2010 in review and goals for 2011

Last year I wrote two posts about looking back over 2009 and planning ahead for 2010. Following on from Elliot’s review and goals post, I thought I’d better end a fantastic year with a small review and my goal-setting for 2011. 2010 has been one heck of a year with lots of conferences, traveling, working, designing and writing and of course the launch of DIBI in April of this year.

Goals Planned 12 Months Ago

  • ? Would like to buy a decent camera and learn how to use it. – I never did get around to this, it also frustrates me especially when I went to New York in August and didn’t have a great camera to take with me. The photos I did take were mediocre at best. I suppose this means I’ll just have to go back at some point with a better camera.
  • ? Take more pride in my blog and redesign it (finally). – No matter how many times I say this, I keep falling in to the trap of writing more for myself than I do design. We’ll see how things go in the first quarter of this year to see if I can find the time to enable me to design something I’ll finally be happy with.
  • ? Create better content for my readers. – I think I achieved this, from my stats it would show that readers are up a full 300% over the last year. Some notable articles written this year were How to Present Designs to the Client, Why Your Design will Never be Complete and Did you not see that big button? A User Test.
  • ? Read at least 3 fictional books throughout the year (I’m addicted to non-fiction). – I would have loved to read some more fictional books but I just didn’t get the time. I fell behind on reading books this year, never mind actually reading books. I do seem to have bought more books this year though.
  • ?Game less but play harder. – With everything going on this year I have certainly gamed less, I’ve not necessarily played harder, I’ve certainly worked harder.
  • ? Purchase a 27? iMac. – No 27″ iMac yet. I did pick up an iPad whilst in New York though.
  • ? Go to more conferences. – This certainly happened. Starting with DIBI in April I then went on to Thinking Digital in May, dConstruct in September and Build Conference in November.
  • ? Meet more people from the ‘online world’ in the ‘offline world’. – This happened, more so at Build than at the other places. With going over for that extra night there was ample opportunity to meet more people. Looking forward to meeting more people over the coming year.
  • ? Start weight training (again) and look after my body. – FINALLY joined our new local gym. It took over a year to build the new centre but in the opening week I went down and joined up. Shortly after the wedding in April I also decided it was about time I started looking at what my diet consisted of and changed it dramatically, within a few months I’d lost over a stone in weight (14 pounds) and have managed to keep the weight off ever since.
  • ? Write a book. – Just didn’t find the time. Something that will remain on my list of to-do’s.
  • ? Design more of anything rather than some things. – Over the year I have managed to find time to design something out of my normal comfort zone, this consisted of a set of Weather Icons.
  • ? Teach myself more about design, there is so much more to learn that what you know. – I’ve probably achieved this, more so in specific areas especially around structure, process and designing from content out rather than thinking about aesthetics first. You can never stop learning though.
  • ? Do more talks. – I managed to do a short design talk and a workshop but that was it. There will be more coming next year.
  • ? Do at least one design related talk. – I managed to do two. One about Creativity and one about the Principles of Web Design.
  • ? Get Married (3rd April) – Whilst I nearly didn’t make it as I became very ill with a chest infection, the day itself was as awesome as it should have been, and I’m now happily married to Jen.
  • ? Read all of my design related books. – As I said above I just didn’t find the time yet I’ve bought quite a few books including the new books from A Book Apart, Hardboiled Web Design and a few others.
  • ? Give more back to the design community. – Through the articles and the few icons I hope I’ve achieved this in some small part.
  • ? Do more for a specific charity that I know where the money goes. – I’ve decided to support Help for Heroes as my chosen charity. Any requests for sponsorship or charitable donations will be made to this charity only in future.
  • ? Write more for other blogs/magazines. – I’ve not specifically written for other blogs but have written a few column articles for the Tech Notes section in The Journal Newspaper.
  • ? Learn one new thing per day (no matter how small or trivial) – I’ve probably learned more to be quite honest, this has been an incredibly intense year.
  • ? Create a typeface from scratch. – Not yet, but this will remain on my to-do list.

