The year is at an end. It’s my first full year as a freelancer and it’s been very eventful both work and personal wise.

So what have I learnt, what are my standout moments?

1. Responsive design.
This year I started to use media queries. I’d heard a bit about them and I’ll be honest, was very perplexed by it. But I had two very good teachers in @malarkey and @simon180 who have given me invaluable support and knowledge in applying it to my own designs. I’m still getting to know it but I am smitten with it.

It is still a new way of working but I expect it to be used by more and more people in 2012. I also expect the hype around it to calm down and before long, responsive will just become the norm.

2. How hard freelancing can be.
I’ve touched on this before but running a business is hard. It’s made hard by the fact that you rely on other people to do things for you. This year financially has been tough. Getting people to pay up for work seems to be a harder process than I realised. The emotional drain of sending email after email and seeing no effort on the other party’s side can send you loopy. Especially when the sites are live and being used. It’s not just me, I know that. The problem won’t go away either.

Something else that was a drain was relying on work coming in and it then not appearing. Nothing is guaranteed these days so come 2012, I’m not going to be making the mistakes I made this year.

3. Designing in the browser
When I worked full time in Chester, it was expected of us to provide PSD’s of all designs. Fine if its 1 or 2 but I was once asked to provide close to 100 designs for pages that were essentially the same but for images and content. At the time I said no, I built the template and we added content via the backend. Saved me hours / days even. I got a severe bollocking for “changing from the plan”.

This year I made the conscious effort to spend less time designing sites in Photoshop and focus on building in the browser. It has paid off for me. I spend less time worrying about layout and less time tweaking and amending stuff that will be done in code.

There is no right or wrong way when designing / building. It’s what works best for you.

4. The community
An up and down year it seems. But every week, you could bank on some argument or other. The majority of the time I enjoy conversing with everybody but sometimes it’s a drain hearing the trolling and the nit picking. Hopefully 2012 will be focussed more on the good work the community and the industry gets up to.

I’ve made some very good friends though and come February, I will have met a few in the flesh. Despite the fact that the majority of us are competing for business, it still amazes me how sometimes people can go beyond the call of duty to help.

5. WordPress
I knew very little of WordPress until @simon180 showed me the power. Through his guidance, I’m really starting to get to grips with it. It’s a great setup, easy to use and the support for it is fantastic. 2012 is a year I want to push on and get to the next level with it as I doubt I’ll use any other CMS again.

So that is it from me for 2011. A big thanks to everyone who have been in touch, who sent me work, who listened to me moan.

Enjoy Christmas.