I developed a portfolio website (this website!) from scratch, both as an information visualization and a self-reflective art piece.
I set out to design portfolio that reflected both my work and my mind. In one sense, my portfolio is a data visualization of the work I’ve done. As I grow as a designer in different areas, particularly information design, I decided to restructre this information to show both the breadth and depth of my work. In another sense, my body of work is a reflection of who I am; the point of view that informs my sense of design and way of thinking.
My design needs converge in my appreciation of the “affordances” of old technology. For example, each usable button and panel of the original Nintendo is accentuated with embossed plastic.
Also, in Star Trek: The Next Generation, the ship’s user interfaces (LCARS) have bright buttons, with thin spaces in between, on a dark background. The boxy aesthetic of the era emphasizes each usable component, much like a data visualization emphasizes the actionable contours of a datum, and reflects my inclinations towards play, discovery, and the analog as a designer.
Design and development
I began with a blank WordPress theme, customizing each page with PHP and CSS.
Home page as sketchbook entrance
The analog counterpart of the digital portfolio is the sketchbook. The grid of the home page (top of previous page) references a dotted sketchbook page, augmented into data visualization; each dot is a link to recent portfolio piece. I used D3.js to set up the “sketchbook” grid on the home page.
A reminder of the designer “within” the sketchbook, a video capturing a moment of my sketching process comprises the background of the page. The video explodes with glitches every few seconds yet persists, reflecting both old finicky technology and my embrace of failures and distortions as part of the process of design.
I traveled to my favorite coffee shop and filmed myself working in my sketchbook. To create the glitches, I used Adobe Premiere to arrange the clips and an outdated version Ademux to create the glitches with a technique called datamoshing:
Datamoshing involves the removal of certain types of frames, which contains pixel transition information, from video files. When removed, a repetitive-type glitch is created.
Portfolio overview as information design
The “My work” page serves as an overview of the type of projects I like to work on. Inspired by Schnidermann’s mantra “overview first, then details on demand,” my portfolio pieces are categorized into stacked bar charts at the top of the page with individual pieces below.
Old technology aesthetic
The website embodied boxy, retro feel. I used a mono-space font for text acting as metadata and aligned nearly all content to the left, a reference to old computer terminals.
One challenge throughout design / development was managing images of different aspect-ratios. In particular, I needed a way to display portrait and landscape images with a consistent width and height. I was inspired by the practice of wheatpasting (below) to embrace repetition:
Portrait images on the “My work” page are repeated along the x-axis: