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Simplicity Is Key

Week 3:

This week I focused on organizing the structure of my website and deciding on the types of content I want to post.

For this iteration of my website they key is to keep it simple so that my content can stand out. Because the purpose of my website is to showcase my work, I don’t want it to be cluttered with other interface elements or even other content. In order to map out exactly how I want my website to look created a sitemap with a detailed overview of what I intend to include as part of the website. When making the sitemap I really wanted to consider how to make my work the focus of the website. I debated if I wanted to showcase myself as a freelancer as well with the hope of getting a few side jobs. I ended up going against this idea because I feel it is important to establish myself as a designer at a first and then slowly transition into freelance or corporate positions.

The portfolio section itself is highlighted at the very front of the website after a per statement about myself and my work. I knew that I wanted to incorporate a portfolio grid so that users could get a sense of the projects I work on right at first glance. The homepage portfolio section will show a few projects that I want to be highlighted and then the rest will be available through the portfolio page. I went back and forth about including all my pieces of work on the homepage however in the end decided to stick with this format for now. Once a portfolio cover is clicked on it will bring up the case study where I explain the project details, my roles, and the process. Portfolio case studies are driven by the visuals of my work and the process is explained through development sketches and photos.

Ultimately, the main use of my portfolio is to house the design work that I am proud of so that I can use it when applying for job and volunteer opportunities. In this case, I don’t need much content that is separate from my work. An about page is crucial, as potential employers may want to learn more about my skills and abilities to see if I am qualified for the position. So far I have set up a basic page that includes a photo and short description of myself. In the coming weeks, I plan to supplement my about page with more information regarding my fluency in design software, previous awards and accomplishments, my resume and a more detailed personal statement. In addition to the about page, I added a contact page where I can engage with my audience if they see something like or would like to work with me. This however is not the main focus of my page, but rather an additional element. I included a contact form so prevent the need for displaying personal information because at this moment I have yet to create a professional email address for contacts.

I believe that I have created a solid foundation for the content of my website and look forward to not only adding more content but also editing the look and feel. So far I have been unsatisfied with my portfolio theme. It works great and has the elements I want in a theme however I don’t feel there is a lot of options to adjust the styles. I have been really struggling to find a theme I believe suits the design of the website and am hopeful that I will have the chance to explore other themes in the coming weeks.

Mini Assignment 1

The first mini-assignment was to create a popular culture ‘meme’ that is related to your website. I decided to create a meme on something that I feel will relate to a lot of designers when it comes to creating or updating their portfolio. I delve into more details about perfectionism in my blog post Done is Better than Perfect so be sure to check it out!

Done is Better than Perfect

Week 2:

This week has been all about finally setting up my portfolio! From the inability to completely control themes and the nerve-wracking process of publishing my first piece. 

Two things you should know before diving into the process of my setup: 1) I have been attempting to create a professional portfolio for my design work for a little over a year now and 2) I am a major perfectionist which is why I have yet to publish anything. I feel like this is something a lot of designers struggle with, especially when it comes to creating their portfolio. The phrase “done is better than perfect” rings a bell here because truly this should have been the case. However, the perfectionist and insecurities inside me would not allow me to create anything that less than perfect. After all, for designers your portfolio can make or break your job opportunities and success, so why should I settle for anything less than perfect! Well, that warped way of thinking is what landed me in an intense cycle of research and development without any real progress to show for it. What I should have done was just an experiment. Experiment with different web-building platforms, different visual identities, and just get my stuff out into the world. What I did instead was a demand too much from myself by thinking I could create the perfect portfolio of an experienced designer right out of the gate. More often than not I skip right over the learning process and attempt to become a master. For this iteration of my portfolio, I want to focus on just getting my pieces online and presenting my self online. The design and self-branding of my website will come with time, but at least I’ll have something to show for it now. 

Now once I had purchased a domain (which proved to be much easier than I expected) it was all about setting up the site and customizing it. The first step was choosing a theme. Now originally about a year ago I had thought the best way to create my portfolio would be to code and develop it myself so that I could have full customization. I very quickly realized that this was no small task, especially since at the time I had no HTML/CSS experience, although I had been eager to learn. From there I had moved onto wanting to use Webflow as it seemed to be the best no-code editor for full customization. While I had every intention to do this (and still plan to do this eventually) there is a large learning curve to the Webflow interface and did not seem to be the best option for a ‘quick and easy’ first iteration. Here is where PUB 101 comes into light a fire under me and forces me to breakthrough my perfectionism. WordPress was the given platform we needed to use to start our website, so that was one choice that was made for me. However, the problem of customization arises again when deciding on a theme. WordPress is known for a lack of customizable options for each theme. I spent a while (more than a while) debating if I should invest in a paid theme that would allow more customization so that I could stand out from the crowd. In the end, I decided that the Perfect Portfolio Theme would be a good starting place since it had the homepage layout I was looking for. I customized as much as I was able to but am still trying to find out ways that I can make it feel like my own.

