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Jo's End of Year Review - 2021

Joanne Edwards
Updated on 17 Dec 2021

2021 is coming to an end and even though things aren’t fully back to normal, I’ve had a good year. I’ve worked on many amazing websites and experienced my first Craft CMS Dot All conference.

Web Developer

I’ve learned so much this year and developed some websites that I'm really proud of. As developers, we’re always looking to improve and make developing websites easier. One thing we have used more this year which I really like is a lightweight JavaScript framework called Alpine. It’s a minimal tool for composing behaviour directly in your markup. Think of it like jQuery for the modern web. You simply insert it into your script tag and hey presto. The way Alpine works is that you declare data, listen to events like a click or a hover of the cursor and then react to that event/change. This makes creating javascript elements like mobile menus, accordions, galleries, and many other things easier and quicker to create. We have just recently started using Alpine V3 and I’m looking forward to continuing to use it in the new year.

Another framework that isn’t new this year but still my top favourite is Tailwind. It makes developing and styling websites so easy, especially alongside Alpine. Now we no longer need to create an `.is-active`, `.is-loading` or `.is-` class again. We can simply add it straight into the HTML framework. Tailwind also has default colour palettes and lets you integrate your own. It also has easy to add breakpoints for responsive CSS styles. It’s so useful that a lot of our older websites are being updated and upgraded to use Tailwind. This included completely skinning the website and integrating our latest Tailwind CSS framework. Read more on why Tailwind is a favourite here at Shape in Tom's Tailwind CSS review.

Favourite Websites From This Year

I’ve worked on many new websites this year, but these are my top three.

Studio 25

Studio 25 is a multipurpose dance studio in the heart of Manchester, cultivating modern and traditional dance. Our web design team did a great job designing this website and I enjoyed creating all the scroll and hover animations with the arrow icons and mouse cursor for a polished and immersive digital experience. I also had the pleasure of producing an animated showreel of Studio 25, using the striking brand imagery Ella designed - you can see more of these animated videos over on our Instagram @madebyshape.

Studio25 screen phone

Three Little Words

This was another beautifully designed website. We partnered with cocktail bar Three Little Words in Manchester to create an elevated online experience, mirroring the aesthetic and brand of the elegant bar, blending beautiful imagery and sophisticated design to tell Three Little Word's story behind the business and its origins. On the homepage, I created a fancy slideshow that reflected the brand and continued this animated effect throughout the site. I’m super proud of this site especially because it was given an Honourable Mention Award by Awwwards and was shown as an example website on one of the conference talks in Dot All by Craft CMS.

Threelittlewords phones

Social Shepherd

Another site I liked working on was Social Shepherd, a social media marketing agency. They wanted a full rebrand and website transformation. There weren't as many fancy animations as Studio 25 or Three Little Words, but I had a lot of fun and enjoyed creating wobbly outlined images and blocks. This design filled the fun and fluff-free brief, stepping away from the traditional sharp/crisp blocks and images. ​​It was a nice change and a great challenge.

TSS screen phone
TSS phones

Dot All

For anyone who hasn’t heard of Dot All, it is a Craft CMS developer conference that happens once a year. Where developers from Craft CMS or experts from around the world talk about updates, upgrades and tips on Craft CMS. Before I started working at Shape, Tom and Jay had gone to previous Dot All conferences in Berlin. Sadly 2020 Dot All had to be cancelled due to coronavirus and this year the conference was shown online only, like many other events this year. I was sad I didn’t get to go to Berlin but enjoyed 2 days in the Studio with my fellow developers watching the conference on a big screen in the meeting room while we worked and took notes on how we could improve and utilise Craft more. Amazingly, two of our sites were featured. The first one was the MadeByShape website and the second was Three Little Things which I worked on. This was crazy, but a nice surprise for us to see. Hopefully, in 2022 we’ll be able to go to Berlin and I can experience Dot All properly for the first time.

Dot all 2021

Outside of Shape

This year I have been super busy outside of work. If you’ve read one of my previous blogs Jo's first children's picture book about Pebble, you'll know I self-published my first ever picture book at the end of last year. It’s now been a year and I’ve had the fun and new challenge of marketing and selling my book on Amazon and my online Shopify site. I had my first physical event in Coventry in September where I sold my book and, for the first time, some greeting cards I designed and printed. They did so well I recently made some Christmas-themed ones too. I’m looking forward to a nice long rest over the Christmas holidays and will be planning on having a long break from my side business, hopefully starting on my next book.

I'm a web developer here at Shape but outside of that, I'm a hockey team captain.