Let's get to know you first. Tell us about yourself.

Hi! I'm Dara, an independent web designer and front-end developer from Toronto. I've been running my own design + dev business for almost a year now, and I love being able to work with all sorts of fun people on all sorts of fun projects! I also enjoy teaching what I know, so you can sometimes find me volunteering with Ladies Learning Code or mentoring over at HackerYou.

I've been designing and coding websites since that golden era that was late '90s, when coding sites in tables was all the rage, and CSS was almost unheard of. The only constant in web design is change, and I really like that (well, most of the time). It's impossible to be bored in this industry.

Cool, so what's the story behind your website and its design?

I launched my website at the same time that I launched my business. My previous site worked great as a job hunting portfolio, but I realized quickly that selling your skills to employers is an entirely different thing from selling your services to potential clients.

I knew I needed a site that told people what I did in an easy, straightforward way and made it super easy to get in touch, while also being an example of my design aesthetic. Designing for yourself is always the worst, so it took me a good 3-4 months from start to finish with lots of revisions and scrapped ideas in between. I'm quite happy with how it turned out in the end, even if getting there was slightly painful!

What part of your website is your favourite, and why?

I like the image in the large header on the home page (which is also repeated in a smaller header on the subpages) because it's (an edited version of) a picture I took myself a few years ago. My old site used to have a section dedicated to my photography because I used to do that on a freelance basis as well, so even though I chose to take that off my new site since I just take photos for fun these days, I was happy to be able to sneak some photography in.

My other favourite part (I'm allowed to have another one, right?) is more on the technical side. My site is synced across three installations with Git (I have a local version, a staging version, and a production version - maybe overkill?) so whenever I make a change, pushing it live is as easy as opening Terminal and doing a tiny bit of typing. Never having to use FTP to update my site makes me very happy.

Is there anything you wish you knew when you first started building your website?

I wish I'd been more into mobile-first design and development when I made my site. I definitely designed and coded my site in a, shall we say, old-school way, by which I mean that I designed the large version first and then "shrunk it down". Though I'm not necessarily convinced that designing mobile-first is always the way to go for every project, I do think that it's smart to at least design in a 'mobile concurrent' way so that it's not an afterthought. My site may have turned out similarly either way, but today I'd take a different approach.

Technologies, languages, frameworks, or libraries?

Things that power my website include: WordPress, Git, MAMP Pro to manage my local installation, Typekit + Google web fonts, Sass, and the ol' usual (HTML, CSS, and JavaScript - mostly jQuery, if we're being honest).

Any upcoming changes we should look out for?

I'm usually pretty occupied working on client projects, so my own site is pretty far down on the priority list. My next 'big change' will be getting my portfolio up to date!

Interview date: 26 Feb 2014Permalink