Portfolio Resources

These are sites I’ve come across that may help someone building a portfolio. (Writing it also helps me remember!)

Yet another portfolio post!

Rather than go on about my own issues, I wanted to share a few resources. Before I begin, I’m going to make a little rant in case you’re feeling overwhelmed, like I am.

One of the sites emphasizes the importance the design a portfolio has on your job prospects. I feel this importance is overblown because the the design or tool seems to have such a big impact on how the portfolio is perceived. I can’t emphasize enough how many people use paid templates, plus the cost of a web domain. And I would be lying if I said it didn’t bother me that choosing the wrong CMS template is the difference between gainful employment vs not.

The fact that the portfolio makes a difference at all seems like the difference between showing up in a limo, BMW, Toyota, or SmartCar. I guess it really is like dating, which I admittedly know absolutely nothing about.

At the start of this review, my feeling is that people just want to be entertained. My thoughts changed somewhat, which you can read at the end.

/rant

 

Ok, now that I’m off my soapbox, here is my list. It’s organized like this:

  • Sites – Guides, essays, and portfolio collections
  • Tools – What people use to create their portfolio
  • People – A small handful of portfolios

1. Sites

A collection of essays, slides, and guides.

Article page: The Case Study FactoryThe Case Study Factory is about how similar so many UX portfolios seemingly look alike. The authors write:

“How the formulaic approach to UX case studies is numbing our critical thinking as designers, and how to bring a unique point of view to our work.”

Provides some pretty good tips at the end, however I recommend you read the whole article for context. Also because it’s a good article.

  1. Define your area of focus
  2. Align the story with the medium
  3. Set up the context of the project
  4. Focus on insights rather than process
  5. Design your case study reading experience
  6. Obsess over your case study visuals
  7. Make it personal

 

Article home page

Sometimes it’s just helpful to look at a big list. Here’s a list of 80 portfolios. I talked about 2 in the People section.

Guides and Slides
Article page, “Design a Winning Portfolio — Tips + Tricks from a Google Designer “

Design a Winning Portfolio — Tips + Tricks from a Google Designer  is a slide deck of tips and tricks. The slides are shared from Google slides (link).

This is a compilation of tips and tricks to improve a design portfolio. She states:

While each design discipline has slightly different project expectations (i.e. UX wants wireframes while Branding wants logo sketches), I’ve realized there is an overall universal set of tactics that, when applied, will automatically enhance and differentiate any design portfolio.

The Google slide deck is really big and there are videos, so keep that in mind. It loads a little slow.

 

nng.com’s recent article, “5 Steps to Creating a UX-Design Portfolio” is probably what kicked this whole thing off. Actually I talked about this in another post, so I won’t rehash. But I will point out that I’ve made a number of changes to my website and my portfolio at Cargo Collective, which at this moment is offline.

My Personal Bookmarks

I’ve had the following links bookmarked for a few years. These seem more geared to PDFs.

Portfolio Handbook [PDF] from the Class of 2012 Industrial Design, DAAP, University of Cincinnati.

This book was put together for the purpose of facilitating higher-quality portfolios. It will not cover project processes, but will act as a guide to documenting a project well for your portfolio. We hope the book will ease some of the anxiety around creating your first portfolio and then later exist as a helpful reference book to check a newer portfolio concept against

 

UX Portfolio Guidance, from Zebra People [PDF], London

We are fortunate enough to see some great portfolios, however there are still many UX practitioners who are selling themselves short. There are some absolutely brilliant and in-depth guides about UX portfolios out there. But our intention with this document is to provide a concise, visual hand book on what to include in your portfolio.

Your portfolio represents you. But you’re not always there to talk about your work. No one gets hired on their portfolio alone. The best outcome is a meeting. Tonight is about snap judgments.


2. Tools

What people use to create sites

From the list of 80 above, (plus a few others I found) I randomly clicked into about 3-4 portfolios per group and I took a look at the page source.

Many, many sites are built using Squarespace, WordPress, Wix, or some other type of CMS with either built-in or plugins for flashy animation, grids, and what-not.

Other sites were hand-coded, often with Bootstrap or Foundation. I took note of the many JavaScript libraries.

WordPress and Adobe Portfolio

Semplice home pageFor WordPress, I came across a template called Semplice. It is advertised as a WordPress template for designers. The latest version is Semplice4. Price is $100. I wouldn’t be surprised if many people have upgraded to the Studio version for $140. Semplice does not seem to have options for blogging; I didn’t see it.

 

Salient Live Demo

Another theme I came across is Salient, although the site I found it on had a “Under Construction” label. It’s $60 and available on ThemeForest. It has over 5,500 reviews, over 95,000 sales, and is currently rated as 5-star.

 

portfolio.adobe.com

If you use Behance, you may be interested in Adobe Portfolio. It’s $9.99/month, paid annually (about $120). You get access to Adobe Portfolio, Photoshop, and Lightroom, as well as access to Adobe Fonts. You can get a free trial, but you need to upgrade to connect a domain/subdomain.

