Portfolio Redesign Part 1: Ideas
Exploring Gatsby for self-expression.
My current portfolio (opens in a new tab) is written in Jekyll with a premade theme I found on GitHub. I have had many different versions over the years1, most of which I have found some boilerplate online and customized it2.
It's nice enough, but I didn't design or build this. I just edited a template and there it was. Finished portfolio. That's it. Right?
Losing my job was the best thing to happen to me as a dev for a variety of reasons. Having the job in the first place and flailing was also one of the best things to happen to me. I learned so much by struggling daily with the tasks I needed to do. Once laid off and stepping back a bit, I took the opportunity to learn and build stuff and get better as a developer. I did some hard (opens in a new tab) things (opens in a new tab), some fun (opens in a new tab) things (opens in a new tab), and took up some courses to learn algorithms (opens in a new tab) and system design (opens in a new tab).
I've leveled up even more so than just a couple months ago (opens in a new tab). I have confidence. So I feel like it is beyond time to expand my skills and rebuild my entire portfolio from scratch.
I don't know how I came upon Brittany Chiang's portfolio (opens in a new tab) but I am glad I did. I am struck by the animations, the design, the aesthetic. It is right up my alley. The problem is I am not skilled enough at design to pull this off.
So instead of just straight up forking this and editing it, I downloaded the zip to my machine and went through the code, looking at the package file to see what was installed. It's a Gatsby site, which I am familiar with, so I looked at the config, the webpack config, and more. I even asked a question (opens in a new tab) about a webpack config I didn't understand in the repo and when answered, went looking deeper for documentation on the limitations of webpack server-side rendering.
I am not ripping this off. I will do my own design and make it nice, going just slightly above my comfort level.
Gatbsy boilerplate is easy to get running and configurable. Then it is up to you to make it your own. I am using the gatsby-starter-default Starter (opens in a new tab) and going from there.
Make a portfolio that is a true expression of yourself. Programming is in a lot of ways a creative field, so use your creativity!
I would steer away from using a template found online -- to me, it's pretty apparent when these are used. I understand using them for people who aren't web developers, but if you are a web developer show off your skills!
That's good enough reason for me to grow up and get my hands dirty.