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A year in writing — 2017

Website in 6 minutes

This year I took it at a slower pace with the articles. It was a challenging year, as I aimed to focus on things outside of writing. I posted very little and stopped towards the end of the year. Aside from the challenges, I was quite surprised to see the website continue to grow.

The year past in reflection & statistics

These posts usually serve as a good way to start the year. I aim to reflect upon myself, the site and goals. I set out goals for 2016, but decided not to in 2017, at least not to do with this website.

2017 in reflection

At the start of the year, I posted one final post which saw me complete my goal of posting weekly for two years. I had a break in mind as soon as I’d hit this. I returned with a monthly posting schedule, with the first post after the break coming in March.

The main reason for this was I couldn’t maintain weekly posting, as I was looking for a new job and building a portfolio.

Job hunting is mentally draining & demotivating as a whole

During the break, I started making my portfolio, which saw a few revisions. I used Adobe Portfolio and aimed to get it done quickly and build up over time.

I was pretty rusty when it came to looking for a job. The last time I had to look I was pretty much just out of university, so the expectations and my situation are vastly different.

The scheduling, secrecy, judgment, etc., that come with it make it one of the most mentally draining things I’ve done for a long time. Trying to figure out whether you’re making the right decision and remaining patient takes a lot of effort.

I took frequent breaks to try avoid being overwhelmed. I got there in the end, if there’s one thing I’ve learnt this year: I juggled too much and unfortunately I paid the price.

Going back to doing things just for fun

This year was one I tried to really position myself as only being a designer. It put a lot of pressure on myself to make design only posts, I wrote and spoke less about code.

I originally started designing websites many years ago for fun. I started writing this website for fun and learning too. Over time, I feel like I’ve taken things too seriously—which isn’t me. The pressure I put on myself to be seen as ‘only a designer’ was wrong.

It was part of what had a knock on effect. As well as, things happening in my life and trying to succeed with finding a new job, I lost motivation for everything.

I wasn’t giving myself the necessary rest and looking after myself and personal life. So this is my unsolicited advice to you, there are more important things, look after yourself first.

Finding my motivation again and not over doing it

I avoided a lot of topics to keep things design focused. I had planned to change it and go back to an earlier idea of designing and coding. It’s too much work, I was being far too much of a perfectionist.

If I find myself posting regularly again, the content will be mixed between design and code. There’s benefits to each type of post, and it allows me to manage my time better.

Website year in review

This was a good year in terms of website visits and newsletter subscribers. Overall, traffic had a couple of spikes, but grew steadily. The same can be said of newsletter subscribers as well.

Things of note

In 2016 I got featured by a couple of prominent people in the industry, and this year was similar but with a couple of prominent websites instead. It’s always a pleasant surprise when it happens and I appreciate it.

I had the design submitted to Site Inspire and one or two articles popped up on Awwwards. This all happened between the end of April and early May. Gallery features, tweets and some other social stuff meant a high of nearly 20k sessions for the month of June! I believe at one stage I saw nearly 50 people online.

From what I can gather it was a bit of a snowball effect from the website being submitted to bestwebsite.gallery. I’m really grateful for those submissions. It brought a huge amount of traffic and newsletter subscribers (by my standards at least).

Website updates

I released a redesign at the end of August 2016. With many plans for improvements, 2017 allowed me to work on improving iteratively. This is what I call my own iterating in public experience.

Over the course of the year I’d made some bigger changes but many small improvements and bug fixes. Some notable changes and additions were:

There’s quite a change between these two homepages. It seems people resonated more with the full width hero area in terms of design.

The rest of the changes have been mostly around visual refinement. Adhering to a more rigid grid and alignment throughout. Objectively those changes have made for a nicer flow through out the page. Less of the wide narrow wide narrow layouts.

Visits month by month

A comparison table of visits in 2017, 2016 and 2015.

MonthVisits 2017Visits 2016Visits 2015
January64662784735
February72513140870
March821851241122
April832338301099
May1947543241229
June1143445441338
July1059846551473
August1106145921772
September1131558552110
October1337863902310
November1332369392488
December1157859412545

You can see the biggest month was May, the features mentioned earlier was the influence. It dropped off, but has maintained a nice increase overall.

Comparing to the previous two years you can see the difference writing consistently has made. Albeit this year has been dramatically reduced.

Visits by notable browser

No surprises here, as always Chrome is the runaway leader, with Safari and Firefox the next biggest browsers.

BrowserVisits 2017Visits 2016Visits 2015
Chrome783143856912484
Safari (+ Mobile)1250552951530
Firefox1023571612955
IE11551027683
Opera773476148
Edge58021923

Top 10 read articles

It’s nice to see some of the newer articles I have wrote move into this list in comparison to last year.

  1. Creating a horizontal scrolling responsive menu
  2. Creating custom stroke width profiles in Illustrator
  3. Alternatives to Circular
  4. Using flexbox for horizontal scrolling navigation
  5. Enhancing horizontal scrolling with flickity.js
  6. Multiple level horizontal scrolling
  7. How to use kerning and tracking
  8. A guide to vertical rhythm
  9. How to flexible squares with CSS
  10. Websites using alternatives to the hamburger

Summary of the year

Sessions: 131.2k, users: 103.8k, page views: 263.9k, pages per session: 2.01, avg. session: 1m 17s.

I was quietly hoping to double traffic, last year was 58k and this year was 131k, so it’s definitely exceeded expectations. One of the surprises is the average of 2 pages per session, this was around 1.4 last year.

The most important thing for me is to keep readers returning. I can only do that by giving reason to keep coming back. I aim to do this, but without pressuring myself too much.

Goals for 2018

This year again, it’s going to be things which I’d like to do, rather than hold myself to (aside from one or two):

I hope you have a good year ahead.

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