I'm a graphic designer and writer in Northern Ireland. Welcome to my blog.

The 30 month evolution of my online graphic design portfolio

It’s been a bumpy ride through the wonders of Microsoft FrontPage, overusing tables, and the tale of one man marketing himself as a large corporation.

Phase 1: April 2005 – May 2006

New Dawn Graphics website

Phase 1 (view the full website here ) involved rolling out my first ever company name, New Dawn Graphics. This was an exciting time, my first foray into the world of self-employment, and for some reason I had the idea that branding myself with a generic company title would serve me better than using my personal name. Looking back, the logo was awful, and actually included a photograph of the sun rising within the mark (note to self, never use photographs in logos).

New Dawn Graphics was chosen because right before becoming self-employed I was traveling the world and witnessing many amazing sunrises. I thought my amateur travel photography could help add a personal feel to my portfolio.

This was my first ever attempt at web design, hence why I chose to use Microsoft’s FrontPage for the task, “teaching” myself from scratch. FrontPage is a poor piece of software that adds unnecessary code to your design. I’ll not be touching it again.

Every page included the clichéd CMYK band at the foot (a must for every designer). On the right of the site header, I included the half-naked photo used to perfection by Vivien in her article .

Now there’s a year of well spent brand opportunities.

Even though I look back and cringe, at the time I was quite proud of my efforts. Think of what it takes to have a site up and running:

  • choosing a business name
  • creating an identity
  • choosing a web host (I got completely ripped-off)
  • choosing the software to design the site (if you didn’t know about hand-coding)
  • learning to code
  • designing the layout
  • sourcing images
  • copywriting

It was a new experience, and after which I was sure I could conquer the world.

Phase 2: May 2006 – September 2006

New Dawn Graphics website

Phase 2 (view the full website) revolved around the need to present myself in a more professional manner. My logo underwent a radical redesign, and brought the very much under-used and not at all trendy ‘reflection’ into the mix. I was still happy to call myself New Dawn Graphics, but, reluctantly, did away with my vast network of design employees, favouring to operate as a sole proprietor.

Even though the new website was much smaller in size, I felt it was a step up, and was hugely overjoyed at my ability to create a navigation ‘mouse-over’ effect.

After a few months running the new design, I began to dislike my company name, and started thinking of my personal brand. How were people perceiving me? And in fact, was anyone actually visiting my website (I didn’t know how to track web stats)?

I wanted to attract more people to my online portfolio, and knew that I needed to add content. The current layout, combined with my minimal knowledge of web design, pushed me in the direction of blogs, and I set about creating my own.

Phase 3: September 2006 – October 2006

web and graphic design blog

Phase 3 in my site evolution was where I discovered WordPress.com, and I touch upon my first attempt at blogging in my previous post 7 blog mistakes to avoid.

On the face of it, phase 3 failed miserably, lasting less than a month, but it was an important step towards Phase 4.

Phase 4: October 2006 – June 2007

Vertigo WordPress theme header

My new brand, new logo, and no more New Dawn Graphics. From here, I began marketing myself as myself. It was, after all, just me. No employees, no network of designers. Just David Airey.

The logo design took a lot longer than I thought it might, and involved a lot of sketches, but I’m relatively pleased with what I have.

Discovering WordPress was like opening the Christmas present I really wanted but didn’t know. Now, I was able to choose a pre-made theme design that suited my preferences, yet without the need to delve into the coding that I was all too unfamiliar with.

Initially, I began experimenting with the default WordPress theme, but after trying a number of others, and toying with the , I soon converted to Brian Gardner’s Vertigo theme (no longer available) which I used and customised for around six months. By customising Brian’s pre-made theme, I became more familiar with the intricacies of the WordPress code, and thought to myself how important it was to launch my own custom design, rather than using that of a fellow designer.

Phase 5: June 2007 – October 2007

David Airey custom theme

So here we are now in October ’07.

To launch my first custom theme, I made use of Small Potato’s excellent lessons for . I can’t recommend them highly enough.

