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I'm working on my first real portfolio website (at http://bobdowns.net) and I learned in one of my Web Design classes at ASU that we web designers should write up a Persona for our "target market" (who we think will be the typical visitor). I'm guessing that mostly recruiters and HR people will be the most likely people to view my portfolio website.

What are the most typical aspects of recruiters and HR people who would be looking for an entry level web designer/developer like me? Here are the categories we learned in class:

  • Name:
  • Age: (or age range)
  • Gender:
  • Education: (Bachelor's, Master's, PhD?)
  • Work Experience: (Been a recruiter for 10 years straight?)
  • Likes and Dislikes: (Goes to the bar after work every Friday; Love to tag themselves and friends on FourSquare at those bars; Loves long walks on the beach...?)
  • Personality: (Type "A"; Easy-going; fed up with social injustice...?)
  • Communication style: (Prefers texting; loves to talk on the phone all night; gets a "boost" from chatting with friends in person...?)
  • Computer skills: (Barely knows where the power switch is; has a Master's in IT; knows just enough to get by in an office environment...?)
  • Frequency of Internet Usage: (Every day but only at work; on Facebook and Twitter nearly every waking hour; "Internet...? What's that?"...?)
  • Websites Visited on Frequent Basis: (google only; facebook, pinterest; yahoo only...?)
  • Knowledge of Subject of Your Website: (Fresh out of college, having just obtained Communications degree; master web designer; was a social media expert for a while...?)
  • Key Reasons Why to Visit Your Website: (This one might seem obvious based on my assumptions of who's going to visit - "find a match for the position(s) I'm trying to fill" - but if you can think of anything else, by all means, please say something)
  • Key Needs from a Website on Your Subject: (Quick and easy way to contact me; a link/button to easily download a copy of my resume to share with the hiring manager (what document format? .docx, .pdf?)...?)

According to the class, the answers to all of the above categories will help the web designer decide how to design (colors, fonts, layout, menus, etc.) and format (one page, multiple pages, etc.) the site in question.

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    Hi bobdowns, welcome to GDSE and thanks for your question but the way your question is phrased it kinda sounds like you want us to do your homework. – AndrewH May 21 '15 at 22:02
  • No, no, no! I already finished the class! I'm asking about my own personal web design portfolio website now. I want to use what I learned to professionally and correctly design and develop my own portfolio website. Please notice that I gave several examples after each of the categories - so, it should be easy to see that I've already done my own "homework" so to speak on this. But, I'm not a recruiter or HR person, so I might not have a clear understanding of what the typical recruiter or HR person will be looking for/need when they visit my portfolio. – bobdowns May 21 '15 at 22:07
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    A persona description is the result of research, not guesses and opinions. If you want to build a persona, go interview people that fit your target and document your findings. Leah Buley has some good articles on the subject. – plainclothes May 21 '15 at 22:47
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Don't overthink this - decide what you want your portfolio to do (highlight skills, demonstrate technical proficiency, get you jobs that you like) and design for that.

If it helps to have an audience in mind, then sure, generate some personas to test against. But as others have noted, for personas to be really useful, they should be based on actual research with real data behind it. Otherwise you might as well just go with some rough (but generally accurate) generalizations of your target audience and call it a day.

  • Thanks very much, @bemdesign. I'm getting that same gist from all of the answers I've received. Sorry to all if I cluttered up this site with my silly question. I guess I was over-thinking this whole thing. Anyway, thanks for taking the time to answer. – bobdowns May 23 '15 at 2:11
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Noting user's personas is good for thinking about user flow and user experience, of which there is very little for a personal portfolio site. As such, who the recruiter is and their background is pretty irrelevant for portfolio sites.

As it seems like you're looking to create a personal website/portfolio that is relevant to recruiters, I'll address each of your points in respect to that:

  • Name: Obviously important.
  • Age: Not necessary in most circumstances but could be helpful if you don't provide an image - age doesn't determine how well you'll fit in or your skill level (generally).
  • Gender: Not necessary in most circumstances (usually is obvious through the name anyway).
  • Education: Could be helpful if it's related to the job you want to get; not necessary.
  • Work Experience: Definitely need some sort of listing. People hire based on what you can do - what you have done is a good indication of that.
  • Likes and Dislikes: Don't include this. There may be some exceptions, but I can't think of any good ones. This is for discussion later and should only pertain to the way you work individually and with teams.
  • Personality: Not necessary as this is determined by talking with them and perhaps in an interview or something similar.
  • Communication style: Not needed at this point. It should be discussed in later conversation/interaction once they know your skill level is high enough. The only time it should be mentioned is if it's a big emphasis to you, like you're really good at communicating with people and helping others communicate.
  • Computer skills: What does this even mean? Don't include it unless it's dealing with the technologies you use for work and is relevant to the types of jobs you want.
  • Frequency of Internet Usage: Are you kidding me? This is completely irrelevant.
  • Websites Visited on Frequent Basis: Same as above ^^ Completely non-professional and unnecessary.
  • Knowledge of Subject of Your Website: I don't understand this one either. You want to provide some history about yourself but only the relevant history for the jobs you want.
  • Key Reasons Why to Visit Your Website: Don't include it. They already know why they're there.
  • Key Needs from a Website on Your Subject: Definitely include contact info. Links to some of your work, other sites you're active on, and some related things can be helpful. A downloadable resume is up to you, I don't use one because it gets outdated quickly in my case. If you use one it should be in PDF format, all resumes should be unless it's an interactive web page or something.

Another thing I'd include that's not on your list is examples of the work you've created. This is vital so that they can get an impression of what you are capable of. Using images, short descriptions, and perhaps a link to it if it's live is very helpful to a recruiter.


To me, the most important things when looking at a person's portfolio is 1) Do they have the skills that I need? and 2) Can they think well? Once both of those things are true then the next most important thing is 3) Are they a good fit for my team and where I want my company to go? But this is often determined after the initial look at a resume, through interviews, conversations, etc.

  • Thank you, Zach, for responding with such detail. I appreciate it. Unfortunately, it looks like I wasn't clear in my question about WHO the persona is supposed to be about. The persona isn't describing ME. The persona is describing the typical visitor to my website. Here are the articles that explain what I mean: smashingmagazine.com/2014/08/06/… and smashingmagazine.com/2014/08/13/… – bobdowns May 21 '15 at 22:18
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    @bobdowns Yes, I understand what you mean, but who they are is pretty irrelevant for a personal portfolio. Noting user's personas is good for thinking about user flow and user experience, of which there is very little for a personal portfolio site – Zach Saucier May 21 '15 at 22:20

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