P05: Portfolio


Before your lab time on Nov 28/29.


30% of your final grade.

Introduction: What is a Portfolio?

An industry portfolio is a collection of work that showcases the skills and the overall Design Ethos of the creator. A Design Ethos is the understanding, characteristics and definition of oneself as a designer. The four (4) key components of creating a persuasive Design Ethos are:

  1. Audience: This is the reader and evaluator of the portfolio. This component addresses the clarity with which you design for your intended audience or user. This includes the strategic use of written & visual language and tone appropriate for the level of expertise and knowledge of your audience.

    Audience is the primary ethos component for which ALL of the other content decisions (written and visual design) are based on. The following secondary components are determined based on the portfolio audience.

  2. Argument: This is the overall message you want to convey to your Audience. This component addresses your choice of artifacts and the focused and logical connection between your visual artifacts and the written descriptions & analysis of the artifacts.
  3. Form: This is the vehicle used to convey your message to your Audience. This component addresses style — the strategic use of thoughtful & engaging visual language and design concepts organized with consistency across the document.
  4. Professional: This is the seamless experience you create for your Audience. This component addresses the specific use of terminology, grammar and sentence structure, proofreading and editing strategies to create a seamless document that promotes understanding with your audience.

If your Audience is a potential employer, the purpose of your portfolio is to persuade your audience—with visual and written artifacts—that you are a skilled and capable designer worth hiring (argument). Your message is conveyed through your formal design decisions—how you organize those artifacts, and your attention to detail across the document keeps your audience engaged, scrolling or turning the page.

Art and design professionals use their portfolios to highlight the skills and abilities of interest to potential clients, employers, and other industry professionals. SIAT students use them to demonstrate their skills to potential Co-op employers. In paper or electronic form, the designer’s portfolio is a "self-portrait" of the creator that demonstrates excellence.

For this course, you will create a learning portfolio that integrates design practice. A learning portfolio includes a collection of work that demonstrates the variety of ways a student learns and develops skills across a course, an academic year or an entire program. Learning portfolios usually include artifacts in the form of course assignments, individual and team projects, and other learning activities, as well as a reflective self-assessment of the student’s overall performance. A reflection or reflective practice calls for you to think critically and write about what you have learned from a particular learning experience. Whether you are a SIAT student analyzing what you learned during a team project, or a design team leader reporting back to a manager after the completion of a client project—a reflection must clearly articulate your ideas in a thoughtful and organized manner.

Creating a learning portfolio in your first year is an empowering way to begin your SIAT studies and your academic career. The practice of regularly archiving and reflecting on your work will help you:

How Do I Develop My Design Ethos?

Part 1: Archiving your work

An artifact is any documentation (text, sound, image) generated during your course work. An artifact provides evidence of your skills and learning processes. An artifact can range from a major course project or a piece of academic writing, to a sketch, a list, a map, outline or note generated in your learning process. Documenting work, analyzing processes, and engaging in critical reflection are practices used by students and professionals across all design disciplines.

An archive is a collection or repository of information. Archiving is the thoughtful process of saving, organizing and cataloging information. As a designer, you should archive all of your project related artifacts — such as sketches, working files, exported PDFs, print-outs — whenever you complete a project. It is best to store your materials in a safe place, such as an external hard drive for digital files, or a filing cabinet for physical artifacts. Artifacts can be organized by time — in the chronological order you created them — to show the development of a particular skill over time. Or artifacts can be organized by subject or skill, for example Writing, Graphic Design, Sketching, Critical Thinking, etc. It is common for one artifact to illustrate more than one skill. When you select artifacts for a portfolio, from low fidelity notes or sketches to final papers or projects, the purpose of the selection must be clear to you and, more importantly, your audience.

For design students and professionals, the practice of archiving is a thoughtful and deliberate process. Select and discuss the most compelling artifacts from your archive that demonstrate the various skills you’ve learned during your time at SFU. The phrase most compelling does not mean "the best looking" or "the most perfect" work. Sometimes the most impressive artifacts show unfinished iterations, or prototypes with errors or design problems the student has learned from.

The artifacts must be generated in your SIAT studies (including coursework, Student Learning Commons documents & TechTeams) and other SFU related coursework. Using artifacts from across the program or university can show your breadth of interests and the scope of your participation in events across your first year. High school activities and documents from personal hobbies or clubs outside of SFU are not appropriate for this assignment because your course instructor cannot evaluate the criteria for which they were created. Your job is to think critically and write about your academic learning in a style appropriate for your audience.

Part 2: Writing about your work

The Portfolio project is the final individual project for the course. It represents your ability to synthesize what you have learned in IAT-102 and in your other SIAT and SFU courses. The Portfolio has a number of required components that are explained in the implementations instructions below. All of the components must be completed to assignment specifications to achieve a passing grade:

  1. A brief bio detailing your design ethos.
  2. A detailed project view including a design thinking process analysis.
  3. A final presentation illustrating your reflection.
Part 3: Understanding your audience

Think about your audience(s). You are designing for your instructor who is evaluating your design/writing skills but who is also evaluating your professionalism in the place of a potential employer.

  1. Professional Audience: an authority within a specific discipline, profession or field of interest. Employer — decision maker.
  2. Lay Audience: a person that is not knowledgeable within a specific discipline, profession or field of interest. Client — something gain/learn.
  3. Disciplinary Audience: an expert within a specific discipline, profession or field of interest. Designer — knowledge expert.
Illustration demonstrating three types of audience – professional, lay and disciplinary audiences - that should be considered in P05
Figure 1. Illustrating the potential connections between audiences.

