Creating a Body of Work

Creating a Body of Work

I’ve only just begun to write consistently, but why? Why now??

Podcasts are a big part of my weekly routine. I usually absorb them at 2x speed while working, running errands, running, or whenever I have a spare moment. I love listening to people talk about ideas, get some tips about business, web development and life, and occasionally get my motivation engine lubed up.

About a month ago, I was listening to this Fizzle podcast about the true definition of success, and this line came up:

“What do you want your body of work to look like in five years?”

That really stopped me in my tracks.

For the last year and a half, I’ve mostly been looking for work on a monthly basis, pretty much whatever I could find. Honestly, I’m pretty proud and satisfied with what I’ve been able to accomplish, build and participate in as far as my portfolio. I’ve been averaging about 1.4 website builds a month. Not all of these have ended up in my portfolio, and that’s ok. The portfolio should be not only a reflection of what I’ve done but also the type of work I’d like to achieve and be asked to build. 

That said, looking back over the past year and a half, these are the type of projects I’m looking for and what I would like to be known for.

Function over Form

I’m not a designer by any stretch of the imagination. I probably couldn’t design my way out of a paper bag to a gun to my head (maybe I could). Regardless, I’m more concern about the answer to the question, “Does it work like it should?” vs. “Does it look pretty?”. While I’d like both of these answers to be a resounding “YES!“, this isn’t always the case.

Now, I’ll be the first to say that UX/UI is definitely important, and maybe I need to focus on user experience over and above artistic design, but I definitely come down more on the functionality side of things.

Working with WordPress, that means being able to develop custom plugins for added site functionality. Getting the site to do something specific is exciting. I think this has traditionally meant a division between front-end and back-end, but with Javascript becoming more of a tool to use in WordPress, there’s probably room for overlap when it comes to functionality. TBD, moving on…

Well-Built over Innovative

Perhaps this comes from the same feeling of not being artistic, but I wouldn’t say I’m necessarily innovative either. My first reaction is to see what other people are already doing and then try to improve on it. Why re-invent the wheel? In this regard, I’m more of a Samsung than an Apple (ha!).

Maybe a better comparison is the I’m more of a 1997 Hyundi Accent (the car we drive) than a hoverboard. With the Accent, I know it’s going to get me from point A to point B, consistently, with very little maintenance, and it going to do so over and over again. A hoverboard is awesome, super cool, and can wow your friends, but don’t work on water (unless you’ve got power). That can get you into trouble, McFly.

So, I’m interested in best-practices, and using a framework, CMS, or any other tool that has a good eye on future development, not in the sense of being innovative, but in the sense of “skating to where to puck is going to be.”

Team over Solo Work

Finally, I have a serious sense of responsibility. If something goes wrong with a project, I do everything in my power to make it right. If something breaks, I try to fix it. If I don’t know the answer to a question, or if I can’t develop a needed feature, I tend to pay for that consulting or development out of my own pocket. There are definitely positives to this kind of responsibility as well.

However, when the buck stops with me, that can be a draining experience. I’ve enjoyed working with subcontractors on projects; people who know more than me, and I’d like to do that on a more regular basis.

So, I think I’ll be looking to level up a bit and work with an agency for a while. I’ve written about this previously, but I think allowing myself to work with a team of people further along than myself will benefit me greatly in the long run. It will actually help me to know function better and how to ensure projects are well-built.

That’s the body of work I’d like to have: functional, well-built, collaborative.

We’ll see what the next five years look like.

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Peace,

Nate

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