Great tips Emma and I had a look at your portfolio and it looks pretty awesome, love how minimalist it looks.
When I started I created my first layout straight out of my head, some things worked well others didn't, last year I decided to update the design of my site and I am mostly happy with it, the reason for that was because I used adobe xd to design it before implementing the code.
So I agree with your suggestion to design the layout first before jumping into code, it sure helps when you are trying to structure your things 😀
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