2018 has been good to me, so it felt only right to put everything down to summarise the year as we enter a new year at Shape. A lot of new things have happened this year both from an experience point of view, as well as learning. It’s been very productive.
We’re big fans of Craft CMS at Shape, so it only made sense to have this as the number one point. Not only have we been treated with a huge update in the form of Craft CMS 3, but we’ve also seen the community grow rapidly.
This big improvement to the platform meant we could work on client projects faster as well as making their projects perform faster. It also meant we could handle pretty much any project feature that needed to be built. From working on eCommerce projects for fashion companies, to online booking with Stripe payments and customisable product web apps.
We also worked on Curriculum Press which enables subscriptions via Craft Commerce to let their customers access school resources quicker - Something they were doing via posted CD's previously!
With the introduction of Craft 3, brought the ability for us to create plugins for the new plugin store. This was a learning curve for us, but by learning an extra skill, it meant we could produce these for clients who had specific bespoke needs on projects. This year we’ve created around 10 bespoke plugins / modules to help clients achieve.
But naturally we supported the community and dropped a few extras in the plugin store:
We’re not done there though, and have plans to release another 3 plugins early 2019 👀
Mid 2018 saw us change some parts of our brand slightly, to make everything work and fit better together. This brought along the new illustrations which are carried across our website and print material such as our newspaper and prints.
As well as uniforming our colours and typeface choices which were previously a bit all over the place due to our growth over the years.
Within our industry you need to constantly learn, improve and try out new things. This isn’t easy though when working in teams that have workflows that currently work.
But earlier this year we took a look at our development workflow and overhauled it. We moved from a custom framework, to using Foundation, and bravely moved away from Codekit to introduce Gulp in to our workflow (Argh, command line)
But by doing this was we found we developed faster, but not only faster, but better. This brought a long integrated performance adjustments to do things like get better Google Page Speed scores (The holy grail) and test our sites for accessibility issues a long the way.
From a design side - We’ve introduced Sketch to try and get an atomic design workflow going, but this early days and we expect this to be pushed a bit more in 2019
I was also recently invited by Stephen Callendar to appear on his podcast Commerce Minded to discuss Craft CMS, the history of Shape, Commerce and how to keep a good mental health whilst working in development.
Outside of Shape
Outside of Shape, it’s been a year for me in terms of cycling, fitness and wellbeing. I find that working at a desk for 9+ hours a day can sometimes take a toll on your mental wellbeing, and it’s good for me to get out after work to workout.
We’re big in to cycling at Shape, with Tom being a triathlete and Mike an amateur racer - So for me this year I aimed to for my best year with a target of 6,000mi and 300,000ft of climbing on the bike - I hit it, plus some!
It just means there will be more pain and torture next year 😰