A case against case studies

Could designers still find work without them?

Amy Rogers
5 min readJun 30, 2022

When you look at a designer’s portfolio, odds are you’ll find at least one case study in there. These are pages that showcase a project they’ve worked on and the key steps in their process. Here’s one of mine if you need an example.

For as long as I’ve been working, case studies have been the standard for judging a designer’s hiring potential. Whether you’re new to the field or have been here since the beginning, you will have written a case study at some point in your career.

But lately I’ve been wondering if they’re worth the weight we give them. Who are they for? Are they worth our time and effort? Do they set good examples for others, and benefit the industry as a whole?

I’d argue that case studies — in the ways we currently use them — are pretty rubbish.

They aren’t true to life

During their time at work, designers don’t have the time to create full write-ups of their processes. And when they’re updating their portfolio months later, it’s hard to recreate everything they did in an essay format.

Designers will use templates or other examples as references to build their own case studies. The problem with this is that after a while, our outputs start