2023 – A Year In Review

How have Twilo found this year? We asked everyone some questions about their 2023; take a look at their answers below.

Wayne

Hyperfocus, milestones, growth.

What achievements are you most proud of in 2023?

This is easy and it’s something I’ve spoke about a lot in our monthly blogs. Our Growth40 plans started in January which set our objectives for the year. One of those objectives was growing the team, and with a focus on bringing in the right people. Recruitment has taken up so much of my time and to the detriment of other things, but I’ve made an extra effort this year to focus on personalities as much as ability. I can say with certainty that I’ve never been happier with the team we have now. The time and effort that has gone into recruitment has paid dividends in terms of creating a happy workplace which I hope others enjoy being a part of as much as I do.

Another key milestone was achieved in 2023, and this is one I remember writing this down when I started Twilo nine years ago: Become a Leeds agency. We did it! We’ve moved into a super new office, and we have loads of space to grow into. I’m immensely proud of this achievement as it’s been a long journey to get here. The business has grown from virtually nothing; just me in a spare bedroom, on my own, with zero investment. We’ve now become an established agency in one of the UK’s most creative cities. Something else I wrote down on day 1, and our next objective: To be in the UK’s top 1% of digital agencies.

I should also take this opportunity to thank our previous landlord, Andy. He was fantastic in supporting our growth through several offices at Churchill House in Pontefract. I doubt we’ll have a landlord as good as him again. Thank you, Andy.

What was your most challenging project of 2023?

As mentioned above, recruitment. It takes up so much of your time. Successful candidates only see things from their first day, but not all the time and effort that several people have put in to get to the result. Quite honestly, I’m exhausted from it all, but it’s been worthwhile. We just have one more role to fill in the new year, and then I hope to have a little break from it!

Is there anything you’ve done this year that you would recommend someone to try in 2024?

Stop mindlessly scrolling social media, start consuming different forms of media. At the start of the year, I vowed to read one book per month. I can’t lie, I didn’t make it all the way to December, but I’ve had the opportunity to learn about interesting people. And since the office move, I have an hour round trip which I use to listen to podcasts, rather than the same old Spotify playlists. By taking in different forms of media I’ve learned more about other people, learned more about myself, and equally cut out a lot of the bull shit you read online. I encourage everyone to review who they’re following online, and only follow those who add value.

What are you looking forward to learning more about in 2024?

This year has been a real eye opener. I’m aware that there are many things I could be doing better, and many things I’m not doing that I need to be doing. I need to keep working hard, keep moving forward, and learning new things will come naturally.

What impact do you think AI will have on 2024?

I’ve spent a good amount of time looking into AI, and I’ve noticed a number of patterns which have helped me understand that human input is very much at the heart of it. A lot of what you are seeing right now is smoke and mirrors, not true AI. However, AI is clearly going to be an intriguing and fascinating part of our future. It’s going to help us to automate difficult and repetitive tasks, and that is a good thing. The recently released Midjourney 6 is incredible, some of the images produced are stunning. But I think as a whole, people are too quick cut corners, and expect AI to instantly be the finished product. AI needs time to mature, which will take years to do. So, in terms of the impact AI will have in 2024, I think it will be good in the short term for basic tasks such as generating images and other forms of content. In the long term, AI will do things that we don’t even know exists yet.

What was your favourite song from 2023?

Royal Blood – Mountains at Midnight

And finally, do you have any New Year’s resolutions?

Quite a simple one really. I’ve recently been through my social profiles and cut out a lot of the rubbish that has appeared on my feeds for years. I was finding my feeds full of the very small (yet very loud) minority who want to tell the rest of the world what they should do and what they should think. My New Year’s resolution is to cut out that noise, and not let it affect me and who I am. There are many examples of subjects which we’re apparently no longer allowed to discuss or have opinions on. One example I can talk about with my business owner hat on is “hard work”, which has become a taboo subject since apparently work hard is bad. Ask any successful person (not just in business, this also applies to athletes, doctors, taxi drivers, anyone who is good at something), I doubt they got where they are by putting in as little effort as possible. There’s a poster up in our office that reads “hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.” The quote is from a high school basketball coach called Tim Notke. I truly believe that if you work hard than others, you will achieve more than others. Talent helps, but hard work wins out every time. So to summarise, to stop letting poor quality influencers affect my decision making.

Connor

What just happened?

What achievements are you most proud of in 2023?

The biggest achievement I’m most proud of this is year is definitely taking a leap to further develop my career by moving from my small town in South Wales to Leeds to join the development team at Twilo.

But on another note, 2023 has been a tough year for me personally and professionally with it’s ups and downs. But everything seems to be taking a turn for the better and I am proud that I have continued to stay positive and driven despite downfalls and setbacks.

