2015 — A Year of Change
Now that 2016 is here, it is time for some reflection. Last year was a big year of change for me — my first full year running my web consulting business. The recession of 2008 created a series of events that led me to finally sell my ecommerce business in 2011. It was a business I ran for ten years. It was a difficult time for me but the experience taught me many valuable lessons.
Since then, there have been a few detours. I sold real estate for a few years and was relatively successful at it, but it wasn’t something I was passionate about. I was spending more time on the technology side then the people side of the business. I still loved writing code and the creativity it inspired. It’s been the constant thread through my life since my first computer back in the 80’s. So in September 2014, I jumped back in with both feet and I couldn’t be happier.
I’m obsessed with learning and improving my skills. In 2015, I binge-watched courses on Lynda.com and Treehouse.com with a passion. I was hungry for knowledge. I was inspired by the podcast from Tonya Mork titled Quality Code by Design and a series of tutorials from the WPDC about code quality. Since then, I’ve been exploring how to improve my code. I love the idea of writing modular, clean, self-documenting code that easy to reuse.
If you missed the Genesis Camp videos from last summer, they are definitely worth exploring. If you use a Mac, be sure to watch The Essential Mac Setup by Bodie Quirk. I’ve since included several of the apps he recommended and am so happy I did. My desktop is finally cleaned each night by Hazel.
I’ve gone from customizing StudioPress themes to building projects from a standardized codebase. The beauty of this is I can take “my code” with me on each project. Being familiar with it means I can be more efficient at using it. I’ve now reached a point where I feel comfortable adapting my starter theme for any client project rather than trying to customize a child theme that is unfamiliar to me. Huge time saver and so much easier to support.
My Starter Theme Changed
Initially I built my own starter theme from the Genesis Sample theme, but I’ve since adapted the Utility Pro theme by Carrie Dils (no longer available) for my workflow. What sold me on Utility Pro was the developer edition and the built-in accessibility, configuration files and Sass files. This was the foundation I needed to build out my own starter theme. I’ve adapted it for my workflow, added and removed parts that make sense for how I work.
Sass – I love using it. It has completely changed how I design and style my projects. It’s worth it just for the variables alone, but there is so much more. If you want to learn how to transition from working with CSS to Sass, I highly recommend the course by Guil Hernandez at Treehouse.com CSS to Sass.
A Few of My Favorite Things
Here is a list of some of my favorite plugins and themes I’ve used in the past year.
Genesis Framework – the only framework I build sites with.
ManageWP – makes managing client sites a breeze.
DesktopServer – (no longer use – updated Sept 2019 – now using Local by Flywheel)
Utility Pro theme – (no longer available)
SuperSide Me – awesome mobile side menu plugin that’s easy to use!
Easy Digital Downloads – makes selling digital goods online easy as pie.
Kint PHP Debugger – Very handy free debugging tool for PHP.
It’s a Wrap
The WordPress community is filled with amazing people and I feel so fortunate to be part of it. I’ve made a lot of new friends this past year who have help me on my journey and for that I am truly grateful.
So here’s to a healthy, prosperous, and Happy New Year.
Follow your passion and never stop learning.
Note: The photo above is Moraine Lake in Alberta Canada. Ever since I first saw a photograph of it, I thought it was a beautiful place and I’d love to visit and photograph it in person. It is now officially on my bucket list. For now it’s my desktop wallpaper along with a few other photos of the lake. I found these photos on BigStockPhoto.com