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Maxvoltar - What to show?

Maxvoltar is the personal weblog of Tim Van Damme, a freelance interface designer at Made by Elephant.

50° 54' 47" N, 4° 25' 50" E

What to show?

I’m currently working on my umpteenth attempt to redesign I doubt if I’ll ever get it right (or at least: in a way I feel it’s ready to be shown to the world). While wireframing the homepage, I bumped into a small problem I never thought about before.

On the homepage I planned a nice little carousel showing a manual selection of work I did over the past years. The carousel is limited to showing 6 pieces of work. While 6 is enough to show a wide variation of your work, it was also a restriction. I would love to show more work I’m really proud of.

But, restrictions are a good thing, and I started looking for some criteria to decide which projects I would feature.

What projects are you really proud of?

The easy ones: Which projects do you think show your craftsmanship from its best side? Which projects would you like to get tattooed on your inner thigh? You go to a bar and see a girl/guy; complete the next pickup sentence: “Oh hi, I’m [name], designer of [project].com!” Those projects are allowed in the carrousel, but shouldn’t be the majority.

Which projects do people talk/tweet about the most?

The hard ones: You just launched a new project, and all of a sudden, it starts appearing in all kinds of CSS-design-inspiration-admagnet-galleries. Why? This isn’t your best project. As a matter of fact, you hate this project. Easy money, or something that got wrapped up too fast. I’m sorry to say, but you’ll need to include this project into the little carrousel. People will recognize this project. They’ll call you “the guy who did that site”. This project, no matter how hard you hate it, will bring in a lot of other projects. The more projects you get, the more choice you have to pick projects you love, which brings me to the next criteria…

What’s the kind of project you’d like to do more?

The often forgotten ones: If people look into the window of a shop, and they see a range of fast and expensive cars, they know this is the place to buy a fast and expensive car. If they see a whole lot of farming equipment, they’ll come to you for that. You attract the kind of work you exhibit. It’s possible you only like doing Twitter-apps, or maybe you’re totally into websites for death-metal bands (unreadable logo’s are a must in this branch). Showcase them on your website, and similar work requests will present themselves (unless you use Helvetica for them death-metal websites).


  • Kat Neville

    3644 days ago

    Well, are we allowed to see anything??

  • Ole Martin Kristiansen

    3644 days ago

    What is the reason you wish to redesign? Are you unhappy with the way your work is being presented, or is it the overall design? I feel that it’s always a good idea to write down the things that you are happy with, and the things that you don’t fancy as you don’t necessarily have to start from scratch.

  • Benjamin D.C.

    3644 days ago

    Good tips! I had almost the same analysis when building my own website but the hard ones didn’t make it… which was an error.

  • Marko Mihelcic

    3644 days ago

    I’m also in the process of selecting and showing off some of my work for my portfolio.
    Show some of your kickass skill, some mindfucking UI concept (I remember and that is always gonna be stuck in my head ), showoff some really good work your proud of..

  • Tim Van Damme

    3644 days ago

    • @Kat Neville: By this tempo, the site will be online by April… 2010.
    • @Ole Martin Kristiansen: The current design is more than a year old. I don’t blog there anymore, and changed my vision about how I want to present my work. Also want to cut down on all the smooth copy. You don’t hear design, you see it.
  • Wolf

    3643 days ago

    The best advice is in the last paragraph.

  • Elliot Jay Stocks

    3641 days ago

    Some top advice here, Tim. It’s a problem I’m coming up against with the upcoming redesign of my portfolio, too.

    One thing I’m trying to do is allow people to view the portfolio in a number of ways: they get a default list of the featured case studies, but there’s also prominent navigation to lead them to browse the work by other factors: client, type, date, etc. Maybe that’s an option for showing off the lesser-known projects?

  • Nollind Whachell

    3637 days ago

    “You attract the kind of work you exhibit.”

    Dead on. It’s one reason why I’d like to make my next site’s portfolio similar to what a lot of WoW guild sites do. That being a progression-based listing of achievements that in effect are leading somewhere (i.e. your dream work).

    Sure, like you said, it may mean not a lot of your work is listed but what will be shown will be inexplicably guiding you somewhere (where you want to go) instead of causing you to meander meaninglessly.

  • Kifi

    3633 days ago

    I liked, well-written

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