A recent discussion on Designer News about well-designed portfolios made me smile because this website was included in the mix.
Here's the funny thing: I've never actually 'designed' this site...
I just found a template on Squarespace that I liked and gradually tweaked it to my liking.
You're a designer, why not create a bespoke design?
The thing with the design process is that it has a habit of also becoming a procrastination process. Doubly so if you're a designer working on something for yourself.
My first portfolio was hacked together in a weekend to apply for a job. Five years later, it's still live (albeit it with some minor style changes), and still a single HTML file. It's not responsive, and there's no CMS, but it works.
Good design is as little design as possible
— Dieter Rams
With my readers in mind, I changed the body copy on this site from sans-serif to serif, made almost all text larger than it was by default, and decreased the page width for a more readable line-length.
With myself in mind, I've added a newsletter signup form at the top of the homepage (hat tip to Noah Kagan), and beneath every article.
This ensures that my readers' objectives are covered (finding and reading content that is relavent to them), and mine are too (building an audience).
But beyond that, I haven't done a lot of 'designing' for this site, other than my logo.
Define what you want to say before choosing how you're going to say it
If I'd started this site in Photoshop, I would have been designing blind.
Now that I have a body of content in place, I've got something to work with. Sure, it's not perfect, and there are lots of things I want to make better.
But the basics are covered. And just the fact that it's online and viewable to other people spurs me on. I'd much rather that than spending weeks or months designing in private, and without anyone actually using the thing.