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The Twelfth Fourth

CSS-Tricks is 12 years old! Firmly into that Early Adolescence stage, I'd say ;) As we do each year, let's reflect upon the past year. I'd better have something to say, right? Otherwise, John Prine would get mad at me.

How the hell can a person go to work in the morning
And come home in the evening and have nothing to say.
- Angel From Montgomery

See the Pen
Fireworks!
by Tim Severien (@timseverien)
on CodePen.

Easily the biggest change this year was design v17

We redesign most years, so it's not terribly shocking I suppose that we did this year, but I think it's fairly apparent that this was a big one. The biggest since v10.

Here's a writeup on v17.

I still get happy emails about it.

The aesthetics of it still feel fresh to me, 6 months later. There are no plans at all yet for what the next version will be. I imagine this one will last a good couple of years with tweaks along the way. I'm always working on it. Just in the last few days, I have several commits cleaning things up, adding little features, and optimizing. That work is never done. v18 might just be a more thorough scrubbing of what is here. Might be a good release to focus on the back-end tech. I've always wanted to try some sort of MVC setup.

In a way, things feel easier.

There is a lot going right around here. We've got a great staff. Our editorial workflow, led by Geoff, has been smooth. There are ebbs and flows of how many great guest posts are in the pipeline, but it never seems to run dry and these days we stay more ahead than we ever have.

We stay quite organized with Notion. In fact, I still use it heavily across all the teams I'm on. It's just as fundamental as Slack and email.

We're still working with BuySellAds as a partner to help us sell advertising and sponsorship partnerships. We've worked with them for ages and they really do a good job with clean ad tech, smooth integration workflows, and finding good companies that want to run campaigns.

On the 10th anniversary I wrote:

If you do all the work, the hope is that you just keep to keep on keeping on. Everyone gets paid for their effort. This is not a hockey-stick growth kind of site. It's a modest publication.

Yep.

Check out a year over year chart from Google Analytics:

I can look at that and celebrate the moments with growth. Long periods of 20% year over year growth, which is cool. Then if you look at just this last month, we're more even or a little bit under 2018 (looking at only pageviews). Good to know, kinda, but I never put much stock in this kind of generic analytics. I'm glad we record them. I would want to know if we started tanking or growing hugely. But we never do. We have long slow steady growth and that is a comfortable place for me.

Thinking on ads

The world of advertising is tightly integrated around here, of course. I'm sure many of you look at this site and go JEEZ, LITTLE HEAVY ON THE ADS, EH? I hope it's not too big a turnoff, as I really try to be tasteful with them. But another thing you should know is that the ad tech is clean. No tracking stuff. No retargetting. No mysterious third-party JavaScript. There might be an impression-tracking pixel here and there, but that's about it. No slew of 100's of requests doing god-knows-what.

That's not by accident. It's clear to me now how to go down that other road, and that road has money on it. Twice as much. But I look at it as what would be short term gains. Nobody is going to be more mad at me than you if I slap 80 tracking scripts on this site, my credibility amongst devs goes out the window along with any hopes of sustaining or growing this site. It's no surprise to me that on sites without developers as an audience, the tendency is to go down the golden road of tracking scripts.

Even the tech is easier.

Just starting in July I've gotten all my sites on Flywheel hosting, and I've written about that here just today. Flywheel is a new sponsor here to the site, and I'm equally excited about that as I am in actually using it. Between using Local for local WordPress development, GitHub for repos, Buddy for deployment, Cloudflare for DNS/CDN... everything just feels smooth and easy right now.

The way I feel about tech at the moment is that nearly anything is doable. Even stuff that feels insurmountable. It's just work. Do a bunch of work, get the thing done.

Fancy posts

One thing that we snuck in this year is the idea of posts that have special design applied to them. The term "Art-directed articles" seems to be the term that has stuck for that, for better or worse, and we've added to that.

There are posts like The Great Divide that I intentionally wanted to make stand out.

And now we've taken that and turned it into a template. The point of an art-directed article is to do something unique, so a template is a little antithetical to that, but I think this strikes a nice middle ground. The template assumes a big full-width header with background image under big title and then is otherwise just a centered column of type on white. The point is to use the template, then apply custom styles on top of it as needed to do something special for the post. I have a good feeling we'll keep using it and have fun with it, and that it won't be too burdensome for future designs.

Elsewhere

Last year at this time I was just settling into living in Bend, Oregon. It still feels that way. I'm in a new house now, that we've bought, and it feels like this is a very permanent living situation. But we're less than a year into the new house so there is plenty of dust to settle. I'm still honeymooning on Bend as I just love it here so much. My daughter is just over a year and a half now so stability is very much what we're after.

Professionally, most of my time is on CodePen, of course. There is a lot of overlap, like the fact that we work with BuySellAds on both sites and often sell across both. Plus working on CSS-Tricks always has me in CodePen anyway ;). Miraculously, Dave Rupert and I almost never miss a week on ShopTalk Show. Going strong after all these years. Never a shortage of stuff to talk about when it comes to websites.

Thank you

A big hearty thanks from me! Y'all reading this site is what makes it possible.

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