2015 was a huge year for my professional development. It was the first time I gained a sense of what I wanted to accomplish and the paths I needed to take to get there. One helpful tool in particular, was Trello, an intuitive program that helped me organize ideas. Using Trello I set tasks and small milestones which I completed throughout the year.
Learning Version Control And Genesis
Before 2015 I was caught up and engulfed in learning, so much so that I was not patient and did not apply the knowledge to relevant projects as I was learning. In 2015 through strategic planning, along with a desire for more wisdom, I incorporated the technologies and applications I learned into my everyday workflow.
Version control isn’t going anywhere anytime soon
Previously, I was reluctant to learn Git because I completed my projects in a solo environment. I believed that it wasn’t an essential tool, especially if I wasn’t working with a team. This is a myth. Learning version control removes a lot of stress from the project cycle. I no longer have to worry about the disastrous scenario of losing work or breaking something without being able to repair it. Navigating my computer using just my keyboard speeds up my development time and heck, is actually a lot of fun! Familiarizing myself with the command line also paves the way to a lot of other powerful tools that I can learn down the road such as task runners and the ever popular WP-CLI.
Genesis has proven itself as a super powerful framework that is built to last
Genesis makes it easy for a developer to build beautiful websites. You can use hooks and filters to practically modify anything, keeping code a lot more clean and maintainable. I’ve built many sites using Genesis child themes, but in 2015 I made it the foundation for a lot more of my projects. The more i used the platform the quicker my projects became as I familiarized myself with the vast library of hooks and functions I could utilize to craft custom websites. I wanted to take its ease-of-use a step further and that’s why I developed a starter theme to better fit my workflow.
Building A Solid Foundation With A Starter Theme
My company services a similar market and a fair amount of the initial stages of the development process are similar. Setting up file templates a certain way, and implementing regularly used classes and selectors in the CSS can save a lot of development time.
If you want an in-depth explanation of all the modifications I made, check out the blog post: Prometheus: A Genesis Starter Child Theme.
Along with building many sites using a child starter theme, I built my first site and a few others this past year using Underscores, a popular starter theme, which is helpful when the project demands a very specific design or layout.
I had to figure out what best aligns with my project’s goals. I was split between Genesis and Underscores for a while but I chose Genesis by a small margin because of how easy to update and maintain it is.
Articulating What I Learn Through Blogging
I am just as effected by impostor syndrome as the next guy. This year I realized that you don’t have to be the know-all expert in a topic in order to write a valuable enriching piece of content about it.
By blogging about a topic you force yourself to review important things you’ve learned and then you use that information to strategically articulate and present the information in a way to help other people. This creates a mutual benefit by strengthening and reinforcing your own knowledge and possibly teaches others along the way. Once I realized this, I knew I had to start blogging regularly and it has been a huge success to my learning so far. Being able to reference posts I wrote when facing an unexpected design or development problem has been invaluable. For this reason, a huge influence of my writing topics are derived from recurring issues or scenarios I come across.
Spreading My Social Media Wings
Before 2015 I never used Twitter. I never thought I had anything important enough to say that warranted “tweeting” it out to all of my friends or followers. Twitter’s a lot more than meets the eye. It is an excellent platform for hobbyists, professionals, and even experts, to share their ideas and work. I love being able to stay connected with people all over the globe on a regular basis.
Helping Others By Contributing
WordPress is a thing of beauty, a platform that is everyday empowered by a large community of individuals helping each other and in turn growing a stronger and safer software.
I’ve been to several WordCamps and have always left them feeling inspired and excited to build new and creative things. I always envied the speakers for taking the time to share their knowledge to help others. In December 2015 I spoke for the first time at the inaugural WordCamp US in my hometown of Philadelphia. The experience was amazing, and I shared stories and networked with many other aspiring creative WordPressers at the event.
Read more about my talk in my post: WordCamp US: A Weekend of Fun, Excitement, And Cheesesteaks.
I highly enjoy public speaking and being given the opportunity to help others. Don’t let impostor syndrome get to you. Everyone has their unique experiences and something insightful to share. Don’t be afraid to volunteer!
Rocketing Ahead To 2016
Everyone needs a break — a little personal time to reignite their creative spark. To celebrate the New Year I journeyed to the magical land of Disney World for the first time. Getting my mind off of work, even for just a week, gave me some time to relax and look back at what I accomplished in 2015 and what I needed to work on and improve. I feel more motivated than ever and am excited to tackle 2016!
Thanks for reading! Check back shortly or subscribe to my email list below for my follow-up post where I delve into goals for 2016!