You know, this is the time of year where Chris normally publishes a big ol’ reflection of the past year. The first one was published in 2007, the same year CSS-Tricks began, and it continued all the way through 2021 without missing a beat. Having been a CSS-Tricks reader myself all those years, I’d hate to see that change.
So, here we are! 2022 was sure a heckuva year as far as transition goes. At this time last year, we were looking ahead at some goals for the upcoming year (which we’ll get to) but wound up joining DigitalOcean. That was a massive sea change (pun intended) and yet you stuck with us the whole way. It really means a lot to me that so many of you come here to read the things that I and a slew of other guest writers publish here. It just ain’t a community (or any fun) without y’all.
This is the last post we’re publishing this year as we hang up our Gone Fishin’ sign for the holidays. We’ll be back January 9 with a spate of content that’s fresh from the oven.
OK, this is where we start digging into the site’s analytics. That’s something we’ve always been transparent about and will continue to do. It’s not like our numbers are in some off-limits black box, and the hope is that sharing them somehow helps you and your business.
Overall, Google Analytics is showing a total of 64m pageviews for the entire year. That’s wayyyyy down from last year’s 88m, which is alarming at first glance. I mean, who wants to see a 27% drop in year-over-year traffic?
But there’s good reason for that because we published wayyyy less content this year. We all know Chris was a prolific writer (and still is, of course), often spitting out multiple posts a day. It’s sorta like we lost our most productive contributor for the bulk of the year. Let’s compare the publishing activity for the last few years:
2020: 1,183 articles
2021: 890 articles
2022: 390 articles
A 27% drop in pageviews is a lot less concerning considering we published 43% fewer articles than last year, and a whopping 67% fewer than 2020’s overall total.
Hmm, I don’t feel like I’m working 67% less…
And all of this comes with the caveat that this is just what we get from Google Analytics. In past years, Chris has compared those numbers with stats from Cloudflare (the CDN layer that sits on top of the site) and Jetpack (the plugin that connects our self-hosted WordPress site to WordPress.com’s SaaS-y features). The results are always consistently inconsistent to the extent that I’m not even bothering to look this time around. (Alright, alright maybe just Jetpack… which shows 59.9m pageviews — oddly more than 2021’s 55m total.)
Articles, by the numbers
This is what I always look forward to each year! Here are the top ten articles in 2022 that were published in 2022:
6 Creative Ideas for CSS Link Hover Effects — Harshil Patel
Explain the First 10 Lines of Twitter’s Source Code to Me — Anand Chowdhary
What Were the Hottest Front-End Tools in 2021? — Louis Lazaris
Say Hello to selectmenu, a Fully Style-able select Element — Patrick Brosset
Reliably Send an HTTP Request as a User Leaves a Page — Alex MacArthur
grid-template-columns — Mojtaba Seyedi
A Complete Guide to CSS Cascade Layers — Miriam Suzanne
CSS Database Queries? Sure We Can! — Chris Coyier
CSS-Tricks is joining DigitalOcean! — Chris Coyier
I’m actually surprised that last one wasn’t higher on the list. And I’m really stoked to see one from the Almanac in there, especially because Mojtaba chipped away at all of the CSS Grid properties over the past year and half and he knocked it way out of the ballpark. I thought I had a good handle on grid until I started reading all of the gold nuggets he packed into each property. There’s so much to learn in there and Mojtaba has a knack for clearly explaining complicated things. I’m hoping to update the CSS Grid guide with all that fresh information (but more on that in a bit).
I love seeing the CSS Cascade Layers guide in there, too! I had so much fun working with Miriam on it. If you didn’t know it, she’s an editor for the spec. It’s a treat (and honor, really) to host her work here and make it available for us all to bookmark and reference.
Here’s 11-20 for kicks:
Flutter For Front-End Web Developers —Obumuneme Nwabude
CSS Grid and Custom Shapes, Part 1 — Temani Afif
Write HTML, the HTML Way (Not the XHTML Way) — Jens Oliver Meiert
A Whistle-Stop Tour of 4 New CSS Color Features — Chris Coyier
Cool Hover Effects That Use Background Properties — Temani Afif
Let’s Create a Tiny Programming Language — Md Shuvo
A Perfect Table of Contents With HTML + CSS — Nicholas C. Zakas
CSS-Based Fingerprinting — Chris Coyier
All posts that were published in 2022 make up 4.8m pageviews, or about 7.8% of all pageviews. Our most viewed article is always the ol’ Flexbox guide which garnered 5.8m views this year. I’d love to see our new content outpace that one item, and I believe that would’ve easily happened if we’d kept up the pace of publishing. Back of the napkin math here, but we may have been around 67m pageviews if we had published 540 more articles to match last year’s number of published articles.
If we take a few steps back, then we can see the most-viewed articles from the past year, regardless of when they were published:
Yep, nearly identical to last year. And the year before. And the year before. And… well, almost. “Gradient Borders in CSS” is new, bumping the box-shadow property off the list. Everything else from the four spot on merely swapped places.