Form is also content. How you visually present your writing and your visual artifacts also communicates a significant amount about you and your design ethos to your audience. User experience is important! Think of your reader as a professional audience, like a potential employer moving through your work. It’s not just the written content that matters. The design, text, and overall look and feel of your final portfolio pages must be consistent and unified across the whole portfolio.

Development Process

Below are the components required for the successful completion of the IAT-102 Portfolio project. You must use one or more artifact for each component.

Note that some portfolio components may require more than 1 artifact. For example, a design thinking process analysis must include multiple images documenting the stages of a particular project. Or a critical thinking analysis may require comparing and contrasting two documents, for example a first and final draft. Your task is to find the artifacts that work together to show your learning and skill development over the term.

SIAT Co-op notes that potential employers are interested in seeing work students have created in their academic studies. They can learn a lot about potential student employees by seeing how they represent themselves in their portfolios. Together, the visual artifacts and written analyses are meant to showcase the breadth of your skills.

Below are the portfolio instructions. Ensure you read the specific instructions for each component and understand the designated constraints.

Starting Oct 31/Nov 1

In this week's lab we will give you an introduction to the project as well as a tutorial on Adobe Muse.

  1. Construct your ethos: Part of being able to communicate who you are as a designer is ensuring that the form helps reinforce what the content communicates. You want the overall style of the portfolio to accurately convey your identity, and every element — including font, colour, and imagery — must work together to convey your graphic design knowledge and what makes you interesting and unique. Assemble the following components:
    1. Fonts
    2. Colours
    3. Images (artifacts from projects)
  2. Sketch out potential structures for your portfolio website. You are trying to present your content in an easily accessible and readable format. The composition – the layout of your images and text – should help the audience understand the relationship between image and text, as well as clarify how they are supposed to move through the content itself. Minimum 20 options.
  3. Design thinking process analysis: Choose 2 or more artifacts that show how you created a project from start to finish. The images must demonstrate your ability to think through a design problem and iterate a project over time. Use the critical thinking primer to help you write your analysis:

    In 250-300 words briefly describe the project in the context of the course assignment. Analyze and explain how the work was made, by walking the reader through 3 to 5 steps in the iterative process. Take moment to identify a problem you encountered in the process and highlight how you attempted to resolve it. Then evaluate the effectiveness of the work, in particular highlight what you learned and why it did or didn’t meet its objectives.

    Keep in mind: Consider what makes the chosen work a good choice to show your design thinking skill. Specifically, how does it show your ability to apply design and/or thinking skills? How does it show your design ethos? And what will you build on in future work?

  4. Write a draft or your bio: In 100 words introduce yourself. Who are you? Describe your field or academic interests (what you are studying at SFU) an your professional goals or values (why you are studying in your field). Ensure there is a meaningful connection between the image and the introduction.

    Create a meaningful first impression. Select a visual artifact that represents you—one that makes an impact on your reader. Artifacts must be created by you. Do not use a literal photo of you. A selfie must have a clear purpose. No photos of sunsets, flowers, puppies, teddy bears, game consoles, cell phones or guitars—be thoughtful!

Due in your Nov 7/8 lab:

Starting Nov 7/8

Based on feedback from the labs, please make sure to:

  1. Assemble your portfolio site. Remember to use the ethos components that you generated in addition to the portfolio sketches as the basis off which to work. We expect to see a completed structure - including fonts, colours, images and sections - of your portfolio site, online, next week.
  2. Improve your design thinking process analysis. Remember that you are identifying a problem you encountered in the process and highlighting how you attempted to resolve it, leading to an explanation of what you learned or why the deliverable didn't meet its objectives.
Due in your Nov 14/15 lab:

Starting Nov 14/15

This week's labs will be focused on providing you with as much feedback as possible.

  1. Iterate your portfolio site based on the feedback you received. Integrate your content - both images and text - and remember that your portfolio website should make it easy for us to understand your design ethos. Both your content and the form of the website should reflect who you are to your audience.
  2. Final reflection: In 250-300 words explain how this portfolio represents your learning this term and your Design Communication Ethos. In particular, what key concepts from the course are demonstrated in this work? What considerations have you made for your intended audience?

    What are your strengths? In what areas have you improved? And what areas will you continue to improve? Where do you want to go from here?

    Keep in mind: This is your final moment! Consider what makes the chosen work a good choice to show your credible design ethos. This is a great place to present learning artifacts from office hours or the Student Learning Commons. Do not talk generally about what you did this term—you must show what you did.

Due in your Nov 21/22 lab:

Starting Nov 21/22

In this week's lab, we will hold the final critiques on your deliverables thus far.

  1. Create a final refined portfolio site based on feedback you receive in the labs. Remember the following content requirements that your site must include:
  2. Final presentation: You will build a brief (2-minute) presentation illustrating your final reflection. Remember considerations and feedback you received in P03 and take it into consideration when putting together your presentation. Presentation rules:
  3. Fill in the citation/submission sheet indicating where you acquired fonts and images for your project as well as the URL for your project.

Final Delivery

Final deliverables are due to Canvas before your Nov 28/29 lab and make sure to double-check all your submitted files to ensure they can be opened. Final submission to Canvas includes:

Grading Rubric

Your project will be graded on the following criteria, a more detailed rubric is available on the course pages.

  1. Process: Weekly deliverable checks (4pts)
  2. Audience: Clarity, or how you talk/write to your audience (6pts)
  3. Argument: Focus, or how clearly you connect your writing to your artifact) (4pts)
  4. Form: Coherence & Style, structure as a vehicle for thinking (8pts)
  5. Professionalism: Language conventions, editing for your audience (4pts)
  6. Presentation: Punctuality, show and tell, effectiveness and design (4pts)