New website, new portfolio

It’s been a while hasn’t it. Years ago, I always thought there was no excuse for a web designer or developer having an old & outdated portfolio, but now I see why. The good ones are so busy with client work, and put all their energy into their clients sites. Makes sense now I think about it.

I had a delay in a project, so I took the opportunity and completely re-worked mine. I’ll go into the technical details further down the post.

So, a new portfolio is here. A site for Foundation, an updated site for NB Flowers, a new site for Envisics, a brand new shop for Hayley Jade Design Studio (my wife’s new venture), a new site for Silk Factory, and an old favourite, Brazil Fourteen.

All that, and a metric ton more has been done since I last updated this portfolio. I can’t really talk about a lot of work I’ve done. Not because it’s under NDA, but because I do a lot of white-label work for agencies, and I can’t break that trust. Those projects above account for a couple months of work over the past 4 years, but they’re the best I can publicly show for now.

Such is life of a white-label developer.

Technical Details

The old site was quickly rushed together on Jekyll in May 2015, right in the middle of me (or rather my wonderful accountant) forming a legal entity, and all the things that go along with it. I was fortunate enough to have some old contacts get me started with some work, and an all singing all dancing site wasn’t necessary for me to get some work in, so I did the bare minimum and left it at that.

It was a pain to quickly update content as the version of Jekyll it was built with was quickly outdated, so any changes were done directly in the HTML files. Not bad, but it meant adding larger sections that neatly tied into others wasnt easily doable. So again, I left it.

Fast forward 4 years, the new site is built on WordPress (surprise!) and ACF, using Gulp to build assets, and – a first for me, after years of trying to persuade clients that its slightly limited browser support isn’t really an issue – CSS Grid.

The whole purpose of the site is to showcase the work I do, which is almost always purely code-work. I’d say a fancy design could potentially take away from the work itself, so this is as simple and content-focused as I could make it.

Content

When it came to content, I went back and forth on what the focus should be. Should I try and make it look like I’m a full service agency, or emphasise the work I think I do best, which is build what others design, and churn them out, sort of like a factory. I’m not a great writer, but I feel I’ve stuck a good balance between marketing myself as a production line, and a consultancy. Almost all projects I work on have some form of UX improvement suggestion, or some form of refinement, so I had to try and get across in the copy. I’m sure it’ll change as time goes on, but I’m happy with it for now.

I also took some time to think about how portfolio items should look. At the moment, it’s a simple 2 column layout with text on the left, and a whole-page screenshot on the right. The text is sticky, so you can still read it as you scroll down, hopefully making sense of the image beside it.

In time, I will add some more components to it, like smaller centred images to show off interesting features via animated gifs or videos. The page itself os built using ACF flexible content blocks, so going back and retrospectively adding new blocks to existing pages is trivially easy.

Blog

I’ve also added a blog, as I do occasionally want to share new stuff, or small technical guides on things. There’s a couple there now, and I will add more as I go.

The blog is standard Gutenberg. While I may negative thoughts about how it works from a CMS and code point of view, there’s no doubt that it can make for better posts.

Conclusion?

It’s many years late, but should serve as a good platform for a yew years to come, so it’s all up to date and easy to work on.