I remember sitting in my parents house with Andy (My Co-Founder) deciding on what to call our company after deciding to merge our freelancing skills together. It's here where we came up with Shape.
Shape had it's 10 year birthday in 2020 (Although we couldn't celebrate it properly due to the current pandemic) which is good amount of time to run a company that started out with no funding/financial support for 2 lads from Manchester not long out of University.
Over the years our team has grown, shrunk and grown again. We've worked with big and small clients. Moved from a studio in city centre Manchester, to just outside of Manchester and best part - This progression isn't slowing down.
But things have changed since we started. (For the better)
Brand naming in 2010
When we first started out we both did everything, finance, design, development (Yes, Andy also developed - In Flash!), promotion, project management - You name it, we've done it. But as our team has grown we have seen our roles change a lot over the 10 years.
We didn't decide one year that our roles would change - More that our company moulded our team and in turn our roles. Although we both trained as graphic designers, my main role now is Lead Developer, and I largely look after the development team, and larger project development.
But as our company grows I don't see us both moving away from the "creative" side of work, even though we still have to perform in a "managing" role. We still like to get stuck in with the creative work - Which is why we started Shape in the first place.
Just because our team has grown, doesn't mean we have to drift away from what we love doing.
Talking about our team growing - Over the 10 years we've had a total of 8 creatives work for us. This might seem like a small number, but our churn rate of creatives is very low. If you join Shape, you find you're in the role for a long time because of the environment and work.
90% of our team over the 10 years have also been straight out of University. We've always looked at the quality of work and the spark from the creative rather than what their past experience is.
Although the current pandemic has forced us to work remotely, we did offer this a few years ago to our team (But it rarely got used) but we see this as a big change for us going forward over the next 10 years!
We've also handed out our fair share of internships and it's good for us to know that the majority of these have gone on to successful careers after learning a bit of the industry at Shape.
MadeByShape Studio in 2016
As Lead Developer now I've seen how drastically our development workflow and processes have changed over the past 10 years. Long gone are the days of us using Dreamweaver and manually uploading files via FTP (Not even SFTP!) to production Shudder.
Our process has always kept up with the times and is ever changing for the better - As well as making sure it works for a team of developers or anyone joining our team.
We've gone through various frameworks and tools. For our front end we've gone from plain CSS to Bootstrap, Zurb Foundation, Custom frameworks (Which we used for a long time) and now we're running Tailwind CSS. With all tech, we don't see this lasting forever and imagine this will change again at some point in the future as something better comes a long.
It's never been a case of us keeping up with the latest trends every year for development, but choosing and learning the correct stack for the project.
The biggest change over the 10 years, has definitely been our client base. When we started out it was mainly "local" companies that required what I call "leaflet sites". Over the years and as our skills improved we could take on bigger and more creative projects and our client based now consists of small-medium businesses as well as large companies with either online stores with interesting and unique products or web applications.
Around 5 years ago, we got in to a good position where we could pick and choose what projects we'd like to work on which is a good position any business can be in. We can pick the most interesting and creative projects to give to our team.
Over the years we have learnt a lot about dealing with clients also. But the main concept we started off with of with where "everyone is their own project manager" still works 10 years later.