Some people have told me that I’m marketing myself the wrong way, that I should showcase myself online with a more standard graphic design portfolio, and that what I have is catering more to social marketers than the average Joe who’s looking for a graphic designer.

Do I really want to work with the average Joe?

So it depends on who you want as a potential client. I’ve dealt with a number of clients who hired me after reading some of my blog posts, and it was a joy to work with them. I also have a number of fellow ‘bloggers’ who I’ll be working with as soon as I complete some current design projects.

Also, and perhaps more importantly, my online portfolio wouldn’t be anywhere near as visible if it weren’t for the content published through my blog. More and more people are arriving through specific blog posts, and not my homepage. This wouldn’t be happening if I didn’t publish updates.

All in all, I’m happy with the progress made during the past 30 months. At the beginning I had no idea how to develop a website, and today, here’s where I am:

  • I’ve attracted more than 2,000 subscribers
  • Yesterday I had 2,500+ visits to my website, and that’s been an average figure lately
  • I’ve found a fantastic network of design pros who I can bounce ideas off
  • The standard of my portfolio has increased immensely (you didn’t look at my phase 1 portfolio, did you?)

It’s been a bumpy ride, but I’m not getting off anytime soon.

Update: May 2011
My stats have improved in the 3.5 years since this post was published. Oh, and I found my first business card, too. Amazing.

My second book on Amazon

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68 comments about “The 30 month evolution of my online graphic design portfolio”

  1. David, you are a profoundly successful Web 2.0 designer. Are you sure your marketing is “the wrong way?”
    I think you achieved great results in a very short time, and it takes a visionary mind to understand the power of the Web 2.0, as you did.
    To be frank, NewDawd Graphics was really a wrong name and both those designs were the wrong approach. Because they were more or less standards.
    I completely understand the need of innovative thinking and I am not surprised that you convince your clients through your articles. You are not only a good designer: you are an excellent writer, a good communicator and this is needed in a perpetually changing business environment.
    So, if you ask me, David Airey is the best approach. People hire people.

  2. Really interesting post. I’m always fascinated to see the evolution process of websites and the way the development of your site is so intrinsic to the development of your brand is particularly interesting.

    Personally I think a blog is the best possible way of marketing yourself. It showcases much more of the author than a standard portfolio can ever do as it is not just limited to the work they have actually done – you have the opportunity to demonstrate your overall knowledge of and enthusiasm for the subject. Plus it gives the you opportunity to explain the thinking behind your ideas.

  3. I think there is no room to complain. I have a friend that also offers Webdesign and his site looks extremely ugly. I especially like this sky header. Looks much nicer than the grey thing. In total its very impressive.

  4. Excellent post, and I don’t think there’s anyone of us who can look back without cringing.

    I always find those companies (and bloggers!) who talk about themselves in the third person, use the ‘Royal we’ or pretend to have a 100 employees when it’s obvious that there’s only one person, faintly risible anyway, so you definitely did the right thing.

    People like to know who they’re working with and would choose that over being fobbed off to a corporate drone anyday.

  5. Mig, that’s a great compliment. I’m sure using my personal name is a better approach. New Dawn just looks dated to me.

    Stuart, you’re spot on about how blogs can add much more depth. They show how we communicate. How we respond to questions. Our personalities, level of knowledge. I’m always learning, and that’s in part thanks to the excellent comments that are left here by people like you.

    Peter, does your friend get much business? Not great for a web designer to have an ugly site. As for the grey header, that was the standard Vertigo colour when I first downloaded Brian’s theme. I think he’s done away with that now.

    Chris, glad you enjoyed this one. Yeah, I don’t like writing about myself in the third person, so shouldn’t have expected others to. But then, I never really wrote much at all before I began blogging, so it was a fairly fast progression in terms of my budding writing career.

    I’d also prefer to deal with one person than a large corporate. It’s much easier to build a lasting relationship that way.

  6. You can never have enough work, its just the type of work you choose to do. So if people don’t understand your website, then more than likely you would prefer to work with people who do. For long as the bills are paid at the end of the day.