What was your most challenging project of 2023?

Having only worked at Twilo for a few months, I have worked on a few projects. But the one that definitely stands out as the most challenging was our Laravel app project for XS Training. For this project we were tasked with developing a custom training/learning application for both XS Training employees and learners.

Put simply this application is designed for employees (assessors) to keep track of their learners progress and assessments, and learners can keep track of their progress and view new assessments they have been assigned with the ability to upload documents and evidence to support completion of their assessments. There were a fair few elements to this application that were very complex in the sense of turning instructions to code, which did pose a big challenge at the time.

Also, not only was I new to the client I was also new to working with Laravel so it did take some time to get to grips with some of the differences between Laravel and vanilla PHP, but the more I worked on the project the more I was learning.

Is there anything you’ve done this year that you would recommend someone to try in 2024?

I went to one of Castle Combe Circuit’s action days (located near Chippenham) this year and it was a really good day, seeing a lot of different cars going head to head on the track, some drivers not being too experienced which does come with a mix of laughter and worry.

If you’re big into your cars and/or racing, I would definitely recommend the trip, it’s a good day out.

What are you looking forward to learning more about in 2024?

As I mentioned in a previous question, I only started working with Laravel when working on the XS Training project and I did enjoy working on it and learning something new. I was also surprised by how powerful Laravel is and how much you can do with it and I have only scratched the surface of it, so I am excited to work on some more Laravel applications in the new year to further develop my experience using it.

What impact do you think AI will have on 2024?

There has definitely been some major advancements with the development of AI software this year, from “Deep Learning” AI projects from OpenAI and Tesla’s announcement of the Tesla Optimus – Gen 2.

Although AI has changed many smaller aspects within businesses and some everyday technology. I think AI is going in the right direction in terms of development, but I think there is still a great deal of work to go before we could see it making a significant impact in our everyday lives and how the world works but I don’t think it will be in 2024 we see those kind of changes.

What was your favourite song from 2023?

‘Closer’ by Bou ft. Slay

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F6BU1_R64oM

And finally, do you have any New Year’s resolutions?

It’s not something I have really thought about, but off the top of my head:

– Be more careful with my spending, and try to keep track of what I’m spending – I was paying for two Disney plus subscriptions for a few months and didn’t know I was even paying for one.

– Get back to gym so I can wear my jeans from last year again.

– Try to be better with my time and not waste it doing pointless things like sleeping in late on weekends, instead do something productive.

…and I think that’s it.

Michael

Cosmological constant Λ.

What achievements are you most proud of in 2023?

2023 was full of professional fulfilment and fantastic opportunities of professional growth! One of the achievements I do recall is the opportunity to work with the creative folks of Twilo Creative: it has given me a wealth of opportunities in terms of enhancing my graphic design practices knowledge, client experience and creative output. Achievements such as delivering compelling brand designs, engaging static, motion, and web collateral for new clients, and finally engaging with some very fascinating people in the industry and beyond were a few of my achievements I can recall. 2023 was a very inspiring and creative year indeed!

What was your most challenging project of 2023?

First prize goes to Modella Capital, for one good reason: After Effects motion graphics and web design coding is not exactly a match made in heaven. Compatibility and optimisation were somewhat tricky; however, a wealth of lessons-learn has been obtained for future reference (unlocked the powers of Lottie JSON).

Is there anything you’ve done this year that you would recommend someone to try in 2024?

Two things: first, I recommend people to experiment with AI image and design manipulation (Adobe has made great strides in bringing user-friendly and intuitive AI tools for everyone). Fun, and insightful in many ways, AI as a tool is extremely helpful at speeding up one’s processes — particularly the more mundane ones.

The other one is: if you are into trying exotic cooking, the give a try to Moshari Kokkinisto (Greek beef stew). ‘Kokkinisto’ translates as ‘reddened’ and is a way of cooking, where the meat is first browned and sealed, to remain juicy and then added to a tomato-based sauce, along with aromatic spices and herbs. The stew itself is a simple one with mostly tomatoes and onions as the base. This makes it an easy recipe to create but the combination of spices and red wine gives amazing flavour!

What are you looking forward to learning more about in 2024?

There are a few learning pathways I would really like to delve into in 2024. First, I’m very much interested in learning more about client handing and client relations; since it’s a new aspect to me professionally, and I’m very intrigued by the nuances governing the relationship between agency/client. This entails the study of psychology of marketing and branding and the anatomy of good inter-personal, client-first relations. In a similar vein, I would like to learn more about branding, and particularly the psychology of brand identity and logo design: that is the intersections between graphic design (brand identity) and client perception. Lastly, in 2024 I’m looking forward to learning more about UX/UI and website visual design, and about interface design tools such as Figma’s plug-ins.