Uploading my first portfolio piece was a lot more nerve-racking than I imagine, and I already imagined it being hard! I believe it goes back to my nature of being a lurker, I don’t love having details of my life or personality readily accessible for anyone to view or judge. Even though I knew I was going to need to post my work eventually the thought that it is finally online for anyone to look at is a little scary! I am proud of the effort that when into assembling my portfolio piece and the time I spent writing my case study. I feel better knowing that I presented my designs in the best light that I could have and that while the look of the website might not be on par with my expectations, the work will hopefully stand out for itself. 

To close I just want to reiterate that perfectionism doesn’t have to hold you back unless you let it. The whole point of doing anything new is it learn and grow. My insecurities and perfectionism cost me a lot of opportunities that I couldn’t take advantage of because I didn’t have a portfolio. Now I’m trying to unlearn this behaviour and push myself to just get started. Done is better than perfect, right?

Talking to Strangers

Week 1:

This week’s process post was inspired by James Hamblin’s article “How to Talk to Strangers” (2016) where he discusses the unexpected importance of striking up conversations with everyday people. While I was not able to strike up many conversations with people in the physical world (due to coronavirus), I will be comparing my past experiences to that I’ve recently had online. First, you should know that I tend to be a very private individual and thus don’t enjoy giving out personal information to people I am not close with. That being said I am pretty much an open book once people get to know me. 

In the past week I have only had two interactions with strangers in the physical world; one from a delivery driver and one from a Facebook marketplace exchange. Since these exchanges both had a specific goal they ended up being short and to the point. The delivery driver was dropping off Ikea furniture and simply asked for my signature confining that I had received the purchase. As I didn’t see much of a reason to keep him longer than needed we didn’t stay and chat. The Facebook marketplace interaction was slightly more lengthy and had a combination of online and physical components. I had messaged the seller about the availability and spec of a Kobo they listed. They were quick with the responses and were already entertaining other offers. As this was meant to be a gift for my grandma, and the only one available I was much more persistent in my messages than I usual. I was putting a lot of effort into persuaded him to accept my offer, e-transfering him right away and arranging pick up for the next day. The next morning I met the seller outside their building for the pickup. I was within the timeframe I had mentioned, although on the earlier side. The seller who was punctual with his messages took a while, around 10min, to meet me. Looking back I was a little anxious and worried while waiting outside the building. I thought maybe he would turn out to be a scammer, or maybe I was in the wrong place. The actual interaction was again very straightforward – I grabbed the device thanked him and left. In fact, I was almost surprised by myself how fast the exchange took place. I did have people waiting for me in the car, and we were late for our breakfast, so I ensured that I grabbed it as quick as possible. However, I didn’t even take the time to notice or thank the seller for including an additional charger that was not listed. I felt a pang of guilt at the end of this exchange for not engaging him as much as I thought I should have. To reconcile this I sent him a message after the sale thanking him, and as what happens with stagers I will probably never see him again. 

The online interactions I’ve had this past week are quite different from not only my physical encounters but also even past online interactions. In the world of COVID-19, it seems as if almost all my interactions are done online. For the most part, I use online methods to text or video call close friends and family. I have never been super active on social media sites, or in large group chat text chains. I prefer to lurk around and see what is going on, only rarely participating myself. However, since school is online this semester I don’t have the usual means of connecting with classmates in person. This has lead me to learn how to be more active on social sites, specifically this week with the hope of forming groups for school projects. For the first time in a while, I don’t know anyone in some of my classes which has to lead to a lot of anxiety trying to find partners for group projects. I have found myself trying to be proactive by posting about myself in discussion boards looking for partners and even actively emailing other students with the hope of pairing up. This is something I would be much less likely to do in person as I can be fairly shy and quiet, due to my lurking nature. 

I am excited to use this class to finally start up my portfolio and hopefully move past my insecurities of being active online!