in Indieweb, Reflection

Featured image credit: Natasha Norton

Year-End Commitments

It’s fairly unbelievable how quickly the last half of this year has flown by. Marty reminded me that it’s time again for the end of year commitments. Over the last two years of co-hosting Homebrew Website Club:Baltimore  I’ve greatly enjoyed this reflective and goal-setting process.

Here’s a link to my previous year-end commitments:

  • 2018-01-01 Commitments
  • I can’t currently seem to find my 2017 commitments, but will update if/when I find them!

Year-End and Next Year Commitments

Last year I structured my commitments by including technical goals and non-technical goals. I liked this format so I’m going to repeat it this year.

I’m going to approach this slightly differently. I’m going to outline some goals that I have for 2019 as well as a list of goals that I want to complete before 2019.

2019-01-01 Commitments

I love the idea of goal setting for short periods. Since the end of the year is quickly approaching, I need to set appropriately scaled goals that I can actually accomplish.

I’m trying to set goals that are concrete since the timeframe is fairly short. Ideally, these year-end goals would allow me to get a head start on my 2019 goals.

Technical Goals:

  • Experiment with GatsbyJS v2.0 and determine if I want to switch my site (quarterly debate with myself on this one)
  • Switch entirely to Cloudinary and become familiar with the URL-based API so that I can use it to optimize and minimize images
  • Create at least 2 blog layouts using HTML, CSS, and very minimal JS and provide these as starter templates

Non-Technical Goals:

  • Get caught up on my writing! I have several topics that I want to write posts about
    • Specific: Write 1 post each week leading into the new year
  • Share more personal examples of my work and workflow with others
  • Better understand the core values and objectives of the IndieWeb

Looking Forward: 2019 Goals

I learned quite a lot in 2018. Even though my learning and practice fell off from August – September due to lots of personal milestones (and fighting off a period of burnout), I still greatly accelerated my personal skill in 2018.

I want to refine this in the next year and find more balance. As I learned more, I found that I wanted to work on lots of projects. However, I became fairly burnt out by the end of summer and it took a few months of very minimal engagement to get back into learning and working on web projects.

With that said, here are my goals for 2019:

Technical Goals:

  • Switch back to statically generated site through Gatsby
    • Why: Had some recent negative experiences with my current setup and have more reasons/requests recently to create sites for others where Gatsby would be a good fit
  • Determine if I want to use a headless CMS with WordPress or Contentful for my site, or if I want to just write posts with Markdown again
  • Build out some base HTML/CSS templates to help others get started
  • Rework my site to be more optimized and accessible

Non-Technical Goals:

  • Write more often! I always include this as a goal but I tend to get stuck in ruts where I don’t write any personal content
  • Figure out how to bring more folks into our meetups and how to be a resource to help others get on the web
  • Related to this, determine how to create more resources to help others get started with the web:
    • Could this be a choose your own adventure to help others determine what type of website they’d like to create?
  • Better document and share examples of my workflow of moving from Figma prototypes -> HTML/CSS -> WordPress or React
  • Balance my web time between personal projects, work projects, and projects for others (freelance or donated)

My Current Mindset

I want to conclude this post with some brief reflection on my current mindset about where I am with web related pursuits. I’ve had lots of great discussions with Marty lately about the Rule of Least Power as it relates to web design and content creation. More and more I find that this principle should guide my design decisions. Basically:

  • Design the content of the site using semantic HTML
  • Add minimal CSS and keep the site as readable as possible, while also optimized
  • If you want animations, and if the animations can be done with CSS, do them with CSS
  • Add JavaScript only when it contributes to the actual UX of the site and meets specific needs
  • Add additional “power” only as needed

I completely agree with this as a guiding light, but I find myself giving in by my interest in learning frameworks such as React and Vue, and over the past year, I’ve tended to blend the two things together. However, after working through some projects recently I’ve decided that I can pursue both interests at the same time as long as I work on appropriate things.

Having now used React in a real-world (non-tutorial) context, I have more insight into when and why I want to use it. Of course, there are some things I’ve made just to test things out and boost skills, but in this context, I’m referring to actual projects.

Since I have more insight into when to leverage React (or Vue) I now don’t feel compelled to force-fit it into every project. This allows me to solve problems (and be creative!) with basic HTML and CSS and focus on writing semantic HTML and well-structured CSS.

Recently, I’ve been aware of what appears to be a bias against front-end developers who specialize largely in HTML and CSS. The implication is that if you devote your time to understanding HTML and CSS best practices and crafting well written, semantic HTML and clear, concise CSS that you’re somehow less important than a developer who works within modern JavaScript frameworks.

I’m presenting this in a far more reductive way that I intend — I have a much larger post in mind on this topic. All that to say that I have a huge amount of respect for folks who take time to educate others on the intricacies and beauty of well-constructed HTML and CSS and that I find it an exciting area to work in.

I intend to write more on these topics in the upcoming weeks. I wanted to just get some quick notes out to provide some insight into what I’m currently thinking about web design.

 

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