It’s Alive! New Year, New Portfolio

January 6 2020

Several years ago, I had just launched what was (I think) the third version of my portfolio. If I recall correctly, it was built with Siteleaf. It was one of the first websites I ever made. I was pretty proud of it.

Of course, that version of the website wasn’t very good. So I re-made it. And then I re-made it again, and again, and again.

I don’t know how I got to this point, but I’m excited today to show off the ninth (!!) full re-design of my portfolio.

This version of the portfolio is entirely new. Every case study has been re-written from the ground up. I took a ton of product shots that I hope make every case study feel a little more unique, and demonstrate some of my skills with a camera. In fact, there are a lot more images on this website than I’ve had in any version of my website, ever — but it’s also the fastest portfolio I’ve ever made.

All the images, words, and design work took time. I’ve been working on this website in my spare time for over a year and a half, and I’m excited to finally get it up and live.

In 2019, I completed half a dozen website projects. Only one of them is live today. Sometimes, that’s how the cookie crumbles: you work on something, the client’s plans change, and sometimes a finished project never sees the light of day.

One of those completed projects, though, was the portfolio. I didn’t put it live in December out of superstition. I wanted to come out swinging in 2020 with a new website for my business. I wanted to put a stake in the ground and get the year off to the right start. Here we are.

Some people like reading about the tech behind websites they read. If you’re not into that, skip this section and go right to the next.

If you’re curious about the new portfolio’s tech stack, it’s also all new. I’ve grown exhausted by WordPress and it’s insistence on building websites the way it wants me to build them. Time to try something new.

The new website is built on Craft CMS, which is amazing to work with. It’s insanely fast, thanks to Nginx caching, srcset, and lazy loading images. Craft even enables you to set focal points on images and change their aspect ratios dynamically. (You can even use plugins like Imager to do… magic things, seriously. Just read the readme on Github.) Because Craft is basically a Composer package, the whole production is streamlined from the command line now, too.

I also used Craft on the only client project that did go live last year. Here’s a link to that website and the blog post about it. I’ll repeat what I said there:

Images automatically crop themselves, change their resolutions, and adjust their aspect ratios and layout when the browser size changes. All this happens while the website maintains nearly perfect Google PageSpeed Insight scores.

Absolutely a mind-boggling system to work with. I love Craft.

I would like to thank…

I am indebted to the help of several people who beta tested this portfolio, and would be remiss if I didn’t thank them. To my friends Matt, Peter, and Kassandra, thank you for your feedback! To the family who checked it out, whether you live in Canada or South Africa, thank you. To my friend Jess especially: thank you for poring over every word, talking through some difficult semantics, and inspiring a late-game change that made the website many times better.

Finally, thanks to my amazing wife for spending what was probably an agonizing amount of hours listening to me talk through every single minor detail and decision. You are amazing — and very patient! I love you. Thank you for helping me make decisions when I seemingly cannot.

That’s it. That’s the whole story. If you’re still reading this, you’re probably bored, or dead, or part of some unfortunate science experiment (the cake is a lie, if you’re offered any).

News Work

Portfolio update →

August 3 2018

I’m really behind on this, because my new portfolio has been live for a couple months now, but: I have a new portfolio.

The website is new from top to bottom: new and re-written case studies, new designs, new type, new photography, new About page, a more detailed contact page, and more. (Not much more. I mean, I almost described the whole site. But the home page is new too.)

If you’re curious about my work, I’ve now got seven case studies up, with three more (!!!) in the works. I’d be honoured if you checked the website out.

One other note: my business runs on referrals. If you know anybody who has an interesting web or branding project and needs some help, I’d appreciate it if you connected us.


A Question About Side Projects

March 21 2016

My father is always working on side projects. When I was growing up, he spent weekends building a new shed or deck, fixing the garage door for the thousandth time, or designing a new workshop for himself.

In hindsight, these projects were very specific: they were all large and time-consuming, they began on paper, they often involved learning new skills, and they always required building something with his hands.

It’s that last detail I’ve been having trouble rectifying over the past couple years. Like my father, I’ve spent a lot of time working on side projects. They’re long, time-consuming projects that I do during breaks or quiet periods between client work. They always involve learning new skills.

But they rarely, if ever, involve building something with my hands.

Like my client work, all of my side projects are digital. My father doesn’t build things for a living, so his side projects are an escape. I don’t know if mine are the same thing.

As an industry, we (particularly digital designers) tend to struggle with the echo chamber. Our ideas and creativity feed off each other, and become very self-perpetuating. Our work becomes homogenous.

And most people in our industry recommend side projects as a way to attract potential employers and clients, even though — in that regard — these side projects are actually unpaid spec work.

I’m guilty of digital side projects — I’m working on a huge one right now — but I can’t help but wonder if we’ve collectively missed something.

Would our industry be more rewarding, fulfilling, and creative if we all stepped away from the screen and made tactile side projects that required us to make something with our hands?