After weeks of suspense the winners of the 2013 .net Awards were announced on Friday 31 May at our party in London.
This year's event focused on honouring the new people, projects and technologies that are reshaping how we work on the web.
The day was a chance for some of the web's newest movers and shakers to meet each other as well as some more well-known faces. Comedian Josh Widdicombe was our host for the afternoon and he presented the winners with their awards to much fanfare and jubilation.
You can see the responses of some of the winners in this video:
Read on to find out more about the best new designers, developers, entrepreneurs and agencies on the scene, and the most exciting new tools and technologies to appear over the last year.
Game Changer of the Year: Typecast
Typecast is a browser-based app for designing with web fonts. It was developed by a bunch of designers who were frustrated when a client noticed that the comps they had been shown didn't exactly match the final site. The Typecast creators set out to build an app that would enable designers to set and style web fonts as easily and precisely as system fonts, and on full-length copy. Just one week after launching in beta, Typecast was acquired by Monotype and became a commercial product in January 2013. It is loved by designers and developers everywhere.
Best New Agency: SuperFriendly
Clients: AOL, Google, TimeInc, WHYY, 1-800-Contacts and more
Team size: Four, plus a regular network of SuperFriends
Some work you're proud of: Everything on our site
.net: Tell us your story. How did you get started?
After many years working at, for, and with a number of agencies, founder Dan Mall decided to go it alone. Wanting the freedom to adopt or resist process, do work without the restrictions of overhead, and work from home to spend more time with his wife and daughter, SuperFriendly was born.
.net: What has happened in your first year of business?
Lots! We published an annual report of all the goings on, from hours worked to referral sources to monthly income breakdown.
.net: Do you have any special philosophies that drive your working practices and company culture?
Our motto is "defeating apathy and the forces of evil." That's mostly a reminder to us that the work we do shouldn't just be usable but surprising and inherently upright as well. Lastly, work should support life, not the other way around.
.net: What sets you apart from the rest?
Mainly, we're SuperFriendly!
Young Designer of the Year: Dan Edwards
Winner: Dan Edwards
Online: danedwards.me, @de
Based in: Chichester, West Sussex
Started designing websites aged: 16
Clients: I've work with a range of clients from agencies to startups including LetsWatch.it, Snow2Moro, Southampton University, Hardcloud, Surfer Gift and several self initiated projects such as Altitude, Card Cream and Mockpro
Education: I attended Chichester College where I completed a BTEC in Graphic Design
My web design idols: Wow, there are so many people I could list here. I'm really loving James McDonald's work at the moment, such a clean style and always original. I find Elliot Jay Stock's cross between web and print really exciting too. 8 Faces is just beautiful. Mike Kus's work is always so inspiring. I wish I could draw like he can! There are also designers like Daryl Ginn and Visual Idiot who are cool friends who inspire and make me laugh every day. There's so much talent out there
.net: How did you get into web design?
DE: I actually got into web design because when I was younger and worked in a surf shop, and my boss asked me If I could make a website. To impress him I said "Yeah of course". I couldn't, but my uncle sat me down and taught me basic HTML and CSS. It was a total mess but it showed me a completely new side to design. Before that I was only doing print work.
.net: What have you been working on this year? And what's been your proudest moment?
DE: I've been working on various client projects, some of which will be launching this summer. I've also been working on my own personal projects, some just for fun and some because I wanted a tool which wasn't available. My proudest moment has got to be organising and creating Altitude. I've always wanted to run my own event so I got together with my friend Tom to organise it with me. It was a real success and I'm still on a come down from it. I feel so privileged to have been able to meet some of the people who've inspired me and I'm already planning the next one!
.net: Why should people vote for you?
DE: This is really hard. I feel like I've come a long way in a year and I've got so much more to learn. This award would mean an awful lot to me. And I'd happily tweet each of you a cat gif. Haha.
Young Developer of the Year: Anna Debenham
Winner: Anna Debenham
Job: Freelance frontend developer
Based in: Brighton, UK
Got into development aged: 15
Education: Some GCSEs, A-Levels and brownie badges
First job: Juicette at a smoothie bar
Areas of expertise: HTML and CSS
.net: How did you get into web development?
