My 2016 Year in Review

2016 has been dire: Brexit, Snoopers charter, Donald Trump, I despair – but personally it has been a triumph. At the beginning of this year I set myself a challenge – to move up. Well, actually the challenge started about 3 years ago. The challenge then was to catch up ten years of career development; the 10 years that I had dealt with cancer.

2017 will mark 10 years since my stem cell transplant. And in preparation for that I wanted to be happy with my career development. I can now safely say I’ve achieved my goal (I have new goals, but that’s another story).

At the start of 2016 I was working in a web agency. A wonderful 2 year experience but I’d started to pick holes in it and I felt I had met a ceiling in terms of personal and professional development. To continue the journey I had to once again get out of my comfort zone and face the next challenge.

Sky Betting and Gaming was recruiting and I thought I’d give it a go. More than half expecting to fail (imposter syndrome is strong wit this one), I made it through and in May I started work additional hints.

Around the same time I also took over the running of LeedsPHP user group through which I’ve met lots of people and faced many a challenge.

It’s been a very tough year. A year of facing my fears head on. A wake up call of how much I have to learn in terms of development practice, working in a large company, surrounded by incredibly talented individuals, constant learning… the list goes on. There have been plenty of times when I’ve felt it all too much, but I’ve taken a step back and said to myself, sometimes out loud — “this is exactly what you wanted, so deal with it!”

And I did it. So I’m giving myself a big pat on the back. It’s quite amazing what a difference a year can make. In the words of George McFly, “If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything.”

On to the next part of the plan.

The Cull (my time is precious)

I’ve spent the entire bank holiday weekend decorating. I’ve not had time to keep up with my constant stream of information. Then I listened to Roderick on the Line #122 – Parliament of the Moment (I’m a little behind on Roderick, they’re on 155 now. If only I had more time).

Basically, John and Merlin discuss phone distraction. The constant stream of information coming at you and the vying of your attention.

I have a 4 year old son, he demands attention, lots and lots of it. Sometimes I give that attention to my phone. I feel bad about that. “Am I missing something?” gnaws away at me. Any opportunity to whip the phone out and check, I take it find more. I’m an addicted slave.

Who I follow started around 7 years ago. Twitter was fairly new and I worked at Singletrack. I followed people and they followed me because of my connection to bikes. People I don’t know. They’re interesting and nice people. But they’re not friends, they’re not even acquaintances. Most I’ve never even met. I haven’t unfollowed because of my desire to not offend anyone. I wouldn’t unfollow if they followed me. That’s when I started my list system.

At time of writing I follow 224 people on Twitter. I manage this into lists.

  • The people I work with
  • A list of “devs” – to get information about what’s going on in the developer community
  • Apps – information about apps that I use
  • ✩ – the fun list. People I know. Things that make me laugh.

This totals about 100 that I actively follow.

I can’t be bothered anymore. I love you all but I don’t love you so much that you can take my precious time. That 100 “active follow” list will be dwindling too.

This is free reign to unfollow me. I won’t be offended.

If you need me, you can find me.


Are these amazing website builders threatening your agency? Potentially. It all depends on where you place yourself in the market.

People and businesses are getting more web savvy and at the same time fantastic tools are being developed that allow the building of beatiful fast and responsive websites that cost next to nothing. Anyone can come along and build what they need.

Initiatives like Digital Garage from Google are springing up to help businesses use the web effectively. Web knowledge is increasing exponentially. The next generation of business owners will have had the internet throughout their entire lives.

That’s not a threat to anyone. That’s a boon for the web development agencies. It makes businesses think about the web more and gives them training to realise that they need to have a web presence. And not just a web presence but to use the web and software for their internal processes.

To begin with the business establishes itself on the web using these low cost tools. They may be on this system for a year, or 10 years, until they start to outgrow it. Their meetings start containing phrases begining with “can we just…”, “wouldn’t it be great if…” followed by “yeah, but no…”.

The business will have seen the value of the web. They’ll have issues within the business that advanced functionality on their website can solve. They may know what solution they want implementing and they’ll have a go at it themselves – perhaps succesfully, perhaps not. Or they may not know how to solve this problem.

They’ll have outgrown the platform and their knowledge will no longer be sufficient to be effective. This is where the agency steps in.

The agency can offer a broader spectrum of knowledge. It can look at a business from the outside and provide solutions because they’re not so engrained in what has come before that they can’t think outside the box. The agency will have experience of multiple projects, reading and research – broad knowledge on when existing solutions can be employed and when it’s time to build something bespoke.

The role of the agency is to establish the picture that need painting. This may not be clear to start with so analysis will be done. Analytics research, interviews with the employees and the end users. The agency takes it all that step further to find the right solution to the problem. They may even need to establish what the problem actually is because the business presents to the agency with a solution – having never actually specified what needs to be addressed gabapentin 600 mg.

The agency may build the end product on Squarespace. Or WordPress. Or Magento. Or it may be custom built. Or insert whatever you want here. That doesn’t matter. What matters is the problem originally presented is solved. That is what a good agency can do.

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