Since 2007 I had a website. The first version made during my middle years at art school mainly ended up as link for potential jobs or internships. My second one two years later still coded from scratch. From the versions in 2007, 2009, 2013 and now 2014, my website’s focus and platform changed as my priorities evolved and web technologies such as Jekyll and Github became more popular.
I thought I would be a graphic designer at some point. My first site’s home page read: “Interests include product design and its relation to graphic design and branding.” However, after finishing art school, an internship and a study abroad program, the depth of my work expanded in my 2009 version. My about page listed fashion as a focus, and even divulged a little more about myself. “Originally from sunny California” it enlightened over my intolerance to colder weather, “she toughed it out to graduate while studying at the Rhode Island School of Design.” This version, unlike the first, was not only a portfolio site, but an actual personal website, with extra personality sections such as dance and sketchbook.
Until 2013, my website knew no icons. My 2007 and 2009 websites did not link to Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter or Instagram - only an email was provided. A purest in my early years, as I proudly self-ascertained, using an online service such as Wordpress was never considered. However, as personal website expectations expanded and popular in platforms emerged, my 2013 website became my first, and only, Wordpress site.
I took nearly two months to build. New written and photo content needed attention, while friend and website designer Dean van Dijk in addition to Taras Kalapun, my boyfriend and coding expert, made it work. My third website offered even more personality bits - the required social network links, a page on my travels and now two personal blogs, which were created during the four year gap betweens sites. Writing took a higher priority next to a footwear design focus and I truly tried to show the wide range of life activities.The website brought me level with other, but with a series of imperfections.
Though I put so much time into my 2013 site, I knew it needed to change. Semi-responsive, semi-loading, but fully-attractive my site worked like an Italian car. Maintenance frequently required. It experienced the occasional hack and always displayed a jigsaw puzzle-like image loading sequence. I guess the analogy’s only anomaly was my site’s loading time. S-l-o-w. But I had other priorities and before jumping into a new site. With new projects in the making and new sneaker releases, I wanted to see how my work would play out. So I gave it a year and then some before trying again.
“If you put your images on Flickr,” Taras promised, “I’ll help you remake the site.” We did it in one weekend. With most of the content already created, tweaks needed for image resizing and content rewriting, and a quick coder by my side, we did part of it during high tea. This was our weekend to “relax”, which after recounting my accomplishments to a colleague he remarked, “geez, sounds like you were busy.” I realised my definition of relaxing might be different than most. After identifying a Jekyll template, making the needed initial modifications and hosting it on Github Pages, my site went live late Sunday night. If I made this step, could Jekyll be the next popular alternative for Wordpress?
So here are the improvement so far. It loads faster and “wasn’t trying too hard,” as I put it. The animations of my previous site seemed dated only a month after it went live. The responsiveness is - well - actually responsive; my 2013 website, though a “responsive” template, was actually just mobile-able. And it cannot be hacked, which is almost like leaving on holiday while confidently entrusting your beloved pet to take care of itself. I have also edited down a lot of content with the intent to add over time. Start with less, and hopefully, end up with more. It took only four versions to learn a very important personal website or blog insight. There is always the next version. Unlike a serious boyfriend or girlfriend, your website will never be the one and embracing this reality makes building a site less daunting.