AD: I began learning HTML from making webpages on Neopets, and CSS from tweaking MySpace profiles. I started listening to Boagworld podcasts when I was 16, and attended my first meetup in London a year later for the 100th episode in 2007. Shortly after, I started freelancing.
.net: Who have you found particularly inspirational? Have you had any mentors?
AD: Paul Boag, Marcus Lillington, Ryan Taylor and Paul Stanton welcomed me into the industry when I was starting out, and sent me on Drew and Rachel's CSS workshop. Also the folk at Clearleft who gave me an internship in 2009, particularly Natalie Downe who I pair-programmed with the whole time I was there. I couldn't have asked for a better mentor. At the moment, I'm doing a lot of work building prototypes with Leisa Reichelt, and she sets me lots of tasks that have been helping push my skills.
.net: What have you been working on this year?
AD: Over the past year, I've been working with a startup called Speakr, a web app that helps kids articulate how they feel at school through technology, and I've been working with a team on the University of Surrey website. I've also got a couple of ongoing side projects. I document the browsers on game consoles, and I co-host Unfinished Business, a podcast about the business side of the web.
Brilliant Newcomer of the Year: Laura Kalbag
Winner: Laura Kalbag
Online: laurakalbag.com, @laurakalbag
Based in: Surrey
Got into the web aged: As a casual user, 15. As a designer, around 18
Areas of expertise: Web design, frontend development, illustration and icons
.net: How did you get into web stuff?
LK: I've been into art and drawing for as long as I can remember, and from an early age I wanted to be a graphic designer. As I started studying graphic design in further education, I discovered web design. I loved the freedom that the web afforded designers and users alike. I also fell in love with the sharing community that went out of its way to help newcomers. For the last eight years or so, I've stayed infatuated with the web.
.net: What have you been working recently?
LK: I'm always juggling two or three projects at a time. I've recently finished working on the Hotels.com Hotels Price Index mini site with 33 Digital. They'd designed a beautiful print document and I was tasked with turning it into the first web version of the document, and making it responsive. This was full of unique challenges, such as making it still has that print-quality feel, ensuring the graphs and infographics are still easy to digest on smaller viewports, and all while being under a tight deadline. We had to be realistic about what we could achieve.
I've also been running a mentoring project with three fantastic students. It's really made me examine the way I work, trying to understand why I use particular processes and tools, because, as a freelancer, I rarely have to justify these decisions in depth to other people.
.net: What are your proudest achievements of the last year or so?
LK: The highlight of my year so far has been speaking at Responsive Day Out in Brighton. It was also probably the most terrifying as there were people there who taught me the first things I learnt about web development, as well as many other people I love and respect.
New Entrepreneur of the Year: Clare Sutcliffe
Winner: Clare Sutcliffe
Job: CEO at Code Club
Based in: London
Started: April 2012
.net: How did your current venture get started?
Clare Sutcliffe: Code Club started after Linda and I met at New Adventures in January 2012. We got together to plan a 'useful hackday' and accidentally invented Code Club.
.net: What advice would you give to people thinking of starting something?
CS: When we started Code Club we didn't spend ages on planning. We just made a plan and got on with it. We continue to do that to this day. It's one of the reasons we've grown so quickly. We have two sayings that push us forward and let us make decisions quickly. The first is 'Good artists ship' and the second is 'Don't ask for permission, ask for forgiveness later'. So my advice would be 'do your research, then just get on with it'.
.net: What are you excited about at the moment?
CS: We're really excited about reaching 1000 clubs. It's our first major milestone and we've been working very hard towards achieving it.
Side Project of the Year: Am I Responsive
Winner: Am I Responsive
Creator: Justin Avery
Job: Technical consultant
Based in: London, UK, but I was in Buderim, Australia when this was built
.net: What inspired you to create Am I Responsive?
JA: I have two other side projects and I often spend time creating responsive screen shots of featured RWD sites for both of them.
This involved taking a screen shot at each viewport, importing them all to Photoshop, positioning them on the canvas, changing the order/arrangement of the devices … it took me ages!
One Friday morning I had a few sites to catch up on and I decided started playing around with some iFrames. By the end of the day, I posted the first draft and at the end of the weekend I'd added most of the features that you see there now.
