Elizabeth. Interesting. You
> may just have motivated a
> >lot more of us to do some government work. :-)
> >
> >Pabini Gabriel-Petit
>
> I've never seen a copyright on a spec -- marking a
> document
> proprietary is different than copyrighting.
> Copyrighting implies
> access but no privilege to copy. Proprietary
> (confidential,
> proprietary, for x eyes only, etc. - many companies
> have different
> levels of protection on internal documents) means
> that it is
> explicitly NOT sharable outside the company, and
> sometimes outside
> the team that developed it, especially when copies
> are numbered and
> tracked.
>
> Just commenting here on the difference between the
> two, which is considerable.
>
> Since a spec in commercial work is generally a
> detailed blueprint of
> a product that contains intellectual property, it is
> a competitive
> resource. Apple finally wised up and quit posting
> pages of specs in
> the hallways when Steve returned and wanted to stop
> the leaks. That,
> by the way, was also the reason he cancelled
> usability studies - too
> much external exposure.
>
> I daresay it would make a good many companies
> uncomfortable to think
> that their designers or design consultants were
> sharing information
> this way. Open source is of course a different
> animal.
>
> Elizabeth
> _______________________________________________
> Interaction Design Discussion List
> discuss at interactiondesigners.com
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> to change your options (unsubscribe or set digest):
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=====
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15 Apr 2004 - 10:48pm
whitneyq
2010

At 09:41 PM 4/15/2004 -0700, Pabini Gabriel-Petit wrote:
>Very interesting. Do you happen to have a URL for this portfolio?
>
>Thanks, Pabini Gabriel-Petit

Sorry, but it was presented in person with real paper, and some material
online.

(I agree with the people who said that specs and other internal docs are
often boring - paper is often a good way to present them. The ability to
flip pages works well for the interview format, and it can quickly answer
basic questions like "does this person have any idea what an xxxxx should
look like" or "has s/he ever done xxxxx in the kind of style we use here"

Whitney Quesenbery
Whitney Interactive Design, LLC
w. www.WQusability.com
e. whitneyq at wqusability.com
p. 908-638-5467

UPA - www.usabilityprofessionals.org
STC Usability SIG: www.stcsig.org/usability

16 Apr 2004 - 12:54am
pabini
2004

Whitney Quesenbery wrote:
> Sorry, but it was presented in person with real paper, and some material
> online.
>
> (I agree with the people who said that specs and other internal docs are
> often boring - paper is often a good way to present them. The ability to
> flip pages works well for the interview format, and it can quickly answer
> basic questions like "does this person have any idea what an xxxxx should
> look like" or "has s/he ever done xxxxx in the kind of style we use here"

Thanks for your reply. I thought that might be the case, but it sounded so
intriguing, I thought asking worth a try. :-)

Flipping through paper documents is certainly a good way of getting a
general feel for someone's work. I wouldn't publish my specs online, but
don't print them out for interviews either, for three reasons. One, the
sacrifice of trees. A lot of my specs are 400-500 pages in length. Two, I
may have little idea going in what project work an interviewer might find
interesting. I can store a lot of different images on disk, so am more
likely to have what they want to see with me. I wouldn't even be physically
capable of carrying printouts of all my specs. ;-) Three, the screen images
look much better on a computer. When flipping through a document, the images
are what stand out anyway.

Pabini Gabriel-Petit

16 Apr 2004 - 7:08am
Elizabeth Buie
2004

Pabini Gabriel-Petit writes:

>You may just have motivated a
>lot more of us to do some government work. :-)

Oh great, just what I need. More competition.

:-)

Elizabeth
--
Elizabeth Buie
Computer Sciences Corporation
Rockville, Maryland
301.921.3326

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16 Apr 2004 - 7:13am
Elizabeth Buie
2004

Elizabeth Dykstra-Erickson writes about the difference between a
copyrighted document and a proprietary one.

>Since a spec in commercial work is generally a detailed blueprint of
>a product that contains intellectual property, it is a competitive
>resource.

If the US Government hires you to do the work, and if the spec is a
deliverable part of the work, it is not *your* IP but the government's. As
long as its content is not sensitive, I don't know of any reason why it
could not be publicly avaiilable. I have been on projects where documents
were posted on the web -- primarily for team review, but they were not
hidden from the public.

Elizabeth

--
Elizabeth Buie
Computer Sciences Corporation
Rockville, Maryland
301.921.3326

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16 Apr 2004 - 7:19am
Elizabeth Buie
2004

Wendy Fischer writes:

>My advice is not to send a spec to anybody. It's the
>company's property that you work for.

