Re-design in the open

2018 will mark the second year of my journey into freelancing. A lot has changed in the way I practice design, as much as in the industry itself. Recently, I have looked at my website and seen the mismatch between the voice of my past self and the person I now know myself to be. It is now time to adjust my professional voice. And why not do it in the open?

From today, 8th March 2018, I will publish an ongoing timeline to document my “design of the self” process. I plan to update this monthly to share the steps and results.

I have been practicing design for 14 years and both the way I work and my practice have changed completely in that time, similar to the design industry itself. During my studies, there were no personas, no experience maps, no user experience considerations. All fellow designers from the same generation had to teach themselves these new concepts as design disciplines mutated. During our studies, the best way to publish a video on the web was to embed it with Flash. CSS was barely a consideration, and there were certainly no frameworks available.

2015 saw me embark on a deep professional reassessment following the end of an 8-year contract with a design agency. From this work (which put into question far more than my approach to design) came the first version of the very website you are browsing.

Three years later and I find little to recognise on these pages. It took six months to create my online face, to write case studies and describe my services as well as I could. Six months of introspection and incertitudes, of word picking, of questioning myself to best describe what I do, why I do it and how. Today everything is clearly outdated.

I had tried to design a portfolio that would evolve with me, both content and system. My peer and friend Goulven Champenois tailored an interface and plugged it into to Kirby (with which I immediately fell in love). The system behind this portfolio may well be the only aspect I keep for future versions. The colours too perhaps.

CMS and colours are not a lot begin with, right? What will happen to the rest? Nothing is really wasted as I think all the work accomplished before allowed me to go through the necessary steps to design what I am about to design. Often I will tell clients about this culmination, and how the new version we will develop together will be the sum of all learnings from previous iterations.

So. Let’s talk process. Among the steps I’d like to plan, I may start with an analysis of that which already exists (if I don’t get too depressed by it). The big work will begin with a deep introspection when I will go back to the very reasons behind why I do what I do and how I present myself to the world. Using divergence and ideation (I adore creative chaos as a starting point), I will draw up a general framework of orientation and intention with which to write a precise objective for my website. When I have collected enough material I will begin to write, before prioritising through content architecture. Next will come prototyping, refining to the point where I will start the graphic design itself. The major phase will indeed be introspection, as I will go along with whatever results emerge.

Planning. A few years ago I gave myself a precise launch date for a previous version of the site (and offering a drink to the first person who noticed it was late!). Even if the idea of a set date with a boozy consequence for failure seemed cool, this time I do not want to constrain myself to timelines and deadlines. Introspection will last as long as it needs to after all. To maintain motivation I created the idea of this monthly report, both to give rhythm to my planning and to expose the inner workings of an introspective redesign.

See you in April for the first report!