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Looking for some advice

Discussion in 'Website Design Critique:' started by paperslug, Jun 4, 2012.

  1. paperslug

    paperslug New Member


    I am looking for some pointers and useful advice regarding my website and getting my foot in the door in the design industry. I have been kind of out of the loop for a while after I dropped out of my uni course, it really wasn't the place for me and sadly the only option at the time. Since then I've been trying to build up the motivation to get myself back into it.

    I have been learning flash and produced an online portfolio as a start, I am moving to London this month from the North East so hopefully there will be far more opportunities for me down there. Some things I'd like to ask first:

    I can't afford to work for free at the minute, so my plan of action is to find any kind of work and maybe do some freelance work in my spare time, based on this would it also be a good idea to apply for ANY design jobs I come across in the mean time? I don't have much work experience in the industry and no bachelors degree (I do have a national diploma and a foundation degree in Graphic Design, which is supposedly the equivalent of the first 2 years of a BA)?

    If I get asked to come for an interview, should I just be straightforward and explain that I didn't finish my top-up year? I feel like if I don't I'm going to have to blag a lot of downtime, so I'm not sure what do do here.

    Where do I start with regards to promoting myself and my website? I obviously have created a Facebook and twitter page but it's unlikely anyone other than my current contacts will come across it.

    Lastly, absolutely any advice/encouragement would be very much appreciated, I'm a bit lost at the minute but I know for certain there is no other possible career path I want to follow so I really want to just get out there ASAP and start enjoying being a designer again.

    My website isn't live quite, but here is the link to it.


    Contact form doesn't work anymore, probably due to my server switching to PHP5, should I just scrap it? Pretty sure it won't be too much effort for people to just get in touch via their own email clients.

    Please be completely ruthless, I need all the help I can get right now!

    Thanks for looking :)

    - Luke
  2. dedwardp

    dedwardp Member

    There is certainly no harm in applying for as many roles as you can, as long as you don't mind taking a few knock backs and won't let it demoralise you too much. You may get lucky and find something pretty swiftly but, chances are, there will be a few first so don't let it get to you and keep perservering.

    I think with design the qualifications can be overrated, particularly if you have a strong portfolio to do the talking for you. Impressive work would be more valuable and insightful to me as an employer than a piece of paper so, personally, I wouldn't worry about that too much really. Besides, you do have the foundation degree and a nationa diploma, so you have an academic foundation to back up your portfolio so I think you will be fine on that front.

    I wouldn't see the need to mention dropping out unless it was specifically asked. As before, try to let your work do the talking where you can but, if they ask, just be honest that it wasn't the environment for you and, again, I don't see why that should affect their perceptions of you or your work if you've got to an interview anyway.

    Twitter is much easier to generate awareness from than Facebook in my opinion. As you say, on Facebook there is a stronger likelihood that many will already be your friends and contacts whilst, without taking up the paid advertising options, it can be trickier to drive the traffic there I find.

    However, with Twitter it isn't so hard to find the audience if you involve yourself with it a bit and use it to interact. Many people will follow you back once you follow them, and as both your followers and who you're following grows, you'll start to get more followers organically, too. With more followers, your posts will have more of an audience and are more likely to be seen, shared and so on.

    In terms of the website, I would scrap the welcome page and, as you say, probably scrap the form as well - details to get in touch should be enough. Personally I find forms annoying but can appreciate there must clearly be plenty out there who prefer to use them!

    I really like your portfolio though, I think there's some great work in there. I think there's perhaps a bit of a style in there that keeps recurring but it's executed really well and I like it a lot, whilst there are some variations on that as well such as the book cover and the CD cover.

    As before, with a strong portfolio I don't see why you can't get in to places with the qualifications you've already got and, in my opinion, your work is strong too. With that in mind, I'd suggest to keep plugging away with as many job opportunities as you can find but, alongside that, try and drum up as much business on a freelance basis as you possibly can as I see no reason why you shouldn't be able to get hold of a few clients off the back of your portfolio.
    paperslug likes this.
  3. paperslug

    paperslug New Member

    Yeah I think you're right there. It seemed like a brilliant idea at the time :icon_confused: I see now that it really just serves no purpose other than to waste time, ha.