    I see that your recent run in with Google has actually created a lot of hype on other blogs!

    Well done with your last 30 months of business development.

    Jamie

  7. Very nice read.
    I think a large part of your success has been your rather “humble” demeanor which comes across in your posts, even after you’ve acheived your popular status!
    Keep up the great work, so newbs like me can keep learning,
    dave.

  8. I enjoyed that little journey David. Seeing the progress you’ve made, and the knowledge you’ve gained along the way.

    I can’t speak for others, but if I was looking for a qualified graphic designer, there is no way I’d be going for a corporate set up, I’d be contacting the lofty one; the one in the clouds ;)

    I love the experiences I’ve had, and all I’ve learnt over the past 10 months.

  9. That was a very impressive evolution you had, David. Really enjoyed reading about it, your look at the past, your helpful for others self-critique. I think you’re going in a right direction, and I see your website going through a few other phases, each one would be showcasing who you are, what you feel and what direction you want to go at that moment..

    Thanks for the mention, btw. You’ve achieved a lot in this 30 months, and I’m sure you’ll climb even higher mountains. All the best to you. Just stay true to yourself, your passion, the way you are now.

  10. A great entry, funny to see how you actually kept all your previous designs at hand :P. By the looks of design things truly started kicking off at phase 4, especially with phase 1 to me looking like some sort of cheap holiday resort/medicine spam site you’ve come a far way to say by the least, haha.

    It all definitely appears to have become a lot more personal as well, something which probably is very important not only from a bloggers standpoint but also from a business standpoint. There’s just no way of giving the wrong impression of being with an entire team that way.

    Now let’s see what the next 30 months will be like :D.

  11. Jamie, even though I became quite anxious when Google penalised my site, there’s been an influx of backlinks over the past week, all regarding my penalty reversal. So it’s not all bad.

    David, that’s great to read. I’m the first to admit when I’m wrong, or if I don’t know something, and a lot of you can certainly help me achieve my goals.

    Armen, I noticed on your blog that you’ll be leaving Australia for your wonderful home country in the near future. Is there any temptation to stay on there?

    Vivien, you’re very welcome. Thanks for interviewing me. Glad that you see my site progressing past what I have now. I do too, but as of yet I’m not sure where.

    I’d thought about moving the blog back off the frontpage, but with so many visitors arriving online through individual blog posts I wonder if that’s really necessary. Perhaps just making more use of my portfolio, showing more design projects, and highlighting it’s location would be helpful.

    Slevi, thanks for your honesty. I really don’t like my very first site design, but then I wonder what designer does?

    I didn’t actually have my previous sites online, but found the files recently and thought it’d be interesting to upload them and showcase the progression. It’s a nice way for me to keep track of things too, as we can learn a lot from looking at where we’ve been.

  12. I think it is great that you are able to learn from your evoltution rather than hide it. I tend to hate people seeing what I did “back when”.
    Wish I could use my real name- but elizabeth jackson is a dime a dozen around here. That is why online I pretty much go by zabs or mommy zabs. :) Gazelle is symbolic for me.

    I like the way you display your online portfolio.

  13. Hi David

    It’s an interesting question you ask about whether your blog is the right format for ‘selling’ your portfolio. I’m not in the business of buying design anymore, but if I was and I stumbled came across your site I’d be MASSIVELY impressed – but this is based purely on the quality of your writing and the way you speak/write about design.

    But to be honest, I’m not sure the ‘Portfolio’ section of your site is ideal. I appreciate the benefit of having you portfolio content within your blog-site is huge in terms of search engine positioning etc, but having the the portfolio content ‘framed’ within the blog furniture is not ideal. It’s a very narrow column and whilst your background detail for each project is very interesting and useful, it is pretty text heavy. If I was looking at your portfolio content I might be comparing it with someone else’s portfolio which is a lot more ‘visual’ and maybe that immediate ‘visual impact’ might just clinch it because that’s what I’m paying you to do.