Speaking of the properties in the Almanac, I wanna see what y’all referenced most this past year:
The numbers here are way too messy to draw any insightful conclusions. After moving to DigitalOcean, we had to scrub our list of 91K+ subscribers for compliance purposes and the number plummeted as a result. If you were dropped from the list, you can re-subscribe here.
The good news? We’re still doing the newsletter! We actually fired it back up in August after a five-month hiatus. We were on a weekly cadence, but are at once a month now while yours truly is authoring it. I sure hope to bump it back to a weekly publication. (I miss you, Robin!)
It’s been mostly about keeping the ship afloat, if I’m being honest. Other than some minor tweaks and maintenance, the site is pretty much where it was at this time last year.
That will change big time in 2023. If you’ve been keeping up with our monthly Behind the CSScenes updates, then you know that we’re planning to migrate CSS-Tricks from WordPress to the same homespun CMS that DigitalOcean uses for all of its (stellar) community content.
That work kicked off a couple months ago and should be done within the first half of the year. You can bet that we’ll keep you updated along the way. Besides a fresh design and a new back-end, it should be business as usual. If you have any questions about that work and what it means for your favorite front-end publication, please do hit me up in the comments or shoot me an email.
If you haven’t seen it yet, here are a few comps that our designer, Logan Liffick, put together:
2021 goal review
Oy, I’m hesitant to even look. All the effort it’s taken to integrate with DigitalOcean and find a new rhythm dominated everybody’s time, leaving precious little to take a crack at Chris’ goals, which were:
✅ More SEO focus. I’ll give us a passing grade here. The truth is that Chris and I were already digging our heels into this prior to the acquisition. We replaced the Yoast SEO plugin with RankMath, taking advantage of its in-editor tools to help us learn how to optimize our posts for search results. And to be clear: it’s less about increasing traffic for more sponsorship revenue than it is recognizing that search is the primary way readers like you find us, and making it easier for you to find what you’re looking for. That’s especially true now that we’re backed by DigitalOcean and rely on sponsorships way less than we used to.
🚫 Another digital book. Swing and a miss! Well, we never actually swung in the first place, or stepped into the batter’s box for that matter. (Is this how sports analogies work?) Chris published a book of The Greatest CSS Tricks in 2020 and made it a perk of being a paid CSS-Tricks subscriber. The idea was to do another one this year, but we got rid of the paid subscriptions and opened The Greatest CSS Tricks up for everyone to enjoy, free of charge.
🚫 More social media experimentation. Nope! But that might be for the best, considering where Twitter is at right this second. We might be forced to experiment in this area next year more out of neccessity than interest. Twitter has always been a drip in the proverbial bucket of CSS-Tricks traffic; so much so that investing in it feels like putting our eggs in the wrong basket, er bucket. I dunno. Part of me just wants to sit on my hands and see how things shake out before deciding on anything new or different.
New year, new goals, right? Allow me to put a bunch of words in the team’s mouth and project what I feel are top priorities for us heading into 2023:
A smooth site migration. Nothing would make me happier1 than a hiccup-free move to DigitalOcean’s architecture. But c’mon, we all know something always comes up when it’s go time. This site has 7,000+ articles that have been written over 15 years, and there have been 19 versions of the site in that timespan. There are so many custom post types, custom fields, page templates, functionality plugins, integrations, and a database that’s over 6GB to move over and map to an existing system. Good thing we have a team of top-notch developers here to take it on!
Publish 1-2 new guides. I’d love to aim higher, actually. We went from nine new guides in 2020 to a paltry one new guide in 2021, and another one this past year: Miriam’s Complete Guide to CSS Cascade Layers. I have a list of 10 more that I’d love to write, but think we’ll set the bar super low given our recent track record. I mentioned earlier that I’d love to incorporate Mojtaba’s work in the Almanac into the existing CSS Grid guide. That’s no small amount of work and I’d count it towards the goal if we can pull it off.
Expand the Almanac. This is my moonshot. I’d love to see more types of documentation in there. We have pseudo-selectors and properties, which is great and always has been. But, geez, think of all the other things we could have in there: functions, at-rules, units, selectors, property values, etc. We’re only scratching the surface of what could possibly go in there! If we get even one of those, I’d be in place-self: heaven.
Thank you so, so, so much!
This is my dream job and I wouldn’t have it without readers like you. I can’t believe it’s been eight years since my very first article was published and that I’m still here, working with learning from the brightest minds in our field. I could ramble (more than I already have) on how much the CSS-Tricks community means to me, but what it really comes down to is… thank you, thank you, thank you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.
And thanks to all the fine folks here at DigitalOcean who have made a great home for CSS-Tricks. Extra special high-fives to Haley Mills, Sydney Rossman Reich, Bradley Kouchi, Karen Digi, David Berg, Matt Crowley, Logan Liffick, and Kirstyn Kellogg for getting me personally up to speed and making me feel so welcome here. It’s a great place to be.
Forward, we go!
Well, as happy as a WordPress fanboy like myself can be. ↩️