Just a quick note: it should never be used for testing, only for screenshots, testing should be done on real devices.
.net: What kind of response have you had?
JA: The response has been amazing!
After I released the first version at the beginning on February I shared it with a few friends and colleagues who gave me some really great initial feedback. It wasn't until I ran it in the RWD newsletter the following week that the visits started to pick up.
From there it just grew organically until it was being tweeted multiple times a day and featured on blogs and online magazines across the US, UK, Australia, Japan, Germany and China.
I'm really excited because the tool created to reduce my workflow has now previewed over 20,000 URLs for over 25,000 people. Hoorah!
.net: How do you see this project developing over the next few months?
JA: One of the great things about the web community is it is always willing to share ideas for improvement, and I've had a few. The four things I'm focusing on over the next few months are:
- Add a Save & Download button which will use Phantom.js and Kraken.io to take a screenshot and optimise the image for you for download.
- Double click to rotate the iPad and iPhone devices for a different viewport perspective options
- A colour picker to update the background colour to better suit where you might be including
- Fixing the damn iFrame bug that breaks this tool on tablets and iPhones
Best New Web Technology: CSS Flexible Box Layout
After years of supporting drop shadows and rounded corners, browsers have now started to implement the CSS Flexible Box Layout Module. Flexbox promises to provide us with much-needed relief for common layout problems, and received a well-deserved gong this year.
If you haven't got to grips with Flexbox yet, a great place to start is Chris Coyier's complete guide. There's a list of further resources at the end of the article, and we also recommend Chris Mills' posts on advanced cross-browser Flexbox and animating Flexboxes.
Open Source Project of the Year: Bootstrap
Bootstrap has gone from strength to strength since it was launched by Twitter in 2011, becoming the most popular project on GitHub and occupying an important role in the web design industry. Its creators Mark Otto and Jacob Thornton decided last September to move Bootstrap to its own open source organisation, and the project separated from Twitter.
There are plenty of frameworks and toolkits out there, but Bootstrap differentiates itself with its small footprint, LESS integration and compelling visual design. It has a web-based customiser that you can use to tailor it to your project: components and jQuery plug-ins can be added or removed by ticking checkboxes, and variables can be customised using a web form. There's a 12-column responsive grid, typography, form controls and it uses responsive CSS to work with mobile browsers.
Last month, Bootstrap creators launched Expo, a showcase of the most "beautiful and inspiring" projects built with the toolkit. There's more of the same over at LoveBootstrap, which contains a list of "23 big-name websites built with Bootstrap" that includes StumbleUpon, The Rolling Stones, Jamie Oliver, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and Creative Commons.
Best Online Portfolio: Stephen Burgess
Winner: Stephen Burgess
Job: Developer at Fantasy Interactive
Based in: New York, NY
Clients and side projects: Probably the most notable project I’ve worked on in the past year is the relaunch of the USA Today site. I was part of a large dev team and I honestly think we all did an amazing job to deliver the site in the timeframe
I also have a few ideas for nice side projects and collaborations with designers lined up for this year, hopefully I’ll be able to get a few of those built and up on the web
.net: How did you get into web design?
Stephen Burgess: I studied multimedia at university and realised that if I didn’t choose something to specialise in I’d become a 'jack of all trades, master of none'. During my second year of studying I started work part time at a small startup company writing code. I really enjoyed it and knew I’d found my calling. To be honest programming is a hobby and a passion for me, the fact that someone is prepared to pay me to do it day-to-day as a job is a bonus!
.net: Who and what influences and inspires your work?
SB: I’d have to say my good friend Tobias van Schneider has been a big influence in recent months. He’s a designer at Fi and I sit next to him at work. He’s undoubtedly one of the most talented designers I’ve ever worked with and he helped me alot with the design of my portfolio.
.net: What have you been working on this year?
SB: I’m currently working on a pretty big project at Fi that everyone will see later in the year. The site is for a product that most designers know and use daily so it’s something the team really cares about and this definitely comes across in the awesome design.
.net: What are you excited about at the moment?
SB: That’s a tough one. There’s always so much going on in the tech world that it’s hard to pick just one. Being from England, I’ll do what we do best and talk about the weather. I’m most excited about the end of this long New York winter and the start of summer which is, hopefully, right around the corner!