2018: year in review

A lot has happened and we’ve been fairly quiet throughout this year … about time we catch up!

Harry Keller
Dec 28, 2018 · 12 min read
The team end of 2018. Photo by Norman Posselt.

Oh my, we’ve had quite the year … so many things went down that unfortunately our blog had to take a backseat most of the time. So instead of a steady trickle of updates, we’ve instead compiled this ginormous post at the end of the year. We shall try to deliver more frequent updates next year.

Anyhow, let’s get started: This’ll be a fairly random potpourri of things and photos. By the way, there is a similar post about 2017, if you want to compare how much older we all look now. 👴👵

Many new people joined us this year: Christina and Dani as project managers, while Benny, Brent and Giulia now form our design team. Connie took over our studio management and Dovilė, as well as Maja and Tommy joined us as developers. In addition we’ve worked with many freelancers — thank you Anja, Brad, Carolin, Dirk, Dine, Felix, Jonathan, Martin, Rachel and the many others I might have forgotten to mention! It’s been a long year. 🙌

New full-timers.

In total we are 20 people now, with 2–3 more to join early next year. Eight nationalities are currently represented in the office (soon to be nine or even ten) and this level of diversity noticeably improves our work, bringing different perspectives to each project.

Moreover this year we had the best interns; thank you for all your energy Oriëtta and Daniel! We hope you are doing well these days!

Two other notable changes: Our former intern Kai supported us remotely on design tasks all year and will join us as a full-time employee in Berlin in February. Last, but not least, Sophie, who has been with us as a student for almost two years, is now working with us as a full-time project manager. #thebestteam

Oriėtta (right) and Daniel on their last day.

While many new people joined, two also left us: Sabrina decided to move to the client-side and Roberto decided to pursue his career as a painter. From what we’ve heard, it’s going well for both of you! Happy to hear and may 2019 be even better for you! 🙏

This year we’ve won over many new clients and built lasting relationships: We’ve often traveled to Gütersloh to visit Miele and worked intensely with newspapers and publishing houses such as ZEIT ONLINE, CH Media or Dagens Næringsliv. The German mittelstand was also present with axxum and PSW, while the Deutsche Fondsgesellschaft kept a large part of the team occupied all year. Finally we’ve continued our typography obsession with HvD Fonts and TypeMates.

As you can see, it’s a list with quite some variety—which is really the fun part of doing client work — so many different realities to peek into and learn from.

One of the largest projects which kept us busy all year was My Country Talks, a software platform to enable political dialogue. It lets newspapers organize events in which readers with opposing views get matched and then discuss their differences as well as find common ground in a real-life meet-up.

We built and designed the platform in close collaboration with ZEIT ONLINE and Bitcrowd and ran many successful events: the largest one happened in Germany with 8000 people discussing, but we also brought My Country Talks to Italy, Switzerland and Austria. And we have big plans for next year, to be announced at a later point in time. 😇

The grand finale of the German event, involving Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the German president.

The most complex project we’ve worked on so far also launched this year: Der Zukunftsfonds is an accessible financial product to help people easily save their hard-earned money. We were responsible for the strategy, branding, visual design, the actual product development, creating the marketing site, as well as building an accompanying financial magazine, called ZASTER.

Now that the product itself is live, the real work starts: winning people’s trust and confidence to invest. We’re happy to support in this after-launch phase of the project as well.

Early this year we launched a new website with HvD Fonts, showcasing their typefaces in the best possible way, utilizing many open-type features on the web to explain and show all the care that goes into making a (HvD) typeface. There are also extensive case studies about the custom work for Lufthansa, Volkswagen and others. We recommend taking a look!

Meanwhile we’ve also continued work with one of our first clients, the TypeMates, to improve their website. New features launching early next year.

Hannes brought us a basked of products featuring his typefaces to celebrate the launch. 💞

Unfortunately we cannot talk about one of the major things we worked on this year, because we don’t have the client’s approval. It should be stated though that it is a globally operating company and universally known brand … across this year we have earned their trust and will rebuild most of their larger web properties. Already started this year, will continue next year. Excited! 😬

We’ve worked with Robert for exactly two years now and throughout this time his strategic input, experience working with large brands and endless positivity elevated our work and internal discussions to a whole new level in quality. At some point early this year we reached the conclusion that we didn’t want to work any other way and that strategy, design and code should always go hand-in-hand within our work. So we decided to start talks about Robert coming aboard as a partner and he accepted. 🙌

Now all the paperwork is finally done and we couldn’t be more excited for what’s to come! 🎉

One of Robert’s many talents: catching drones.

