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Njeri Cooper
Njeri Cooper

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3 Powerful Tips for a Developer's Portfolio

Over the last 4 months, I've built and scrapped 3 versions of my personal website. It was missing a lot of stuff and I wasn't able to figure out exactly what without guidance. After reading several books and taking courses, it was clear that my website was basic. It had no special web technologies. It would not help me become the developer that's behind the title. The process was meticulous, but I learned the significance of having a personal portfolio. Here are the key takeaways from my journey:

Select All + Delete and Start From Scratch

Sometimes we become attached and get married to our visions and ideas. Over these 4 months, I've learned that most ideas suck and the vision may not serve the projected end user. My site wasn't live. It had no monthly traffic. There were no backlinks directed to it, so instead of trying to put Fabreze on the poop pile of my site, I nuked it. When I started over, each time I had more knowledge, skill, and technique than the last time.

Use Your Best Tools

I got comfortable with showcasing relevant tools and technologies, but not overdoing it. It didn't make sense to have a dropdown menu with aria states or an animated CSS email form. 😔 Instead, I made a beautiful button that linked to my CodePen projects. That made more sense because that's where I've put these types of projects on display. The nav bar I wanted to use had transitions and lots of Javascript to show off my arrow function skills. Woefully, I had to be okay with using Javascript sparingly.

Saltbae Gif from Giphy

Create your site with the languages and tools you want to be hired to use.

Be The Product

I love creating... for other people. I had a hard time becoming and making my website the product. It took an old school product design session of outlining the user personas and their tasks to drive it home for me. I am what the user wants to see. My image, title, and skills needed to be above the fold, not below like when I'm creating other things.

Bonus: aSk FoR hElp

As a junior dev, I'd have to be psychic to know what exactly hiring managers are looking for. Either that or I'd have sat in on interviews or had senior dev workload. I haven't done that, but I do know a few devs I could have critique my projects.

You may not want to bother your super smart and busy network with something as simple as a portfolio. If it means leveling up into the next tax bracket, eh. Remember, there's no such thing as a stupid question. You know what they say, "better safe than under valued."

Spongebob chicken meme from Giphy

Check out my portfolio on Codepen

Or on Github

GitHub logo njericooper / My-Website

Code for my personal Website. I'm back, f*ckers

Tools used

  • CSS Grid
  • CSS Flexbox
  • JS Date() Object
  • Aria roles
  • Accessible color palette builder (visit the Github project here)
  • Serverless (Hosted on Firebase using Cloud functions)

Design Inspiration

Cartoon TV show:

Njeri Cooper

I use the web to educate, innovate, and create. Feel free to send me a message here.

Website | | CodePen | | DevTo

What are some must-haves on your website? What do you look for on candidates portfolios? Please, share below.

Njeri Cooper

I use the web to educate, innovate, and create. Feel free to send me a message here.

Website | | Twitter | | CodePen

Top comments (8)

njericooper profile image
Njeri Cooper • Edited

Howdy, Jorge!

A few answers for you:

  1. I developed my front end to showcase my ability to make a beautiful User Interface that provides an enjoyable User Experience.

  2. We are all selling something, all the of time. Right now, I’m job hunting, so I’m selling myself. Soon, when I’m employed, I will be selling my employer’s product.

  3. Lots of companies are looking to diversify. Some time ago, someone realized that people other than white males can code. I’m a queer, black woman, so I’d meet a few of the diversity quotas in one hire. 🦄

  4. The external links are to relevant accounts with more about me and my work. This leads me to the next question.

  5. Would people know me better if I had my current location on my site? (I’m not from Nashville btw) Does my current location matter if I’m willing to relocate? Also, a Google search may point you to some of the previous projects I’ve worked on over the last decade.

  6. Yes sirry. I have UX experience. I’ve had a UX web developer position recently. I also have a certification in start up apps and have been to a 4 year university for engineering management with a concentration in video game design 😉 (video games have to have good ux or they won’t get played). I’m technical. Do I count, yet?

  7. I’m 25. I don’t check my email all day. The quickest way to get in touch with me is by @‘ing me on twitter.

  8. I have a personality. I use the horns all the time in normal conversation 🤘🏽😜 If I’m old, I’m old.

  9. A pat on the back isn’t necessary. I’m just looking for a job.

Thank you for asking me some questions about myself. I hope these answers find you well.

If anyone wants to know anything else, please reach out!

dhkamp profile image
David Hölkeskamp

Bad thins first (highly subjectal though - I dont like custom cursors). That's all the bad things I have to say :)

I really like your website, it's small, it's simple it has all the contents it needs, its (thank god) neither boring nor bloated - and the best of all it gives a first impression of what kind of a person you are.

I'm not in the role of hiring someone but if I was I would at least invite you to a personal interview.

njericooper profile image
Njeri Cooper

Hey, David!

I’m a 90’s kid and back then, web conventions weren’t solidified. I remember going to sites with lots of different cursors and weird widgets.

I guess I added a bit of nostalgia 😌

Thank you. I appreciate that 🙏🏾

sebbdk profile image
Sebastian Vargr • Edited

I think it shows personality, what if it was an toggable obvious Easter-egg,
a "hidden" party button, maybe add some rythmjs

That would be so boss! :D

noahgibbs profile image
Noah Gibbs

Love this - very solid article, great tips. I'm an old guy, so I've had to learn about dev portfolios slowly. Now they're so common people are writing articles about why you shouldn't build them! Life comes at you fast.

I found you from your noCSdegree interview, which was also fantastic.

Also: almost nobody's willing to delete and restart the same project over and over. And you learn so much by doing it. That's probably the best point in the whole post.

ankitverma31 profile image
Ankit Verma • Edited

As I like front-end web development, I have added screenshots/snaps of all of my previous projects along with github repo source. And in some cases I have also added live view of project. I think portfolio is a place where you showcase your work, skills, about yourself, etc.
checkout my portfolio here:

njericooper profile image
Njeri Cooper

Certainly. I agree with all of those things. Your portfolio looks cool 😎

ankitverma31 profile image
Ankit Verma

Thank you :)