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I'm currently trying to improve my portfolio. I'm a frontend web developer, so it essentially consists of screenshots with descriptions and links to publicly hosted products. I suddenly had an idea of replacing the description for at least one of my portfolio items with an infographic, to combine screenshots and text more organically, and to include more screenshots. I hope it would end up looking more attractive to the prospective employer and more memorable.

However, I don't think I've seen a programmer portfolio comprised of infographics yet. Is there a reason there aren't any? Should I give it a shot?

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    Are you a programmer, a graphic artist, a UX designer or something in-between? Programmers typically don't have a portfolio at all unless a significant part of their role is UX or web design. Even for those profiles I'd recommend focusing your efforts on writing great cover letters and having a strong, concise resume. I've never been convinced that portfolios add value to IT profiles because it's hard to say how much someone actually contributed to a product or website. – Lilienthal Jan 13 '16 at 11:49
  • A programmer's portfolio lives on github/bitbucket or similar. I believe your role is more UI/front-end development? – Burhan Khalid Jan 14 '16 at 7:39
  • Front-end (or full-stack) development. At least for the items I'd consider making into infographics. – Septagram Jan 14 '16 at 16:28
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If the graphic better communicates what you want to communicate, sure, it's a good idea.

The reason it's likely not common is due to that fact that good infographics aren't easy to make. What you see today being called 'infographics' are mostly just marketing spam and not really communicating much at all.

A more traditional infographic, such as something you might see accompanying an article in the NYT isn't necessarily an easy thing to create. It takes both analytical and artistic talent. And was typically created by someone that specialized in that specifically.

But, again, if you think you can do it well, give it a shot. For inspiration, I'd strongly reading Edward Tufte's books on the subject.

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I would say yes. Go for it!

But, don't make the infographic look too funky or non-professional. Always remember, your resume needs to be professional enough.

But that doesn't mean, you can't add designs and infographics and design to it. But, make sure it's not very flashy and the important stuff like your experience and portfolio is still demanding attention.

So, build the infographic around the information, and not the other way round. Don't structure your information, so that it can fit into a design you had in mind.

So, these are some tips which I can give you from the point of view of a hiring manager:

  1. Select the design very cleverly. And select it only after you have selected the points which need to go on your resume. And then, select the design which can accommodate that information, and also gives a structure to it.
  2. Select a design which can speak for you. Every designer has a style of their own (consider Disney vs Pixar as a simple example). So, your style should be reflected by the graphic you have on your resume. It helps you speak more through both the text and the design.
  3. No screenshots. My YES, might have excited you. But, screenshots on a resume is a huge NO for me. Describe the design and include a link to the website instead. Screenshots take up a whole lot of space and convey very less information. (I'd be more happy to navigate through your design on a live site, than strain my eyes on a screenshot).
  4. Charts: Throw in some aesthetically pleasing charts which can display your quantified information. Trust me, people love charts. (I'm a data scientist, and I always include charts and graphs to present my results, and people don't get bored as opposed to numbers and formulae.). Maybe you can be innovative with the visualization technique selection. For example, look at this answer on Quora, where the guy cleverly uses a Gnatt's chart.
  5. Breathing space for heaven's sake: You might've read it in your design lessons, didn't ya? Yeah, it do applies here too. Leave breathing space around information, especially around the bars and charts.

So, that's all I can think of for now, and some additional points:

  1. Automated resume filters hate non-conventional resumes. So, make sure you send yours on e-mail or LinkedIn. You don't want to screw up your hard work you put into it, by a dumb bot.
  2. As an answer already suggests, read the works of Edward Tufte and Mike Bostock.
  3. Very helpful reference
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It depends upon what you mean by "frontend web developer".

If by "frontend web developer" you mean UX/UI design, then yes, that is a very creative idea if done well.

It will not only communicate the content that you want communicated about your prior work, but it will also further demonstrate your ability to communicate key information through a graphical design in a live, "here now" manner as the interviewer will be exercising your work when they try to understand how that describes your prior work.

However, if it is done poorly, it could backfire - if the interviewer cannot understand what you are communicating via the infographic, then they may assume you cannot do UX/UI design either.

But, if by that "frontend web developer" you mean that you primarily develop/code/program web pages/apps (i.e. JavaScript or whatever framework you use) and only occasionally do graphic design work, then that would seem to be a bit over the top because it would draw attention to a skill that you actually don't use that often.

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It is very common for graphists to have that kind of elements in their portfolio. It is commonly thought to be a bad idea for a programmer to include them, at the same time. tradition, habits..... My understanding is that most potential employers want "serious" programmers, and are looking for corporate looking candidates.

Another reason is automation. Many recruiters are lazy, and it's easier to automate the parsing of a Word CV than a nice graphical thing.

That's the two reasons why noone does it. Though in your specific case, it might be worth looking for a middle ground : a standard CV with nothing graphical for the HR robots to be happy, but with a link to your best graphics. A more efficient HR person would have a look, and be impressed.

  • The question is about a portfolio, not a CV. My experience is that portfolios come out at the interview stage, not the initial-screen stage. Have you seen recruiters dealing with portfolios? (For my last job change I included a complex branching diagram in my portfolio, by the way.) – Monica Cellio Jan 13 '16 at 16:42
  • Not much. In fact, in the banking industry, none. If you aim for smaller fishes, OTOH, you may find people interested. But only small firms or real development shops may be interested(and even, not all of them). Everything else will focus on other elements than the portfolio(it's a shame, IMHO, but so is life). – gazzz0x2z Jan 13 '16 at 16:54
  • So if the HR screeners aren't going to look at the portfolio anyway, why do you think it's harmful for screening to have infographics in your portfolio? My point is that the portfolio usually doesn't come out until later when you're talking with a real live human being anyway. – Monica Cellio Jan 13 '16 at 16:56
  • Because it does not look serious. Well, it depends on the target. But if the target is a bank, any sign of creativity is a no-go for them. Do you think that a "creative banker" is someone safe for your money? Neither do they. – gazzz0x2z Jan 13 '16 at 19:29
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    The automation point is completely off topic. Question is about portfolio contents, not about graphical elements in the CV. Also non-answer regarding whether infographics should be a part of "best graphics" mentioned at end of answer. – Myles Jan 13 '16 at 20:18

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