Free DIY Options

Startbootstrap.com offers free Bootstrap templates, themes, and snippets that you can download and customize. Basically everything is free, with the obvious exceptions that you cannot use Startbootstrap templates to create a competitive website serving free Bootstrap templates.

I have used Startbootstrap multiple times and I find them pretty easy to use and combine. Some have CSS or JS animations built in; mostly CSS.

It does require solid HTML and CSS knowledge.

 

Github Pages uses your own github respository to host a website. It’s 100% free. However, it will say username.github.io/yourproject. And your code will be online for all to see. I’m also not sure if you can use Google Analytics.

Again, this is for people who have experience developing websites.

Obviously, having a free site generator is great. If you want to have your own domain, you can get a personal email address, like yourname@yourdomain.com. And you can connect it to github. But all that is well beyond the scope of this post.

 

BlankSlate by TidyThemes allows you to completely customize a WordPress installation, by providing a theme with absolutely zero styling. Sometimes you use a nice theme, but end up undoing stuff you don’t really like. Needless to say, this theme is for people with a good amount of experience. I say no more.

JavaScript Libraries

If you code your own site, these were some of the libraries and plug-ins some people used. I thought tilt.js was pretty cool.

There are so many JS libraries, this list will keep getting updated.

Lightboxes & Carousels

Instagram Embeds

  • lightwidget.com – Embeds Instagram photos into a webpage.
  • spectragram.js – http://spectragram.js.org/ – Instagram API plugin

CSS

Obviously Bootstrap, Foundation, grid/flex, and icon font libraries also showed up.

Jekyll/Jekyll Themes

  • poole – http://demo.getpoole.com/ – the Butler for Jekyll
  • hyde – http://hyde.getpoole.com/ –  a 2-column Jekyll theme

Layout

If you are a PDF portfolio person, you might be interested in using a grid.

The Grid System

Grid System

“The ultimate resource in grid systems.”

You can download InDesign templates, at 8.5 x 11 and 11 x 17. Good if you want to create a print portfolio, or if you want to redesign your resume.


3. People

A few portfolios in use

I randomly came across the following people, either in context of this post, or when reading an article, or serendipitously in some other way.

Caveat: In no way am I promoting any of the following people. I have never met them. I don’t know if they’re the kind of people who cut in line or litter. Maybe they don’t pick up after their dog….

The one thing that is true is that I took a look at their websites and I have an opinion. If you disagree, there’s a list of 80 portfolios above to check out.

Antonio Carusone, creator of Grid System. A very simple website. No images. He simply links to his other websites, most of them photography sites. The site is made with Cactus, which is another static-site generator not using Jekyll. (The last commit was 2 years ago, so it may not be maintained.)

I viewed a few other personal websites like this: simple, text-only, with no images. I think this is a good way to connect disparate interests. He seems to have a lot of experience, which is also good to know if you’re looking for ideas and you’re not early in your career.

 

Hiroaki Ito has this project on Behance. I’m including this person because I attended a virtual recruiter session with Google. The three recruiters reviewed two portfolios, and this project was one of them as an example from a visual designer. (The UX designer was Simon Pan, who uses WordPress. It appears to be his own theme although it could’ve started from BlankSlate.)

The project above is a combination of several very long images, stacked one on top of the other. This designer has a job at Google. He does not seem to have as much experience as the first guy.

 

Johna Paolino is someone I came across on Medium. She wrote an article on using CSS grid. Then I found her website, which is hosted on github. So that’s another – FREE – option. Looked like an interesting site and she seems to be employed at the NY Times.

That big font is BungeeShade.

 

Pendar Yousefi is the only person I came across in the list above that used Adobe Portfolio. It was pretty nice looking, so I’m including that here. He also appears to be employed at Google. He also seems to have many years of experience, which is another good data point.

To be clear, you cannot create an Adobe Portfolio account and link it to a personal domain without becoming paid subscriber. He does a good job of connecting his web properties. For him, he’s getting his money’s worth. But I just want to make sure it’s clear, according to the website, money appears to have been exchanged.

 

I came across Sharon Tsao‘s portfolio above, too. She does NOT appear to be employed. But I thought her simple site was an interesting example, and she seemed to explain her background particularly well.

She built this herself, or at least she did not use a template or CMS.


Foot imprints on sand near a beach
Photo by Matteo Kutufa on Unsplash

Thoughts & Reflections

I wrote this post over the course of 1-2 weeks. Right away, my initial thoughts for my own portfolio when the time of this post were to create a simple site that links out to other websites or to just expand my current WordPress installation (this blog). I also considered installing a separate WordPress instance altogether, which is still a strong possibility.

Yet after writing the majority of this post, I continued to investigate the list of 80 portfolios. I kept finding new CSS and JavaScript libraries. And, I wanted to dig a little deeper into some of these to find out more about how they were made and other details that the guides above don’t really get into.

Despite my rant at the top of this post, I have started to change my opinion a little on the importance of portfolios. I think there is something to be said for trying to display your work in as good a light as possible.

I’m still collecting more data about these 80 portfolios, so there will be another post. And I’ve found more items to add to the Tools section (Webflow, anyone?), so I’ll probably continue making updates to this post in addition to simply posting again.

