Insights from building my portfolio from start to end

 It’s 2:00 AM and I’m done building my portfolio. Wait. Let me just fix this minor little tiny issue here. Oh crap. It’s 2:30 and I’m done building my portfolio. I’ve had two very busy days of the last minute edits and now I’m finished. I accepted and accomplished HackingUI and .design’s one month portfolio challenge, while in the beginning of it I wasn’t even sure I have something to show in my portfolio. I know I have a lot of things to fix and a lot of things to improve in, but I’m happy — I wrote thousand lines of code in HTML, CSS and ReactJS, and I designed my own site and didn’t let myself down. My last posts were mostly about insights from the process of creating the portfolio. Now I can sum it up with some insights from the whole experience, from the perspective of the one who’ve accomplished the task.

Less Suitable is more

In the search of inspiration I looked at Awwward’s winner portfolios. If you’re not familiar with the portfolios featuring the Awwward showreel — these are some of the most amazing and overwhelming portfolios ever. Each and every one of them is like a piece of art — breathtaking parallax animations, beautiful typography and a magical storytelling. But (and it’s a big but here) these portfolios are so amazing, they may give you an overwhelming experience, and distract you from knowing the designer and the works shown in them. I decided my portfolio is going to be 100% me — I’m not a CSS wizard, I don’t want my portfolio to be a work of art — I want it to tell who I am, and be as suitable for me as I can make it. This decision led me, for instance, use Arial font as my only font — it was clear and authentic. I like the clearance of this typography choice. I even chose black Arial on white background for the works description. I’m not saying it’s the best typography choice — but it sure is the most suitable one.

Sue me.

Wait, don’t sue me for real. I’m not sure you even have a case here.

Arial ❤️

Designers should code → Designers should know architecture

A bit of introduction about ReactJS — ReactJS is a JavaScript library for UI, developed by Facebook. The main idea of ReactJS (or at least the idea I got from it) is building your interface in components. Every component has its properties and state and it’s autonomic. There’s a lot more to learn about it, but let’s begin with this.

Working in a component state of mind made me look at my sketches and wireframes in a different perspective. My sketch upgraded itself from being a simple sketch of an interface to a coding directive and a component map. When I designed for other people I never noticed the need of explaining the data components behind my design (for example — how the data is saved in the database). Designing for my programmer self, gave birth to the need of explaining how my designs should be programmed and ordered behind the scenes. A designer who knows the way the data is saved and the components are coded is much more easy to work with. Imagine a super-designer who designs both the GUI and the data. I think it’s pretty cool.

Component-oriented wireframe

Use words

One of the first UX takeoffs is that people interpret the meaning of icons much faster than words. So, over time, people tend to use more icons and less words. Maybe it’s because I love reading blogs and write every week, but I acknowledge the power of words. Products are for people, and people use words for talking (and Emojis. Tons of Emojis). Also, when I try to describe myself and give the impression of who I am, I prefer using words and create my own sentences, so the reader will know who I am. After all, isn’t that what portfolios are all about?

Busy people work fast

I realized something by adding a chore in addition to my main chores — you’ll be very efficient when you want to finish your chores to be free to work on your new exciting chores. I reduced my work spans from hours to minutes, in order to be free for my own project. Of course, I still spent hours working on the portfolio, but I wouldn’t have this time if I haven’t worked fast on my other chores.

Do what keeps you up until 2:30 AM

As I mentioned in the beginning, building this portfolio kept me up until 2:30 for couple of consecutive nights. My eyes developed dark eye bags and I woke up a hour and a half later in workdays, but in the end of the process, it was worth every minute, and until the moment I closed my eyes, I was focused as hell. I’m no sleep doctor, but I figured out working on something that excites me gives more energy than sleeping two more hours. I was more energetic the day after working late than I was the day after having an ordinary day and going to sleep at a regular hour. But let’s get this straight — Although I’m pretty sure my theory is right, I’m also pretty sure it doesn’t apply if you work until 6 AM and wake up at 7 Am.

That’s the 2:30 AM me

Conclusion

It’s been a hell of a ride. Building my portfolio involved all my skills — coding, designing, writing and more (and also the collaboration of all of them) I learned a lot, and the result is something I’m proud of. What else can I possibly want from a work I do?

Want to see the portfolio? Have a look!

 

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