Yesterday Bearded turned five years old. That statement alone just about blows my mind. But more than simply longevity, the current team is fantastic. My fellow Beardeds are smart, talented, highly-skilled web nerds that I not only respect, but look up to. Plus, you know … they’re my best friends. Lucky? Yes, indeed.
So what did 2013 mean to Bearded? Let’s take a look.
This year has brought incredible (and humbling) speaking opportunities to me and the crew. We spoke at great industry events like Artifact, Breaking Development, Converge, Web Design Day, and more. Getting to share our ideas with our peers face-to-face – and getting their feedback – has been fantastic. Not only that, but I’ve been able to meet many of my web heroes in the process – talented, generous people who I now have the privilege of calling my friends.
I started writing for A List Apart in 2012, but in 2013 it’s really kicked up a notch. In fact, I’ve recently agreed to begin writing my own column there, called Matt Griffin on How We Work. Flattered? Yes. In disbelief? Also that, too, yes. Like many of us, I’ve been reading ALA since I don’t even know when. Having those folks encourage my writing and welcome me into the fold has been unexpected, thrilling, and honestly a bit surreal.
And because clearly we didn’t have enough going on in 2013, we’ve started making a documentary about the multi-device web. So far we’ve interviewed a bunch of folks for it, including Ethan Marcotte, Luke Wroblewski, Stephen Hay, Sara Wachter-Boettcher, Josh Clark, Jenn Lukas, Greg Hoy, Jennifer Robbins, Val and Jason Head, Jason Grigsby, Stephanie Hay, Kevin Hoffman, and Ben Callahan – with even more to come. The experience of recording the ideas of all these super smart people in our industry has been profound. Humbled again!
But wait – there’s more! At the beginning of this year, we made the decision to focus on our business more. In the past our approach was simple: do good work for great clients, and hope the finances work themselves out. In our first years, I think this was the right approach. It kept us focused on what’s most important: the work and the people. But over time, and especially as we grew, it became clear that the business side of things needed some attention, too.
We work on the internet. And the internet is in constant flux. We’re always willing to change our working processes, techniques and technologies when it seems warranted. We aim to fall forward, and iterate our way to better and better products. So why not apply that iterative creative thinking to our business processes, as well? This year we looked at people’s motivations, at our values, and of course at the data. Then we made (sometimes difficult) changes to how we structure our estimates and invoicing, our contracts, how we manage client relationships – anything that seemed like it could benefit from our attention. For most of Bearded’s existence, it was feast or famine, and we were just scraping by every month. But now Bearded is on solid financial footing for the first time ever, and we did it without compromising our values or mistreating anyone. Feels good man.
What else has 2013 brought to the Beardeds? Well, in a few weeks we’ll gain a full-time content strategist. As far as I’m concerned, designing our content will be a hugely important addition to what we do at Bearded. The clarity it brings to our design and development work is invaluable, and I can’t wait to raise the bar on every project we do.
We’re also moving into a new, larger space in a few months. It’ll be rad, I’m sure – so be on the look out for a belated five-year party there in early 2014.
Is that it? Hardly, but we have to keep some of our secrets, right?
Thanks for hanging in there with us, friends. It’s been a terrific journey, but as I seem to say every year: we’re just getting started. See you on the interwebs!