It’s been almost a year and a half since mikelaroy.ca launched in its current incarnation. It has undergone various minor tweaks here and there as bugs were discovered, but I think it’s time for a change.
Beyond the fact that my blog/portfolio site feels tired (to me at least), I have been wondering about a number of things, which I will outline below. Of course, I would certainly welcome some discussion and constructive feedback from any of you who have something to contribute.
Focusing the Portfolio
My day-to-day web development takes place in the workplace, outside of my home. While I occasionally do some freelance work on my own, by no means do these portfolio pieces truly reflect the work that I do as a developer in my day job. Yes, I list “designer” in my title because I do indeed spend time designing, though it is primarily front-end development where I spend my time.
Most of my own clients have come through relationships; only very few of have come to me by means of this website. Is this something that should I be changing? Up to now, I haven’t made a big deal about focused marketing and SEO for the purpose of getting more clients through the site, since my freelance work is not what sustains me. For the time being, that’s perfectly fine – but perhaps I may be missing opportunities?
The thing that I wonder about is how to better focus this site. Should I be including design/development work that I do at work? Are there generally protocols for doing such things? If yes, then perhaps I should be expanding the scope of my portfolio section here. If no, then I wonder if perhaps I should remove it altogether and focus more on the articles that I write (and writing more of them). Feel free to chime in!
I have made some big strides as a developer since this version was launched. Along with my knowledge of WordPress, my PHP chops have been improving. I think it’s time to use what I’ve been learning and build something new from the ground up.
I have become fairly well-acquainted with such front-end frameworks like Bootstrap, but more so Foundation. I am considering leveraging Foundation as a framework on which to build a new site, particularly for its fantastic grid system and overall good accessibility with its features. Are there other frameworks I should be investigating? Is it time to ditch frameworks?
And speaking of being a designer, I know I have made some strides in this area too. But like any creative person, I find it much easier to design for other people that for my own things. What the best way to overcome this? How much time it worth taking the time to rebrand myself with a whole new look and feel? Is that something to even consider?
Continuing on the theme of PHP and WordPress, I’d like to start using some of the APIs that are out there to add some interest. I’d like to take advantage of some fun APIs like Yahoo’s Weather API to add a weather widget. Also, I’d like to start using some other open source tools to do things like pull in my twitter feed. I’m a developer – it’s time to find a way to do some things like this without the assistance of a contributed WordPress plugin built by somebody else.
Trying New Things
I’ve been making good use of Grunt over the last year or so, particularly since Foundation made it so easy. With a single command using their CLI, you can download a bundled package that starts your new Foundation project complete with Node modules to get you started, with Grunt as the task runner of choice.
I’m particularly keen on getting started with Gulp. While from a distance it’s just another task runner, the reality is much different. I actually did start using it just this week to check it out, and it really does take your workflow to a whole new level. I can’t see myself ever going back. There is a lot in there to learn, and I’m ready to get my hands dirty.
Design. Focus. Frameworks, APIs, workflow tools. There’s a lot of things to be thinking about in redesigning and rebuilding a portfolio site. What are your thoughts?