    Thanks for your response :)
  4. Corrosive

    Corrosive Moderator Staff Member

    In terms of usability it took me a bit too long to work out that the coloured dots were in fact menu buttons.
    paperslug likes this.
  5. paperslug

    paperslug New Member

    Yeah I agree, kind of expected that to be the first thing pointed out. I was a bit reluctant to add a label as I wanted to keep everything as minimal as possible, but I have tried to subtly add one and also changed to mouseovers to a more obvious position, do you think this is better?

    PaperSlug (different link than original post)
  6. Corrosive

    Corrosive Moderator Staff Member

    Yes, at least visitors aren't left wondering where the nav is now. :icon_biggrin:
  7. dedwardp

    dedwardp Member

    Yeah, I think that works much better for the navigation now as well.
  8. Dave L

    Dave L Well-Known Member

    The navigation is still too obscure - letting your preference for a certain style produce a counter-intuitive effect feels like a bad design choice. It also feels to me like I'm having to click too many times to get into the portfolio although this is possibly an illusion resulting from the time it took me to uncover the links.

    I understand you're still developing this but I also tried to get back to the home page by typing and I got a half-developed contact form.

    In short, what I've seen of the portfolio looks pretty good and the basic appearance of the site isn't bad (if a bit sparse) but I'd think again about the user experience.
    paperslug likes this.
  9. paperslug

    paperslug New Member

    Thank you! I see what you mean about the navigation. I don't really want to fluff it out further but I'll keep playing around with it to see if I can come up with something that is more user friendly without sacrificing my own personal preference. Which is basically keeping everything free from clutter as the goal is just to show my work in a none-intrusive environment.

    And at the minute Quick Contact Form isn't supposed to direct you to anything, once I'm happy with everything it will take you to the above and the button on the contact page will take you to what you see now.

    thanks for the input! :icon_smile:
  10. paperslug

    paperslug New Member

    don't know how to edit my posts but what i meant in the previous post was paperslug .com isn't supposed to direct you to anything.

    Anyway, I gave it a whirl and quickly tried an alternative menu. I didn't expect it but I actually quite like it, what do you think?

    PaperSlug (different link again, sorry for bombarding you with them, I just like to be able to go back and compare)

  11. dedwardp

    dedwardp Member

    It's certainly clearer and more obvious now which may prove useful with prospective clients generally. Personally, I preferred index3 where it was labelled but still kept the dots, though I can see it from both perspectives, too.
  12. paperslug

    paperslug New Member

    Clearly I am far too easy influenced as I'm now torn between the two again, ha. I think I'll just stick with index4 for the sake of clarity though.

    On a side note, does anybody know how to make my cursor behave? When I mouse over links within the flash object it turns to the hand, when i mouse out it stays stuck like that unless I move it out of the window. On my MacBook it just stays as the regular pointer the whole time which is equally annoying. Minor irritation but it makes it feel as if it's lagging. When I preview the movie in flash it acts completely normal. Both are running Lion and using Safari.
  13. Dave L

    Dave L Well-Known Member

    I think clarity is the thing: it took me time to work out what was happening with the navigation in index3 simply because the dots - even with the word 'navigation' above them - look like a graphic element rather than links (if you have to provide explanatory text to let people know where the top-level site links are, I'd say you're doing something wrong).

    Next: rather than landing on an empty page when you follow the 'My Work' link, I'd prefer to go straight to the 'All' page and then have the option of narrowing the search by category using the conventional links on the left - feels like an unnecessary click's involved here otherwise.
  14. paperslug

    paperslug New Member

    Very true! Hopefully the index4 navigation is much easier to people. I have also directed the portfolio link to automatically show all projects instead of an empty void :) Thank you!
  15. Edge

    Edge Active Member

    Take it out of Flash. In fact unless you intend to become an animator just forget about Flash. Everything on your site can be achieved using JQuery and HTML and then would be viewable on iPhones + iPads. Although Google can to a certain extent index flash content it's still not ideal from an SEO point of view.

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