My local AIGA chapter was hosting a portfolio review for young professionals last month, and I had just redone the theme and some of the structure for this site, so I decided to sign up. It was a really intense speed-dating session with 2 hours of 15 minute blocks, which gave me feedback from a variety of design professionals: UX and graphic designers, environmental designers and branding art directors, professors and practitioners. I chose to focus mostly on the new site homepage, since that’s what people will see first. I’m still parsing through some of the feedback, but noticed a few common themes.
- Give more of an overview on the homepage to set the tone and introduce myself as a designer, rather than diving straight into projects
- Think about tailoring my intro to different audiences by including a summary for different personae. Include something eye catching: a pull quote, an image, or something else to summarize who I am and what I do. The spoken part worked well, but the website wasn’t communicating everything I was saying in person.
- More visuals where appropriate, less text where possible.
- People were impressed with my typography and design skills, particularly on the project page (less from the landing page items). I have a fairly structured, minimalist style, which many admired but some people thought was overcautious: at least 3 people told me to “go wild” or “let my hair down.”
Response to #1: I think this is very useful feedback (I honestly wasn’t too sure if what I was doing on the homepage worked). I haven’t had time to finish implementing upgrades yet, but the discussion gave me lots of ideas about how to do this better.
Response to #2: Definitely want to do this; working on figuring out how.
Response to #3: This is something I often hear, and always something I struggle with. I know people like the visuals, but when I review a portfolio it is equally (if not more) important to see how someone approaches a problem, and I think words are better at that most of the time. I’m ambivalent about this one, but it’s good to be aware that my pictures/text ratio is often different than other designers, and can be off-putting to some people.
Response to #4: I’m still grappling with this one, and am working on some creative responses that I feel have been productive. I don’t really buy the advice itself (“going wild” in itself is not attractive or interesting to me), but I think I know where the feedback is coming from and it’s been a useful thing to push against and to play with. More on this one later, as those experiments play out.