Goals for 2011

  • Do a couple of speaking gigs. – One is already confirmed and I’ll be talking more about this shortly.
  • Have fun putting together DIBI 2011 (tickets go on sale 13th January 2011) – The line-up is looking great with Jeffrey Zeldman as Keynote speaking and lots of awesome speakers on both tracks of the conference. I can’t wait!
  • Go to more conferences – New Adventures Conf in January, Interlink and DIBI Conference in June, Build Conference in November are confirmed. I’ll be looking at my diary for the rest of the year.
  • Re-design gavinelliott.co.uk – It has to happen at some point, right?
  • READ those design-related books – I will.
  • Do some more work outside of normal work. Be picky with the work I do and choose the work depending on my strengths. – I’m finding my groove right now and realising that I enjoy designing system that people will use. If I enjoy it, I tend not to get bored and love working through iteration based on user-testing.
  • Launch a couple of personal projects. – A project I’d planned was put on hold due to a full diary this year, I’ll be looking at doing more work on this in the first quarter of 2011 with a possible launch date of Q2 or Q3. Preferably Q2.

You’re Awesome.

A huge thanks to Jen supporting me through a very busy and stressful year and many many thanks to everyone who traveled to DIBI 2010, who I met along the way at various conferences and for everyone stopping by here leaving comments and sending me a quick email. Thank you.

DIBI Conference 2011

DIBI ConferenceOne thing I rarely do here is write about something I’m the most passionate about. That being DIBI, the Design It Build It Web Conference held at The Sage Gateshead, North East of England annually. The first took place on the 28th April this year with a wide range of fantastic speakers including Andy Clarke, Michael Brunton-Spall, Simon Collison and Gareth Rushgrove.

From the feedback we received the conference was a success, so the planning for DIBI 2011 started almost immediately. The immediate thing to look at was the feedback from 2010 and the next was a possible line-up for the 2011 conference. The line-up is now complete and we have some fantastic speakers joining us and am very humbled to announce that Jeffrey Zeldman will be the Keynote Speaker.

The Full Line-up

Design It Track: Inayaili de Leon, Jeremy Keith, Mike Kus, Jared Spool, Brian Suda and Faruk Ates.

Build It Track: Blaine Cook, Rich Thornett, Jake Archibald, Corey Donohoe, Lorna Mitchell and Bradley Wright.

A quarter of tickets for DIBI have already gone and tickets will go on-sale on the 13th January 2011 with a limited number of Early-Bird tickets which will go on a first come first served basis.

The conference will take place at our fantastic venue, The Sage Gateshead on 8th June 2011 and is supported by VPS.net, GitHub and Obox Design.

It would be great to see you all there, remember to put the 13th January in your diary!

Check out the full line-up over at the DIBI Conference website.

When content dies

When my content dies, I die with it. It bothers me endlessly, and of course it should as I’ve spent hours up on hours filling this domain of mine with what’s nearing to 200 posts. I’ll not be stopping it any time soon either, I’d like to think I’ll be around on this earth for the foreseeable future as I’ve got things to do. Since beginning writing on gavinelliott.co.uk in 2007, achieving 200 posts isn’t massive in the grand-scheme of things but it’s quality over quantity right?

I’d like to think I’ll be writing and sharing my content with you, the people who read it for a long long time, let’s just say for arguments sake until I’m at least 80. After all 80 is a good age, I could do a lot in the next 50 years and I’d like to somehow make or produce something that makes a difference. The death bit doesn’t bother me as much as long as I have everything personally in place before it happens then I’m cool with that.

But eventually when the time comes, and I’m not here to write or pay my hosting bill my content will go. It chills my bones to the very core. If out of the X amount of articles I’ve written, someone has been able to take points away and improve themselves or their work then the articles should stay online so someone in the next 80 years will be able to learn something.

