2016 – A year in review

Inspired from discussions on the slack community inline block, I wanted to keep a log of some of my achievements this year. I wasn’t originally going to write a yearly review, I find them a little self indulgent, but after reading Darren Beale’s year in review I was inspired to make a few notes. After all, if you can’t self indulge on your own blog, where can you?

Here is a short but sweet review of 2016.

Things that went well

A new website

After years of half finished designs and one page websites I finally put a website live! I’ve been tinkering ever since and has become a nice little playground for me to experiment. It was first put live towards the end of March but has changed considerably since them.

Some parts I am particularly proud of are the use of system fonts, truly responsive font sizes and the overall performance.

Inline block community

A community setup by Marc Jenkins earlier this year. It’s been a great source of knowledge and friendship. Shortly after it was launched Marc asked me to become an admin – a great honour. You can join the community at http://www.inlineblock.co.uk/.

30 day writing challenge

As part of the inline block community, Marc Jenkins organised the 30 day writing challenge in April. While I didn’t write as much as I’d like, I did write. I write a lot for the agency I work for, so often find it difficult to muster the energy to write in my own time. This challenge gave me the encouragement (and kick up the…) to start posting. Thanks Marc and everyone who took part!

Writing

This has been a year of ups and down for writing (more on the down later). The first part of the year was particularly successful. Here are some posts I am particularly proud of:

Homebrew Website Club Birmingham

Spurring from conversations with Marc Jenkins and Paul Tibbetts we founded Homebrew Website Club Birmingham. We meet every month to provide a place for people to discuss and collaborate on their own projects. We’ve held three so far with attendance increasing each time. We’re still ironing out a flow everyone enjoys for the evening but we’re receiving some really good feedback. We have around 10-15 people attend each time and (I think) is the biggest Homebrew Website Club in the country! Information on future meetups can be found on Homebrew Website Club Birmingham.

Staffs Web Meetup

It was another great year for Staffs Web Meetup. We had our second birthday with over 1000 people attending since our first meetup in October 2014. It’s been hard but enjoyable work. We already have the first half of next year booked up. Make sure to follow Phil Wylie and Natasha Allsopp who help organise the event.

Chop Chop – Open source front end framework

Along with friends and colleagues at work we’ve been working on an open source front end framework. It was founded 18 months ago (so not technically this year) but most of the development has taken place over the last year. We have lots planned for the coming year. Even if you don’t use it for your own projects it’s definitely worth a nose.

Parts I am particularly proud of include the responsive typography (which was first trailed on this website), the grid and visibility classes which are generated automatically from an array in the variables file and it’s overall size (just 5kb of CSS gzipped).

Film photography

This was the first year I dabbled with film photography. You can see some of my photos in my photography section. I use my dad’s Olympus OM10. I’ve always had a keen interest in photography but struggled in post production with photos often sitting on my hard drive, never to see that light of day. It’s never been through lack of skill but more through lack of energy to work on computers in my spare time. I love the look of film photography straight out the box so I can focus on the part I enjoy – going out and taking photos.

Design processes at work

Over the past year at work we’ve been working hard to change the way we work – moving from a waterfall process to something much more agile. It’s been one of the hardest things I’ve ever tried to do but it finally feels like we’re over the biggest hurdles. There is still a long way to go but the future looks bright. When comparing websites using the new flow and the old one, it’s night and day. As they say, proof is in the pudding and this pudding tastes good!

Things that didn’t go well

Writing

The first six months was a great success for my writing. I was writing nearly every week at one point. During the last six months it has died down to almost nothing. I have over two dozen post ideas in my writing app and often deleted some because they’ve become irrelevant or out of date.

Personal site

Development of this site has become stagnant over the past few months. Posts have been few and far between and I have only just updated the photography section after months.

Public speaking

2015 was a great year for public speaking. I spoke at six events including WordCamp London. This year I only had the opportunity to speak at one event. I hope to speak at many more meetups and work towards a full length conference talk.

Reading

I’ve not read nearly as much as I’d like. More recently I’ve been listening to audiobooks which has helped with my commute. In particular, I’ve been enjoying books by Jon Ronson. Next year I want to read more and learn new things that aren’t related to the web industry.

Weight gain

After losing a lot of weight a few years ago, it has slowly been going back on. This year was probably the worst. I definitely need to manage my weight better. Sitting at a desk all day takes it’s toll. I play squash but need to eat healthier and go for more walks.

Targets for next year

Posted on 31st December 2016

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