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Nolan Joseph

Feedback on Personal Website/Portfolio

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Hello, this is my first post so I'm very sorry if this is the wrong location for this type of topic. I didn't immediately see any sort of general thread for this type of thing but I admit I might be blind.

I'd greatly appreciate any feedback that anyone could provide regarding my personal website/portfolio. It's self-made, which I recognize is kind of a risk, so I want to make sure it's up to a professional standard. In particular, have a few things I'm concerned about:

  1. How is the usability/presentation of this site? Is it well organized? Would I be better off using a template from somewhere else?
  2. Is it a mistake to show my writing? I have a degree as a writer, and I'd love to be able to find a career writing for and designing games. Writing I feel is my strength, and I have far more completed projects as a writer. That being said, I'm worried that showcasing my writing too much (or even showcasing it at all) might give off too much of an "idea guy" vibe.
  3. Should I remove my "about" section? Is it better to just let everything speak for itself?
  4. Should I show WIP projects, or unfinished projects? I know generally that's a poor idea, but obviously I'm lacking heavily in my design experience (I wasn't a Game Design major, or even in any computer field, so a lot of my project are pretty unfinished, and a lot of the stuff I did finished has been lost due to various hard drive crashes and reformats over the years. I was a lot less diligent about saving data in high school/early college.)
  5. What (aside from more projects which, obviously, I'm working on completing) is missing that should be present?

I'd love it too if anyone could send me examples of great portfolios, especially student portfolios/portfolios of people who don't have the benefit of years of AAA development behind them. Finally, would it be a good idea, if I'm financially able, to go back to school to learn more tools and develop a stronger base of work?

I understand that jumping onto a forum with my first post and demanding people take a look at my own work/answer all my questions can seem a bit presumptuous, so I want to say to anyone who even read this far that I already appreciate the time you've spent on me. Thanks.

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You have a nice looking site there, so please don't take the following as criticism. Here's my take on things that could be improved (as someone who spent a while in web and mobile UI development):

First load performance is important, because most of the visitors you care about only visit the site once. You can check first load performance using Chrome's developer tools (click 'network' tab, check 'disable cache', and reload the page).

With that in mind, that 1.2 MB jpeg background has to go - it takes about 2.5 seconds to load on my machine. I pulled down the image, turned the jpeg compression up until it was about 200 KB, and it still looks pretty ok on a MacBook Pro's display. Play around with it, see how much size you can shave off while maintaining the quality you desire.

You might consider adding a favicon, in case anyone bookmarks your site to come back and read it later. It helps any bookmarks (and browser tabs) stand out from the rest.

Speed the CSS transform transition thingy between pages up by 3-4x , or eliminate it entirely. There's delight the first time it happens, but by the time you've clicked through 2-3 pages, the added latency is maddening.

For the writing samples, the white-on-black feels a little hard to read, but I'm not sure how much of this is down to personal taste. You might experiment with black-on-white just for those pages. The 'Return' button doesn't actually take me back to the previous page of your site - it always goes page to the home page, which breaks the immersion a bit. I feel like it's also on the wrong side of the page, but that might be my Mac/iOS Muscle memory talking.

The transition on the game screen shots should go entirely. It's slowing the user down. I also expect next/previous controls in an image gallery - they are pretty standard, and going back to the previous screen after each image slows the user down again.

Download link should probably point to a zip file containing a Readme file, not a raw .exe. Most people have been trained by decades of viruses to never download a raw .exe file. In the same vein, record a youtube video of gameplay and embed it - most folks aren't going to download the game regardless of how it is packaged.

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