    I dunno, sounds like I’m suggesting a way not to dissimilar to how you used to have two sites side by side. What do you reckon?

  14. It must really be something to be able to look back at the past few years and see how much you’re progressed. Congrats on all the hard work, and well earned rewards!

    Going personal with it seems to have worked out very well for you, so I wouldn’t even waste time considering what else could have happened. You’re doing really well, and your the master of your own success now. What more do you need to know? :)

  15. This post makes me wish I’d kept my earliest projects to reflect upon. I’m surprised to my tutorial series has helped you along the way.

  16. hey david,

    I am new to your blog and I stumbled upon your site through google, looking up words like “creative inspiration” in the search for whats out there and to take a breather from my 9-5 design job.

    Its been two days so far and the information you have provided is indeed a great source of inspiration for upcoming designers like myself. I am in the process of creating my identity and with each of the articles you have written, its thought me to look before I leap in the direction I am headed.

    I love the way you have showed your thought-processes and the evolution of your latest identity. Your current identity speaks volumes of your individual style rather than the so called corporate look.

    Keep up the great work and thanks for sharing! :)

  17. Only two and half years? Fantastic journey through the timeline. Thanks for sharing (and for the linkback)!

  18. You’ve come a long way in a relatively short time, and what you have now is impressive.

    I’m with Aaron on the portfolio page, and I can see the third column disappearing on that page and the portfolio spanning columns 2 and three — perhaps.

  19. Thanks for sharing!

    I did a similar thing, which needs updating (thanks for reminding me). However, I’m still a small personal blog where as you’ve become a well known entity and perhaps an authority in the field.

    I’ve got to hand it to you that despite MS Frontpage and all the other stuff, your old designs (while in retrospect not great and not effectively promoting your work) are not horrible. They’re still fairly minimal and easy to look at etc.

    I don’t think we should really look back and cringe because it’s a learning process, everyone has them, everyone needs them to appreciate how they’ve grown.

    I guess it depends on how successful your criticisers are, but I wouldn’t pay them much mind. You’re promoting yourself well here and your blog is an excellent resource for design information. People don’t know what goes in to designing or how to interact with their designers. You’re providing valuable education while attracting customers.

    BTW did you use a font for your logo and name in the header or did you come up with the shape and make the letters around that?

  20. I wish I kept a evolution portfolio like that, covering all websites I ever made for myself.

    If I remember correct, my first ever site was with a yellow background pattern and the comic sans font, in MS Frontpage and with frames.
    I’m not going to elaborate more, I die a little every time I tell people this …

    Nice post David.

  21. Interesting to see what adding a blog can do to a portfolio

  22. Great to see this, am embarking on a similar process myself. Have so far thought of a name to go with my “company” but thinking about how keeping it personal attracts some people (according to some comments here). Going by own name would either a) infringe on a large fashion design company or b) be very difficult to spell if I used my full name as it’s hard enough for people to pronounce let alone spell.

    I hope my chosen brand name will go well, as its not too corporate sounding. I’ll be sure not to be a “we” but an “I”. There’s no team in i.

  23. Zabs, glad you like the portfolio display. I know it can be improved, but at least it’s working. Elizabeth Jackson is a great name.

    Aaron, very kind of you to say. You’ve got me thinking, as has John, about how I can either run my portfolio alongside, or switch it up a little here. The idea to expand the portfolio column by removing the right sidebar sounds great.

    Michael, thanks for the input. It’s good to look back now that I’m closer to where I want to be, even if I’m not proud of the previous iterations.

    Small Potato, you shouldn’t be surprised about your tutorial series being of help. It’s very well put together.

    Sandhya, you’re very welcome. I appreciate you reading.

    Michelle, that’s quite the manly avatar you have there. Linking to you was my pleasure, no problem.

    John, like I mentioned, that’s a good idea to stretch the width, and probably the most straightforward way of making an improvement. Cheers.

    Kristarella, check out the Danube typeface, and you’ll see how it’s shown in my logo. We shouldn’t cringe, you’re right, but it’s hard not to.