Not if the US Government is your company's client and the spec is one of
your deliverables.

Elizabeth

--
Elizabeth Buie
Computer Sciences Corporation
Rockville, Maryland
301.921.3326

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16 Apr 2004 - 10:08am
John Vaughan - ...
2004

Clarification: My client's corporate LAWYERS interpret that the company
owns everything. That's their job. And they should protect the company's
proprietary information. But there are reasonable limits.

What we're talking about here (my portfolio) are the "ephemeral goods" of
usability (design, workflow, best practices, good process, etc.) I doubt
that anyone reviewing a design portfolio is actually attempting corporate
espionage. They want to know how I think as a designer. And I can present
that information without violating any REAL confidentiality. As a matter of
fact, I really don't want to distract from my design skills by focusing on
the client's proprietary info.

Here are some considerations:

* Make it clear to the client that you want to be able to reference the good
work you've done for them, without compromising them. It may open up the
opportunity to discuss boundaries and comfort zones.

* If you capture screenshot images, make sure that any proprietary data is
unreadable (make the image small enough, blur that portion of the graphic,
use "dummy data")

* Understand that the client doesn't "own" our UI best practices. If I show
how I answered a client's need, that doesn't mean that the client owns my
solution. (Think: Patterns. Which corporation owns "Search"? Does anyone
remember the epic struggle between Microsoft and Apple over ownership of the
"trash can" symbol? Sheesh, the corporate lawyers sure had a good time with
that one.)

* Present indicative snippets with some context. Like a trailer for a film
or a book review, it provides some intriguing, relevant info without
revealing anything critical. Basically, it says "this is good" without
compromising the integrity of the original.

Sometimes you've just gotta go nose-to-nose with the lawyers . They're
entitled to protect the corporation's proprietary information, but they
can't prevent me from pursuing my livelihood.

Of course it's a judgement call, but that's what we do, isn't it?

"Elizabeth Dykstra-Erickson"
>Are you really suggesting posting such a complete technical
> document publicly for the sake of showing your work?

* Hardly. That would be counterproductive. I don't want to put my audience
to sleep.

John

----- Original Message -----
From: "Elizabeth Dykstra-Erickson" <eade at mail.kinoma.com>
To: <discuss-interactiondesigners.com at lists.interactiondesigners.com>
Sent: Wednesday, April 14, 2004 11:05 PM
Subject: Re: [ID Discuss] Portfolios (was: Guidance for
someoneinterestedinyour field)

> But a spec is the property of the company for whom it was developed.
> They are *always* considered proprietary and confidential as far as I
> know. Are you really suggesting posting such a complete technical
> document publicly for the sake of showing your work?
>
> I wouldn't unless I had explicit permission and the document was
> "declassified." My students ask for this kind of "real" stuff all the
> time and they are disappointed with the answer, but that in itself is
> a lesson in protocol.
>
> Elizabeth
>
> At 6:07 PM -0400 4/14/04, John Vaughan wrote:
> >Pabini
> >> ***A well-written, detailed specification certainly demonstrates one's
> >> design ability. Of course, they can't be posted online.
> >
> >*** Agreed. But why NOT post them online?
> >
> >And the relevant questions is: If I do, Will anyone read it? Well,
yes -
> >and no. I doubt that many people looking at my site want to read a
detailed
> >tech spec cover-to-cover. But they DO want to get a sense of my approach
&
> >credibility. So sometimes I'll present a thumbnail view of the larger
doc:
> >I'll extract some context (the Overview or Summary), give a sense of
scope
> >(the Table of Contents) and a focus on a relevant example (a cogent
snippet
> >that struts my stuff). Hopefully, it's digestible - and satisfies.
> >
> >John
> >
> >----- Original Message -----
> >From: "Pabini Gabriel-Petit" <pabini at earthlink.net>
> >To: <discuss-interactiondesigners.com at lists.interactiondesigners.com>
> >Sent: Wednesday, April 14, 2004 4:28 AM
> >Subject: Re: [ID Discuss] Portfolios (was: Guidance for someone
> >interestedinyour field)
> >
> >
> >> Joshua Seiden said:
> >>
> >> I'm hiring designers. Thus, I need a
> >> demonstration of design ability, not just speaking
> >> ability. So, to my original point, I want another (or
> >> an additional) tool.
> >>
> >
> >>
> >> Pabini
> >> ________________________________________
> >>
> >> Pabini Gabriel-Petit
> >> Principal & User Experience Architect
> >> Spirit Softworks
> >> www.spiritsoftworks.com
> >>
> >>
> >> _______________________________________________
> >> Interaction Design Discussion List
> >> discuss at interactiondesigners.com
> >> --
> >> to change your options (unsubscribe or set digest):
> >http://discuss.interactiondesigners.com
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> >> Announcement Online List (discussion list members get announcements
> >already)
> >> http://interactiondesigners.com/announceList/
> >> --
> >> http://interactiondesigners.com/
> >>
> >
> >
> >_______________________________________________
> >Interaction Design Discussion List
> >discuss at interactiondesigners.com
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already)
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> >--
> >http://interactiondesigners.com/
>
> _______________________________________________
> Interaction Design Discussion List
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> to change your options (unsubscribe or set digest):
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> --
> http://interactiondesigners.com/
>

