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Towards minimalism

How less is more.

When I started to build this website, I first thought about all the possibilities: a new tech stack, new design, new everything. And it was about time: my old website was built over six years ago. That's a long time when it comes to personal portfolios.

I had thought about a redesign before. Several times to be honest. But because I had worked steadily on client projects, shoemaker's children had been going barefoot.

That was about to change. With some time set aside, I started to work on my new site. I itched to use all the hot tech: Next.js, Typescript, Tailwind, and a headless CMS. And the design? I would undoubtedly Make It Pop!

I started to work. Despite some occasional hiccups with the design, I managed to produce a starting point for development. Meanwhile, the list of requirements grew: accessibility, performance, dark mode, detailed graphics, top-level usability, animations, transitions, effects. The more I added, the more I wanted.

And I wanted it all.

A step back

At one point, I needed to take a break from the project. When I came back a couple of weeks later, something was wrong. The large typography, the dark look, and the visuals and interactions were too much. They felt wrong to my gut. And when it comes to the gut, you'd better listen.

The original redesign idea. At that point, I also considered using my company website for the portfolio as I had done previously. The vivid colors, animations and effects were fancy but didn't feel suitable for me anymore.

In other words, I needed less, not more. I did what was hard but should do more often: scrap what I had and start from scratch.

Back at the drawing table, it struck me. My website should reflect my profession. It should be as elegant as the user interfaces I build. I was going to keep things simple.

I once heard a saying that has stuck with me ever since: "A design is not ready when there's nothing to add, but when there's nothing left to remove." For me, that defines minimalism.

Going simple

My initial inspiration came from Rauno Freiberg's portfolio. Everything on the site had its purpose, and the amount of content was reasonable.

From there, I discovered Paco Coursey's and Carl Barenbrug's websites. I had found my style. You can see heavy inspiration from these sources on my site.

The new design came to life in less than a day. The actual development has taken more time, as I've learned more about Next and TypeScript along the way. I also switched from DatoCMS to GraphCMS for my content (the community and staff at the GraphCMS Slack channel have been helpful).

Next steps

Although I'm pleased with how the project turned out, there are still areas for improvement. For example, I'd like to:

  • Generate OG images dynamically from the page's title and description
  • Subset and self host the font I'm using (Inter)
  • Unify and improve card link styles
  • Clean and combine type declarations
  • Explore alternative hosting platforms (I'm currently on Vercel, which is ok, but their CDN could be faster to Finland, where most of my traffic comes from)

Despite the shoemaker's child's new shoes, I have a couple of goals. First, I want to keep the content in the spotlight (no extra bells and whistles coming). Second, I want to write more often. And last, I want to experiment with the technologies this site is built on.

I hope I have time for at least one of the three.

Want to work together?

If you need help with design, I might be what you are looking for.