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New Portfolio Site, How I Got Here, & Where I’m Going

Welcome to my new portfolio site! For many reasons, my professional online presence has been neglected for far too long. Some of those reasons are for a conversation over coffee/beer, and others are understandable as far as I’m concerned. Regardless, I’m excited to get this creative ball rolling again, so allow me to give you a quick 10-year recap to explain where I came from, how I got here, and where I want to go.

After getting my BFA in 2014, I moved back to my hometown of Idaho Falls with the intention of it being a checkpoint before moving away again to bigger better things. With the student loans about to kick in, I got a job as an ad trafficker at the Post Register, the local newspaper. With very little to no design work to be done in this position, I was already looking for my next job to utilize my creative skills. I had worked at the Post Register for about 3 months when I received a message on Linked In from my current employer.

After a couple of interviews, I managed to get my first REAL design job with Manwaring Web Solutions (MWS) where I still work today — so much for leaving town! Coming in like any new graduate, I was energetic, excited to get started, and ready to impress my colleagues. For all kinds of businesses and organizations, I was designing websites, logos, business cards, brochures, and more… all from scratch. Probably the coolest thing of all was that my employer allowed me to build upon my self-taught HTML and CSS knowledge to learn how to slice web designs from start to finish. It was exhilarating to say the least, because I couldn’t believe I was getting paid to do what I love, and was happy to have the opportunity to use my degree in my field of work (it made the student debts feel more worth it). After some changes with the company, I moved into the Lead Designer role where my knowledge and experience have been trusted to make final design decisions and implement best practices ever since. Just like any other company, MWS has had to adapt to stay competitive in a rapidly growing industry, and we had to find ways to become more efficient with our workflows. This is where my front-end abilities came in clutch.

So, we shifted our focus and adopted a new CMS to replace the one we had been developing in-house. This change was revolutionary in terms of output, and the way we went about our work. After a couple of orbits around the sun we have the system perfected and we are launching 65+ websites annually on average. With our efficiencies in place, we’ve been focusing on maximizing the design budget for each project to deliver unique and elevated websites every time.

When our well-oiled machine is running like a dream, I make it a point to start looking at our processes and services to see if there’s anything we can improve upon, or even add to our offerings. Funny enough, when I’m looking inward at our things at work, that is also when my brain feels clear enough to focus on personal projects (like this portfolio site). I got married in August 2023 and went on the most amazing Hawaiian honeymoon. Since returning to normal life, I’ve felt refreshed and motivated to be “better.” Thankfully, I was able to take a Thanksgiving vacation to celebrate the holiday with my in-laws in New Jersey, and that freed me up to make some real progress on the site you’re looking at right now.

In the blink of an eye, I’ve been with MWS for over 9 years. I’ve learned a lot as a graphic designer and front-end developer, but the most important things I’ve learned have to do with client communications, managing expectations, and facilitating the completion of agreed-upon objectives in a contract as a project manager. The actual work that completes the project is important, but setting the stage for the whole team to succeed is paramount.

With the launch of this new portfolio site, I will be refining the way I present my work to highlight my skillset and what I bring to the table. I know who I am as a person, I know who I am as a creative, and I know what I’m capable of, so it’s time for my portfolio to showcase all of those things in one package. I’m ready to sink my soul into some long-form, meaningful design with my portfolio, and curate an archive of outstanding projects along the way. I also plan to have some fun with integrating social media into the mix as well. See the Instagram CTA at the bottom of this post, for example. ;)

Here is to new beginnings, and striving to be the best version of myself on and off the screen. If you’d like to meet up (in-person/virtually) to chat about ideas or projects you’ve got in mind, please let me know. I’d love to hear what you’ve got cookin’.

About the author

Kyle Clay Richards

Designer who executes marketing strategies through print, digital, and user experience mediums. Coder with a mobile-first frame of mind. Inspired and motivated to make an environmental, economic, and social impact.