.: 6 January 2016 :.

Taking A Content-first Approach To Your Design Portfolio

Did you ever get caught up in browsing other people’s beautiful portfolios? Were you ever worried about the aesthetics of your portfolio, instead of the content itself?

Have you been considering hundreds of WordPress themes, before you finished writing your projects? Have you been pushing pixels before completing the content of your portfolio?

If so, you have been ignoring what every design teacher tries to teach you: form follows function. You have focused on form, but ignored your portfolio is all about the content.

Your portfolio’s design is nothing more than wrapping paper, whereas your content is the gift itself.

Your wrapping paper is just a way to present your gift. It helps to create a more enjoyable experience, but it is meaningless without the gift itself. At the end of the day, people will forget how you packed it, but they will remember what was inside.

Did you ever worry about how to wrap a gift before you bought it? I bet you didn’t. That is because the gift itself determines how you wrap it. The shape of your gift, its dimensions and even the weight, all impact how you decide to wrap it. Only when the gift is in your hands you can make this decision. The same goes for your portfolio.

It does not make sense to think about how you pack your portfolio’s content, before you have created the content.

You shouldn’t be worried about the design if your content is not finished. First of all, because you cannot make informed design decisions without the content. There is no way you can pick a theme that fits your content before you know what that content is.

Secondly, because if you do pick a theme first, it will dictate how and what you will eventually write. You will become a slave of your own theme. You will write meaningless testimonials, just because your theme reserved space for it. You won’t even consider starting a blog just because your theme does not support it.

Instead of taking a design-first approach, you should take a content-first approach.

You need to stop thinking that all of the content is already in your head. You need to stop thinking that you might as well write it down after finishing the design. You are fooling yourself. The gap between content in your head and content on paper is huge. Content in your head does not give you permission to start thinking about the design. Don’t underestimate the value of actually writing it down.

Turn on off your Wifi. Put your phone in “do not disturb mode”. Open a minimalist text writer in fullscreen. Start writing.

Write your case studies. Write your about page. Write your contact page. Collect your project’s photos. Create mockups. Finish all your portfolio’s content before you switch your Wifi on again.

© 2018 Martijn van den Broeck
All rights reserved.