We had only just finished polishing off the last few Quality Street from the bottom of the Christmas tin, when Easter turned up early and filled the fridge with even more temptation (chocolate just tastes better when it’s egg-shaped!). The 2016 healthy eating plan will have to be postponed a little, but while we get to work on the stash, we’ve had a little look back at how we began the year.

What do you do when it’s January, it’s cold, rainy, and it’s always dark on your commute? You get out of the studio at lunch time for a little daylight and a lot of pizza! We welcomed the New Year in style with a proper Italian feast at our favourite Southsea pizza place, Circolo.

To relieve the pressure on the unlucky individual who was volunteered for the ‘daily DJ’ duty in the studio, Oli created an internet-connected music system, which he named Spartify. With a diverse and varied team, who have even more diverse and varied music tastes, it was becoming almost impossible to cater for everyone with one playlist. Our new set-up uses a selection of Spotify playlists, and gives everyone the ability to skip tracks from their desktop if something comes on that really isn’t to their taste.

With an increase in new projects coming along, and some lovely new studio space to fill, we’re always on the lookout for talented new folk to come on board. Cyclist and sailor Rich is the latest member of the developer team, and so far we have learned that he loves new web technologies and writing beautiful code… and that he needs a little more practice at Ping Pong (which Oli is very pleased about as he is no longer always last on the Ping Pong Leaderboard).

The erratic weather in (sometimes) sunny Southsea proved problematic for more than just the team members who cycle to work. A sudden downpour meant we had to rescue this drowning bumblebee, and bring him into the studio for a little tlc. Thankfully, developer Mike is an experienced bee keeper, so knew just what to do to dry the little guy out, feed him some sugary syrup to get his strength up, then release him back into the wild once the rainclouds rolled away. Team Si to the rescue!

Every October we get involved with Opps Fair, a great free event in Portsmouth that allows local school children to find out more about the huge amount of career options in the area. We feel very passionate about supporting young people wanting to develop a career in our industry, so when possible we like to offer work experience to any budding developers and designers who get in touch. Ryan joined us for a week and worked alongside Lead Developer Alex to get a little taste of life as a full time developer.

Part of the plan for expanding our studio was to build our own bespoke UX Lab, to help with the validation and testing of our projects. This was all a bit top-secret during construction, but on 1st March we had the big launch and opened up the space for bookings and our own work. With a range of kit, and a separate viewing area, we now have the perfect facility to make sure all our project launches deliver at every stage of design and development.

Our Design Team aren’t just skilled in creating stunning websites, they’re a dab hand at sketching and doodling in real life. A big blank space on our meeting room wall seemed like the perfect place for some special Si touches, so once Steve and Vashti finished a coat of blackboard paint, Tom and Jack worked on this huge piece, with a little help from Project Account Manager Joe.

We love a hack project here in the studio, in fact, we’re working on our next big one right now (shhhh!)… but that doesn’t mean we don’t have time for some little hacks along the way. Following the success of Sid, Oli felt it was time for another studio robot. He worked very hard and really put in the hours to design the Danbot 9000 (no developers were harmed in the making of this very sophisticated robot).

Now the clocks have gone forward and the evenings are (finally!) getting lighter we’re looking ahead at some exciting new projects that are coming our way, and dreaming about warm, sunny BBQ’s on Southsea Common. Roll on the summer!