It’s about time…
So finally I’ve redesigned my website. It’s been about three and a half years since the last version of laurakalbag.wpengine.com (still around at http://2009.laurakalbag.wpengine.com) and that’s a site I designed before I finished university, before I even started freelancing full time. To be fair, it took a while for me to hate it (not that usual kind of as-soon-as-it’s-launched-I-hate-it problem us designers often have) but that’s far too long for a portfolio site to be hanging around. Since then we’ve had a huge shift to mobile design, then web fonts, then responsive design, and I wasn’t practicing what I was preaching on my own site.
I’d done a little update when I got hold of a Typekit account, got some fancy fonts on there, which temporarily quenched my thirst for a redesign, but it was downhill from there. I kept updating the portfolio in the hope that people would see it for the work, not the site, and I added a WordPress blog with a default theme to house my ramblings, albeit in a brandless design. Then I starting being embarrassed about it, the grunge textures and simplified layout. So I had the genius idea that I’d stop updating it. If I did that then I’d be bound to redesign it so I could add more projects…but no, a lack of time and inspiration left the site stagnating for nearly another year.
Designing for yourself is really hard
Here’s the thing. I’m a client designer. I love the challenges and variety brought to me by clients, and working on new projects, and at that distance it’s much easier to understand how to best represent them. Designing for yourself is completely different. You want to accurately portray yourself and you want a site that showcases what you do. That’s pretty intimidating in an industry where your friends will judge every pixel!
I struggled with the idea that I needed to showcase work. In theory, the best way to do that is to have a very neutral, simple design where the work does the talking. The problem is, a very clean and minimal site could never accurately represent me. I love colour and decoration and striking design. I had to find a way to balance the two. I had this little idea where each page would be themed to fit the colours of the project (or subject of the blog post.) This would result in a site that had a huge variety of strong colour. I knew that this meant I had to reign in the other design elements (typography, layout, texture, shapes), making them simple and letting the colour show through without seeming too overwhelming. Whether I’ve achieved this, I’m still not sure…
And of course it’s not perfect
Since I started the redesign process, I knew that I’d have to let go early on. To be fair, I’m used to doing this on client projects; you can’t be fiddling around perfecting every pixel forever. There’s not enough time or money in the world to pay for that. So there will be parts of this site that are a bit wonky around the edges. There’s some dodgy hover styles and a half-baked attempt at retina support that I’d like to improve upon, but I fancied that I could iterate upon these things once they’re live, and benefit from the wisdom of my friends.
Now to get on with it
I could go on forever about my decisions and choices and ifbutsmaybes so I’ll cut it short here. I might write some more posts about the design at some point, but I wouldn’t want to bore you to death…