When I first set out to make my portfolio website I knew I needed spend some time researching website building platforms and/or programs before deciding which one would be the best for me. Though I’m in graphic design, web design and coding are things I am the least familiar with, and I knew I would not be able to accomplish the look I want by building a new website from scratch all on my own.
I had tried a program called Macaw a while back that basically works like Photoshop or Illustrator but for web design. However, I found it difficult to design responsive web pages through the program, and that is something I knew I’d need for my portfolio site. Next I tried the free online website builder, Wix, and while it did have a decent amount of options and was fairly to use, navigating the interface was a bit tedious, the font options were very limited, and there was no way to get rid of the “Wix” logo on the webpage without paying for an upgraded version. After that I tried Squarespace, which seemed like a much nicer version of Wix, but it also felt like the themes and options available were not customizable beyond a certain point, and I didn’t want a website that looks exactly like other ones out there. So ultimately I decided to go with WordPress. I had some experience with it before and I liked that there was an option to add custom CSS to change the look of the website beyond the main theme options. It felt like it might be more work to build everything out, and I might have to pay a bit for a theme and to add my domain, but in the end it was worth it.
For the design, I knew I wanted something that was easy to navigate and minimal in design so that the images would grab the viewers attention more. There were a few different reading from this semester that mentioned the importance of unity, focal point, and keeping the page easy to scan, which I kept in mind while designing the site. After quite a good amount of time searching, I finally found a theme, Blask, through WordPress that fit what I was looking for. The navigation was simple text set to the left, with room for a logo above it, and then the project pages all displayed as images on the right 2/3 of the page and had titles that would appear over the image when the cursor hovered over it. I was able to set all the text to black and the background to white to keep with the minimal theme, and allow the color to come from the images. I also designed a logo for myself that works well in black on white background.
For the actual project pages, the main challenge was simply compiling photos and images that would best showcase the work without becoming too distracting or overwhelming. I also remember in one of the readings the importance of sort of telling a story with the images to help the viewer understand the whole concept better, so I tried to do that as best I could with each project. Also, for anyone interested in learning more about each project I added an explanation paragraph at the top of each project page.
Overall, I am very happy with how my portfolio site currently looks, even though it is not quite complete yet. I am most pleased with the design and navigation option for each page and the image galleries. Some things I’m not quite happy with at this point are some of the written text, some images, and other small details to change with the theme. Going forward I plan to set some time aside to better plan out the “stories” I want to show and tell for each project page and possible re-photograph some images. I would also like to go through the theme a bit more and change some small details, like the title text that appears over images, and I might possibly try to find better gallery view options. While the galleries I have set up are good for showing the images one at a time, I think I would also like to try showing larger images together or all on one page.