Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Final Screen Designs

Please see my final portfolio screen designs below:

Home page

Inner page

Work page

A PDF with more details can also be seen here.

Monday, 9 March 2009

Portfolio initial screen designs

I have whittled my many ideas down to two. My personal favourite is the 2nd, by far - but I wanted to get across the various thought processes I've been through. I'm open to suggestions/criticisms for both of the ideas, and how I could compromise in order to gain the best from my portfolio.

Idea 1:

Idea 2:

I will shortly be posting the ideas on Das Forum, so please comment on them there.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Competitive Analysis

Professional Portfolio - 'Things That are Brown'

This portfolio has an overall professional feel, with a somewhat personal touch through the playful graphics in the logo and on the left hand side.

The first thing that my eye went to was the small blurb about the company, as it was highlighted by a different background colour and a larger font. This introductory paragraph seems common on portfolios, giving an overall impression of what the designer/company is about. This could be a key attraction to potential clients, and as such it's important that it's right.

My first criticism is the number of featured works on the home page. There isn't one or two pieces of work to invite the user in. Having this large number of works could push users away as they don't know where to look first. However, the prominence of the 'View Recent Work' button is good, as it leads the user on through the site. It may be better to have a specific home page, rather than having the portfolio page as the introductory page.

The 'About' page is a good example of keeping a portfolio personal. By letting clients get to know the company in this way, it helps form a relationship and an association even before contact is made.

In terms of the structure of the site, it is relatively simple, with only a few pages. This helps keep the site to the point, which is definitely a strength.

The inclusion of a blog is a common occurrence portfolio sites, and it's something that I like to see - even if it is more of designer to designer rather than designer to client. However, whilst I would consider adding this in the future, it's not something I'd like to do at the moment - I don't feel I have the time or commitment to do it. An outdated or uninteresting blog could do more harm than good.

On a negative is the fact that the code for the site doesn't validate. For me, this is a priority, as it shows you know what you're doing with the code. A prospective employer wouldn't look kindly on such an oversight.

On the whole, the site is a good example of a portfolio - being both professional and personal, and effectively displaying an array of work. It also provides a good means for contact - although more social networking links, e.g. Twitter, can again encourage potential clients to familiarise themselves with you.

Student Portfolio - 'IAMJAMIEWRIGHT'

The first thing that attracts attention on this site is the flash video at the top right. Whilst this shows technical expertise, to me it just seems a bit egocentric, and unnecessary. It could be considered to be a distraction from the important bit - the content.

The design uses a variety of colours, which although very different, compliment each other quite well. There could, however, be an issue of contrast with the purple and the lighter purple writing on the logotype.

The screen real estate seems rather unbalanced, with a large area at the top which contains little or no relevant content. This is especially noticeable on a small screen - such as that on my Macbook.

The content of the site is quite colloquial in style. Whilst this adds a friendliness to the site, it also takes away from the professionalism in some ways - particularly in the use of some vocabulary.

The display of the work itself is set out over three separate pages - levels 1, 2, and 3. This is a little inaccessible to those unfamiliar with what each of the levels are.

Another problem is the display of the actual work, which is not very visual. For me, this is uninviting - I don't want to have to read a large blurb before seeing what I'm there to see. The final product is what really matters.

A key element missing from the site is a way in which to contact the designer. This is key in looking for potential clients, as it provides a method through which they can make enquiries and approach the designer for work.

As with the professional portfolio, the code doesn't validate. Again, it is strange that this is not a priority - it compromises the designer's professionalism.


For me, the differences between the professional and student portfolio is huge. It's important that I take into account the differences whilst considering the development of my design - use the strengths and avoid the weaknesses. Another good resource I will be using is Smashing Magazine's '10 Steps to the Perfect Portfolio Website'.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Portfolio - Delivery Requirements

In order for users to successfully visit my portfolio, as well as ensuring easy maintenance, a number of technologies will be required.

1. Content Management System (CMS)
In order for me to regularly update my site with new work, as well as provide an easy way of customising it for each situation, a CMS will be used. As yet, I'm undecided on the specific CMS I'll use, although Textpattern is a favourite due to it's inclusion in our current CMS assignment. A sub-requirement of this is PHP 4.3+ and MySQL 3.23+. Currently, my hosting package gives me PHP 5.2.5 and MySQL 5.0.67, so there are no issues with this. PHP will also be used for my contact form.

2. XHTML 1.0 Strict
eXtensible HyperText Markup Language will be used to markup my website, giving structure to the content as well as marking up many elements such as links, headings, etc. It will be a priority to ensure that my XHTML is not only valid, but also semantically clear and well structured.

3. CSS 2.1
Cascading Style Sheets will be used to give style to my portfolio, setting out the presentation of the content structured in my XHTML. The layout of the page will be defined by the CSS as well. As with XHTML, it will be key to ensure my CSS is valid, as well as being clearly laid out to ensure simple maintenance.

