Category: Top Tips

Guest Blog: Get the most from your portfolio (Part 1 of 2) by DMID graduate Chris Wheeler

Today’s guest blog is by Chris Wheeler, who has just graduated from DMID, his honours project focussed on portfolio creation and here he shares what he has learnt.  Chris gained a first class honours degree and has secured himself a graduate position in UX research within a month of collecting his degree. 

Your portfolio is an opportunity for you to reflect on and record your achievements, whilst highlighting your best work.  Employers are keen to see your technical and creative ability within a portfolio but also some core employability skills which show you are capable of becoming a successful part of their team.  By following the structure below, you will be able to present your portfolio’s content in a manner which will be appreciated by employers:

Identifying Your Employability Skills

It’s common amongst students that they don’t think they have ’employability’ skills because they may not have a lot of work experience, but a lot of these important skills can be gained at university. You just have to know how to identify them. The below table highlights how key employability skills which employers would appreciate seeing within a portfolio can be gained at university.

Portfolio Narration

Your portfolio is almost certainly going to be filled with your best creative work. As important as it is to include media to showcase your ability, it is important to narrate each project correctly. There are two simple and effective methods which will ensure what you say about your project is as impressive as your developed product – a four staged storytelling technique and the STAR format.

When writing your projects story (or narration), remember to keep it short so it doesn’t take any longer than a few minutes to read. Employers don’t spend much more than 5 – 10 minutes looking at a candidate’s portfolio.

4 Stage Storytelling Technique

  1. Basic Description  – a brief story of your project in a few sentences.
  1. Address and Directions  – discuss the final destination of your project and give directions on how that destination was reached.
  1. Write out the story in a typical ‘elevator pitch’ style  – describe who (you are), what (you do), why (you are unique), goal (for the pitch).
  1. Simplify the story  – ensure it is written in such a way that anyone can understand it.

STAR Format

The STAR technique is a simple method to explain a scenario. It is common to be used as part of a competency-based interview. This is why it is a good idea to include its structure in your portfolio. Not only does it allow you to detail a project in a definitive manner which is appreciated by employers, it will also prepare you for future interviews.

  1. Situation  – allows you to discuss the circumstances faced.
  1. Task – involves an explanation of what tasks you accomplished to deal with the situation.
  1. Action – allows you to detail specifically what was done to achieve the task
  2. Result – the outcome of the entire experience, focussing on whether the action solved the situation and if anything was learnt from the experience. It is a good idea to include what you have learnt in the result. This shows a level of evaluation and can highlight any learning opportunities.

Part two of this article focusses on personal branding and the look and feel of your portfolio.

Thank you to Chris Wheeler and Emma Ramsay.


Guest Blog: Get the most from your portfolio (Part 2 of 2) by DMID graduate Chris Wheeler

Today’s guest blog is by Chris Wheeler, who has just graduated from DMID, his honours project focussed on portfolio creation and here he shares what he has learnt.  Chris gained a first class honours degree and has secured himself a graduate position in UX research within a month of collecting his degree. 

This is part two of Chris’s article on how to get the most from your portfolio- you can read part 1 here –

Personal Branding

A personal brand can be thought of as your professional identity. It is an opportunity for you to show employers ‘Who You Are’ and ‘What You Do’. Think of how you identity with yourself socially and how you describe yourself to new people. Are you British, American, Irish? Are you a gamer, sports fan or Netflix addict?  Your personal brand (or professional identity) is the same thing but you are describing yourself to potential employers or clients.

To identify your own personal brand, you have to think about your experiences and what you want for your career. How are you going to achieve it? How do you want to be seen?

The following four aspects of personal branding can help your portfolio be unique to you.

Portfolio Layout

There are so many potential website layouts available to you that it can be daunting to think which one is right for your brand. Below is a list of some good tips to think about when choosing a layout.

  • Research current trends. Design trends change frequently so you don’t want to have a great looking site…that people 3 years ago would be impressed with!
  • You want someone to look at your portfolio for the first time and not have to ‘learn’ how it works. It should be easy to use and consistent in it’s functionality and design.
  • Showcase your design process. Within your projects, it is beneficial to detailing how you achieved it. Storyboards, research, sketches, prototypes. They all show your ability to plan and organise a project.
  • Publish, Review, Add, Delete. When you have published your portfolio online, it’s not finished there. You never know who and when people will look at your portfolio so it requires constant updating. Your layout looking a little dated? Update. You have more recent and better-quality projects? Update.


Your logo doesn’t have to be a fancy graphic. It can just as easily be a simple logo using a typeface. As long as that font is consistently visible throughout your brand, you have accomplished your goal.  It is important to make sure that whatever design you choose to do (simple or detailed) that you are happy to have that as the ‘perception’ people will have of you.

Colour Schemes

Colour can often have a phycological effect on human beings. Red, for example, is known as a colour that represents danger or a warning. Blue associates with tranquillity and white with cleanliness.

