The 2020 year in review

Published 21 December 2020 20:48 (4-minute read)

2020, the year I started sharing more and more tips/tricks, used techniques, and other information. Most posts are more technical, but this one will be a personal post. Also, it's the first time I look back at last year. It was a strange year, so let's start!

This year is a bit different than the others, not only for me but also for the rest of the world.

Study

It's coming to an end, my study at Windesheim Zwolle. So what have I done in the past year?

Internship at OrangeTalent

The year started with an internship at OrangeTalent, a digital agency specializing in online results. I worked on a product together with Denice van den Steen, a student from Hogeschool Utrecht. We made a project from the ground up with some new tools for us. My main focus was on the back-end, which interacted with multiple external services to provide the needed information to the front-end (made by Denice). During the COVID-19 pandemic, we had to work from home, this was a bit stressful, but we managed to deliver new features to the product.

Internship at OrangeTalent

Internship at OrangeTalent

During the internship, I learned a lot from Maarten, Wiljan, and other employees (thanks again!). Most of the knowledge came from real-life applications with a huge amount of traffic/dependencies. These techniques helped me think a bit differently, which could help a lot during the development of new products/applications.

Working on That's Why

We had an idea to develop a solution to improve the user experience on websites. So, we submitted this as a custom assignment for our semester Future Technology. Together with Allan, Lars, and Thijs, I've worked on a solution to collect real user experience in a way that would be scaleable for millions of visitors.

That's Why Dashboard (as of 22 December 2020)

That's Why Dashboard (as of 22 December 2020)

After some weeks, we had the first MVP running on some test sites and collect valuable data. There was a challenge to set up a solution that doesn't collect personally identifiable information (PII). After some research, we improved our system even more. In November 2020, we launched the beta of That's Why real user monitoring. And in December 2020, we officially launched the production version with Paddle as the payment provider.

My company

It's already 5 years since I started my company back in 2015. This year, there was such a growth in work that had to be done.

Together with my clients, we set the goals for 2020 to be made. This was a "normal" goal and not really high. But when the pandemic started, we saw an increase in orders. This led to an increase of 253% in orders (!!!). When you compare this to 2019, we more than doubled (119% growth) the number of orders.

Side projects

User experience on websites is getting more important every year. When I saw that Google had an API for their Chrome User Experience Report, I created a small tool that gives you inside into the CrUX as collected.

Chrome User Experience Report tool

Chrome User Experience Report tool

For some of my customers, this pandemic was a bit abrupt and hard. So I decided to help them a bit with my online knowledge. For a few restaurants, I created a tool called FFAfhalen (SaaS). With this tool, restaurant owners can set up their own pickup and delivery site where customers can order food (and other products). This helped them a lot, and in total there were around 8.000 orders made, I must say this is impressive.

Demo for FFAfhalen

Demo for FFAfhalen

FFAfhalen was an extension from the original product FFReserveren (a SaaS for restaurant reserve).

Moving to a new home

After living for almost 20 years in the same house, we moved to a new place. It was a bit difficult at the beginning to get to know the new house, but after a few weeks, it gets normal, and I really like it. Also, I updated the office with some recognizable paintings on the wall.

Wall painting in the new house

Wall painting in the new house

Statistics of my site

This year I started sharing things that helped me during my learning. My website is already a few years old, but this year, I started using it more. Here is a screenshot of the visitors from 2020.

Visitor analytics RobinDirksen.nl

Visitor analytics RobinDirksen.nl

Most of the visitors came from organic search results, around 17.7K.

Organic search robindirksen.nl

Organic search robindirksen.nl

In 2020 I made 30 posts. Here is a list of the post I created in 2020:

Plans in 2021

In de coming years, I want to share even more valuable information that helped me a lot. It's my last year at the study, and I hope to graduate in June 2021. Many things could be done after that, but I hope that 2021 will be a better year for me.

I have some plans for 2021, but at this moment, it's not 100% clear. I'll let you know in the coming weeks...

Robin Dirksen
Robin Dirksen

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