Version 5: Violet Vivacity
Site Design Goals
With the current version of my portfolio I aimed to (1) make a more consumer-grade site that would better showcase my approach to product design (2) further highlight my personality by refining my personal brand and expanding my "About Me" section (3) increase pages views, with a focus on project pages (4) visually differentiate the kinds of content offered on my site.
Inspiration and Technical Setup
I'll be honest, my new site was inspired by trends in web design, especially those showcased on Awwwards
. I wanted to show potential clients that I was familiar with popular elements in contemporary design (e.g. marquees, oversize text, unusual display fonts) while also demonstrating my understanding of usability best practices. I wanted my site to feel consumer-grade and bespoke, but I also needed to make it change-resilient and easy to update.
My site is currently built on Webflow. I considered other options like portfolio template tools Semplice or Carbon Made. I also thought about hiring a developer to help me realize my vision, but felt I would lose an opportunity to communicate my unique view of product design if I did. I ultimately chose Webflow because it gave me both granular control and the benefits of a standard content management system. Another selling factor was that the Webflow interface leverages concepts from front-end development. Because I coded my first two sites, I was comfortable with this approach. I also felt confident that I could use my own knowledge of code to make a site that was both sustainable and easy to enhance with custom snippets when I saw fit.
One clear risk is that my old site was successful (based on metrics and user feedback); my new site may not appeal to the same audience and could see a drop in traffic. Second, it is unclear whether the new site architecture will increase views of projects or written articles. To account for this I plan to monitor analytics and make changes as needed. A final risk is that while I feel the site is more professional and consumer-grade overall, others may not agree. I am taking some risks by using large text, a funky display font, mouse follow animations, and very loud colors. These decisions reflect my personality but If they prove unpopular it could require me to redesign site elements.
I’ve just launched my site. I’m still monitoring analytics data to uncover insights and outcomes. That said, my current site is a drastic improvement from my first gif-adorned portfolio and I’m proud to see how I’ve grown. Specifically, it appears that my disciplined, consistent, iterative, and data-driven approach to managing my design practice has produced compounded returns. It’s easy to lose sight of that cumulative overall impact from update to update, but taken as a whole it’s apparent that I’m on the right path. There’s plenty more that I want to do and learn, and I can’t wait to see what my site looks like in another 10 or 15 years.
Creating Immersive Content
Now that I have control over how content is presented I’d like to redesign some of the decks I use to talk about design for the web. I’m inspired by precedents penned by Ehsan Noursalehi
, Frank Chimero
, and Brad Frost
in particular. I also think there’s an opportunity to add interactive elements to my writing and case studies to make them more impactful, similar to comparison buttons Chris Annetts added to his case study of a Tesco loan calculator
Long-term Goals: Interactivity and a Newsletter
In the future I’d like to make my site even more interactive. One way to do this would be by creating and adding video content about my work. I may test this by creating a short film about one of my projects and seeing how it fares; even a Loom recording of a project overview may be a sufficient test case. I may also consider working with a developer in the future to add more elegant animations in order to make the site feel more cutting-edge. I’m hesitant to do that now because I feel it’s more important for me to be able to manage all parts of the site independently, especially given that I am constantly implementing and testing new ideas.
Separately I may add a newsletter sign up form so that I have direct access to my audience. Right now I have easy access to my target demographic but I know that this could change with the whims of Silicon Valley. For a newsletter service to be worth my effort, I’d have to do more work to grow my audience and develop a content/business plan that would appeal to their interests. If I went this route, I’d likely attempt the automated model used by Matej Latin in his self-service email course, Better Web Type
. This would provide value to my audience without requiring constant content development.
Advice for Your Portfolio
Play the Long Game
It's easy to realize how much you grow when you update your portfolio. The change between one iteration and the next may not feel substantial, but if done consistently for several years the benefits will be immense simply because you'll learn more about your voice, your audience, and your content.
Your Site is a Petri Dish for New Ideas
Don't be afraid to fill your site with new ideas, even if they're not "ready" to see the light of day. Your portfolio shouldn't be a closet where you store things from the past. It should be a living ecosystem you can use to quickly test the validity of an idea. Trying new things, listening to your audience, and iterating is the best way to improve.
Similarly, don't just update your site to keep up with the times. Use your site redesign as an opportunity to refine your content, learn a new skill or tool, or as a way to connect with your audience. This will transform the task from a housekeeping chore into a more engaging avenue for growth.
Your Goals Should Shape Your Portfolio
It can be overwhelming to figure out how to position your portfolio, especially if you haven't yet found an audience. Your career goals will shape your site design just as much as your metrics. Think about where you want to take your career and react accordingly.
Make it Yours
Your personal approach is half of the value of your portfolio. Don't be afraid to let your portfolio reflect your personal style. Do be strategic and make sure that how you employ your style furthers your career goals and meets the needs of your audience.
Thanks for Reading
If you've made it this far, thank you so much for reading. I hope that sharing my long-term journey towards becoming a better designer inspires you to invest in your work and career today and every day.