While we’re talking about paperwork: A huge thanks goes out to our lawyers at Kuhlen Berlin and also Landgraf & Dörrich for dealing with all our legal and tax-related matters. We couldn’t survive without you. 🤝 If you’re searching for a great lawyer or tax accountant, who is technologically up-to-date, understands the tech/media landscape and can explain complex matters in simple terms: look no further and give them a call!

We grew quite a bit this year, so we felt the need to write down the pillars of our culture, beliefs we share and values to guide our behavior. This has been an ongoing process for over half a year now, with extensive sessions among the partners, employee questionnaires and a weekend with the whole team, working on these topics together.

We plan to finalize the results in January and also to share them publicly when the time is right. It’s been quite an intense journey, to say the least, but we’re very happy with the results.

Retreating to Brandenburg to flesh out the company vision together.
Results from an employee questionnaire, asking which emoji represents us best. Solid collection.

We’ve done a small update of our website, making some of the messaging clearer and also including some snippets of client work. It’ll be a task for next year to build a proper website with cases, but as every creative knows: Doing your own website is harder than all client projects combined. 🙃

Quite literally a collection of this and that.

Meanwhile our public employee wiki has become quite popular, with a ton of people giving us feedback and praising the openness. It always comes up during our hiring process as well, with almost all candidates expressing they felt already like a part of the team, just by reading it. The wiki has become a major asset for our communication and we will invest more time in it next year as well. 💪

Glühwein and cookies.

This has been the year of the pineapple, the fruit appearing everywhere around us, which is funny because this wasn’t planned at all. When we founded diesdas we thought about a signature emoji and initially settled on 🤖. Suffice to say, it never caught on and things often unfold differently than planned: At some point people started bringing pineapples to parties, using the 🍍 emoji and so this year we finally gave in: It seems the pineapple is our symbol now. (In case you don’t get it: diesdas ananas has a nice ring to it in German. It doesn’t mean anything in particular.)

So yeah, pineapples rock. We are pineapple.

Christmas cookies and enamel pins.

We’ve had many opportunities to have fun together, outside of project work:

  • During a blockchain hackday we learned about Bitcoin and created our own crypto currency based on Ethereum (and coincidentally the Ethereum foundation moved into the office above us).
  • We’ve done three parties, inviting our network to have drinks and chats with us.
  • We’ve discovered our love for board games, especially one that involves fascist lizards.
  • And let’s not forget the elephant. 🐘

We’ve invested a lot into making our office more beautiful and functional. For starters, it’s a lot greener now, with more plants. For most of this year we’ve also had office dogs around which noticeable loosens up the atmosphere. We’ve built more meeting boxes, a dashboard to show room bookings and also converted all tables to standing desks.

Unfortunately sooner than later we will outgrow our current place, so we’re making plans to move. We can’t reveal more at this point in time though. 😇

To my own surprise we kept the book club going all year and read five books together. Not many people attend these events (usually 4–7), but most of the unfolding discussions are a refreshing break from staring at screens all day. We also have a new book to read until February 12th — take a look and consider joining us! It’s about sleep, something we all need more of. 😴

Early this year we set some financial goals and also worked hard to improve our controlling activities, to understand our finances better. We’ve also been very transparent about this towards the team, openly sharing all our costs and revenue numbers, even broken down by client.

It’s safe to say that we had a great year and broke through all the goals we had set for ourselves. 🎉

There is probably a ton more to say, but I’ll wrap it up here to get back to reading, eating and not-working over the holidays. In summary this year has been utterly fantastic, with challenging projects, an impressive team spirit and many achievements we only dreamed of before. I feel incredibly privileged to be working with this group of people on these projects. Bring it on 2019, we’re ready for new challenges and I can’t wait to tackle them together.

A huge thank you goes out to everyone who supported us this year, be it employees, clients, freelancers, companies we partnered with, friends, friends of friends, party guests or social media followers! You make all of this possible and, even more importantly, worth it. Enjoy your holidays, get some well-deserved rest and see you all next year!

Hugs and kisses,
your friends at diesdas

diesdas.digital is a studio for strategy, design and code in Berlin, featuring a multidisciplinary team of designers, developers and strategists. We create tailor-made digital solutions with an agile mindset and a smile on our faces. Let’s work together!

Curious to learn more? We’re also on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and we highly recommend our Tumblr. You could also subscribe to this publication to get notified when new posts are published! That’s all. Over & out! 🛰


Thoughts, observations and learnings from Berlin-based digital studio diesdas.digital.

Harry Keller

Written by

Developer and co-founder of @diesdasdigital. Writing code and blog posts in equal amounts.


Thoughts, observations and learnings from Berlin-based digital studio diesdas.digital.

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