My last blog post was an account of what I have accomplished in my portfolio journey and ended with some ideas about next steps.
At the time, I said I would try and create a design using Tachyons, a lightweight CSS framework. That sample page, pictured, is available on github.
I also wrote about fears using vanilla HTML/CSS, related to updates. I ended up going with DIY anyway. I still have that fear. I also wrote about using WordPress as a portfolio. I considered I installing WordPress in multiple folders and testing out different options.
Current State of My Portfolio
My portfolio is still at the same domain, but now it’s at a subdomain: alliwalk.com/ux. The reason is it gave me more navigation options rather than putting everything on the homepage.
I ended up using Tachyons for the entire site. It took a while to get decode the classes, which are a bit cryptic. I wrote some CSS, but not that much. I kind of missed writing it. But it was also a very interesting way to implement styles. And it looks pretty clean.
As I mentioned in my last post, one of the long-term strategies I had in mind for the site was to create more than one portfolio for my different interests, blogging, art/design, and UX. I got the idea of multiple portfolios after watching a YouTube focused on PDF portfolios for graphic designers.
This video is linked to the appropriate moment in time, or you can watch the relevant 40 seconds here.
To alleviate one of my fears about updates, I created a landing page with nav links to each of my three interests. Now I can modify the link destinations, if I need to take a portfolio offline for some reason.
And finally, I did test a WordPress option, but it’s never as quick and easy at it seems. My portfolio went through a few versions, including PDF and a test in WordPress.
Strategy: Some designers create their portfolio as a PDF to supplement their online portfolio. I’ve tried this before and I did not have good results. However, I thought that using my new font and style would help created compelling layouts. Plus, I needed something to point people to while working on updating my website.
Actions: I went through several iterations. I created PDF versions, which I created in Google Docs and Sketch. I attempted to use the J. A. Van de Graaf canon, popularized by Jan Tschichold, to lay out the content. I referenced the book Grids, by Gavin Ambrose and Paul Harris, for inspiration.
Aside: I could write a whole post on page layout, Tschichold, Van de Graaf, but instead I’ll just share a few short videos.
Review: I shared both versions as direct links or by uploading to Behance. I used both for job applications. Neither got me very far. So essentially, my previous experience was the same as it is now. However, creating them helped me later on when I was testing out my blog/website. And I now have portfolios available for future discussions, that I can present and discuss on the phone or in a group.
Quantitative Research and Analysis
Strategy: As per my previous post on portfolio resources, I found that although I had a lot of summary and raw data on portfolios, I hadn’t fully analyzed it. My strategy was to thoroughly research the portfolios listed in one of my linked resources. I wanted to answer questions like:
- How many portfolios are from students and do they seem different?
- What types of profile images to designers use of themselves?
- What is the most common greeting on portfolios?
- How many designers use their own domain?
- What do most people use to create their portfolio?
Action: It took a while, but I completed a significant amount of quantitative research. I have not yet shared my report, but I’ll probably post it on SlideShare and link to it. I hope to present it at a UX related talk.
Review: My research clarified many questions about portfolios and helped answer questions on how to design specific areas of the site. For instance, previous reviewers suggested using my own domain (vs using cargocollective). I didn’t understand why this was so important until I concluded my research, which showed the vast majority of designers used their own domain.
The reviewers also made comments related to not getting a sense of who I am. I always find this difficult to articulate, but the research helped again. Ultimately, I decided that this blog would be able to serve as a supplement for anyone to learn more.
The research also helped guide my headlines. Most designers used a very similar type of greeting on their site. I chose to use something that stood out a little bit more. I also used yellow on my landing page, to help people remember that yellow site, if they enter from that page.
WordPress or DIY
My research revealed that most designers, about two-thirds, use a CMS to build their portfolios. The 2 most popular are WordPress and Squarespace. The rest, or one-third, use a DIY solution.
Initially I thought WordPress could be a good option. It’s free, I’ve used it for many years, I know how to install it. I decided against using this blog as a combo portfolio+blog website. I’ve been using it as a blog for too long. And also, I wanted to keep the size of the database down. I considered installing a WP blog into a subdomain.
Free or Paid Themes. Many of the popular WordPress themes, such as Semplice, are not free. But found a solution. As I wrote previously, WordPress Twenty Twenty will be based on the free Chaplin theme by Anders Norén who leads WP 5.3 development. I went to Anders Norén’s lovely website and found multiple free templates.
I created a test site, uploaded images, and added some write-ups. At the same time I was also created some test pages using Tachyons. Ultimately I decided against using WordPress. Anders Norén’s templates are beautiful, but I felt that in order to have a portfolio that could compare to the portfolios I reviewed in my research, I would need to still need to make a number of customizations. DIY was simply more fun and enjoyable.
Present and Future
And, I have some ideas about updating the layout of the yellow landing page. It might give me a chance to use more of my own CSS.
Maybe one day I’ll use one of the templates on Anders Norén’s WordPress theme site for this blog.
I’m still using the cargocollective account, but I’ve re-repurposed the site and it’s now back to showing creative/art/design projects. If that site gets too full, maybe I’ll create another portfolio focusing on one or two of those interests.
The next time I write about this, I hope it will just be about my research. Because on this, I’ve written a lot!
For now, I’m happy to be done writing with this topic. Plus, I’ve written a number of other posts that are waiting in drafts to get posted.