Another year, another portfolio
Yet again, I have found myself completely overhauling my design portfolio. My portfolio changes frequently since I usually think of ways to improve it (after I finish an overhaul, of course), and because I want it to reflect my most up-to-date skills.
With this most recent overhaul, I was inspired by landing pages that use multiple forms of persuasion to get the audience interested in a product (in this case, it's my breadth of design skills). There's a mission statement, social proof, recent news, and some visual goodies all laid out in an easy-to-scroll-through format.
I've also approached my design projects in a different way. This time I'm calling them "case studies" since I believe they demonstrate more of a specific quality of my design practice rather than the outcome of a particular project. I focus on telling a comprehensive story with bits of narrative interspersed with visuals.
In celebration of completing this overhaul, I've taken a look back at all the incarnations of my portfolio, starting all the way back in 2010 when I took my very first design class at the University of Washington.
My first portfolios were books, which took a lot of time and money to print and assemble. They were pretty cool to hold in my hands, but became impractical after I started having new projects to add to them after completing each quarter of classes.
Soon, I started creating online portfolios. The first portfolio platform I tried was Carbonmade, followed by Cargo Collective. With each version, I experimented with different ways to categorize and present my work.
With these early portfolios, I generally stuck to slide shows full of visuals to present a general progression of steps taken to complete the project.
At one point, I even hand-coded my own website, which proved to be very time consuming.
This site proved to be very difficult to maintain and update, so I switched over to SquareSpace (which I currently use). I enjoy how customizable it is, and have switched templates many times.
The first two years out of college, I still had some of my industrial design work lingering around my portfolio which I was hesitant to remove. At the time, I felt somewhat self-aware of not using many of the skills that came with my industrial design degree, but gradually I'd come to embrace that being a product designer is what I really wanted.
For my projects, I created elaborate long images that a reader could scroll through and see a high level overview of the project. They looked great, but proved to be difficult to read on smaller screen sizes.
I stayed with the same format for a while, with big thumbnails on the front page of my portfolio site. After looking at many other designers portfolios online though, I found that the ones I admired the most were able to clearly communicate the designer's identity and philosophy early on, before one actually looked at one of their projects. However, I wasn't quite sure how to present myself and my work in that way yet.
After re-making my portfolio again last year, I realized that it looked rather similar to previous portfolios. It was certainly more visually polished, but there wasn't much progress made on the presentation of information. Furthermore, I felt like all these big projects weren't representative of the most recent or interesting work that I do, like talks and fun side projects. Most of these are captured in my blog posts and Medium articles, which wasn't surfaced on this front page.
With this latest portfolio, I hope to share more frequent updates via the blog and help visitors learn more about me as a designer with less effort. Knowing myself though, in less than another year I'll want to change the whole thing again :P