I’ve jumped in and out of creating ibuiltmyown.education because it’s been interspersed with the equally busy development of my MTA Portfolio.

The building of this site can be grouped into three key creation periods: 2019, 2020 and 2023.

2019: Finding the form

I knew the structure of the website had to represent the structure of my master’s degree, so the first thing I created was the MTA Overview page.

It was the site’s original homepage and once I had the elements of my MTA mapped out on the overview page, I started to see what additional webpages I would need to fully embody my master’s degree.

Aside from no longer being the site’s homepage, the MTA Overview page really hasn’t changed that much from how I originally built it.

The new MTA Overview page has a different header to the original one

It expresses the aesthetic I always envisioned for this site – modular.

In the same way that my self-created MTA is modular and has elements that have been added or removed or changed as I have developed it further, I wanted ibuiltmyown.education to also express this philosophy in its visual design.

Each block represents a different part or page of my MTA Portfolio on its overview page

Beyond playing around with a potential layout for the concentration pages, I didn’t do much more work on the site in 2019.

2020: COVID_19 Lockdown 1

As with so many other people, I spent the first COVID lockdown furloughed at home, so I poured all my time and attention into working on ibuiltmyown.education.

Without a doubt it was the biggest development period of the site because I spent a solid four months straight working on it.

During this period, I created all the concentration pages, learning module pages, diploma wall pages, some of the final project pages and the original about page.

The header slides from the original about page

That was about one hundred different webpages all said and done.

I settled on the layouts for each and filled them all up with content.

It was a lot of hard work but it definitely kept me focused during Lockdown 1.

2023: Progressing the site into a presentable form

I created ibuiltmyown.education so I could use it as a portfolio website to present my MTA to interested parties.

But it lacked a concise homepage and clearly informative about page.

As far as I was concerned, the whole site was unpresentable and completely pointless until it possessed a proper homepage and about page.

It also required updates on the concentration pages, learning module pages and diploma wall pages as I had undertaken additional courses and acquired new diplomas which needed to be added.

I had also created a few new learning modules which needed new webpages and content to represent them.

But the priority was building a homepage and new about page!

An early sketch for the homepage when it was envisioned as being a slider with a few link blocks beneath

This is a big website with a lot of pages on it and I’m not expecting the user to trawl through every single one.

I created such a big portfolio website for my own ends so that I could use it for reference with future clients, collaborators and employers.

But I am expecting the average website user to do what they do on all other websites… look at the homepage and about page.

The MTA Overview page was the initial homepage I used for the site, but I never intended for it to remain the homepage.

I always knew I needed a more simplistic and accessible homepage that presented the key attributes of my MTA Portfolio without presenting the whole thing.

One of the slides from the main slider on the new homepage

Likewise, with the about page, I needed something that would concisely present an engaging explanation of my MTA Portfolio.

The problem with my original about page (which I never finished because I knew it wasn’t working) was that it very quickly got away from me.

There was lots of rambling content on the original about page

I was trying to present too much information on the about page and it was just overwhelming.

It was also overwhelming to create!

Rambling content that kept getting side-tracked

My original solution was to create multiple about pages; with each about page detailing a different aspect of my MTA Portfolio.

I even started to create some of these additional about pages back in 2020.

All the additional about pages and their links at the bottom of the original about page

But creating more about pages wasn’t a solution, it just added fuel to the initial overwhelming problem!

I needed to go in the opposite direction, I needed a much more simplistic about page.

Luckily after a lot of tinkering and being ruthless with cutting down on my content, I hit on the form of the new and winning about page.

It’s vastly more simplistic than the original about page but still manages to incorporate aspects of its design, as well as elements from the other about pages.

The coloured band highlighting key information was incorporated from my earlier about pages

It’s a surprisingly effective summation of both my MTA Portfolio and the other about pages that came before it.

The idea to add a blog to the site also developed from the excessive content of the original about pages.

Now that the site has a blog, it provides me with a means to present all that extra information about my MTA Portfolio without cramming it down the user’s throat.

Reading the blog is optional on the user’s part.

I’ve been gradually updating the site since January of this year and I’ve jumped into building the new homepage and about page since the beginning of May.

At the time of writing this blog post, both the new homepage and about page are up and running and very nearly finished.

There are still a few minor things I need to tweak and I still need to write some new content for some of the new learning module pages.

I also still need to add all the eventual write-ups of my completed MTA final projects.

But the site is now in a presentable form.