Because of this, the colour scheme you choose for your personal brand would benefit from a little research to see how you want it to be associated. Including a consistent colour scheme throughout your portfolio, literature and social media platforms provides a way to target your audience’s emotions and strengthens your brand awareness.

Your personal favourite colour may not necessarily hold the appropriate association you want for your brand, regardless of how pretty it might look. The below is an indication of some (not all) colours and their meanings.

Cross Platform Branding

Once your portfolio is complete, you want to share it. This can be to network, to gain clients or employment, or to just gain awareness that you exist in your industry.

You will likely have a form of social media to compliment your portfolio (and if you don’t….get one). It is an opportunity for your portfolio to be shared amongst your intended audience.

It is important that your social media pages have a consistent design and message to that of your portfolio. Your logo may have a colour-scheme; therefore, it is important your social media platform incorporates this where possible. Your portfolio may be branded with a certain ‘style’ of writing, therefore your social media pages should follow this same style.

Link as many of your accounts as possible to make this task easier. Can you post any media and blogs directly from Instagram, Twitter or Facebook to your portfolio? This keeps everything up to date in real-time.

Is the project name and description on your portfolio the same as when you talked about it on your social media pages?

Your portfolio should have a section which describes you, your career experience and ambition. Do your social media pages match this description?

These are just a couple of examples of what to consider when cross-platform branding. What’s important is that you think ‘consistency’ first, at all times. Is your brand visible and recognisable regardless which platform you are using?

We’ll be following up this article with some posts sharing some of our students and graduates portfolios over the coming months, so you can see how these tips work in practice.  Thank you to Chris Wheeler and Emma Ramsay. 

Guest Blog: Top tips for success in your studies by Emma Ramsay

Today’s guest blog is by Emma Ramsay, who has just graduated from DMID.

Image result for emma ramsay edinburgh


When asked to come up with my top tips I thought I should come up with something that would shock and awe! A real “EUREKA” moment.

In reality, my top tips are simple but, they are genuinely the activities and behaviours which made a quantifiable and tangible difference to my success. Without further ado I give you my top three tips for success in Digital Media and Interaction Design.

We are so lucky at Napier to have lecturers who make themselves so available to us. Utilising their knowledge and expertise for coursework is all well and good but beyond this, make your specific area of interest known and you’ll have your name in the hat for opportunities which arise both in and out with University.

Talk to your classmates too. There is a group of folks with the same interests sitting right beside you every day. Bounce ideas off of each other, collaborate, critique and celebrate with each other. Cultivating positive relationships with your peers is mutually beneficial, group work is a huge part of the experience at Napier, knowing who you’ll work well with is a huge leg up when it comes to teaming up. These relationships will last way past graduation and into employment. Remember your current classmates are your future colleagues.

Get yourself to networking events and start engaging with industry professionals. There is no better insight into the field than direct communication with those on the ground. Agencies and organisations open their doors and put on events regularly where new talent is encouraged to attend and participate. You never know where these chance encounters may lead. There are also opportunities for portfolio reviews at these events (MOVE SUMMIT, D&AD New Blood), be brave and get yourself out there.

In this constantly evolving industry it is advisable to stay up to date with current trends and emerging technologies. By reading magazines, blogs and journals you will keep yourself in the loop which will be pretty impressive when you corner that creative director for a chin wag.
Read the briefs and learning outcomes for your coursework on Moodle. Lecturers want you to do well, therefore everything expected of you is outlined in the assessment briefs. If there are any areas where you need a little more clarification you can always ask your lecturer or tutor at the end of class, email or pop in to their office.

Were I to emphasise any of these tips it would be this one. READ YOUR EMAILS.  Through keeping an eye on my student emails I have managed to secure myself paid internships, tickets to events, paid work for the university, an industry mentor and global opportunities as well as being up to date with the goings on within the university. If there is something you need to know, it will be in an email. Remember to check the “other” folder, sometimes important and relevant stuff gets filtered in there.


Albeit not everyone has a particular interest in writing, it is worth noting that at some stage in most modules there will be a written component expected. Flex your writing muscles every now and again throughout your degree, this transferrable skill will be an asset. In particular, spend a bit of time familiarising yourself with academic writing and how to reference, this will come in handy for your literature review in fourth year.
If writing is not your strong suit, make an appointment with Kendall Richards the schools academic support advisor. Just send him an email ( outlining what you are struggling with and he will make you an appointment to give you a hand.


My university experience has been incredible but, I put myself out there in order to make that so.  By immersing yourself in the community and culture of Napier you are setting yourself up for success. Being an active participant in the student consciousness will ensure you are comfortable and confident to focus on your studies.

I promise you, the more effort you put in to your time at Napier the more you will get out of it.

Wishing you all every success.
Emma Linda Ramsay
First Class Digital Media (Hons)
Class of 2018