Thank you 2012

Martin Belam  by Martin Belam, 18 December 2012

2012 has been an astonishing year for me. I started it working at the Guardian, writing for FUMSI, and organising London IA. Twelve months later I’ve left the Guardian, FUMSI is no more, and London IA is on what looks like an increasingly permanent hiatus. And I’m doing something completely different — running my own consultancy, with clients in the UK and on mainland Europe, throughly enjoying working for myself and the range of fascinating projects that I’ve been able to work on.

2012 also sees a milestone for this website. In just a few days it will be ten years since I published the first tentative entry on my blog. Why would you start a blog on Christmas Eve? Well, that is a symptom of having set yourself the goal “Have a blog by Christmas”, and being simply dreadful at leaving things to the very last minute. I had some plans to celebrate the anniversary with a compilation ebook or a party or something, but in the end I’ve only found time to organise a partial re-jig of the templates to prove to myself that I can code responsive typography. Badly.

Most popular blog posts of 2012

I usually do a round-up of the most popular blog posts of the year, and so here they are, in order of popularity. It is rather striking that the post-mortem I wrote last week about the Guardian’s Facebook app took only a couple of days to overtake everything else I wrote in 2012. And what interests my audience is made very clear in this list — I’m obviously going to have to find something pretty big to replace writing about that app as a traffic driver in 2013…

The rise and #fail of the Guardian Facebook app ” — December 2012
The Guardian announced they were closing the app that I helped design and launch — the perfect moment to reflect on what did and didn’t work, and why the app was designed as it was.

Responsive IA: IA in the touchscreen era” — October 2012
“The discipline of imagining how every project could be configured for the small screen is in some ways incredibly liberating. It helps you focus on your core proposition. It allows you to concentrate on the key tasks the user needs to achieve quickly, rather than get distracted by supporting ‘tiny tasks’ and edge use cases. It makes you consider how your pages and services will appear in the hands of someone with a touchscreen device. It helps you make good stuff.”

The Guardian’s Facebook app - Martin Belam at news:rewired” — February 2012
The essay version of a talk I gave at February’s news:rewired, at a time when traffic to the Guardian from Facebook appeared to be threatening to grow exponentially…

A seismic shift in our referral traffic - how the Guardian’s Facebook app eclipsed Google” — March 2012
…as evidenced by the point when referrals to from Facebook briefly overtook referrals from Google.

Give share buttons their due - they do change user behaviour” — May 2012
“The point isn’t that people don’t share without buttons, but that you can increase the level of sharing if you present a reminder to share at the ‘seduceable moment’ where a user might be considering to share. You’ve taken the friction away from them at that moment.”

The vexing issue of managing football comments on a newspaper website” — October 2012
“With a period away from working in-house at a news organisation, my perception of user comments has shifted. I still miss them when I read a printed paper. However, when you work for a site running community areas, you tend to see the 2% of really good community interactions…Outside of the business though, you mostly see the 98%.”

Guardian comment system changes: The perils of designing for all users, not just the vocal ones” — November 2012
“The Guardian are currently trying out some changes to their commenting system. Like most changes to a major website, the backlash amongst some users is very, very vocal, and everybody gets to watch.” Some observations that, it must be said, have not endeared me to some of the most vocal commenters on the Guardian website.

The UX of publishing for tablets and smartphones” — November 2012
An essay version of a talk I gave at the World Publishing Expo in Frankfurt, looking at how I believe publishers can improve the products they are currently offering to tablet and smartphone users.

Why your news site should never automatically open external links in a new window” — August 2012
“A question that I used to get asked time and time again in the comments underneath techie blog posts on the Guardian was why the site didn’t open external links in a new window. And I get asked variations of it elsewhere, so I thought I’d just take five minutes to set out why, on the 21st century internet, forcing links to open in a new browser window is wrong.”

I’m leaving the Guardian” — April 2012
“The title says it all - after three-and-a-bit years I’m going to be leaving the Guardian.”

London 2012

I can’t let a blog post about 2012 go by without mentioning the Olympics and Paralympics. I think that having my home town host the events were some of the most enjoyable weeks of my life. The atmosphere in London was amazing, the sport exciting and fascinating, and the chance to watch events at the Olympics Stadium, Wembley and the Royal Barracks a privilege. The Olympics also afforded me the opportunity to fulfil an ambition, writing and editing a book about the history of protest, dissent and terror at the Games for the Guardian — “Keeping the Torch Burning: Terror, Protest and the Games


And onto 2013. There are already some dates in the diary where you can join me for training on a variety of subjects.

I’ll be talking at UX Sofia in June, but other than that I will be taking a break from doing conference talks in the first half of the year. I’ve got a book to finish, and I’m starting a big project in the new year at a major London museum.

And there is also the small matter of next year’s biggest news — we are expecting a little brother for Emma at the end of February.

Thank you

Thank you very much for reading currybetdotnet during the year. I’ve had over a quarter of a million uniques in the last twelve months, which isn’t too shabby for the backwater of a “little (un)professional bloggette” by “some f***wit in IT”.

I hope you have a great Christmas and holiday period, and enjoy a peaceful and happy new year.


"Why would you start a blog on Christmas Eve? Well, that is a symptom of having set yourself the goal “Have a blog by Christmas”, and being simply dreadful at leaving things to the very last minute."

Surely that's an example of being BRILLIANT at leaving things to the very last minute? ;)

Happy 2013, and thanks for the blog posts!

Your post on share buttons was excellent. It is so spot on. Thanks for sharing your List. Greatly appreciate it. We're looking forward to '13

2012 has been indeed a fabulous year for you and 2013 is going to be more exciting as a little baby is expected in February, good luck, merry Christmas and a brilliant new year ahead.

Keep up to date on my new blog