My 2014 Goals — A Continuation Of Journey Started In 2013

Happy New Year all. Earlier in the week I graded my success in completing my 2013 goals. Overall I thought I did pretty well, though not always as expected. Today is the first post of the new year which makes it time to set goals for 2014.

As you might know by now I spend some time at years end to think about where I’ve been and where I’m heading. Looking at last year’s goals helps me discover things I’m doing well and not so well. Setting goals for the coming year helps give me some direction and helps guide my business.

2014 calendar next to a graphic of sunset behind some bamboo

This isn’t the first year I’ve done this and if you’d like to see my goal setting posts from previous years here they are.

Thoughts and Goals for 2014

Once again I’m setting more goals than usual this year. There are 8 things below I’d like to accomplish in 2014, though I’m giving myself some flexibility and permission to change course. Most of these goals are the natural progression of things I set in motion last year.

I suppose if anything my overall goal for the year is to stay the course and continue along a journey I’ve already started and see where it leads me. Here are the things I’m looking to do in the coming year.

  • Increase book sale conversions
  • Think about the next version of this site and my business
  • Improve the archives page
  • Set up a deployment strategy
  • Continue with changes on this blog
  • Find a workable solution to time and task management
  • Write another book
  • Continue my exploration of color

Good thing I’m giving myself permission not to do all of the above, since that’s a lot to do. I may have to grade on a curve at the end of the year.

Increase Book Sale Conversions

A couple of months ago I was disappointed in the initial sales of my book. I honestly didn’t know what to expect when I released it, but I did have some hopes and expectations for how it might do. I based both on some simple math. There are X people subscribed and if Y% of you bought the book, it would mean Z sales.

I gave Y a range. At the high end was my hope (which I figured was pushing it) and at the low end was what I thought a reasonable expectation. I had thought there would be an initial burst of sales for a week or two based on the simple math, followed by a modest, yet steady stream of sales. The initial burst never materialized though, which is where my disappointment came from.

I also hoped people would make use of the new forum to offer feedback and generally talk design. Instead the forum has been a ghost town rather than an active community.

Perspective is wonderful thing. A couple months in and my longer term expectation for modest, yet steady sales are pretty much on target. In fairness to my expectation, I never really did any of the things you would typically do to get an initial burst at launch. All I did was post an article here. Similarly, I haven’t done much to persuade people to use the forum.

It was my expectations that were flawed more than anything else and a little perspective has made me realize everything in regards to the the book and forum can be optimized and improved.

My goal was to have a product for sale where I could work to optimize those sales. That’s exactly what I have. Seems like the next step is to start optimizing. There’s a lot I want to do.

  • A/B test the sales page
  • Create a sales funnel around the book
  • Offer a free sample chapter
  • Market and advertise the book
  • And on and on

I have a list of things to try. I decided to let 2013 play out as is, while I collected data to generate a baseline for testing. This year I’ll test and improve.

I’m defining this goal as working to increase book sales and if I see more sales per month toward the end of the year than the beginning, I’ll call the goal a success.

Think About Next Version of This Site and My Business

Selling a book was always just one part of a larger and grander plan for transitioning my business. Down the road I thought I could create a membership side to this site or perhaps another site and I’ve never given up on the idea of developing themes and plugins for sale. I’d eventually like to move my small business forum away from vBulletin and onto a bbPress, BuddyPress combination.

I don’t expect to do any of those things this year, but I think if I’m going to make them happen I should start thinking about how and start thinking about the steps that will be needed.

It’s time to start planning how my different ideas for business would work best together and how each can tie into the others to make them all as effective as possible. While I expect to have different sites on different domains there should still be a connection in the design and branding.

I’m not expecting to redesign this site, or my forum in 2014. I’m also not expecting to launch a new site. However, at some point in the year I want to begin the design process for what I hope to get done in 2015 and beyond.

Improve the Archives Page

There is one change I’d like to make on the current version of the site and that’s to improve the archives page. It’s something I really should have done last year. Even as I’ll be thinking about the next iteration of this site, I want to come up with something to make the archives page more useful for you and me both.

I use the page a lot when writing new posts. I want to quickly find something and even I have trouble. I can only imagine how much harder it is for you. After all, I usually know what I’m looking for.

There are 2 problems with the page I specifically want to solve.

  1. How much should be presented by default
  2. What’s the best way to organize all the information here so you quickly find what you’re looking for

I’m not sure yet about the first and I suspect that decision will influence the second. Showing all posts by default is too much. I’ll decide what works best as an overview on the main page and then through a combination of searching and filtering do my best to let you find what you want quickly whether you know what that is or not.