[Featured image credit: Photo by Pierre Bamin on Unsplash]

Learning about the DOM in JavaScript, jQuery, and More

A recap of my recent experience with an intermediate JavaScript course on Lynda.

Screenshot of Lynda course
Click the image to watch the preview for ‘The DOM in JavaScript, jQuery, AngularJS, and React’ on Lynda.com.

I recently finished an interesting course on the DOM and different versions of JavaScript. I liked that it was just a taste of JavaScript, jQuery, Angular, and React. It’s called The DOM in JavaScript, jQuery, AngularJS, and React. It was released in 2017.

Much of the course was focused on regular JavaScript. I’m glad I’ve spent so much time studying JavaScript, because a lot of basic things didn’t need to be explained for me in this course.

Although I know about the DOM, using HTML, this focus on the DOM using JavaScript was an interesting approach. For instance, traversing the DOM (with classes and IDs) was fun:

document.body.children[4].children[1]

This selects the 5th child of the body, then the 2nd child from that. This is almost like using CSS selectors to select parent and child elements.

One of the things I love about Lynda is that they recommend additional courses to learn more about related topics. A few courses the instructor recommended included:

  • JavaScript Essential Training
  • jQuery for Web Designers
  • Angular 2 Essential Training
  • ReactJS Essential Training

They may have updated it, but I’ve already taken the JavaScript Essentials course before, so I’ll check if the others are already on my list. Angular is past version 2 by now, but maybe it’s easier to get started with that version.

 

Stuff I learned about Debugging on FreeCodeCamp

I recently got through the Debugging set of lessons on FreeCodeCamp. Here are a few points I learned.

Error Types

There are 3 types of errors:

  • Syntax – misspelled word, missing parentheses, etc.
  • Runtime – detected while running the program.
  • Semantic – detected after testing output. Program works but result is wrong. Be careful!
Short List

1. Use DevTools on Chrome or Firefox

2. Use console.log(); a lot. console.log spits out the value of whatever is in the () to the browser console, which helps you keep tabs on how a value is changing in your code. Sometimes you have to move the console.log to a different place, like before or after another function, because order matters and the value of your value can change.

3. Use console.clear(); to clear the memory of a value in the console. Sometimes it’s ok to forget.

4. Use typeof to keep track of values. For instance sometimes a number is a numeral and sometimes it’s a string. Write console.log(typeof value); and that will tell you the type for value.

5. Lastly, you have to watch out for misspellings, missing brackets or parentheses, using ‘=‘ instead of ‘==‘, or getting the dreaded infinite loop.


Next in FreeCodeCamp is Data Structures!

Learning Regular Expressions (regex)

A very brief overview of regular expressions after finishing the lessons on FreeCodeCamp.org.

Last on my list of JavaScript education was most recently regular expressions, which are ways for a programmer to search for strings in text. I followed FreeCodeCamp’s (FCC) curriculum. You can find more about Regular Expressions on MDN.

The short name for regular expressions is “regex”, or “regexp”. The basic outline of a ‘regex’ goes like this, which tests if “Happy” is in thisLine:

let thisLine = "Happy happy, joy joy!"; 
let thisMatch = /Happy/; 
let outcome = thisMatch.test(thisLine); 
console.log(outcome);

The outcome is true. The test method only results in true or false.

In addition to test, you might also use match and replace. I believe those are the only 3 methods used in the FCC set of lessons.

Let’s try match. If you wanted to match “Happy”, and only “Happy”, you’d write:

let thisLine = "Happy happy, joy joy!"; 
let thisMatch = /^H[a-z]+/; 
let outcome = thisLine.match(thisMatch); 
console.log(outcome);

The outcome is [Happy]. Probably the most important part of regex is using special characters, and that’s what’s going on in this example. The special characters are shortcuts to help you search for a specific string. This examples searches for a string starting with a capital H (^H) and is following by any letter from a-z ([a-z]), and repeats the search for as long as necessary until reaching a break (like a space) (+).

An even simpler way to write the above would be to use a special character (\w) to search for any non-digit character and flags to allow upper or lower case (i), and global to search the entire string (g).

let thisLine = "Happy happy, joy joy!"; 
let thisMatch = /^H\w+/ig; 
let outcome = thisLine.match(thisMatch); 
console.log(outcome);

You can also return only non-alphanumeric or digit characters.

let thisLine = "Happy happy, joy joy!"; 
let thisMatch = /\W+/ig; 
let outcome = thisLine.match(thisMatch); 
console.log(outcome);

The outcome is [" ", ", ", " ", "!"]

There are many more examples of special characters, and I’ll be honest in admitting that I find it confusing. It took me a little while to figure out the second example above, partly because MDN separates their special characters onto different lines. Try these out in jsbin.

Anyway, regex are good to know if you need it.


From FreeCodeCamp:

Regular expressions are special strings that represent a search pattern. Also known as “regex” or “regexp”, they help programmers match, search, and replace text. Regular expressions can appear cryptic because a few characters have special meaning. The goal is to combine the symbols and text into a pattern that matches what you want, but only what you want. This section will cover the characters, a few shortcuts, and the common uses for writing regular expressions.