While 2021 wasn’t quite the rollercoaster ride of 2020, it still had its fair share of ups and downs.

Many of us welcomed in 2021 under lockdown, however, slowly but surely, things returned to some form of normality. We started revisiting our local cafés, cinemas, sports clubs, and shopping in town. Us Ducks haven’t all rushed back to the office though.

As a remote-enabled business, we continued our hybrid way of working. Introducing new technologies, software and processes to strengthen how we collaborate with each other. It has been a fantastic year with award wins, successful pitches, workshops and webinars, and new friends, met both virtually and in-person.  

So as 2021 draws to a close, we reflect on our year with you – our clients, partners and friends.

Engaging with an amazing open-source community

The open-source community has thrived over the past 12 months. And it’s been fantastic to join many of our fellow CTOs, Technical Experts and Developers for several webinars, conferences and networking events.

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Adam, Rebecca and George with partners at Acquia Experience Live in London

Here’s just a quick snapshot of some of our favourite technology events from 2021:

  • DrupalCon North America: joining 2,250 people online to hear its Driesnote, get inspired by the future of Drupal and speak ourselves on the UK Government’s new guidance for accessible PDFs and how to deliver inclusive content. The ‘War on PDFs’ presentation was such a big hit we turned it into our own successful webinar
  • DrupalCon Europe: following the North America conference, we joined Drupal online again for their European conference, with an engaging online workshop on Creating Great User Experiences with Drupal and holding a talk on Why a People Focused Culture Yields Digital Transformation 
  • Laracon Online 2021: as well as sponsoring Laracon, several of our Ducks joined the event to discover the latest trends, insights, news and techniques from the Laravel community 
  • Acquia Experience: joined Acquia for their first in-person UK event for 2021, speaking with some fantastic businesses on their digital challenges and hearing the excellent futurist Jamie Bartlett speak about how data will look in the next 10 years 
  • BAD Conference 2021: our very own Sam Hooper (UX Director) and Meera Rao (UX Lead) shared how our user-centered design processes on research and design projects often brings fundamental change across an organisation
  • UCD Gathering: Senior UX Designer Fabiola, paired up with Narelle Ong from Essex County Council to deliver a fantastic presentation on how to build a collaborative client/agency partnership and overcome barriers associated with working remotely, which was also featured on the Essex Country Council blog  

Connecting with web inclusivity experts

The global pandemic shone a bright light on the importance of businesses delivering inclusive and accessible online customer experiences. With limitations on physical settings, people need to be able to access services online regardless of their disability or situation. 

Whilst accessibility by design is baked into our DNA, this year we have doubled-down on our efforts to both advocate for better standards of web inclusivity, as well as increase our own knowledge and skills. Some major strides we took include:

  • Diversity lead: bringing onboard our new Diversity & Accessibility Lead, Yayhe Siyad – a renowned digital inclusion expert, speaker, UN-certified trainer and Paralympian. He’s here to help upskill and inspire the Ducks, and spread the word about inclusivity  
  • PDF checklist: our PDF Accessibility Checklist, to ensure that all businesses are following best practices when it comes to delivering PDF content 
  • Econsultancy top 25 articles of 2021: an extended piece of our content around inclusive design and PDFs was also featured in Econsultancy’s top 25 articles of 2021 
  • ASXchat: Our accessibility leaders Matt (Chief Production Officer) and Ramon (Technical Lead) taking part in AXSchat online community and video podcast dedicated to creating an inclusive world 
  • RNIB Digital Accessibility training: everyone within Cyber-Duck was provided with the opportunity to take part in digital accessibility training, helping us further understand how we can better integrate accessibility within our teams, projects and processes 

We also launched a new series of web accessibility roundtable webinars. Joining us for each roundtable was a panel of experts in UX, digital inclusivity and web accessibility.  

Our first webinar, title Principles and Practices in Action, was streamed on July 15th with guest speakers Debra Ruh, Steve Green, Lori Di Bon Conyers and Mike Gifford (joined by Ramon and Matt). We had a fantastic debate on regulations, good practices and the challenges of delivering it.  

