Portfolio 1.1

At the tail end of January this year I finally launched this website as my portfolio.

The original launch was a personal milestone, not only because I’d had this domain for 4 years prior to putting anything worthwhile online, but mostly because I learnt a lot.

I’d learnt to configured my own VPS with Linode, picked up nginx rather than Apache, discovered Symphony CMS over WordPress (for this project at least), tried my hand at responsive web design, and experimented with LESS on a live website.

Since then, I’ve found there were little details I just wasn’t happy with.

Version 1.1

Bits of the previous design were simply too loose with occasional artifacts of ideas I’d had and later rejected. The typography in blog posts was difficult to read at times too, which was worrying.

Additionally the CSS was, quite frankly, terrible. As I mentioned I was getting to grips with reponsive design as well as LESS, and this could all be done better.

Early evening on Friday I decided to start again.

I’d designed the January layout using in Fireworks. I had the ‘basic look’ of my design already, so this time I did everything in browser.

I’m now much more familiar with LESS. Built my own grid.less loosely based on semantic.gs, various LESS mixins for typography and structure, and it was all very painless.

I was able to redesign the entire website in an evening. The markup was already in place (with a few changes here and there), and I’ve become quite fond of Symphony CMS so no need to rebuild the CMS.

The final result in my opinion is much better.

What next?

I intend on writing some posts on what I’ve learnt over the last 3 months which led to the redesign, such as my better understand of LESS and responsive web design.

As before, there’s still stuff to do here. The responsiveness of the website is by no means perfect, in fact, its not finished.

The best time to start was last year. Failing that, today will do.
Chris Guillebeau

I’ve become a big believer of getting it shipped. Thats what I did in January, so this redesign was probably inevitable.

But this has meant at least I’ve had a portfolio online for 4 months, and it hasn’t been sat in my Dropbox unpublished as I’m too busy working on client projects.

Looking forward to the next re-design in August.

Proudly Powered

I recently wrote about how I was replacing WordPress when it came to my personal projects, depending on the project.

I also last month made the switch from WordPress to Symphony CMS, while rebuilding my portfolio.

I have tonight launched my latest ‘project’, Proudly Powered, another WordPress resource for writers and developers.

Just another WordPress site

The website, as you’d expect, will focus on regular blog posts related to WordPress such as news, tutorials and snippets.

While I mentioned that I would be dropping WordPress as my ‘go to CMS’ I haven’t completely turned my back on it. It is of course a very nice tool.

Staying up to date

By regularly maintaining a WordPress site, which i no longer do as my portfolio is now using Symphony CMS, I’m able to stay in the loop regarding WordPress developments.

This is of course very hand for my client work, in which WordPress driven websites are a common request, and so it’s good to be able to rely on first hand experience.

Shameless Plugging

Paul Boag makes no excuses about taking full advantage of his popular web design blog to drive potential clients to his business, this is no different.

I hope that writing about WordPress will not only improve my knowledge and my content writing skills, but also potential generate interest in my web design work.

I’m not saying I will spamming the hell out of blog posts by any means, but getting some recognition is no ad thing.

Running websites, not building them

The simple fact is that it’s nice to actually be running a website of my own rather than building someone else’s. Running fan sites in my teens is what actually got me into Web Design.

Using the many ‘best practice’ theories, from schemas to the latest and greatest CSS3 techniques on a production website I own is a real pleasure.

Lots to do

For now, the website is using the default Twenty Eleven theme… lazy I know.

But as far as I’m concerned it’s a fully functioning, responsive WordPress theme that is not an eyesore (some may disagree, of course).

By not fixating on the design or ‘brand’ I intend to jump write in with the content, and get things rolling and work on a design over time as the website grows into something.

Prestashop Starter Theme / Boilerplate

I do a lot of work using both PrestaShop and WordPress and a big difference I find between the two is support for developers.

As it stands, Prestashop Theme developers have to hack away at the default theme each time they begin a new project. In contrast WordPress Theme developers have a choice of several starter themes available if they’d prefer to not work on TwentyEleven yet again.

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I have used Prestashop as my e-commerce platform of choice for around 2 years now, and over this time I’ve created several complete stores, a number of custom modules and core changes all while tearing my hair out because of a lack of documentation.

PrestaDB header design example

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