Year in Review: Highlights from 2011

As we’ve started to get back into the swing of things after Christmas only to find ourselves thrown off kilter by New Year’s Eve, it’s quite common to find yourself thinking about the past year. What you did, what you couldn’t find time to get done, what you promise you’ll get done this year.

I’ve been thinking about Monday By Noon a lot lately. Most often I think about how much I let the readers of this site down. As I reviewed archives of the past year I was heavily reminded of how much this site was neglected over the past twelve months. I’ve got excuses to the moon and back, but the fact of the matter is I’ve had this site on the back burner for the past twelve months.

My biggest excuse is my workload. As I look at projections for the next six months, that’s not changing one bit (and I’m supremely thankful for that). Additionally, I refuse to compromise family time. All that to say: I recognize that I will not be finding myself with any new magical free time in 2012, so it’s time to get more rigid with my schedule. One of my goals for 2012 is to (at least) double the publications to Monday By Noon. That includes trying my very best to publish an article of length every Monday as well as share even more via the Asides. A big reason I haven’t been writing as much is that I’ve been reading all of the great stuff everyone else is publishing. My goal will be to consciously post the stuff that doesn’t supersaturate OPML’s and Twitter.

Moving on…

Now that I’ve concluded the self deprecating portion of this article, I’d like to link to the articles I really enjoyed writing over the past year.

Of Course it’s About the Tools, it Always Has Been
I definitely had an over-obsession with my toolset and workflow in 2011. I don’t feel it was really a hinderance, however, and I take it to be a personal refinement of sorts. I think it was a result of my needing a change in what I was doing and how I was doing it. I wanted to raise my own bar and I felt that a more advanced toolset or a different way to go about things might scratch that itch. It wasn’t until the past month or so when that need finally met some resolution. I’m hoping to cover that process (and the results) in more detail in 2012.
Improving Your Process: WordPress Development Using Xdebug
Continuing on my path of tool discovery, I forced myself to integrate a more professional method of PHP development into my workflow. Xdebug is a PHP extension used in debugging your code. You can think of it as more elegant than a number of echos and print_r()‘s. That’s just scratching the surface, though. Using Xdebug allows you to become more intimate with the systems you’re working with, and in doing so your quality of work increases exponentially.
Revisiting Custom Post Types, Custom Taxonomies, and Permalinks
WordPress continued to make waves in 2011. 2012 will be the same story, and I hope to write more about my tips and tricks through the next year. One of the biggest lightbulbs for me this year was learning more about how WordPress handled permalinks. I’ve got a case of URL OCD and finding out how to better structure my URLs when it came to Custom Post Types and Custom Taxonomies really helped with that.
An Ode to Sass: Where it Fits and How it Doesn’t (for Me)
The tool trend continues. Another major revision to my workflow was integrating Sass. Sass is an extension of CSS3 that is extremely powerful once you provide it the proper time, exposure, and integration. It’s a dangerous tool though, and is easily abused. When used properly though, Sass can make your CSS sing. I’ve come to really embrace Sass over the past six months and I’m glad it continues to get the attention it deserves.
It’s Been Quiet, But a Lot Has Been Going On
Through my struggle with my toolset I took some time to get in the trenches with responsive design. Late as it may be, it came down to being one of those “time” things. I dove in head first and took the first steps toward making Monday By Noon responsive, and embraced the power of the concept in doing so. Responsive design isn’t going anywhere, and it’s important to have some experience under your belt. It was in August when we launched our first premium WordPress plugin as well, Attachments Pro. It was the first time we ‘sold software’ so there was a bit of a learning curve here, but things are going great, and we have even more plans for 2012 when it comes to premium WordPress plugins.
I Went to the Dentist & Here’s What I Learned About Client Work
I learn more about clients with every year I do client work. It’s one of those things where you’ll never read every page of the book, but with each chapter you become better at it. I really enjoy talking about the client aspect of our industry, and I had a number of realizations as I went through a stint at the dentist this past year. It was a great reminder that we need to keep our eyes opened for influence outside our nice little comfortable bubble, the more context you can bring to the table the better.
Episode 15 – Creatiplicity
I had my first podcast interview! I was really excited to sit down and have a chat with Chris Bowler and Shawn Blanc on Creatiplicity, a podcast I’ve been listening to since day one. We talked about everything, from the origins and direction of Monday By Noon, the ins and outs of client work, & side projects to family and inspiration. It was an awesome time and I’ll continue to look fondly on it.
Iron to Iron – One Year Later
Here’s the biggie. A big accomplishment of 2011 was the first full year in business for Iron to Iron. The ride has been amazing and I wanted to share a true-to-life recap of how things went, beginning with the planning stages through the first year. I sat down with the goal of writing an article that I would have loved to read as Kevin and I (and our families) were planning things, and I hope it helps those of you who are looking to travel down a similar path. This has been by far my post ‘personal’ article, but I think personality is something appropriate to incorporate from time to time.

It’s been another crazy year, but I’ve settled on my MBN goal for 2012: get back into the swing of things and stick to it. Thanks so much for sticking with me through 2011, while it was a transformational year I’m thinking 2012 is going to raise the bar a bit!