Ask DN: How do you find focus when creating a personal site?

over 7 years ago from , Director, Digital Strategy & UX

I've been so busy working Client jobs for the past 2 years I haven't had a chance to update my personal site, but now's the time.

The thing is, while I work UX professionally, I also make photographs and have had a Tumblr tracking my travel/city/editorial work for nearly 6 years.

When making a personal site, how do you best bracket off and/or display very disparate, but equally important content?

Ie, I want to highlight UX because the site should act as an online presence in support of my offline networking. But, I also want to link to and/or display my photo work: I have a good number of regular followers but it also helps with low-level contact building since my work is very localized (Montreal-Toronto).

I feel like this is an information architecture and not a visual design issue, but I wanted to see what you all thought or if anyone has any examples of any solutions.

I very much want to include both, but I don't want to confuse users.

To this point I think the solution is to either 1. Ditch the photo work form my personal page and establish it as a separate property, or 2. Keep the personal page so general and pared down that it would basically be "I do UX and I take photos", with links to portfolios etc.

It's tough working on personal work - if this was a Client project I would recommend option 1.

Is there a way around this?


  • Robert PadburyRobert Padbury, over 7 years ago (edited over 7 years ago )

    I'm currently working on my new website and I have dealt with this issue. My current thinking is to section off the site into different categories:

    /portfolio -> Visual and UI Design /photography -> Uh, photography! /wallpapers -> You'll never guess!

    My philosophy is that the people who are visiting my website are doing so to primarily see and enjoy my work. Everything else is secondary.

    1 point
    • Adam Michiels, over 7 years ago

      Classic. Now I'm looking for wallpapers...

      I am hoping to get away with a single page at this point, but the category logic still holds up I think - it will just be deep vs wide.

      I really wasn't up for the task of creating photo portfolios (I'm a procrastinator when it comes to self-editing), but I think I'll have to: if I just link out to my Tumblr it will be a big waste, leaving the user to 'browse' rather than be presented with tight content.

      I think you nailed it though. Classic approach.

      0 points
  • David KizlerDavid Kizler, over 7 years ago

    The portfolio of Mike Kus might serve you as a good example for integrating your UX work with photography.

    I think it's like what you described in option 2. It's clear that he takes photos, but that message doesn't overpower his awesome design portfolio.

    1 point
    • Adam Michiels, over 7 years ago

      That's really interesting - while he shoots professionally for major clients, none of his photo work is featured in his portfolio.

      You're right though, it is clear he takes photos, and he includes a section under 'About' to deal specifically with that. Not a bad option.

      0 points
  • Amit Das, over 7 years ago

    What about a 3rd option: 3. Can either mix your photography skills with UX portfolio to display stunning ux portfolio with story-telling. Photos are one of the strongest medium to tell stories, you would know about this more. I'll prefer this method.

    If you don't want to sign up for this, may be it's always safe to keep the two separate (but could be under the same domain as separate identities)

    1 point
    • Adam Michiels, over 7 years ago

      Thanks for the suggestion - it's something I considered when thinking about building 'case studies' of recent work. It's tough since everything is digital work, but I can figure it out (there are always photo opportunities).

      I don't want to sign up for the safe option either :) That's why I came here to tap the community for inspiration.

      If the site uses photos strategically, at least that will help bridge the conceptual gap with my photo work - it will visually make sense.

      Thanks again!

      0 points
  • Benjamin KowalskiBenjamin Kowalski, over 7 years ago

    I thought Leonard Crockett handled this nicely. He allows his photos to stand out up front, I think quickly becoming clear he has a passion for it, but then treats his UX and dev experience first in the main nav. The photos link third, clicking away to his established tumblr.


    I think this is a nice solution, also mentioning in your bio that you are both a UX designer and professional photographer would help clarify.

    0 points
    • Adam Michiels, over 7 years ago

      Wow. Really great photo work.

      I originally though that linking out to Tumblr would be a bit jarring/less seamless. It is, but not terribly so. Odd that he didn't carry over his icon-portrait branding to his Tumblr though.

      I'm going to play with some mockups as I start in on this project later this week. I'm sure I'll be back for feedback :)

      Thanks everyone for the great feedback. Tons of help.

      0 points
  • Diego LafuenteDiego Lafuente, over 7 years ago

    I normally do what I want to find in a portfolio. The things that I find disturbing, distracting or over-theatrical I don't.

    0 points