by Jessica Maria Gaddis

5 Failed Portfolios Later and Here I Am

Art credit: Eboy.com

We’re friends, right? Great — now I don’t feel so bad about showing you how my UX portfolio used to look…

There’s a folder on my computer called Developments where all of my, well, “developments,” live. Everything from the time I played around with Ruby on Rails to my unfortunate foray into learning Swift.

In this same folder, you’ll find six different versions of my UX portfolio, each of them named for the date that I started — and in some cases, ended — their creation.

A look inside my “Developments” folder

September 12 was the day that I began writing the code for my first portfolio. I was finally getting used to the idea of pursuing UX and I wanted to develop my coding skills in the process.

This is how my September 12 portfolio ended up:

Portfolio September 12

I was so frustrated with how bad it looked that I stopped.

RIP Portfolio September 12. Time of Death: 10:30PM, September 12.

After a few weeks, I decided to try again and Portfolio September 30 was born. This was as far as I got that day:

Portfolio September 30

Time of Death: 3:34PM, September 30.

At this point I was annoyed with myself, cursing the front-end gods and second guessing my abilities.

I kept telling people that I could code, and yet I couldn’t even finish a very simple website.

Again, I gave myself a few weeks. I started sketching every idea I had on random napkins and Post-It notes in hopes that one day I would at least finish the skeleton of my site.

October 10 and October 15 turned out to be promising days, but it’s not until Portfolio October 24 that I really started seeing the site take form:

Portfolio October 24

I was pretty happy with this version and I kept working on it for a few weeks until one day I realized that I could do better. So I decided to scrap a whole lot of progress and start over.

Again.

Without missing a beat, I took it from the top: New Folder > untitled folder > Portfolio November 4.

I’ll admit, the first version didn’t turn out so great, but I’m happy to report that I’m on the third iteration and I think I’ll keep this one around for awhile:

Portfolio November 4, v.1
Portfolio November 4, v.2
Portfolio November 4, v.3 (Current)

What changed?

Well, everything, I suppose. For one, I started trusting my knowledge and pushing my limits. Instead of going for the simple idea, I decided that I wanted to try something new every chance I got. Sometimes I wrote my code in notebooks just to make sense of it all and I even started dreaming in HTML and CSS. I know. Weird.

I was consumed by it and instead of quitting when I hit a wall, I saved my work, closed my computer and came back a few days later.

When I started, I was setting large goals like FINISH PORTFOLIO BY XX-DATE, and I got frustrated when I couldn’t keep up with my self-imposed deadlines. So, I started breaking my goals up into more manageable pieces. I worked until 6AM sometimes just for the simple fact that I enjoyed the feeling of winning. Little victories, but victories nonetheless.

Version 2 of my site was the first one to actually see the light of a real web address. It went live on December 31, 2015 as a testament to getting something out the door and into the universe before the new year. Version 3 went live this past Saturday, and it took me just over three hours to make the updates.

All in all, I’m happy that I didn’t give up and I can clearly measure how much I’ve progressed over the past six months.

So to anyone out there dreading the All Powerful Portfolio or working on developing your first site — don’t stop! I went through six failed attempts before I had anything that I could show people.

Your Portfolio November 4 is waiting for you to build it! Even if you have to start over a ton of times, it’s still worth it and I guarantee you that you’ll get better with every version.

A special thanks to all of the folks on Stack Overflow — especially those who probably thought they were asking stupid questions. You, my friends, saved my sanity.