31/12

2020 Year in Review

2020 - It's definitely 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.

Side Projects & Learning

I started out this year with the aim of launching 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 3 products and my own personal 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 late November with it's first event.

Tap Tourist, the project that happened during lockdown was designed, built and launched in 2 weeks and became a directory to find local breweries/pubs that were offering delivery and takeaway due to being forced to close because of the pandemic. It received amazing feedback and the 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 bigger 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 2 that will dropping early next year - Points & Porter. I'll keep you posted on these.

Work optimised

Shape

This year brought my design agency, MadeByShape's in to it's 10th year. This is a big achievement for 2 lads from Manchester that started out 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 trying to figure 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.

2020 year in review shape min

Personal

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 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 in to "kilner" style jars. It surprisingly works out a lot cheaper for some products.

Exercise - Before the COVID pandemic I, like a lot 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 definitely increased fitness for a lot of people I know. I've also never walked/hiked so much before, and I have managed to cycle more 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 good 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 life styles to use active travel. Let's hope this stays and becomes a positive for the future.

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 a dream home. Being locked down meant my spending reduced, and I could buy earlier due to saving quicker.

2020 Playlist - And 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 in to UK Hip Hip, Electronic and a bit of Jazz, then give it a listen.

Happy New Year.