What impact do you think AI will have on 2024?

AI can potentially fuel an information battle in 2024 and beyond, driving geopolitical tensions. Several frontier large language models will launch in 2024, such as OpenAI’s GPT5, Meta’s Llama 3, Anthropic’s Claude 3, and Inflection AI’s Pi 2.I remain hugely optimistic about what AI can do for society and predict that the pace of innovation will only heighten in 2024. However, innovation will also come from bad actors, who will use products that were created in good faith to break through systems. That makes 2024 a crucial year for getting AI security right, so we can realise the opportunities, spot novel attacks, autonomously defend against them, and build trust in AI.

What was your favourite song from 2023?

‘Feast of Carrion’ by American folk rock band Midlake.

And finally, do you have any New Year’s resolutions?

Stay curious in life!

Andrew

Hard, exciting, interesting.

What achievements are you most proud of in 2023?

Getting to grips with drag and drop functionality in JavaScript to make modern and easy to use user interfaces. This was very challenging because it is hard to control what HTML elements are hovered over or dropped onto. My other achievement is finally completing my apprenticeship.

What was your most challenging project of 2023?

XS Training and this was not necessarily due to the code (Though there were plenty of challenging bits here). It was instead a difficult brief to grasp and get your head around. It took many conversations with the client to fully understand the context around the application, how it is going to be used and how it should behave. Having many different roles in the system also added a lot of complexity. It required much thought into how each role can interact with the system and how they need to use the system to achieve their job.

Is there anything you’ve done this year that you would recommend someone to try in 2024?

Going to London to explore some of their museums. Back in March, I boarded the HMS Belfast on the Thames. It was a really cool experience that you can spend a good few hours looking around. I aim to go back to London in 2024 to go see some of the other places. One I am interested in is the natural history museum I which have still yet to visit.

What are you looking forward to learning more about in 2024?

I look forward to learning more on machine learning algorithms and how they could benefit us with making everything more efficient.

What impact do you think AI will have on 2024?

This is going to be a controversial opinion, but I think that compared to now, I don’t see there being a significantly different impact than what we are seeing in 2023. AI is already being used in everyday life whether we realise it or not. For example, when we watch YouTube, browse the web, or make payments with our bank account, AI is already being used to find patterns in our behaviour. I believe technology like driverless cars will make some strides, but I don’t think we are going to see huge advancements for a fair few years yet.

What was your favourite song from 2023?

I have been completely out of touch with songs that came out this year, so I am instead going to share a song that came out last year. Sabaton’s “Soldier of Heaven”. This is a band that got me into the metal genre and this song is just the perfect mix of energetic music without being too heavy. This song is about an incident which occurred during WW1 known as “White Friday” in which an avalanche hit a barracks on Mount Marmolada.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LYI3eegIJlI

And finally, do you have any New Year’s resolutions?

I’ve been slacking with my guitar practice a bit this year and so in the new year, I aim to spend a lot more time learning as well as pushing myself to do more frequent exercises. As cliche as it is, I am also aiming to cut out a lot of the junk food that I have been eating this year. I’ve been to the doctor’s this year about health issues regarding my gut, so it is going to be important for me to look after it as much as possible.

Chris

Many big changes.

What achievements are you most proud of in 2023?

One of my biggest achievements of the year has been joining Twilo. I’ve really enjoyed building relationships with the team here and taking my digital design skills to the next level. Although I have only been here since September, I have already worked on some exciting projects that I’m really proud of, with more to come in 2024.

What was your most challenging project of 2023?

One of the most challenging projects I’ve worked on this year has been the new Twilo website. We’re really trying to push ourselves with this one, so it’s been a big test for us creatively. We’re looking forward to releasing it in 2024, so keep your eyes peeled!

Is there anything you’ve done this year that you would recommend someone to try in 2024?

In my personal life, I finally finished my year-long Invisalign journey that I started in mid-December last year. Wearing the alignment trays for 22 hours a day and brushing my teeth after every meal was tough to get used to at first, but I feel like I adapted to it well and I’m really happy with the results. Although it was an expensive commitment to make, I feel like it was worth every penny and something I would recommend to anyone considering it.

What are you looking forward to learning more about in 2024?

I’ve developed my skills in Figma a lot throughout 2023, and I’m looking forward to continuing this in the new year by exploring the Variables feature more. I’m also looking forward to fostering a better understanding of code so I can better communicate my ideas to our development team.

On a personal note, I’m becoming a father for the first time in January, so I’m really also looking forward to learning about everything that comes with being a Dad.

