There it is, my new Online Design Portfolio, um no, Blog – Blogfolio. Right, the evolution was taking the next step.
The Process started with the decision that I really need a Relaunch. The old page didn’t represent my actual level anymore and, in this case, I also changed the Host provider. I joined the WP Community because I came across this amazing template and for several other reasons. While setting up the new page, I had to struggle with the typical “What shall I show” questions and what role the blog should have. I set it up in two weeks and was super excited the moment I disabled the construction mode. Let’s see how it works and what the next evolutionary step could be after.
Building a Design Portfolio is an evolutionary process
The very beginning
I think every Designer has this mixed feeling between shame, fun, and pride when they look at their first Portfolios. My first design Portfolio was a very physical one out of paper and other materials. A collection of artworks to apply for a place to study. I still remember how I traveled with this A0 portfolio in my hand, to the entrance exams across Germany. Today, I am still wondering why they accepted me because this works really didn’t have anything to do with design. I even horribly failed the task “building a paper piggy bank” of the entrance test. After the first semesters, I realized that it doesn’t really matter. On the one hand, these tests haven’t much to do with the reality of being a designer and on the other hand, are making mistakes very positive for understanding things in a practical way.
Steps in between
The second portfolio was more of a quick collection of printed pictures to apply for a part-time job as a photographer. To level up this game and get a step into the “real world” I created the third one after that as a PDF to attach it to my emails. After some negative feedback from friends, I started again from scratch and created another one to apply for Internships. The problem with PDF’s was actually that I also had some video stuff to show and other media projects. I tried to solve this with QR Codes and links to other websites. But soon I understood, that the PDF Format doesn’t fit for my works. I would need an online portfolio. You know what is coming now, right?
You are right! I build a website. The goal of this portfolio was to win a cooperation partner for my bachelor thesis, which surprisingly worked, although I declined again. After I finished the bachelor thesis, I joined a social development program in India and to work abroad as a designer in Auroville. And here I am also writing this post at the moment. After the first three months in Auroville, I wanted to join another Unit, and they asked for a portfolio.
Du dum. I still had this Website, but the problem was that this first online portfolio didn’t represent my actual skills anymore. I didn’t have the time to take care of it after my thesis. Well and the way I build this first website was also not the most comfortable one for doing quick changes. So I created another PDF file, which showed my current work at that time. With that first thought about creating another online portfolio came up.
My web experiences and why I finally joined WordPress
There are several ways of building websites. Setting up this online Portfolio was my fifth web project now. The first one was called “Einwortsatz,” it was a (very ugly designed) blog with a friend and realized with blogger.com. The second web project was a hand-coded (HTML/CSS and a little bit jquery) One Pager for a charity walk we did “Barefoot around the lake of Constance.” After that, I got in touch with a liquor producer of Dessau, who wanted to have a new website and an online shop. I started with that, but he sadly got a heart attack and sold after that his business. The next web project was my first online design portfolio, created with muse from adobe. It took me around three months to build it, while I also studied simultaneously and worked part-time as a photographer.
The bad thing about this page was that I didn’t know at that time how to optimize websites properly for good loading times. I realized that here in Auroville, where I often have bad Internet conditions. Also, the way I made it with muse was not the easiest one for adding Projects, handle the responsiveness, or to do quick changes. I choose muse for the joy of experimenting with website building techniques itself, instead of focusing on the result and my own UX. That was something I wanted to develop now and raise to the current standard.
The CMS WordPress offers due to its dashboard structure and easy way to handle the content. It belongs to the actual website building standards, which were two good reasons why I should join WordPress for this online design portfolio. But I finally made this decision, when I came across this amazing template by coincidence. I knew immediately that I had found what I was looking for.
WTF, a template?
If you are a passionate, creative being, using a template might almost feel like cheating, right? Honestly, I understand that. I have this feeling from the beginning of my career, and I am still trying to do as much as I can on my own. But I know that this is not a good design behavior, it is an artist’s attitude. One of my amazing professors always told us in the class that it is fine, to start with something that is already there, instead of inventing the wheel again and again. It is a question of perspective and can also be viewed in a much more relaxed way.
The design shall improve the world and make the lives of people easier. This is what this template offers me. Especially because I want to show the content of my work and not the website structure itself. So, why not support this Web developer while making him more well-known? Especially, when it is such a great one. Spending some money on his work will also help him to create a living.
