Over the last year or two, I’ve noticed a certain style emerge in brand and product design.

(this article originally appeared on DESK magazine)

Look at the graphic below and you’ll see it. The colors are soft and muted, the shapes rounded and the typography unobtrusive. It’s what you could describe as clean. It’s approachable. It’s inoffensive. It’s almost… cute.

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Zoom out and you’ll notice this particular aesthetic is everywhere.

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As a designer, you can choose your response to it. Some, seeing how it’s proliferated in the tech world, may call it unoriginal. Others deem it “design for designers.” There’s a hint of truth in all of it. …

A great portfolio requires a knack for curation and attention to details, and nobody knows that better than an art director.

I always enjoy seeing portfolios by art directors and creative directors, because they just get it. They are masters of presentation and meticulous about typography, about consistency, about the story they are telling. It’s their job, after all. And it makes for beautiful portfolios.

These are just a few great online portfolios I’ve seen lately from art directors who used Semplice to build their site.

Diego Gallego

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Estudio Diego Gallego is an independent graphic design consultancy based in Seville. The typography and layout lends a clean, editorial look to this portfolio without being predictably minimalist.

SEE PORTFOLIO

Tina Smith

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Tina Smith is an art director and designer based in New York. When I talked about meticulous, polished art director portfolios before, this one came first to mind. …

After announcing last week that I’m now partner & co-CEO at Carbonmade, I’ve received a lot of questions about the difference between Carbonmade and Semplice. I’d love to answer them right here.

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Ultimately, both products are great at what they do (otherwise I wouldn’t work on them) but they have slightly different use cases and it depends a lot on what you want to achieve with them.

As I mentioned in my original Carbonmmade announcement, I see both Semplice and Carbonmade on a spectrum. Someone might be using both, or starts with one tool and then eventually switches to the other for different reasons. But let’s look at the main differences between them.

Self-hosted vs. hosted

Semplice is self-hosted and based on WordPress. This means you have full control over where your data is and what hosting provider you want to use. Of course, this freedom comes with the additional responsibility of managing this all yourself (and some do love that, I myself do). …

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There’s a page I don’t see on portfolios as often as I’d like. When I do, it feels like a treat. I go through all the other pages on the site first. I scan the homepage, usually click straight to the About page, followed by a few case studies. Finally, dessert: The Playground page.

A Playground page is usually a scattered grid of half-finished projects, random ideas, experiments and rejected work we don’t typically get to see in a portfolio. It’s the place where no rules apply — the work doesn’t have to fit the brief, we don’t have to explain ourselves or our process, we don’t need to curate or prune. It’s the Playground page. Anything goes.

A Play page (here’s mine) tells me you love creating and experimenting outside of your paid job. It says you care about pushing yourself and thinking in new or different ways. …

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When we created Semplice in 2014, we didn’t call it Semplice 1. It was our first and only portfolio product. There was nothing to compare it to. Little did we know, we would soon have a strong community allowing Semplice to become better and better.

This month, we officially released Semplice 5. The team spent almost a year working on new features and we couldn’t be more proud of the final product. (Thank you to our beta testers who made it our smoothest launch ever.)

Every decision behind Semplice 5 was made to not only help you create your best portfolio, but allow you to enjoy the building experience more as well.

We added Master Blocks to help you build more efficiently, as well as 58 new Block layouts.

We created a night mode for those like ourselves who prefer late night work sessions.

We made tons of tiny refinements and streamlined the Semplice interface to make it more intuitive. …

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Designers love to argue about design tools.

Some like to treat it as their religion, as if their design tools are the only thing that gives them meaning. Perhaps it’s classic tribal behavior, similar to the Apple vs. Microsoft debate, a way to be part of a group. Only in this case, it’s paralyzing our craft.

In reality, none of this matters.

The reason I’m writing this isn’t to join the debate, but to help newcomers enjoy a smoother start in our walled-in design community. We’re making it harder for new designers to enter by artificially complicating our own practice.

Zooming out, trying to see all this as an outsider, the design community is a big, confusing cluster fuck.

It is rather simple: The tools you use don’t matter as long as you are able to complete your work. The only exception is when working with a team. Only then does your choice of tools matter, as they guarantee harmony and efficiency within your team. (This may also apply in a larger sense. …

A while back, I read that 90% of all startups fail within the first five years. That’s a scary prospect as a business owner, knowing your own company has a 10% chance or less of surviving.

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But this week, against all odds, Semplice hit the five-year mark. I’m incredibly proud of our team and beyond thankful to the community for their support for the past five years. We wouldn’t be here today without you.

It started in 2011, the dream to build a portfolio system we would personally want to use. A tool made for designers, by designers. Finally, after a couple years of development in solitude with my co-founder, we launched Semplice in 2014. Here are some fun facts:

Semplice is bootstrapped and independent

Semplice has been self-financed since the very beginning and has been profitable since the beginning. We are proud of that. We have never taken on investments and have remained independent over the years, despite plenty of temptation to do otherwise. …

This article was originally published on DESK by Jon

No matter what type of design you do, an online portfolio is a must. While the nature of UX design work might seem more difficult to showcase visually, a portfolio is even more necessary for UX designers.

Given the popularity of this field, UX designers need to stand out in a sea of competition online. What’s more, companies are still learning what UX design means for business, so it’s up to you to show how you are vital to theirs.

Semplice, our WordPress-based portfolio tool, is made specifically for designers and creative types. Using Semplice, you can create a unique website in no time at all, without coding knowledge.

We’ve shared examples of great UX portfolios built with Semplice. Now I’m going to show you how you can quickly and easily build your own beautiful UX design portfolio site, step by step. …

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Case studies are the foundation of a designer’s portfolio. They are also the main reason we procrastinate on our portfolio. Laying out a nice homepage is easy. Writing about our projects, on the other hand, feels like a daunting task:

Where do we begin?
What details do we include?
How long is too long, how short is too short?
What structure should it follow?

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in talking with almost 30 companies in our How to Get a Job at X series, it’s that they want to see context in your portfolio. …

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This article was originally posted on DESK of van Schneider.

I had high hopes when I first released .Mail, my email concept. Some press, thousands of sign-ups and countless hours of work later, the idea died a silent death. It’s my favorite project that never launched. We all have one.

A few years after I walked away from the wreckage of .Mail, I wrote about the experience here on the blog. I was surprised to see how much it resonated. People wrote and thanked me for being honest and sharing what I learned from the project. What was once a negative experience ultimately taught me a lot and inspired others. Plus, I’m still proud of that project. It might not have seen the light of day, but I still believe it was a great idea.

Our portfolios are typically focused on our very best work. Sometimes, our best work isn’t the work the client signs off on or the project that launches. Sometimes, even our not-so-great work has an important story to tell. Here’s how to share it in your portfolio. …

About

Tobias van Schneider

Self-taught Designer & Maker. Un-Employed. Founder of https://www.semplice.com/ Formerly Spotify — More About me: http://www.vanschneider.com

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