    Stefson, shame you don’t have that Frontpage site anymore. It might make me feel a little more at ease with my first offering.

  24. Ha! Dave, I am loving the evolution! I actually remember when you were pushing the New Dawn Graphics stuff in the MS group and I have to say the evolution has been quite interesting. I think that is a beautiful facet of design, the fact that you can reinvent and change many times over, creating a new persona for yourself each time.

    I would also tend to believe that the blog format has been adopted by a lot of designers lately and you certainly were ahead of the curve. I think it is an attractive medium only because I think designers are very intelligent people who have opinions on how the world should both work and look. It shows that designers are more than just artists, but also people who provide social commentary on things visually. A blog is a wonderful extension of this, so kudos to you and everyone else who has a voice and and vision that are equally great.

  25. I think the direction you have taken is probably the best you could have taken. Since starting up, most of the new businesses I have come across have disappeared in or very shortly after their first year. Opperating in the same industry as yourself I know that this industry is particularly difficult to survive in. When there are 1,001 talentless designers and developers working from their homes and clients generally opting for the cheapest option oblivious to the fact the you pay for what you get, being a designer is a hard way to pay the bills.

    As you have mentioned above, your blogging has helped bring new clients to you. Last week I was thinking of asking if you would do a logo for some company, only to find out that their budget was £25. Being from the same industry, I would be more reasonable than your average client who has just found you on Google or though the Yellow Pages; i.e. I would not expect you to do £2,000 worth of work for £200 and keep adding on things to my project expecting you to do them for free. You have also built up a lot of industry recognition, which will probably allow you to price higher.

    A suggestion on how you could make your blog better is to add nested comments. I think this build up a better sense of community on your blog. I only ever read comments on your blog if they were posted by someone I know. If you add nested comments people are more likely to ‘bump into eachother’ and come back to your blog to see what that person is saying. If you don’t know what I mean by nested comments, check out the comments here.

  26. I think having a blog in addition to a portfolio is actually pretty smart for a designer (I think you may have mentioned this before on one of your posts). Not only does potential clients get to see your work, but also a bit of your personality through your blog posts. And using yourself/personal name as your own company is definitely better I think. It’s direct and clear to the client who they’re dealing with.

  27. wow…I didn’t know that you evolve that much within 30 months. I think its not always necessary to use a generic company name in favour of your personal identity. It’s all make sense because your personal name already received good recognition and stated as personal brand positioning to your future client also to loyal clients.

  28. Your 30 month retrospective is quite enlightening; thank you for sharing. It is clear that through the course of your redesigns you have become successful in driving traffic to your site and obtaining/keeping readers. How has this success translated to your bottom line? Ultimately you are paying the bills through graphic design, correct? Does your current site get you more clients, or do you spend more time writing and less time with income generating activities? Thanks for your excellent content and personal attention to each commenter!

  29. Thanks Michael. I just subscribed to your blog, and good move with the big and beautiful RSS icon. Can’t miss that one.

    Other designers do provide great commentary, although it’s not so straightforward finding good quality blogs. I have my favourites, and subscribe to quite a few, but it’s rare that I find new ones these days.

    David, yep, there’s certainly a never-ending flow of competition, but if you set yourself apart, and focus on what’s best for the customer, there’s more than enough room for the dedicated ones to make a success of it.

    Thanks for the nested comments suggestion. I actually tried it out before, very briefly, but didn’t like how it kept pushing the comments further and further to the right. I can understand what you’re saying though, so will give it another shot as soon as I have some time on my hands.

    PG, a blog is an excellent way to show how you communicate, and I’m sure it has helped me attract new business. Thanks for your thoughts.

    Kukuh, I’m still very new to the online world, and know that I have a lot to learn. It’s been a fun process, and I’m sure will continue to be enjoyable in the future.

    James, that’s right, I pay my bills through my design work, and with this phase of my evolution I’m doing better than ever. I do spend more time writing, but it’s my marketing tool, and very little offline marketing is needed for me at present. Word of mouth is where most business comes from, but traffic here is also great.

