2020 - It's been a year to remember, hasn't it. Being locked down in our homes, missing out going to pubs & restaurants, seeing friends and family and changing our daily routines in the real world to being more online from doing grocery shopping, chatting to friends and family, and working from home. The importance of digital has never been more noticeable than this year - It's been interesting!
Not to mention that even though our lives have changed in these challenging ways, we've also realised the importance of some job roles that we would never have before - Mainly front line staff (Doctors, Nurses, Teachers) and, sadly, lower-paid workers. Salute to them.
But even though 2020 has been a bit of a shi*t show for us all, it's also brought some positives for us all, and everyone has got some good from the year.
I started this year intending to launch 2 of my side projects/products, and it's worked out better than expected. All that extra time locked down meant I could build and launch three products and my website (We all know how difficult these are to do!)
Hike, a hiring platform for design agencies and products, did a soft launch and is currently beta testing with a select few local companies. We intend to roll this out early next quarter to everyone. Gain+Glory, a virtual cycling platform, launched in late November with its first event.
Tap Tourist, the project that happened during the lockdown, was designed, built and launched in 2 weeks and became a directory to find local breweries/pubs offering delivery and takeaway due to being forced to close because of the pandemic. It received fantastic feedback, and I have new features ready to roll out over the next few days.
The next step is growth and promotion, which is another learning curve to overcome next year.
Talking about learning, I took the time to learn Swift UI, VueJS, React, Gridsome and GraphQL. I've finally moved from relying on jQuery *Shudder* to using plain JS combined AlpineJS and Tailwind CSS to help build and ship features faster when more comprehensive frameworks were a bit overkill.
Sadly, I didn't get time to drop any new Craft CMS plugins on the plugin store this year - But I've two that will be dropping early next year - Points & Porter. I'll keep you posted on these.
This year brought my design agency, MadeByShape's into its 10th year. This is a big achievement for 2 lads from Manchester that started the company with no financial support/funding not long out of University.
As well, the pandemic meant a big change for our team, which was - working from home. At first, this was a bit hectic due to us figuring out how it would work, but now we love it. I see this being a great positive for us, and it's likely to stay. No doubt this is the same for other design/teach agencies as well.
Plastic Free - Towards the end of 2019, I was starting on the plastic-free train. But we kicked this year off by making sure we didn't buy any plastic bottles for cleaning and self-care products (laundry detergent, washing up liquid, shampoo, shower gel etc.). We've estimated this is a saving of around 100 bottles for this year - Which, although it sounds small, it's a great start.
As well, we made the leap to plastic-free food around August. So no more spaghetti and rice in plastic wrapping but straight into "Kilner" style jars. It surprisingly works out a lot cheaper for some products.
Exercise - Before the COVID pandemic, I, like many of you working in tech were committed to some form of exercise, mainly for mental health or a leg stretch away from a desk. The pandemic increased fitness for a lot of people I know. I've also never walked/hiked so much before, and I have managed to cycle hillier, longer and stronger rides: Totalling 5,905mi and 406,896ft of climbing. Yes, my daily commute by bike instantly stopped, but hey - My fitness improved a lot. Sadly, the last month of the year, I claimed an injury that meant I couldn't cycle, and I'm currently out of action!
But COVID brought some excellent positives from all this exercise. Towns and cities have FINALLY realised the importance of giving people space to walk, run and cycle. By bringing in more cycle lanes in cities, bigger pavements and quieter neighbourhoods. During COVID, we also saw air pollution in cities drop dramatically due to people changing their lifestyles to use active travel. Let's hope this stays and becomes a positive for the future.
I bought a house - I finally did it. I'm no longer going to be renting, and I'm in the process of buying my first house. With a bit of work inside and out, it will be dream home. Being locked down meant my spending reduced, and I could buy earlier due to saving quicker.
2020 Playlist - Finally, I keep yearly playlists on Spotify of all the songs that have been released that year, or I listened to a lot. If you're into UK Hip Hop, Electronic and a bit of Jazz, then give it a listen.
Happy New Year.