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The Design Process

I've always felt like my resumes never told the whole story about me. I never spent more than an hour developing my previous resumes. They did not communicate the level of obsessiveness that I pour into my design work. Since HR software filters me out anyway, why not just make a really pretty CV that actual creative directors would appreciate?

Mika's Old Resumes

Inspired by Edward Tufte's books on visualizing information, I sought out to create an infographic resume. It's not a novel idea. There are a few really good ones out there but most are just full of visual fluff.

What does this mean?

How accurate is your own rating of your skills? Anyone can rate themselves a 5 in Photoshop. I wanted my resume to be an infographic but still have substance. There are autogenerated infographic resume sites like vizualize.me but their designs are a one size fits all and get their information from LinkedIn.

Mika vizualized

To stand out from the other visual resumes, I started by collecting my own data. It took me 1 whole week just to collate all the designs I've ever made plus some info such as when I made it, how many hours it took me, for what purpose, where I made it, how much I got paid for it, etc. It certainly revealed a lot about my design career, but that's another story. Basically my Excel file super zoomed out looked like this:

Mika's Design Excel File

I'm not sure about other designers but I'm not afraid to touch tools like Excel. It was extremely helpful. (Honestly though, I think the UI could improve a lot.) Now that I had the data, the next step was figuring out which data to display and how to do it. I settled with showcasing my hours as a timeline. But how was I supposed to plot over 8000 points?

Bless you python

Thankfully I knew how to code so I wrote a script to read the csv from the Excel file and output to an svg that I could edit in Illustrator using svgwrite. Even though I calculated the manhours it would take to come up with the code to be slightly more than manually placing the hours, in the long term, it was a better decision to code since it allowed me to modify the scales and generate new graphs in seconds. Also it turns out that I underestimated my speed with coding. My first iteration separated the full time work (left side of page) and freelance/personal work (right side of page). This is what I came up with:

The ugly

The left one is when I went a little bit crazy and experimented with a diagonal grid. I thought it was cool and interesting but people told me it was very hard to read. I ended up with the one on the right and one of my good friends told me whoever didn't hire me from that was crazy. But I wasn't satisfied with it. I wanted a resume that I could hang on my wall, something that I could look at and be proud of.

The bad

Just when I thought I had colour tweaking left to do, I destroyed the base layout again. I tried focusing on other things - like making the locations central because it's my branding. I did something crazy again - I changed the columns to 2 weeks instead of just 1. A happy accident I discovered while changing the orientation to portrait mode was that it reminded me of dripping paint. It was a very promising visual metaphor. But the data I had didn't make a very nice shape. I can't make up false data just to make a pretty graph. At this point I questioned my earlier decision to separate full-time and freelance/personal. It was adding another dimension making the graph more confusing. So I decided to remove it.

Getting there

I started filling up the new portrait orientation layout but it was still unharmonious to my eyes (left). I went with a different approach, this time focusing on what I would like to see hanging on my wall. I explored the paint drip metaphor further by changing the column from 2 weeks to 1 year. I managed to create a minimalist poster (right). But it is definitely no resume and I still feel like too much space is empty. I must admit that it looks really good on the thumbnail.

nearly there

It wasn't until I decided to modify the scale from 1 circle is to 1 hour to 1 circle is to 2 hours and flipping the axis again when I hit a breakthrough. The new scale gave the graph more space to be visible. Changing the orientation created the new visual metaphor of a skyline which was more in line with my branding. (Although with this one I really see a castle with flags.) The last touch was switching the text and the place icons. I had to get rid of some in the final version but now I have something to hang on my wall as a visual monument to remind myself of the design career that I am building.

There is still much room for improvement for my next version. While this one shows how much effort I put into work, far more important is the actual effectiveness of my output. For my next career visualization, I will start recording the measurable impact of the things I have designed. I also want to make it an automated web based system instead of just the static one I have right now.

Coming Soon: The evolution of my personal branding

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