Set Up a Deployment Strategy

This wasn’t quite one of my goals for last year, but it really was the end goal when I set out to improve my development workflow. I didn’t get where I wanted to go with the workflow last year, but I’ll make it a goal again this year.

However, this year the goal is to reach the finish line. By December I’d like to be working locally and pushing everything to the server via Git. I’m not really sure how far I’ll progress toward the finish, but I’ll do my best.

I’ve collected more resources than I likely need and I’m pretty sure I need to do and learn on the go more than anything else. Maybe working from the end back is the best approach. Perhaps starting out by setting up the deployment is the thing to get me to use version control more in practice.

If my confusion in using Git was a lack of understanding about how to use it in practice, then maybe setting up some kind of deployment in actual practice that requires the use of Git will force me to un-confuse myself.

Continue with the Changes on this Blog

Just keep on trucking’ down that path I started rambling down last year. While I did a good job producing podcasts, I didn’t do such a good job in how I published them. Why aren’t they available through iTunes for example?

Beyond getting the feed into iTunes, why is it still on FeedBurner? Seriously, how long is FeedBurner going to exist? It’s probably a good time to generally get my feed in order.

While I did well producing podcasts, where are all the screencasts? Time to add some. Similarly it’s time to make some decisions about demos. Should I find a way to host them here or use something like CodePen?

A few times in 2013 I mentioned that I wanted content here to be more spontaneous and less polished. I wanted to take a cue from the letters of Vincent van Gogh. This is something I’ll likely do in private at first. I want to keep a work related journal and from time to time publish things directly from it. It seems to me this is what a design blog should really be.

Find a Workable Solution to Time and Task Management

The goal that never ends. This is always on my list of things to do so why should 2014 be any different. By the way is listing improve task management in a task management application some kind of endless meta recursion?

While this is always a goal, it’s always a soft goal. It’s really just a reminder to consistently get better managing what I have to do so I can get more done.

This year I want to explore better ways of tracking how I spend my time. Ways that I’ll actually use. I also want to look into different software. I’ve been using Things the last few years, but the lack of subdirectories makes it difficult to organize projects. Thought I’d give Pagico a try and see if it works better for me.

Write Another book

Seriously? After all the disappointment I told told you about? Am I a glutton for punishment? Am I crazy?

Again it’s that perspective thing. There was never anything to be disappointed about. However what I’m thinking is more along the lines of some of the pocket guides you see people writing. I’m thinking a shorter book with a narrower, focused topic.

I often write series of posts here and some of those series might make good ideas for a short book. I’m thinking something like everything you would want to know to work with flexbox or css animation. The books would be more practical and have more code and examples for you to follow instead of being mostly on the theoretical side.

I’d also like to improve Design Fundamentals, though I was hoping to improve it based on your feedback. If you bought and read the book, it would be greatly appreciated if you could login to the forum and let me know how you think the book could be better. Don’t mind the tumbleweeds. I’m keeping an eye on the town and with a few of us there, them thar tumbleweeds will quickly go tumbling on down the road to another site.

Continue My Exploration of Color

You didn’t think I was going to stop after reading a few books, did you? I’ll likely pick up a few more this year. I already have one I need to work through. Yale University Press released the classic Josef Albers book “Interactions of Color” as an iPad app. The book is meant more as a vehicle for practice and exploration than as something to be quickly read.

I’d like to spend some time this year working through the book and use it as the basis for some additional exercises I can develop for myself. My goal is to again increase my skill with and understanding of color.

Who knows I might even working on that simple color tool again and turn it into something a bit more useful.

Summary

That’s a lot of things to accomplish in 2014. I thought 6 goals for 2013 was stretch and here I am with 8 for 2014. I’ve either set myself up for failure or I’ve done a good job challenging myself to have a productive year.

My main goal is to continue the journey I started last year in a way that allows for more exploration and subtle course corrections as I travel. I’m listing a lot, while not expecting to get everything done and providing myself several directions to travel. For a change I don’t want to feel locked into a few goals. I’d rather feel free to roam around a bit and choose which goals to pursue.

Knowing me, this could all change in a week and I could easily find myself choosing one or two things above to focus on. Guess we’ll both find out sometime in December, though I’ll probably get some advance notice.

As I always do with these posts I want to ask if you make goals for the year and if so what kind of approach do you take? How many goals do you list? Are they big or small goals? Do you focus on them at the exclusion of everything else or do you allow yourself to change goals along the way?

Happy New Year everyone. May 2014 treat us all well.

Download a free sample from my book, Design Fundamentals.

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