So by now you’ve had a chance to look at my portfolio of work here and (hopefully) have enjoyed some of what you have seen. First and foremost, hands up, yes this site layout is a purchased theme – but the work showcased is all mine, I can assure you 😉
Sacre bleu I hear you cry! “How can you possibly expect to be taken seriously by doing that and not getting your own pencils out and creating your own space, show your creativity dude!?”
Well, to answer that, I’ve been designing for the web a while now and I’d like to think I’ve observed a thing or two. One observation being this process of designing your own portfolio… It is the one thing that strikes the heart of many a designer cold, even one with 13 yrs experience and 4 versions of his own site previously under his belt. Many are familiar with ‘the why’ but I thought I’d share my particular observation with you here…
Firstly, many of us with online portfolios working in small partnerships or flying solo, end up like the proverbial decorator in the road who’s too busy painting everyone else’s house to spend the time on his own, which continues to languish, casually flaking paint into the wind and rain whilst gathering tumbleweed in the garden. I’m sure that strikes a chord with most designers reading this.
Secondly, most designers I know, good designers with many years experience, very capable of creating and crafting beautiful sites for their clients seem racked with angst and indecisive procrastination when it comes time to their own. Why? Well, first and foremost there is perceived ‘peer pressure’ I guess. The web is full of the very talented designers, all jockeying for notoriety, infamy and kudos. So the pressure to put something out there that is the ‘next big thing’ ‘the latest, cleverest use of CSS animation‘ (one of my personal favourites by a twitter chum and nice dude, Cole Henley) to be shared on twitter et al, that makes people say ‘I wish I’d thought of that’ or simply ‘bloody hell, how’d they do that?’ can be a rabbit hole to late nights fuelled with coffee, expletives and gentle sobbing.
Also, as a designer, creating your own site gives you one of the broadest areas of canvas you will ever get. You are the client, you are not constrained (and ultimately defeated) by ‘design by committee’ or calls to make the logo bigger. Simples, surely? Well, yes and no. That vastness of scope brings with it both endless possibilities and by juxtaposition, the potential design paralysis and stage fright such a large area and potential unleashing of all those possibilities it can bring. A defeat of a different kind awaits. We’ve all been there, I’m sure. What starts off as ‘the next big adventure’ where we are heroic masters of our own destiny, can quickly spiral into a stream of concepts, each one starting off as ‘this is the one, this is brilliant, wait till they see this’ to be met the following day with ‘what was I thinking’ and a feeble reach for the paracetamol or prozac.
My last attempt still sits on a sub domain for the past 2 years (no I won’t give you the link!) full of HTML5/css3 promise and jQuery bells and whistles, quietly humming to itself unaware of it’s imminent consignment to the dustbin of ‘what was I thinking’.
So back in February as I was searching for a theme for a client to help them vamp up their own blog inexpensively, I came across this theme by Christian Budschedl who works at http://www.kriesi.at (I hope I’ve got the accreditation right guys, let me know if not). Quite simply, for me, it ticked all the boxes, kicked arse and was struck by how similar in function it was to the aforementioned attempt I had created but not published live. Similar yet better, expanded and more thought out and a subtle difference in surfacing the content to the way I had chosen that had me thinking, ‘yes’ (and also the ubiquitous ‘why didn’t I think of that?’ *slaps forehead response) so what to do? Sneak off and emulate the functionality and whistle nonchalantly? Anybody who knows me, knows that option is not an option, I know the old saying ‘good designers copy, great designers steal’ but no, not something I would be comfortable with. So what? Well, I had a think about it for a couple of days. And really, the only thing that was holding me back was that old chestnut, pride. Silly really, when you think about it objectively. I mean, I know my capabilities, I know I built up a good reputation nationally when I was in Ireland for doing good work so sod it, why reinvent the wheel, why not just buy the theme, personalise it (it’s very customisable) and get on with the real job of securing work and food for the table? So I did. And unlike previous portfolio launches, that were still ridden with doubts post launch, I’m actually happy, extremely happy to have a site that allows me to update it quickly and easily (it’s my first WordPress site I’ve used for my own portfolio) looks good and has a minimal, clean & unfussy look, allowing instant viewing of what is ultimately the most important aspect – to showcase my work – which I hope, can speak for itself.