Case studies are the heart of a portfolio. It's where you have the chance to put your work in its best light and tell the story as you intended it to be told.
My team at Semplice.com has spent a lot of time thinking about what makes a great case study. While there's no single correct way to do it, we have found what works and doesn't work. For example: Dumping images on the page or writing Dickens-length prose does not work. Writing scannable case studies in your own voice does. We've shared our best tips in this guide for writing case studies, which makes the process a lot less daunting. Now we thought we'd show you how it looks in practice.
Diego Gaellgo's case studies are a nice reference for case study length and scannability. Instead of throwing a huge paragraph of text at us, he breaks it up between relevant images. This is not only more enjoyable to read but tells us a more compelling story.
If you’re feeling stuck or intimidated by your case studies, take this approach. Start by simply captioning your images (or the images you plan to have, if you don't have photos yet). We only need a sentence or two for each phase or element of your project, anyway. This will naturally shape your story and make the writing process easier.
Noemie Le Coz
Noemie Le Coz's case studies get a lot of things right. The crisp imagery, the scannable content, the editorial layout. But what we most appreciate is how they read like a critic’s review. Take her identity project for Billie, in which she writes:
“As an inclusive, body-positive brand that supports female empowerment, the identity takes a stand with bold character, inspired by the spirit and confidence of 90's feminism.”
This is a helpful approach if you’re struggling to describe your own work to outsiders. Try writing as if you’re reviewing someone else’s project. This allows you to view your work from a distance and analyze it without overthinking.
Charlie Jennings created a case study layout that outlines important details right from the start: The client, the team, his role, and the type of work. This provides helpful context as we begin reading and allows him to write more succinctly.
When reading your case studies, we shouldn't be left wondering what part you played in the project. Always give credit and explain your role so potential clients or employers can understand where you'd fit into their team.
We always preach that your case studies should be written in your own voice. Trying to impress with buzzwords and insider language will only distance your reader, and copy & pasting content from marketing materials comes across as stiff and lazy.
Read any of Nuno Leites’s case studies and his voice comes through loud and clear. He’s not afraid to joke around, insert snarky asides and speak in a lighthearted way about his work. While you may want to be a little less casual depending on your goals, the point is to show personality. We get a real sense of who Leites is when reading his case studies, which makes him memorable.