The Personal Disquiet of

Mark Boulton

Two Thousand and Twelve

– January 1st, 2013 –

Every couple of years I write a short post to document the year before. This was my Two Thousand and Twelve.

The year started with me taking a month off client work to finish writing my book. It went well, but one year on and i’ve still not finished it. It’ll be done soon.

I blogged more in 2012! Hurray! I redesigned this blog and took it back to how I wanted it: simple, designed for long-form content. Most importantly, it now runs on Statamic and is designed for how I write. I’m really rather enjoying it so far.

2012 saw Emma, Alys, Nansi and I take a holiday in Portugal for a couple of weeks well-earned rest. Alys started school and in September, we all moved house. Going from a relatively new house that we’d spent ten years getting exactly how we wanted it, to a two hundred year old cottage that we’re currently ripping to bits. It’s been interesting and 2013 will be the year I skill-up on DIY. From plumbing to plastering, I plan on doing it all myself, starting with the bathroom.

The summer was amazing. Non-stop sport for three months: from Le Tour, to Wimbledon, to Euro 2012, to the Olympics. I’m still suffering withdrawal.

…working

This year has been a great one for Mark Boulton Design. We’ve worked with some great clients, and continue to work with them into 2013 on some really exciting projects.

We launched a product in 2012, too! Gridset continues to thrive helping people make responsive grid systems for the web in a jiffy without miring themselves in all the difficult maths.

Five Simple Steps released A Practical Guide to Managing Web Projects, and announced a series of smaller books coming up in the next couple of months. We’re really rather excited about it. Five Simple Steps continues to be a heap of work for Emma and the team, but ultimately rewarding despite the late nights!

…travelling

I travelled quite a lot in 2012 with conferences and business trips. All in all, I was away 80 days and visited nine countries: United States, Doha, Dubai, Australia, Germany, Netherlands, France, Switzerland and Portugal. I spoke, and taught workshops, at some fantastic conferences this year – a great mix of local, small single-track events and larger multi-track events: IA Summit, UX Bootcamp, Future of Web Design, Reasons to be Appy, DrupalCon Munich, Reasons to be Creative, Smashing Conference, Refresh LX, Fronteers conference, Web Directions South, and Beyond Tellerand.

I’ll still be speaking next year, with a couple of events already lined up in the first half of the year that I’m very excited to be part of.

…2013

What does the new year hold? I’m not a big one for predictions or a follower of trends, but this is where my focus will be:

  1. Writing, speaking, teaching. As I said a few weeks ago, speaking and teaching is an important part of our work and I’m honoured to participate of a community where we (largely) welcome it.

  2. Balance and Focus. I’m reading a lot, recently, about people ditching social networks, over-sharing, spending more time making axes and keeping bees etc. But this is happening to a certain age of person who’s been doing this web-thing a while. This reactionary behaviour is something socialogists have been seeing for a couple of decades now in the general public in the UK with regards to technology. What it represents is a desire for balance. I’ve spent the last two years working on balance, and up until the last few months of this year, I’ve been better at it. And that doesn’t mean using Twitter less. It means making sure I give myself, my family and my work equal amounts of time and attention. I’ll be spending 2013 getting even better at doing that.

On to work stuff…

  1. Community. I hope it’s a more considerate year. I’ve had a gut-full of embarrassing, unconsidered discourse on Twitter and I hope we see a lot less of it this year in favour of responses in blog posts or in person. I hope it’s a year of respect.

  2. Web Design. I don’t think responsive web design will be the defacto method of web design. Not yet. As long as advertising revenue models exist, and platform channels (eg. m.sites with their own profit and loss), there will be difficulties getting that to work responsively. As I talked about at the end of this year, designing responsively impacts many parts of organisations. But, I do think responsive web design is no longer a trend. It’s a bunch of techniques that have proved themselves useful and relevant, and will probably continue to be so.

I hope it’s a year of a CMS shake-up. I hope it’s a year in which open source CMS communities break out of their IRC bubbles and start working with writers, editors and designers. I hope they become less feature-focussed, and more human and organisation-focussed. I hope we see as much effort going into the design of our back-end systems and work flows as we put into our web site designs and user flows.

I hope it’s a year where we stop Defining The Damn Thing. Design is design. I hope the term ‘visual design’ stops getting used. It’s not a thing.

I hope Google stops giving us great, free, cool things and then deprecating them. I’ll pay from the off.

I hope Twitter starts behaving like a media platform instead of a product. I’ll pay for flexibility, freedom and content.

I hope Adobe stops acquiring everything. They need a big, scary, great competitor.

I hope it’s a year we have a more balanced industry view. I think we need more publications, more voices, more speakers, more blogging, better journalism, better reportage, broader guidance, better conferences, more meet-ups. We rely too much on a small set of voices that guide the industry one way and another.

I hope we all take a moment, every day, and think about the importance of what we do. We’re defining, designing, launching, and iterating upon a medium. It’s big. And important. But… if you have a bad day, nobody died, right? That’s important to remember.

So. That’s that. I can but hope.

Oh. And, in 2013 I hope I stop starting sentences with the word ‘so’. I’m British, and we don’t do that.

I hope everyone has a successful, fruitful, happy 2013. Thanks for reading.

Filed in: personal.

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