Our second webinar on overlays and accessibility followed in September, with experts from Atos and KreativeInc Agency, this time focusing on the risks of using automated accessibility solutions, such as widgets and overlays.  

We look forward to running more in the New Year, so stay tuned for this!  

Working with the next generation of digital gurus and enthusiasts

The most interesting minds in technology aren’t necessarily in boardrooms or offices, but in schools, colleges and universities. It has always been a treat for us to get the chance to speak with the future Developers, Designers, Technologists and Marketers.  

As longtime friends of Teens in AI, we have had the opportunity to participate in several online workshops and talks to guide (and learn from) talented young boys and girls who are looking to carve out a career in technology.  

Retweet by Cyber Duck for the Teens' in AI event Girl in AI Global Hackathon

A tweet from our partners at Teens in AI celebrating #GirlsinAI2021 Global Hackathon

And as well as this, some of our Ducks took part in BIMA Digital Day – meeting with 45 aspiring Year 9 students from Bentley Wood High School for Girls in-person. The fantastic event allowed the students to explore how web and Technology can make it easier for people to understand the true environmental footprint of products and services.

Photograph-from-BIMA-Digital-Day-with-Mark-and-Chris-presenting

Mark and Chris sharing knowledge with the class at BIMA Digital Day.

Working with the greatest partners

This has been the best year ever for partnerships.  

It’s been truly special to work with the likes of Acquia, the Drupal Association, Test Partners, Scroll, Sleeping Giant Media, Zest, Laravel, Teens in AI, BIMA, the ODI, The Drum, Goods for Good, BigCommerce, Buddy and many others.  

We’ve only covered a few of the great activities we’ve done with you here, and we look forward to continuing our great relationships in 2022. 

Our Ducks Across the World

Even before the pandemic we would always seek out talent across the globe. Now in our 16th year we are proud to say that we’ve grown to nearly 100 Ducks in seven countries. We truly believe our diverse team is what makes us, us.

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Us Ducks celebrating at our previous quarterly business meeting

For International Mother Language Day, our Ducks wanted to celebrate just how diverse we’ve become. This short video shows all the languages we speak here...

Sharing in joint success

The best reflection of the great work we've done with our clients in 2021 is reflected in the recognition our joint efforts have had from our industry peers. Our clients have had a number of nominations and award wins, including:  

  • The DADI Award for Travel/Leisure/Tourism/Sports was won by This Girl Can 
  • Bronze for Best Digital Communication Through COVID-19 with Sports England at Digital Impact Awards 
  • The Cabinet Office’s Virtual Fast Stream Assessment Centre was shortlisted for Service Design at the Design Week Awards 2021 

This year, several Ducks have also been nominated or won major industry awards. While we can’t cover them all, here’s just a few:

  • Our Senior UX Designer Meera and Visual Designer Nick were both selected for the BIMA Hot 100 for 2021  
  • Siji was included in TechRoundUK’s Top 50 #BAME #Entrepreneurs Under 50 of 2021 
  • Our Ducks took the 2021 Business Development Team of the Year from The Drum Agency Awards 
  • And Finance and Operations Director (and creative problem-solver) Lina was a Finalist for Lockdown Leader at the National Business Women's Awards 

And, as a collective, last but not least, we were listed in the top 50 best agencies in The Drum’s UK Digital Agency Census, ranked 22nd in the Top 40 Best Marketing & Media Companies and 76th in the entire UK’s Top 100 Best Small Companies to work for at the Best Companies 2021 Awards. 

Fantastic news that we can only achieve working together with a great team of Ducks, clients and partners. 

Look to the future

Despite all the celebrations, we still know that there’s a tough road ahead for many of us. Things aren’t back to pe-pandemic normal. And the situation will, no doubt, continue to change. But we are still looking ahead to great things in 2022.  

There will be a greater focus on sustainable design practices and digital inclusion, delivering personalisation in the cookieless future, while strongly advocating for privacy by design. We’ll see what’s next after Drupal 7 End of Life, how the metaverse will impact the future workspace, and much, much more.  

Do keep an eye out on our social media (Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram) in the New Year... 

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Danny

Founder & CEO

Danny founded Cyber-Duck in 2005 with one goal in mind: to create exceptional user experiences for global brands.

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