Redesign of my work site (aka ARGGGGHHHHH)

Given the option of designing something for myself, or designing something for a client, I’ll chose the client work everytime. It’s not just that I like to be paid for my work, it’s that I am a horrible client. I can’t make up my mind, I won’t follow proper procedures, I won’t commit… If I could, I think I’d fire myself.

In an attempt to force myself to listen to my own advice (sounding kind of schizophrenic here), I’ve decided to write up this redesign as a tutorial. In keeping with my earlier tutorial, it’s not going to be a do this, then do that kind of thing. Rather I’ll collect my thoughts and processes, in the hopes that my mis-starts and minor victories might be of some use to someone else out there in design-land.

Like many designers, when it comes working for myself I tend to focus too much on the prize, as a result ending up with a steaming pile of you know what.

*Ahhh, I feel better already.*

I’m going to start by quickly reviewing what’s in place, then briefly describe why I feel a redesign is necessary and finally move on to the steps I’ll be taking over the next couple of days.
So without further ado, allow me to present the current version of “Flashlight Design”:

!/images/26.gif (screen shot of flashlight design)!

If you squint really really well, you might just make out that the page states this is ver 0.003. *That is a bold face lie.* In fact, that page is ver 7. Seven! _Since April of this year!_ Ok, admittedly it’s been a testing ground for various styles and techniques. It’s been table-based, flash-based, flash-enabled, and now an amalgam of tables and css. That’s gonna change.

*Reason for redesign #1*: Kill all tables and build scalable site.

Far more importantly though, my target audience has changed. When I built this site, I was aiming squarely at potential employers, ie design studios, ad agencies, etc. I’ve been receiving a fair bit of freelance work over the past couple of months though, and have decided that despite my intentions not to, I’ll be pursuing more freelance projects. Given my background in marketing and business, it kind of makes sense. So, the site has to talk to a different audience and deliver a different message.

*Reason for redesign #2*: Talk to different audience.

!/images/28.jpg (flashlight Design redesign portfolio screen shot)!

Take a look at the “portfolio”: section, and you’ll find a couple of things I’m not happy with. There is too much work showing for a general audience. The work isn’t arranged into categories, ie logos, magazines, web, etc. There isn’t any web work listed. Each image gets its own static html page, making it stupidly difficult for me to update the work. This site was thrown together quickly, and this is where it shows.

*Reason for redesign #3*: Develop flexible, dynamic portfolio.

The rest of the content on the site, _my resume_ and _skills_ don’t really belong on a client oriented site. I’d like to get rid of these sections all together and streamline the message. In fact, the message as a whole needs to be re-defined. I’m inventing a new company, and need to both develop and communicate the principles of that company; the “why you should hire us” stuff.

*Reason for redesign #4*: Write and deliver a new message.

Looking at the reasons above, I’ve come up with the following next steps:

# Write all the content first.
# Create a mood board *based on the content*. A mood board is simply a collection of inspiring images, words, colour chips, etc related to the project at hand.
# Sketch sketch sketch
# Create a comp or two. I’ll post them here for feedback.
# Evaluate software/scripts (for the dynamic part)
# Build.
# Test.
# Tear out hair trying to figure out why it doesn’t work with IE.
# Decide to become a bus driver.
# Find the answer on “positioniseverything”:
# Party like its 1999.

This list looks startlingly familiar. Gasp! It’s the same process I use for every job I do! Imagine that.

Well, wish me luck dear reader. I’ve already broken down and designed a couple of comps. Because I don’t know what I’m doing with them though, I just keep pushing pixels from one side to the other, squinting, and trying to decide which looks better. For posterity’s sake, you can view the two recently deceased comps “here”:

I’ll report back faithfully.