Website Development & Personal Brand

The development of my website is the product of a lot of thinking and research through this whole semester. This post highlights a few of the key decisions that led it to where it is now.

Challenge

My old site was not speaking to the right people. My direction as a designer has taken shape over the last few years, where I want to use my skills in design agencies to tackle tricky problems through design. When I made the old site, I thought I’d be going into production.

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While the website is not bad, it is not right for what I need. It demonstrates very little of my process. It highlights none of my most recent work, or design agency experience. The projects are inconsistent with each other – there is not common thread between them. Simply put, the messaging is confused.

I needed to create something new that clearly demonstrated these things, so I choose to use Squarespace to create a whole new website.

Inspired by my research into portfolio sites and industry sites, I knew wanted to create a site that was extremely simple and stripped back. I wanted each word or image that was hosted on my site to have a purpose and tell a future employer something about me.

Clear Messaging & Point Of View

When I had been looking up design companies and job descriptions, one of the key lines that appeared time and time again was “must have a clear point of view on their work”. With my website, I wanted to make sure that I reflecting who I was and my work with clarity. This clarity begins as soon as the user enters the website.

“I use video, animation and interaction design to explore great ideas.”

This statement reflects who I am and what I do. Enter the site, and you should see the work that backs up this statement.

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Layout Reflecting The Message

I wanted clarity in my words but also in the layout. After my early prototypes felt cluttered, I chose to have a landing page with two options – ABOUT & WORK. There is purposefully nothing else you can do on this page, with an aim to guide the user to the most important information on the site.

About Me Section

Once you enter the About Me section, there is a one page scroller with a selection of information. After chatting to Atto Partners and MU/DAI about some of the reasons they hired me, I learnt that part of their reasoning to take me on was in my ability to slot in a team and work well with others. For this reason, I chose to bring out my personality and design perspective in writing and images.

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Skills And Experience 

To bring attention to my skills and previous experience, my resume and links to company websites are there for a deeper look into what I’ve done.

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Content Curation

From my primary research with designers and my research into company websites, I saw the importance of highlighting the process of the work and not just the pretty pictures of the finished product. In addition to this, I found that the most effective sites had a few select case studies, instead of being saturated with projects.

For these reasons, I chose five key projects to write about in my WORK section. I chose to add my showreel as part of this section; because of my focus on design industries, I want the process to be font and centre in my work. I wanted the site to feel curated with intent, and not just a blast of all of my work. In addition to this, it was important that each case study reflected the opening statement on my site, “I use video, animation and interaction design to explore great ideas.”

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Process Driven Case Studies

To demonstrate my process, I follow a general layout of “Challenge – Approach – Production” to bring the user through the different stages of the projects. As each project is different, these varied from time to time.

From my experience with MU/DAI, I learnt a lot about wire framing and prototyping websites. One of the most important things I learnt was to write down the goals for any web content, before populating it. This allows you to focus the words to achieve their goal, and to write within constraints. This practice has filtered down to the development of my own site, as I slowly built up the content.

In developing each of these, I blocked out the copy in a word processor, and designed the layout separately. As I got closer to the final designs, I began to filter in the content of what I had written.

Early Iterations

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I learnt the importance of highlighting my role at each stage of the project from my industry feedback, so I made sure to include this in the case studies. For example, I created a short gameplay breakdown to highlight my role at each stage of the production of Fed Up Food.

Final Case Study Example

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Design Choices

Using a template from Squarespace allows you to customise the typography. When I was filling out the layout, I left the typography as it was but in a point where I was happy with the content, I decided to personalise my site more. Below are some old typography tests:

I took a look at some sites that I liked the design of, with an aim to achieve an elegant and sophisticated finish on my own site. Many used light serif typefaces for their headings, giving a clean, sharp finish. There was often a bolder logo image, and light supplementary text.

With this in mind, I mimicked these stylings on my page using Effra for my main headings, Regular Proxima Nova for Sub Headings and Light Proxima Nova for the body text. 

For colouring I used a soft red picked from the imagery in my home page in the buttons and headings, and everything else was black and white to keep it simple.

The use of my visualise capture image on the home page was first to provide the viewer with a hint of my personality and a hint of what is to come upon entering the site. This imagery is reflective of the largest piece of work I’ve been on this semester-Portrait Of The Artist. This is also to act as a conversation starter, to talk about the technology that I have been using to create my work.

Reading

Najberg, B n.d., ‘The Graphic Designer’s Guide to Portfolio Design, 2nd edition’, Technical Communication, 57, 3, p. 344, Social Sciences Citation Index, EBSCOhost, viewed 21 May 2016.

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