    Thanks for the kind words.

  30. Hi David,

    Thanks so much for showing us the progression of your website designs. I am in the early stages of redesigning my website (which first went live in February this year) so it’s encouraging to see your experience and your achievement.

    The link to Small Potato’s WordPress theme tutorial is a fantastic bonus; I intend to use a CMS/blogging format for my new site design, but until now I hadn’t found a satisfactory guide for modifying WordPress themes (I am comfortable working with CSS and HTML but am new to PHP) so I look forward to going through the tutorial.

    I agree with Aaron about the issue of putting a portfolio into a blog column layout; it’s not a way I feel is ideal for presenting work, and that’s one of the issues I’m dealing with at the moment in working out my new site design.

  31. You’re very welcome, Tracey. I enjoyed working my way through SP’s WordPress theme tutorials, and I’m sure you’ll learn from them. When do you think you’ll have your new design launched? Looking forward to that.

  32. Wow, I can’t believe you managed this success in just 30months.

    This is an outstanding blog that I visit regularly even though I’m not subscribed, I can only dream that my blog might be even half as successful one day :)

    Congratulations and don’t listen to the naysayers, there is always someone saying you are doing it wrong, when clearly you are doing it very right.

  33. That’s great that you visit from time to time, and I’m happy to provide some content of interest.

    Best of luck in progressing your own blog, and if you think I can be of any help just let me know.

  34. Thanks :)

  35. Great job on all your accomplishments!
    I think for any designer the most 2 important elements are great work and time.
    If you do great work and have time on your side, the business will just keep growing and there would be a point where word of mouth will replace any advertising with better results.
    Congrats!!!

  36. Thanks lady, much appreciated.

  37. Hi David
    This is quite refreshing and inspiring to find a designer/design company who is so tranparent in its approach and even showing its ongoing learning and experimentation. Truely inspiring and food for thought and its making question my whole approach and website.

    Continued success to you!
    Gareth

  38. It’s an aim of mine to be as transparent as possible, and I feel it benefits the relationships I build with clients. I’m glad I made you question your own approach. Continued success to you, too.

  39. Hi David,

    I had a few minutes to do some reading this morning, and found this post. Very cool to see your progress. Since I started doing this, I have had about 6 different websites through the years, and I too started off in Frontpage! (“Yikes” is an understatement”).

    Your first website attempt is pretty amazing! My first attempt included one big jpeg image as the entire page, and many image maps for the links. I hadn’t quite figured out the html thing.

    I think your current logo is excellent, and is a nice personal brand. It is comfortable yet profressional.

    Im not sure if this question has been covered somewhere before , but I am wondering if you have ever been tempted to get into web design and development, coding languages etc? (Forgive me if you already do this). I personally couldnt help myself once I got a taste of HTML, and just over a year ago, I learned how to create fully css websites, and even more recently, I have played with asp programming and understanding the basics of queries, databases etc..

    Your switch from branding yourself as a company to “just David Airey” is also interesting. I have struggled with this whole issue recently. I am trying to build a company, where we are a full time design/marketing studio, with a great team. Right now, I have two programmers (freelancers and friends) for the more difficult web stuff…but I do all of the design work. Ive struggled with how I want to brand myself/the company and which way I should really go. I would be interested to hear more detail from you on this subject sometime. Perhaps some of your other subscribers would too as I presume a lot of them are in the same position or will be in the future.

  40. Hi Brian, glad you enjoyed viewing my progress. I guess I took a step backwards from my first site to the second, because those huge images you mention you had in your first attempt, I employed in my second.

    Web design has tempted me, and I’ve produced a few sites here and there. Nothing special though, and nothing I feel I want to display in my portfolio. To be honest, branding is where my main passion is, and I enjoy creating logos and stationery more than any other aspect of my job. Because of which, I tend to pass web design projects on to my contacts.

    It’s worth a blog post though, the whole “should you specialise or branch out?”

