I've nicknamed this site 'the brick wall edition'.
Welcome to the new site
Here's an introduction
Well, it's finally happened. Six months after beginning my freelance career, I'm pleased to say the new Design by Pope website is one that I think represents me and my business, whilst highlighting my experience and passion for the work I do for my clients.
That being said, it hasn't been the easiest process. I've been through two completely different design variations - one of which was half-way through production before being scrapped. Six months in planning and production may sound like a long time, but as it coincided with my first six months setting up and running a new business, not to mention client work, changing priorities, and continual reassessment of what the new site needed to achieve, it's perhaps not surprising. Most importantly, doing it right was always more important than doing it quickly. If anything, that's one of Design by Pope's fundamental philosophies.
Designers will often say doing their own work is the hardest. This is COMPLETELY TRUE a lot of the time. Any design project needs direction and focus - and working with clients almost always guarantees that. Whether it be a design brief or a clearly defined objective - it narrows the options.
Take that away and you can do anything you want. No restrictions. It sounds fun, but the reality is that every idea you have is superseded by the next one. And the next one. And the next one. Very quickly there's a huge list of ideas and all of them are better than the last. Keyword here; focus.
"It comes from saying no to 1,000 things to make sure we don't get on the wrong track or try to do too much... it's only by saying no that you can concentrate on the things that are really important."
- Steve Jobs
So, I worked out what I thought was essential and ended up with a set of targets to work towards whilst designing the new website.
The site must reflect my personality.
As a designer I'm one of a hundred thousand. But as a person, I'm a unique blend of experience, talent, and passion - and clients respond to that. So, I decided I'd write a fair amount of content as well as highlight my creative work to try and provide that insight.
The site must develop the Design by Pope brand.
My background has provided opportunities for me to create and develop strong brands for many businesses, and it's by far my 'favourite' aspect of being a designer. The development and application of a consistent brand style is one thing - but knowing when and how to break the rules to make something memorable and give people an idea of the character and personality behind the brand, is something I've always really enjoyed.
Design by Pope was always envisioned to be a brand in its own right, capturing my professional character as well as an injection of my own personality, to keep it open and approachable. A bit of the 'Pope' often goes a long way, I find - but behind that is a foundation of quality, experience, professionalism, and passion. I want the site, and particularly its content, to reflect those values.
It must allow 'stream of consciousness' style updates.
Also known as 'Facebook syndrome' and one of the reasons I've nicknamed this site the 'brick wall edition' (hence the homepage layout). I have a habit of getting an idea and wanting to create something quickly with any available resources to hand, whether it's a quote, a song lyric, a photograph, or more often than not, a quite stunningly unoriginal moment of lateral thinking combining all of the above. It's a lot easier to do this regularly when the layout framework has been setup from the outset to enable quick and easy updates. Less time thinking about the technicalities = more time to create!
It must showcase my work simply and without pretension.
During my research, it was patently clear that *lots* of designers think displaying their work with effects, animation, quirky layouts etc somehow makes it more of an attractive experience than viewing the work itself. It's a trap even I've fallen into occasionally (and probably still do). Ultimately, the work should speak for itself, so I wanted to keep the portfolio pages as clean and simple as possible.
It must encourage two way traffic to my various social network profiles allowing for more potential exposure.
Something I've noticed with the Design by Pope Facebook page is that interaction is almost exclusively with other designers and colleagues. I thought it would be interesting to see if it's possible over the next 6-12 months to open that up to a wider audience.
It must have a timeless quality that will not necessitate any major overhaul within 2 years.
Timeless design - also known as the holy grail! Web design trends come around and disappear as much as any - so striking a balance between what's considered contemporary now and will still feel fresh in a year or two is important. Yep, there's a hint of Metro (Microsoft's codename for their current interface style) here, but hopefully enough personal touches to stand out on its own. Time will tell.
It must be simple, elegant, and intuitive to use.
I'm a firm believer that simplicity is in itself an elegant outcome - in fact I think it's almost a pre-requisite for what I'd consider 'effective' design. With this site, I've taken that as far as I think I can whilst retaining a balance between minimalism and ease-of-use.
And so, here it is. It will be an ongoing project to continue to refine certain aspects (mobile friendly features, more social features, for example) and I'm determined to use it as a platform to share ideas and articles as much as I can, and I hope that by doing so, it isn't just a marketing resource for me, but a genuine insight into the way I work and what motivates me as a business woman, a designer, and a person. All of which feeds in to the projects I work on.
I'll leave it to you to judge whether or not I hit my targets. Your feedback, as ever, is always welcomed.
Thanks for visiting :)
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