What impact do you think AI will have on 2024?

AI has come on leaps and bounds in 2023, and that is equally exciting and scary to me. Staying up-to-date with the world of AI development will ensure that we’re as informed as we can be as the technology advances, and will help us make sensible decisions when choosing what to incorporate within our workflow. I imagine we’ll be using more AI tools come this time next year, which will hopefully increase our productivity and output.

What is your favourite song from 2023?

I have noticed that there has been so many new releases from legendary bands this year, but the song that has resonated with me the most is The Narcissist by Blur. I have fond memories of singing along to Parklife as a child, so it’s great to see them release another great song almost 30 years later.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JwKDEnB2HCc

And finally, do you have any New Year’s resolutions?

This one is a difficult one this year, as my life will be radically different after the baby arrives. I think in 2024 it will be important for me to be patient and prioritise sleep, so I’ll go with that!

Dawood

Busy, energetic and skydiving.

What achievements are you most proud of in 2023?

One of my proudest achievements this year was incorporating Lottie Animations into our website. This venture was entirely new to me, prompting extensive research and a rewarding learning process. Witnessing the stunning animations come to life was truly fulfilling. Additionally, seeing numerous projects go live has been a source of pride, with many more in the pipeline!

What was your most challenging project of 2023?

Among the year’s challenges, the VJ Technical project stands out. Developing a timeline section with scroll snapping functionality was a formidable task. Overcoming multiple bugs and delving into JavaScript to achieve the desired scrolling snap was quite demanding. However, mastering this challenge means I can now implement similar functionalities in upcoming projects—an exciting prospect.

Is there anything you’ve done this year that you would recommend someone to try in 2024?

I highly recommend trying out the SVG pipeline animation. It’s a captivating project where the animation dynamically plays as you scroll. Creating animations that move from left to right, down, and back again was a thoroughly enjoyable experience. Exploring animation further in future projects could yield incredible results!

What are you looking forward to learning more about in 2024?

Looking ahead to 2024, I’m eager to delve deeper into Vue.js frameworks. Their popularity and functionality make them an enticing area to explore. Working on significant projects with Vue.js is a goal I’m excited to pursue.

What impact do you think AI will have on 2024?

The impact of AI in 2024 is poised to be significant. Its ability to generate email templates and proofread content will streamline workflows and enhance productivity which is very useful for me.

What was your favourite song from 2023?

One song that stood out for me in 2023 is “Nattu Nattu”.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OsU0CGZoV8E

And finally, do you have any New Year’s resolutions?

As for New Year’s resolutions, I aim to expand my technological expertise, becoming a better developer. Additionally, I’m determined to improve my darts game and beat my colleagues!

Tom

Fusion of emotion.

What achievements are you most proud of in 2023?

2023 has had a wide range of situations to contend with both professionally and personally, but my biggest achievement is starting in my role here at Twilo Creative. Although it’s only been short, it has been very sweet indeed!

It’s been great to have been thrown in at the deep end trying to get to know all the clients and their businesses so quickly, whilst trying to deliver some quality work. I’m very grateful and proud to be working at an agency like Twilo and I’m looking forward to seeing what 2024 brings.

What was your most challenging project of 2023?

As mentioned before, getting to grips with all the clients at Twilo and their objectives, as well as the fast pace that we work at. This has been an enjoyable challenge though!

Is there anything you’ve done this year that you would recommend someone to try in 2024?

If you haven’t been to Lisbon before, I highly recommend that, but two things to take away from Lisbon that you should try/do if you ever visit:

  • Try a Pastel de Nata (they are amazing)
  • Get the train for €1 to Sintra, about 45 minutes away from Lisbon. Beautiful little town with some amazing scenery and palaces.

What are you looking forward to learning more about in 2024?

I’m really looking forward to learning about how to deal with so many clients, as I’ve never dealt with this many before so I’m intrigued to see how this goes as this can only be a good thing to add to my skillset.

As well as this, I’m looking forward to learning about so many industries that these clients are in that I haven’t been exposed to before.

What impact do you think AI will have on 2024?

I think the impact is already significant, with Exhibit A being The Beatles song that was released this year. With this song, you can see the good side of AI where a song can be created, but I also see this in a bad light whereby, well, a song has been created using AI.

Hopefully the divide between organic creation and AI can be made smaller, as AI can definitely be used in the right way, but I hope that it doesn’t completely take over and leave organic, human processes behind.

What was your favourite song from 2023?

“Nurse!” by London-based rock band Bar Italia.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9dP8M3yvcl4

And finally, do you have any New Year’s resolutions?

Read more books – I have too many that I have bought this year and just not had the time, but are now collecting dust on my shelf, so I will be making more time for these.