  41. David – a great insight to the evolution of your website and blog. I personally think you are marketing yourself excellently – the blog says much more about you and your process than your portfolio ever could. I also think it gives the clients an insight in to the work carried out by graphic designers (which I feel is often overlooked).

    I also think you made the right move from ‘New Dawn Graphics’ to your personal name. It is a bit different for us as we are a partnership and as such came up with a name to represent this.

    And finally, just want to say thanks for giving me the nudge to move our blog to WordPress. I have always been a bit hesitant to make the switch but being a regular reader of your blog made me think – go for it! We have just launched our new wordpress based blog and would love you to have a look around and let me know what you think – http://www.eightyonedesign.co.uk/blog

    Steve

  42. Steve,

    Thanks very much. Your business name is a different scenario, for sure. I knew my business would be me alone for a fair chunk of time.

    I’ve taken a look around your WordPress blog, and left a few comments. A couple of suggestions: Are you sure you need to list ‘archives’? I notice in some cases there’s just one article per month. I’d prefer the body text to be a slightly darker shade of grey, improving legibility. Overall though, nicely tied in with your site design.

  43. Hi David,

    Thanks for your comments and critique. I see your point about the archives links – I have removed these although I do hope to be posting more than once a month from now on. I have also changed the font and nav colour to a darker shade of gray which is much better.

    Thanks again fro taking a look.

    Steve

  44. Hi David, I’m just beginning my journey as a graphic designer, and I’m about to embark on a BDes Design for Visual Comms at the Uni of Ulster, Belfast campus. I often look at the work of experienced designers and almost feel intimidated by their superb work! So it’s very encouraging to contrast the work in your ‘phase 1′ portfolio, with that you’re currently doing, seeing your progress from ‘ok/mediochre’ in phase 1 (don’t take that the wrong way!) to ‘great and superbly professional’.

  45. Hi Jonathan, I hope your design course goes well. Thanks for the compliment.

  46. Just when I was about to comment that the current design is not listed in the evolution list, I noticed the date of the post :-)

    Anyway, I think your list clearly shows the expansion of the site, and the current design is even more impressive.

    I wish that I had the time and energy to make my own design, I currently live by reusing publicly available themes. I should brand a bit more…

  47. I find my way back to your site once again, David. This time, I was playing the name game. Should I brand myself as a company or as, well, myself? I’ve enjoyed reading your journey here from “New Dawn” to “David Airey” and wonder what would be best for me.

    I already have a personal site up, but I’m not doing as much with it as I thought I would and I’m not happy with it. I’m starting to get serious about branding myself and churning up business, so now is the time to re-focus or start fresh.

    As funny as it may sound, I’m considering the “big company name” route because I’m not loving my name right now. Or at least people’s perception of it. My domain, robertfrusso.com, includes that little ‘F’ in there for my middle initial. I registered this because 1) other name variations weren’t available and 2) I was using ROBERT F RUSSO on resumes and other materials to match.

    The problem? More often than not, people pair my middle initial with my last name and call me Robert Frusso. Well, Mr. Frusso has left the building. I have a sense of humor about it, but it has happened so much that I’m back to thinking I should start fresh with a different approach.

    Further thoughts anyone?

  48. That’s a tough one, Rob, and a shame you don’t have access to robertrusso.com.

    How about you play off your sense of humour? Perhaps pointing out on your website that it’s Russo, not Frusso? Showing your light-heartedness may help endear you to potential clients.

  49. Good thinking and thanks for the feedback. I’ll give it some more thought, too…

  50. Hey David, what a wonderful glimpse into your online evolution! I’ve been on line since 1996 and have evolved as you have. In 2005 like you I decided to establish a brand…www.neatandsimple.com and now I’m thinking about going back to my http://www.arianebenefit.com My reason for not using it was very similar to yours…plus I had the problem that people could never spell my name right. But Ariane is becoming more commonly known – Thank god! I’ve carried this issue for 48 years! There is even a top chef contestant named Ariane.

