Treat your portfolio like a side project


October 1, 2019


March 21, 2020

Reading Time

6 min

A great personal website is a thing of beauty. It's an experience that you build specifically to represent yourself. It's a tool that tells others who you are, what it's like to work with you, and what kinds of work you want to do next. But it is hard to not only just get a site up, but be happy with the results of the design and keep it up to date.

If I'm honest, I've had a hard time keeping my own website up to date and looking fresh. A few months ago I was interested in starting a side project, you know, something that I call the shots on creatively. After a couple of weeks of thinking about things, I could work on I thought about my own website and how I wished it was something I was more proud of. That lead me to choose to make my website my new side project. Here's what I discovered and why I think it's worth it for you to invest in your own website.

It's your internet home

I like to think of my own website as my digital home. While one of the benefits of renting is letting someone else control the hard stuff, one of the drawbacks is the fact that you have little control over the system.

Dribbble, Behance, and Instagram are great for exposure, but we only have control over what we post. It can be hard to make your work stand out because so many people, at various levels of skill, can post similar content, and sometimes even using the same lay-flat clay iPhone mockup you both downloaded for free. If you want your work to stand out you should look for ways to create an experience that takes your visitors on a deep dive of your work. My suggestion is that you create a home to place these deep dives on, where you control the way the content is displayed, as well as how much of the work you dive into. It's all up to you and the ideas you feel best to represent your visual style.

It's a place to experiment

I treat my website as a little science lab of ideas both visually and in code. If you don't know how to code, learn by building your first website. Want to become a better writer (I do), then start a blog and share your perspective on things that relate to your work. Want to get better at branding or web design? Create your own personal brand and bring it to life online with a new website. At the end of the day, you can do whatever you want with your site, so why not treat it as an experimental platform that helps you practice while developing new skills and abilities.

If it looks great, you look great

When you own your own website you have the opportunity to create a memorable experience that acts as the first touchpoint for your brand. Your users won't get lost in a sea of other designers or recommended posts, they will be focused on your work.

Let's make our next side project our own home on the internet and create a memorable experience that represents us. Reach out on Twitter once you wrap it up, I would love to take a look.

Related reading

Tobias posted a great article on why personal websites matter. Read it here

Shawn Park wrote a great article about why he updates his portoflio each year. Read it here

Here goes a shamless plug, but I also documented how I have redesigned my portoflio through the years. Check it out