Image copyright: Becca Fatora
Ask any designer if they’re 100% satisfied with their work, and whether openly admitted or not, there’s a very high chance of a negative response. That’s not to say their designs aren’t successful. Far from it. The statement refers more to the bane of any designers life — being overly critical — especially where self-promotional work is concerned.
When working with clients, they have the final say, so it’s easier to know when a project is complete. When a designer creates for herself (a personal logo or website, for instance) it can be tempting to obsess about the details.
I’ve previously featured the 30 month evolution of my online portfolio, and it’s come to a point where once again, I’m searching for a more effective way to highlight my work.
I use WordPress to power my website. The current design is a custom-made theme that puts emphasis on the content, keeping decorative features to a minimum. It’s a style I like, but there’s no variation in layout between the homepage, static pages, and article pages, which is something shown to good effect on many of my favourite blogs (e.g. a wider content area on single-post pages). WordPress Magazine style blog themes are proving increasingly popular, and I particularly like the Mimbo Pro template by Darren Hoyt and Ben Gillbanks.
For those not wanting to spend on a WordPress theme, there’s the original Mimbo, which is free.
What appeals with magazine style themes, particularly from a graphic designer’s perspective, is how easily you can give prominence to recent projects. They’re right there on the homepage, as opposed to being tucked away inside a portfolio link.
Which leads to my dilemma: much of my success with identity design is due to my blog and the hundreds of posts I’ve published, so it makes sense to highlight the content. That’s where I’d appreciate your opinion.
At present, my graphic design portfolio is accessed through the top navigation bar (replicated at the bottom), and also shown on the top of the sidebar — an attention hot spot. This is good because on every page there are at least three links pointing towards my work. From the other side of the fence, my homepage (the most visited) doesn’t show any of my design projects.
An option different from the current setup is to make use of my .co.uk domain for showcasing work. I bought a separate hosting account for the .co.uk when my domain name was stolen, and I’ve been wondering what to do with it.
I’m a little reluctant, however, to separate my portfolio from my blog, and if I do, what’s the best way to tie them together? A simple htaccess redirection?
If you’re thinking of launching a single-page portfolio, Gino at ‘You The Designer’ recently published a primer: The One Page Graphic Design Portfolio Guide.
Finding info on designer site redesigns isn’t easy, so if you know of one, or have been through the process yourself, I’d appreciate your input. It seems much easier to uncover commentary on blog redesigns, and I mention a few here.
Some top online entrepreneurs have been redesigning their blogs, and everytime I see a change of scenery on a site I enjoy, it prompts me to think about my own design.
- Ben Yoskovitz of Instigator Blog
- Darren Rowse of ProBlogger, designed by Ben Bleikamp
- Dawud Miracle of dmiracle.com
- Nate Whitehill of natewhitehill.com
I’m not looking for a major overhaul, but rather a streamlining of what’s here, making it appeal to potential clients. You’ve probably noticed that I favour simplicity and white space. Dark backgrounds, such as those featured on Vandelay and Smashing Magazine, aren’t my thing. A few talented designers use dark web design (Veerle, Aaron and Vivien), but I’ve always preferred light backgrounds with dark text, mainly for legibility.
Design factors to consider
A year back I wrote a post titled 5 design tips for your website or blog. The 5 points are just as relevant now, so I’ll sum them up here:
- Keep it clean
- Keep it focused
- Show images or photographs
- Use a colour scheme
- Make the text easy to read
What do you like/dislike about my web design?
As I mentioned at the beginning, graphic designers tend to be overly-critical of their self-promotional work. What is it they say? If it’s not broken, don’t try to fix it? Hmmm.
Your constructive criticism would be great. Is there anything you’d change about my current design? I’ll be featuring your suggestions and thoughts in a follow-up article, published soon.
Resources for website redesigns
- Creating the perfect portfolio — by Collis Ta’eed on Digital Web
- Small details of a blog design — Lauren of Creative Curio discusses the small details following her own blog redesign.
- Blog Design: Does it Really Matter? — David Peralty offers his thoughts in this Blog Herald post.
- Advice for online graphic design portfolios — by yours truly