Like a full to the brim personal diary that is kept under a pillow, I feel like that the content I’ve produced even though its virtual should have a resting place just like I will when I’m 80+. Web Archive doesn’t suffice really, who’s to say it will take active copies of my written articles in X amount of years. In this day and age is the only solution to print everything off and keep it in a box in the loft? You’ve got to be kidding me, that certainly hinders the public element to content distribution.

Nothing is safe, even the oldest library in the world could be the unfortunate recipient of a disappearing act. I know that my content one day could just disappear but it would make me feel a whole lot better if it was to be around for a little while after I was gone.

Please someone think of a way to secure written content online so it’s viewable well after the overdue hosting account notices drop in to the then non-existent email inbox because at the moment, when I go so will my content.

When opportunity knocks…

Take it, with open arms.

Something happened last week which made me realise just how short-sighted people in our industry/community can be. I’ve written about missed opportunities before, but I wanted to go in to a bit more detail about why when an opportunity arises to do something special you should grasp on to it with an iron man like grip.

Starting out

Starting out in the industry isn’t easy, it is highly populated with some very talented people. It can take years to get noticed or at least it did a few years ago. Now with the likes of tumblr, posterous, dribbble and forrst it is making it a lot easier to get your works out to the public domain where they can be noticed by other designers/developers or potential clients. Whilst writing has the same desired effect, it can be somewhat slower to impact on people if the article is not seen by a large audience. This certainly shouldn’t stop you from writing though, everything takes time. And over time your opinions and knowledge will be noticed by many, this man even believes being able to write makes someone a better designer. I agree.

There is no true path on how you join our industry, some people go to college, others head straight in to freelance or some join agencies. Our industry is vast and depending on how you set off actually adjusts your long term goals. I also believe that to have an impact on the industry you have to live, eat and breathe it. Technology on a whole is so fast paced that if you miss a day, you’ve missed ten things. Our industry simply doesn’t work 9 to 5. I also understand that at times you need to take time and reset, as I did earlier this year when I went away for a week with nothing but a couple of books.

When starting out, work hard and learn as much as you can from the people who have been there before you. Don’t be shy about offering your opinion either, don’t be afraid to make a judgment call. If something doesn’t work it can always be put back and you can work down a different route.


There is no such thing. Opportunities happen for a reason. Even that clever guy Newton said “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction”. Never tell anyone who works hard that they are lucky. A couple of examples;

  1. Tim Van Damme producing the new Gowalla 3 for the iPhone wasn’t luck. He was recognised for his skill in a certain area of our industry.
  2. Jeffrey Zeldman being recognised as the Grandfather of our industry is not luck, he has probably mentored more people within our industry than you could dream of without even knowing it and with such achievements as Happy Cog, writing / contributing to countless books and co-running one of the most notable web conferences in the world (An Event Apart).
  3. Tyler Galpin shot on to the web design scene earlier this year because of his creative approach to getting a dribbble invite. He then started uploading outstanding work snippets as well as going crazy with his gettobuild.com website.

The list above could be endless with the amount of hard-working individuals our industry has. Most importantly you can’t put any of their work down to ‘luck’.

Web ‘Celebs‘ Professionals

There is no such thing as a Web Celeb. The only celebrity we have in our industry is Stephen Fry. (jokes). We have professionals who go out there to hopefully help other people in the industry. These are nice people, taking their time to usually stand in a limelight. The limelight isn’t theirs. The so-called ‘Celebrity’ is a perception of other people. It takes a strong person to do what they do, as the moment you’re put on a pedestal you open yourself up to a lot of criticism that you certainly didn’t ask for. If there were no opportunities to help or teach other members of our industry then there would be no blog posts, no smashing magazine, no uie.com and certainly no conferences or events.

Take Every Opportunity

And with that, create opportunities and take them when they arise.