About nine months ago, I wrote about a strategic shift in the foundational elements Brettro will use to design websites for its customers. The rumblings about HTML5 were becoming louder, I had just finished deploying my first full-scale, medium size website using ExpressionEngine and I had deployed a handful of mediocre (on the coding side) WordPress sites. (They have since become less mediocre.) The benefit of using products with a solid, committed design, developer and fan base behind them, like ExpressionEngine and WordPress, really began to gel with me.
Platforms and Coding
My skill is in coding, my passion is in creating meaningful, usable user experiences and content, my “superhero strength” is managing projects and my “weakest link” is my design chops. Recognizing this, I decided it was time to step up my game and create a plan combining my skill, passion, “superhero strength” and “weakest link” into a functioning business strategy and workflow.
- professionalize my internal processes,
- document coding standards for Brettro,
- develop a sustainable platform for client documentation, and
- really sink my teeth into merging my “mad coding skills” with the best practices for developing websites using both WordPress and ExpressionEngine.
In that time, and largely through Twitter, I have found an incredible and helpful community surrounding both EE and WP. I started more professional code management using Subversion (and an amazing Mac client called Versions). I have launched my HTML5 codebase. I have created nearly 13 WordPress plugins (and, in many cases, had to completely scrap and re-create them as I learned more and more about WP coding best practices).
In short, I’m well on my way to achieving my goals of becoming more familiar with and better at coding for two brilliantly executed, powerhouse web publishing platforms.
But there’s more to do…
Design, Design, Design
If anything has suffered through all this, it is the design of the Brettro web properties. They are certainly not horrible—and definitely don’t rank amongst the legacy 1996-era sites with all the visual appeal of an avocado green refrigerator—but they are my weakest link.
With comfortable knowledge of HTML5, Subversion and WordPress under my belt, it is time to focus on Step Two: creating a visually rich, responsive, usable, compelling interface for our websites. (The Brettro web properties use WordPress, but that’s a different discussion for a different time. Coming soon, though.)
I’m excited by this next step. Design has always been the biggest struggle for me. I understand the basic concepts, but the crippling self-doubt (which apparently plagues most of the design types I follow on Twitter) about the elegance and visual appeal of the concepts I develop keep me from executing my best work. It’s in there. I know it is. I just need to take a deep breath, walk away from time-to-time, and push through the doubt.
Soon enough you’ll see those efforts come to light. And your feedback will be important.
But there’s still more to do…
Content, Education, Engagement
This is the point where I become so overwhelmed by the sheer volume of things I need to do, learn and participate in. But then I recognize how excited I am by all of it! And really, this batch of “more to do”—also known as Step 3–is really best done by intertwining it throughout the other efforts on a day to day basis:
- Education in this arena never stops. And that’s one thing I absolutely love about it.
- Strategically writing content for the web is such a compelling activity, especially with advocates (and professional heroes of mine) like Kristina Halvorson and Erin Kissane making such strong showings for its benefits
- And Washington, DC has some absolutely brilliant programmers and designers with which to engage. I look forward to becoming an active and beneficial part of the community.
So, guess what? It’s time to get busy. Come back to read about and see the progress as it unfolds. It’s going to be exciting!