4. POP3
POP3 will be used to deliver email messages received through the contact form on the website, and any emails received directly as a result of my email address being published elsewhere.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Portfolio - Target Audience

My Portfolio site has – as I perceive it – 2 main audiences:

1: Industry Professionals.
These will be my primary audience - the kind of people that I'll want to look at my site and say 'Hmm, I'd like to hire that guy'.

Age: 30+
Gender: Unknown
Occupation: Senior Designer / Management
Online Experience: Vast - strong knowledge of web technologies and their use
Online Frequency: 8+ hours/day
Online Location: Work and home
Connectivity: High speed connection
Types of sites visited: Design sites/blogs, other portfolios, wide range of sites in industry research.

(Fictional) Specific Profile:
Paul is a Senior Designer at a design company based in Leeds. After putting an advert out for a Junior Designer role, he's received a wide range of CVs. Having looked through and whittled the candidates down, he's decided to take a look at the candidates online portfolios. Paul's looking for something that immediately strikes a chord with him - he doesn't have time to look through the sites thoroughly. He's also looking for something done professionally, without any errors in the content or the backend code - his experience tells him this is an important thing to look for.

2. Other Students
A lot of future students/other current students will be visiting my sites - just like I have visited the sites of those who have gone before.

Age: Various
Gender: Mostly Male
Occupation: Student
Online Experience: Large - studying web design
Online Frequency: 8+ hours/day
Online Location: College and home
Connectivity: High speed connection
Types of sites visited: Design sites/blogs, other portfolios, wide range of sites in industry research

Specific Profile:
Jonny is a 20 year old, looking into studying web design. After visiting the new FdA web site, he's having a look through the work of previous students. He wants to see the kind of work he might be asked to do, as well as see the quality of the work completed on the course. This, he feels, is the most important apsect to a design course and he is looking to be impressed.

Saturday, 31 January 2009

Goals for my Portfolio

1. My portfolio will use standards compliant XHTML 1.0 Strict and CSS 2.1.
This is something that I'd do with all websites created, however it's so important that I consider it to be my primary goal. It's important to use these technologies to ensure my site is as accessible as possible, as well as being able to make my site available in different contexts, such as print/mobile. This is measurable through using the W3C's online validation services.

2. Meet level A of the W3C Accessibility Guidelines

Accessibility is an important issue in web design. I believe my portfolio is a key place to show potential employers/clients that I care about accessibility and think about it when creating websites. The W3C guidelines are a great way to assess what I've created and determine whether it's accessible or not. This is an easily measurable goal - a process of sitting down and checking my site against the guidelines one-by-one.

3. Achieve high results in Search Engines.
In order to get my name out there as much as I possibly can, it's important to be high up on search engines. Hopefully this will assist in potential employers seeing my site, as well as showing employers that I have an understanding of search engine optimisation, and how beneficial this is. To measure this, I can regularly check a number of SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) to check where I am.

4. Create a portfolio that is easily updatable and flexible.
This is an important goal to ensure that I can amend my portfolio as needed for various situations. One job may require me to show different things than others. This will probably be done using a CMS in order to make updates easily. The only real way to measure this goal is to look at the site objectively and ask 'is this easily updatable?'.

Thursday, 22 January 2009

The Final Semester

Well, it's hard to believe, but we have now reached the final semester of the course. This, of course, means it's time to start thinking about what's next in life. An important part of this is also considering what I want from the last semester in order to maximise my employability.

I believe one of the most important aspects of the next few months is the SMLP (Self Managed Learning Plan). I have chosen to learn PHP during this, as I feel this is the skill I most need at this stage to increase my employability. In some ways, I'm feeling slightly nervous about having to teach myself something and structuring it myself. However, I feel I've identified some pretty good resources to help me with this so I should be fine. I also appreciate the importance of learning PHP in the long term so it's going to be worth ay extra effort I have to put in to get it right.

I feel another major aspect of the coming semester is the creation of my portfolio. This is very important in encouraging future employment. I have mixed feelings about the process of doing this. Whilst I'm looking forward to having a more professional way of displaying my work, I'm fairly sure it's going to be something I struggle to get 'just right'. The fact that this is going to be the primary way of showing my college work is going to bring out the perfectionist within me.

I believe another key aspect of the coming semester is the final presentation. This will be an opportunity for me to assess what I've done over the past 2 years - where I came from, where I am now, what I've learnt, and what I haven't. It will also be a good way to further my presentation skills and experience of speaking in front of people.

Over the final semester I'm fairly sure the pressure of having a part-time job as well as ongoing college work may become more apparent. As such, I'm beginning to consider which other commitments I currently have can be sacrificed for a short time in order to maximise what I can get out of the time I have left on the course. I feel that college work needs to be put first for a few months, so I can fully appreciate the time and opportunity I have to further my knowledge.

In terms of employability, I feel I'm getting to a stage where I'd be comfortable putting myself out there for a variety of jobs. PHP is obviously what I've identified as a weak point in my knowledge, but on the whole I feel my skills for employment are almost there - a few tweaks here and there over the coming months and I believe I'll be confident enough. Working part time recently has definitely aided me in this, giving me a range of experience and opening my eyes to weaknesses I can try to combat over the next semester.

Word Count: 498