    Anyway, I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed your retrospective and appreciate you being there from me right at the time I was thinking about reinventing myself on the web – YET AGAIN!
    Thanks for the inspiration!

  51. Hi Ariane, I’m glad you enjoyed my little look back over recent years. All the very best with your reinvention.

  52. Very inspiring. Thanks for this. I’m in the early stages still, so seeing your progression is very motivating. I bookmarked your site and will view it frequently. Thanks again.

  53. hi david,
    very inspiring to see, how your site evolved from the beginning! thanks for that look ‘behind the scenes’. i’m in the middle of redesigning my own page and never spent a second thinking about my blog as the main page and portfolio/work section as secondary page – but it’s a very good point! this post really made me think about many decisions i made and have to make for my new page!
    thank you, cheers
    claudio

  54. You’re very welcome, Derek, Claudio. Glad to be of some help with your own evolutions.

  55. I have followed to tutorial you referred to by Small Potato, and it was wonderful. I’m new to blogging though, so I’m having one slight problem. When I log in to the localhost as an admin, I can see the theme I’ve created. But when I log out and type my wordpress.com URL into my browser, the page the comes up (so, what everyone else sees) is still the default theme.

    I cannot for the life of me figure out how to upload my theme from localhost onto my actual blog. Help?

  56. Hi Justine. The WordPress forums are the best first-stop for any WP problems you come up against.

  57. I wish that I had the time and energy to make my own design, I currently live by reusing publicly available themes. I should brand a bit more…

  58. Hello David,

    I was wondering about wordpress themes and how one can customize them to the point where you cannot recognize them anymore: Lets say you come across a nice site and after checking the page source you discover that it is a customized wordpress theme–how can you know what the original theme was?

  59. Hi Omar, unless the customization is unrecognizable from the original, site owners should leave credit to the theme coder somewhere on their site (or in the html/css code). Many are far too quick to take the credit themselves, however.

  60. I’m so glad I came across this post today. I’m currently redesigning my incredibly out of date portfolio and came to the conclusion not long ago that ditching the “company brand name” and go with my own name as well as starting a blog so that my site is as much about what I have to offer as a creative partner as it is about why kind of design I am capable of. Reading your post today was a shot in the arm and a great reminder that I’m on the right track. Keep up the great work!

  61. I have been reading your blog for a while, and this is the first post I have commented on one. I am at phase 1 at the moment, just starting up and trying to find my feet. Its really inspiring reading this article, knowing where you started from to where you are now. I really hope within 30 months I have gained similar success to yourself. If you get a chance check out my website, perhaps you could give me some pointers.

    P.s. Currently reading Speak Human, its great book and a real inspiring read.

  62. Hi Jonny, first impressions of your site:

    I like the consistent integration of your blog. Fits well with your chosen look. I think some will find your logotype a little difficult to make-out, possibly reading “Vor hern.” Check the second sentence of your intro para for use of uppercase/lowercase. Good luck.

  63. Hey David,

    I have taken your advice on this subject and have rebranded my entire freelance business! My website with an all new design will be up in a few days. This is a great and very helpful article; thank you for posting it!

    Jason Lee Smith

  64. “New Dawn Graphics” such a Microsoft 90’s name… lol :p

    I remember I had my first website name as “Synapse”, I tried to market it as a big shot design company when I was 15 years old.

  65. Thanks a lot for sharing! Very inspiring, geve me a sense of hope.

  66. Wow! You’ve come a long way Dave. A long way! I just redesigned and launched my new website this week. It’s a good feeling.

  67. You haven’t seen the tie-dyed cloth I used to cover my desk with.

    Good times.

  68. Thanks for sharing this, David. I’ve gone through similar iterations since ‘my inception'; branding myself as a large agency, then the cheaper alternative, and finally settled on just being myself. This has worked wonders and, looking back, wonder why I even bothered branding as an agency when I offer great value to my clients by just being me!

    It’s great to see that others have gone through similar stages and it’s funny when we look back.

Anything to add?

Comments may be edited or deleted if I don't like the cut of your jib, but that's quite unlikely.