One of the positive aspects I liked about this template was that it already had planned a blog and even a shop system. I already had the with to start blogging again so it seemed to be a good idea to use the WordPress blogging system as a base for the website. Decision made. I bought it. To set it up the best way I did some research about running this template, SSL certificates, and ecological host providers to find the best possibility for myself.
Why I moved to Greengeeks
Searching for the right hosting possibility
The first design portfolio was hosted at All-inkl.com because I already had known them from my “Barefoot around the lake of Constance” project. In their private base packed are three domains free and I got one as a support for my project, from my friend Chris at this time. So, I uploaded the website on the server, it was working, and I was happy. Basically, they are okay, and they are 100% co2 neutral. They are using ecological power to run their server systems. For me, the ecological aspect is one of the most important ones.
In order to find the best provider, I did some research about ecological servers and came this way across Greengeeks. They seem to be the best option for ecological hosting at the market right now. Besides the green aspect, they are also offering the installing of the free “let’s encrypt” SSL certificate. They are having one of the fastest servers, and the entrance offers are also okay, which were some more reasons to join them. It was the first time for me that I switched a hosting provider.
Sometimes you need a little help
I needed help from the support of Greengeeks a few times and got a very positive experience. The agents I chatted with, were very friendly and helped me to deal with my issues. They even answered my curious questions about: “How is it in your job? Do you only have one chat or more than one at the same time?”. “We take more than one depending on the number of chats coming in.”. I got a very personal feeling, which raised my faith the first time.
They even answered my curious questions…
The second time I got more trust in Greengeeks, is just a few days ago when I visited the website again. In my first chat, I complained about the prices and the information they give, because nowhere were written, that the costs will rise after the entry period. I suggested in the support chat how this is actually only a design problem, and the agent should give this feedback to the business management. Now it seems like, they got it and changed this on their website. I mean they are not the cheapest one on the market, but when they are honest about pricing, I still will choose them, because of the ecological aspect and the fast loading times. So, thumb up for listening to your customers.
The setup processes
When I was designing the portfolio, I was questioning how the portfolio could be adapted to my actual vision. Which projects should I keep to show the direction I want to go? How can I evolve from a straight “work and skills” portfolio to a portfolio that also shows my own personality and ideas? It should reflect me as the thinking human being that I am and show my skills through the design of my projects. I imagined a website that would combine my design portfolio and the blogging part. The professional side and the personal side, where I could show the rough processes, experiments, studies, lifestyle stories, and more. This Article “Why your next Design Portfolio should be a Blog” from Martijn van den Broeck on Medium strengthened my view.
Before I set up the content of the design portfolio, I limited myself to the number of projects I want to show this time. I selected the Projects for the design Portfolio with the focus of diversity as an Integrated Designer. Diversity in the fields and tools I want to work in. This means in practice: I am interested in Innovation & Research, Media, Interaction design, Branding & Corporate Design, Digital 3D design, Sound/ Music/ Scoring, and Product design. For projects of other fields, I am still having the option of mention them on the blog. So with the plan and a checklist in my hands, I was ready to start.
Setting up a website needs time. Time, which I didn’t have. I was still working full time for EcoPro. I spend some days a week after my job and at the weekends to get started. But this turned out to be exhausting after a while. To get some more work done I took two weeks’ holiday instead. With this time and some more weekends and evenings, I am finally done now and happy that I had the power to make it happen.
Here, now and my course planning
The moment, when you disable the construction mode is super exciting. Now it is visible for the whole world or at least for everyone with internet access. I know that there is not everything perfect right now, but I also know, that it wasn’t to be perfect. A design portfolio will never be “finished”. It’s an ongoing process that needs ongoing “course corrections.”. I recommend reading the second chapter of Rolf Dobellis Book “The Art of the Good Life” if you have doubts about that.
I am proud of my Design Portfolio now. That helps me to be more self-confident in my Job and in looking for the next job opportunities. I think, it fits my actual level and will hopefully develop and grow with me together. The personal blogging part is my own platform to share things now. I want to share what I think, that it could be useful for you. That can be personal experiences, projects, thoughts, or even tools. That’s probably my next goal. The included shop system of this template could be the next evolutionary step after this, for sharing things. But that’s a question for the next course correction. 😀