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?