October 9, 2010

A Link to the Past

I think today is a great day for me to reminisce about the humble beginnings of this page of mine. Would you care to join me in this time-traveling journey? Great! Get the keys to your DeLorean, we’re traveling back to the distant year of 2006. 

Things back then were very different from what they are today; people were still getting over the Star Wars prequels and made phone calls with devices other than the iPhone. Meanwhile, I was going to attend a college interview and was asked to bring a physical portfolio book, so I got my hands dirty. The whole process was a lot more fun than I had anticipated, so figured I’d create an online version of it, just for the heck of it.

Oh, the old physical portfolio, so ancient and outdated!

With absolutely no knowledge of coding and even less money to spend, I decided to get a customizable blog and make do. I looked for alternatives, but decided to stay with Blogger since I had used it before and had zero complaints about it.

So, work on my “online portfolio page” began in 2007. I immediately realized my nonexistent coding skills meant the online version would look nothing like the physical counterpart, but I didn’t let that stop me! I got to work and created a few simplistic mock-ups, based on what I assumed I would be able to reproduce through code tweaks.

Eventually, everything was up and running. I didn’t use the page as a blog; it consisted, pretty much, of a handful of pages and a lightbox gallery, with little to no information about any of the work.

There was never a definitive first version of the site, since both the content and the actual page were always being worked on, but the journey had begun!

Version 1
Well, I said it looked nothing like the physical version...

The second version came about in late 2007. Visually, it was pretty similar to the previous version, but structurally, it was very different. The menu moved to the top (this time a lot less cluttered) which meant I had only one, super wide column. This was a conscious decision: I always wanted to keep the page as simple and light as possible.

The biggest change, though, was that I had decided to give each individual piece of work its own page, something which allowed me to write about it and felt less cheap than the bare-bones lightbox gallery on the previous version. It also meant the page would be more dynamic, with regular updates, rather than a static one.

Finally, and in the advent of the individual pages, I invited you all to comment to your heart’s content.
This version also introduced, later on, the RSS feed.

Version 2
Not a drastic change, but one that would define the future of the page!

The third version happened months later, in 2008, with no important new features, but a few important tweaks under the hood and a brand-spanking new look.

This update happened very early because I got tired of the two-year-old look of version 2 and also because I had created a new visual identity I was eager to put to work. This was the first time I had taken some serious time to figure out the right look, and although a bit tuned up, it remains the one I use today. Still, the page was the same as before, only with a face-lift.

I wanted to do a full revamp, but it'll have to wait some more. Cleaner and fresher look will do for now”, I wrote back then.

Version 3
Very clean and white. I initially wanted to distance myself from this look for V4, but I really like clean and minimalistic layouts.

Later that year, unfortunately, the service I used to host the images on started to make my artwork look like crap through horrible image compression. I was a bit mad and disappointed, and since I didn’t have the time to look for an alternative, I slowly stopped posting. My plan was to get some free time, solve the issue, and resume posting, but I ended up postponing the task numerous times and left the page unattended for quite a while.

Meanwhile, in the little free time I had, I was working on the full revamp I had been meaning to do for a long time. The driving force behind this overhaul was my desire to use the page as blog rather than just a gallery, which meant I needed to better organize my posts – what had worked well up until this point wasn’t going to cut it, this time.

While it may seem like a pretty simple process, the inclusion of an archive and its seamless integration with everything else that was already in place proved to be an interesting challenge. Obviously, I wanted to keep the navigation as simple as it was before.

I got to play around with many different ideas for site’s visuals, too!

Mockup 1
One of the very first ideas I tried. Not as clean or white, but it stole too much attention from the artwork, so it had to be scrapped.

If version 3 was the one which got a thought-out and perfected logo, version 4 was the one that got a thought-out overall design. This time I designed the page as a whole; there was plenty of reasoning behind the colors used, fonts chosen, general look, etc. I tried to get it to look pretty but unobtrusive; light but memorable.

After some delays, it went online some time ago, this time with a custom domain! No more chained to the simpleton-looking Blogspot address, this time you can find my site on sandrodcpereira.com.

Mockup 2
Another mock-up. This one is very boxy and close to the final version.

As testament to my satisfaction with the current version, I can honestly say that I have no idea as to where to go from here. So, what do I do now?