2016 was a fairly seismic year really, what with the Brexit vote and the election of one Donald J. Trump. Both events create a sense of uncertainty and leave us all looking at 2017 through slightly narrowed eyes and a brave grimace – as if coming to the brow of that first steep climb on a rollercoaster unsure of what’s over the top but knowing that it’ll probably be wild and may well result in a feeling of dizziness or slight nausea.

Inevitably the past year has had its ups and downs for bd2. The ever-increasing and oft discussed ‘skills war’ led to some changes among the developers but some excellent additions have given us our most experienced team. That knowledge and experience is vital to deliver an ever expanding software development workload, one which constantly reaches new and deeper levels of complexity. Working on these large and complex projects represents some really exciting challenges for the developers but also a significant one for project planning, as getting this process right is absolutely key to meeting delivery targets.

We were delighted to see key client Ralawise report that their turnover topped £100M for the first time in 2016 as their website, built and supported by bd2, is by far their largest channel and so played a vital part in achieving their continued growth. The new white label solution we developed for them was rolled out during 2016 too, with great success. In fact, we’re just finishing a bespoke version of this solution for one of their largest customers in Denmark.

This is just one of several projects we’ve undertaken overseas, which was probably one of the most interesting developments for us last year. We’ve launched new sites for leading marine safety brand Crewsaver in the USA and Australia, as well as the UK, and launched a new global website for the parent company Survitec. We built a new site for leading commercial furniture manufacturer Allermuir in the US and are the process of developing another site for them, also for the American market.

We also undertook a major project for French owned software company Cegedim, to design the User Interface for their new core product. Working in collaboration with other teams, such as our work with Cegedim, is an increasingly common situation where we are contracted to deliver part of a large scale project. In this scenario we ran a series of in-depth workshops with their project team, to scope out and identify requirements, then produced initial concepts which were presented for approval to their board of Directors in Paris. A second phase of design incorporated their feedback before handover to their dev team to start to build the product. We carried out a similar exercise for the UK’s leading courier comparison website helping their in-house design and development teams with UI design. We have also worked the opposite way round; taking designs from in-house teams and then implementing them. So we’re equally happy delivering an end-to-end project or specific elements within.

To support this collaborative way of working we opened a dedicated workspace, within our design studios, and called it ‘the Launchpad’. It’s a creative environment in which we invite clients and partners to work directly within our own frameworks and to access our in-house team of designers, front-end developers, back-end developers, marketers, project managers and consultants involving their skills and knowledge as appropriate to the project needs.

As well as working with our existing clients, to help them get their ideas and projects off the ground, we are using the Launchpad to deliver a series of free introductory digital workshops for local businesses to help them consider the implications and potential of all things ‘digital’ and how they might best exploit them. We only started delivering these workshops in December but the feedback has been very positive – if you’re interested in joining one, please contact stuart@bd2.co.uk.

2016 saw bd2 enter its nineteenth year, which makes us one of the longer established digital agencies.We firmly believe that this depth of experience and knowledge is a huge advantage when it comes to the delivery of design and software solutions. From scoping out requirements and the user experience, to UI design and development, we can add that invaluable ‘been there – done that’ advice which comes from processes evolved and refined, to incorporate latest methodologies, over nearly twenty years. We look forward to getting to that twenty year milestone in August and another exciting year – ideally with more ups than downs.