The Web Witch's Blog

Just Build It...

After I started at Microsoft in 2016, I built my own HTML portfolio website instead of using a template. The template I had been using was gorgeous and interactive but I hadn't built it. So I built one.

CSS Grid wasn't even fully supported yet and there were fallbacks with Flexbox. I didn't know how to use templating to insert headers and footers and whenever I wanted to update the footer or menu had to painstakingly go through each page and update each one individually.

It did the job and showcased the design work from the previous 4 years. I eventually updated it with a few demos and tools I had worked on at Microsoft.

And over the last 3-4 years, I've probably attempted a re-design no less than 10 times. I would start to design in Illustrator, I would then start building and then abandon it. My biggest hinderance was wanting my website to be tied to my personal identity. I would grow frustrated with it not fully embodying me and then decide I didn't need to re-design it and the cycle would start again.

Well, I wanted to break the cycle so I did. Instead of making the site some personal horcrux indicative of my most personal self, I wrote down what I wanted to achieve with it, what it needed to do and highlight and then I spun up Astro and started building it on a Monday and launched it by Wednesday.

All around less than 36 hours spent on it.
Did I launch it and forget about to add some links? Yes.
Is the code perfect? No, of course not (also don't ever give someone an unsolicited code review on Twitter. It's rude.)
Is everything I want to feature on there, featured? No.

But this is the joy of launching quickly and iterating. The site is live and covers the necessities of what I wanted it to do for me. I don't have an entire project waiting to be launched.

Now I can incrementally update and improve and refactor (there is quite a bit of CSS I realized I could have re-used and know I can clean up).

And I'm happy with it. It looks better than it did in my opinion and has more structure and hierarchy than the old one. The grid is clean. My design fundamentals are showcased. The core things I wanted to highlight are highlighted.

And now to keep building.

An Instagram reel came across my feed in which a woman is telling a story about a photography professor who divides his class into two groups. One group is instructed to submit 100 photos over the quarter and the other group is instructed to submit one perfect photo.

The group that is instructed to submit 100 photos gets better because they start right away and start taking photos and learn about composition. While the other group doesn't get better because they hem and haw over what a perfect photo is.

You get better by doing. So go do. Go build. And iterate.

September 3 Edit: the re-designed website lives here

x Steph

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