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May I start designing now?

Just... Let's start somewhere


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Lila Papazian

2 years ago | 2 min read

Hi everyone! This is part four of my series about creating my portfolio from scratch.

The last time I posted, I talked about the difficulty of learning UI design in two weeks (no surprises here).

So I settled for the next best thing, that being:

  • put up post-it notes with the basic principles of design
  • start searching for visual inspiration

With all that done, I did a few rounds of crazy eight (an amazing technique) and settled for this design:

I sketched everything on paper, because it's easier for me to be messy this way, and so perfectionism doesn't get in the way.

I ended up going with this:

Messy, colors, scribbled notes... What else can I ask for?

I choose it with confidence and then started to overthink it.

And before I started writing something like: well, this has the navigation bar on top of everything, here's my call to action button,
etc, etc, etc I remembered this
article by Erik Kennedy (seriously, I love this man).

While the part of how to find projects doesn't apply to me in this instance, I needed to re-read how to tell the story of my projects.

He talks about how human brains think, and how to use that to write about the project.

In this case, I'm my own client: developer-me needed a portfolio so I hired kind-of-designer-me to make it.

I was excited about this project because it made it possible for me to use all my skills.

Initially, the biggest challenges were the basics:

  • I had a design that didn't reflect me and didn't showcase any of my work (not even a link to my GitHub profile)
  • I didn't have any idea about branding [LINK]
  • I also wasn't clear about the why: am I doing this
    because "everyone else has a portfolio? (lie); because I want to be
    contacted by recruiters? because I want to start freelancing?

I didn't make a ton of extra research because I've been reading about
portfolios, design, technical writing, and web development for a long time now.

I'm about to have more free time now and I want to try my hand at new things.

So I came up with these concepts.

And picked this one, because...

BECAUSE

The real design challenge: how am I justifying my decisions?

For starters:

I wanted the site to be easy to navigate and find whatever you are looking for. These are the things I labeled as important:

  • Who am I, and what do I do
  • How to contact me
  • How to see my work

So let's analyze my design:

My description and profile photos are front and center on the page, it's the first thing the eye is attracted to.

Near my description, there is a contact me button. I want a potential
recruiter to be able to scan my page quickly and easily, and then decide to hire me.

The top navigation bar makes the whole site searchable without having to scroll at all, which makes it easier for the user and removes friction.

The bottom half of the page showcases some of my projects (the newer and/or the best ones).

While I don't have the chance of having before and after metrics, I
find that this analysis gives me a stronger foundation to start thinking
about the design system I'm going to use with this web.

I saved some designs from Dribble to get some visual inspiration.

So this it folks! The fourth iteration on this process.

See you in two weeks

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