My online portfolio has gotten a mini-makeover! Last year I updated the header to include one of my favorite doll design illustrations. This summer I simplified the images on the front page and updated the copy on some of the pages. This week I updated the portfolio. Did you know I DIY the whole thing? I’ve never hired anyone to help me design the website, which is probably why it has a rather non-professional look to it. So, what’s the story?
When I first started freelancing ten years ago I realized that I needed a way to promote my services. At the time the internet was just becoming a big thing. Social media sites like Facebook and Linkedin were brand new and blogging was taking off. Today there are excellent, free, portfolio sites like Coroflot and Behance, but back then you had to pay a fee to show your work online. I seem to remember Coroflot was available but the interface was strange, and every site on the web cropped images into a square, which doesn’t work for the majority of my illustrations. That’s all changed now, but I still maintain this website. I like the autonomy it provides. It’s mine. I can do what I want with it, to a point.
How Does it Work?
A working website consists of three elements: hosting, platform and theme. The hosting service places your domain name on the web and keeps it there so people can visit. The platform allows people to read and navigate around your site. The theme is a program that creates the look of the site, and in some cases offers some special features. Hosting is pretty straight-forward, but the platform and theme can be difficult to navigate.
In 2010 I chose a platform called WordPress because it was the best one around, but if I started all over today I probably would not choose it. It works well for blogging but isn’t great for presenting artwork in a portfolio setting. I continue to use it due to the dreaded LEARNING CURVE. Learning to use WordPress took months, required reading a book on the subject and a lot of online searching when it went haywire. Teaching myself how to organize and navigate Squarespace or any of the other programs now available could take weeks. I just don’t have the time.
Several years ago, after a lot of experimenting with free themes and some paid ones, I settled on a theme called “Canvas” by WooCommerce. It’s main claim to fame is that you can customize it to look the way you want. As with WordPress I probably wouldn’t use it now, but I’ve got it just the way I like it, and changing to a different one will induce the dreaded learning curve seen above, but multiplied by 20. It’s more of a learning whirlpool, because it sucks you in, spins you around, and generally makes your life crazy for days.
A couple of years ago the Canvas theme was updated. They are phasing out some features and bringing in new ones. The portfolio areas of the website look totally different now because of this. I like the new, clean, layout, but I miss the slide-show feature on the old version. I have emailed the Woo “Computer Ninja” support but I’m still waiting to hear back. Perhaps by the time you read this I’ll have fixed the problem and will be working on more updates.
There’s a screenshot of my new doll design portfolio page above. I think it looks pretty sweet!
Even though my online portfolio will never look as slick as I would like, I’m still very proud of it. I am not inclined toward computer engineering, nor am I especially patient, so working on my website takes me right out of my comfort zone. Yet I think it’s worth it, even though it makes me crazy sometimes! I am able to update my site myself when I have new designs to share, and I can blog when I have something new to say. I like my little website, even though it requires frequent maintenance.
If you have some time please click around the newly updated site and let me know what you think in the comments below. There are many things I can’t do, but I would still love some feedback.