16 Apr 2004 - 5:34pm
Wendy Fischer
2004

The bottom line is to read the contract between you
and the government and consult your company's legal
department before you assume anything. Unless it's in
the contract that you can use something openly in a
portfolio, it's safe to assume it's no okay until you
check with lega.

Even if it is out in the open posted on the web, it's
still proprietary to the government and your company.
It's competitive information that somebody could use
to copy your designs, or it's information that another
company could use to beat CSC out of a government
contract. As we all know, the government really needs
to tighten up on its own security of information more
than anything else.

I think that there's better ways to display
information about a product then a spec. You can write
a paper about the process and the product, you can
write a faux spec of a consumer product you built, you
can design a fake product and write a spec. Write a
white paper.

my two cents.

-Wendy
--- Elizabeth Buie <ebuie at csc.com> wrote:
> Wendy Fischer writes:
>
> >My advice is not to send a spec to anybody. It's
> the
> >company's property that you work for.
>
> Not if the US Government is your company's client
> and the spec is one of
> your deliverables.
>
> Elizabeth
>
> --
> Elizabeth Buie
> Computer Sciences Corporation
> Rockville, Maryland
> 301.921.3326
>
>
>
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> This is a PRIVATE message. If you are not the
> intended recipient, please
> delete without copying and kindly advise us by
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> shall not operate to
> bind CSC to any order or other contract unless
> pursuant to explicit
> written agreement or government initiative expressly
> permitting the use of
> e-mail for such purpose.
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>
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=====
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20 Apr 2004 - 7:19am
Elizabeth Buie
2004

I hear you, Wendy.
--
Elizabeth Buie
Computer Sciences Corporation
Rockville, Maryland
301.921.3326

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This is a PRIVATE message. If you are not the intended recipient, please
delete without copying and kindly advise us by e-mail of the mistake in
delivery. NOTE: Regardless of content, this e-mail shall not operate to
bind CSC to any order or other contract unless pursuant to explicit
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Wendy Fischer <erpdesigner
@yahoo.com>
04/16/04 19:34

To: Elizabeth Buie/CIV/CSC at CSC,
discuss at interactiondesigners.com
cc:
Subject: Re: [ID Discuss] Portfolios (was: Guidance for
someoneinterestedinyour field)

The bottom line is to read the contract between you
and the government and consult your company's legal
department before you assume anything. Unless it's in
the contract that you can use something openly in a
portfolio, it's safe to assume it's no okay until you
check with lega.

Even if it is out in the open posted on the web, it's
still proprietary to the government and your company.
It's competitive information that somebody could use
to copy your designs, or it's information that another
company could use to beat CSC out of a government
contract. As we all know, the government really needs
to tighten up on its own security of information more
than anything else.

I think that there's better ways to display
information about a product then a spec. You can write
a paper about the process and the product, you can
write a faux spec of a consumer product you built, you
can design a fake product and write a spec. Write a
white paper.

my two cents.

-Wendy
--- Elizabeth Buie <ebuie at csc.com> wrote:
> Wendy Fischer writes:
>
> >My advice is not to send a spec to anybody. It's
> the
> >company's property that you work for.
>
> Not if the US Government is your company's client
> and the spec is one of
> your deliverables.
>
> Elizabeth
>
> --
> Elizabeth Buie
> Computer Sciences Corporation
> Rockville, Maryland
> 301.921.3326
>
>
>
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> This is a PRIVATE message. If you are not the
> intended recipient, please
> delete without copying and kindly advise us by
> e-mail of the mistake in
> delivery. NOTE: Regardless of content, this e-mail
> shall not operate to
> bind CSC to any order or other contract unless
> pursuant to explicit
> written agreement or government initiative expressly
> permitting the use of
> e-mail for such purpose.
>
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>
> _______________________________________________
> Interaction Design Discussion List
> discuss at interactiondesigners.com
> --
> to change your options (unsubscribe or set digest):
> http://discuss.interactiondesigners.com
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=====
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