As much as we prefer to spread positivity and optimism, it’s safe to say that 2020 was not the easiest year for anyone - if you managed to stay (more or less) sane, that’s already a significant achievement! With that being said, Ucraft also faced some notable challenges this year - from transitioning to a remote working schedule, to moving to a new office, there were definitely some changes we had to get used to. Nonetheless, the Ucraft team managed to stay on top of things and continue to give our users the best experience possible, especially in a time like this. All in all, we experienced some great achievements alongside the challenges of 2020, and would like to share some of the most notable ones with you. Mostly as a reminder that there are good things to look back on even in the hardest of times.
Let’s start, shall we?
Sidenote: we recommend staying tuned until the end, in case you want to hear about some exciting announcements.
Our fondest and proudest memory from January was being invited to participate as a Golden Partner in the Awwwards 2020 conference - and in Tokyo, of all places! While part of our team was in Japan, representing Ucraft with a memorable speech on UI/UX design, the rest of us were impatiently waiting for our colleagues to return back with stories, gifts and photographs. In fact, it was such a memorable moment for us that we even dedicated a whole blog post to the Tokyo conference, which you can check out here.
We also decided to dedicate this year to improving our builder’s user experience in every way possible. We began by adding a PopUps functionality, which you may be familiar with if you are an avid Ucraft user. This change allowed users to include pop-ups on their website and link them to an element of their choice. The App was further updated in September, giving users the opportunity to place a pop-up anywhere on the site, instead of just attaching it to an element. We also added Mixcloud to our list of integrations - a British online streaming service similar to SoundCloud, which allows you to post music, podcasts and other audio straight to your site.
One of the most eventful months of the year, since February was the month we released the second version of our builder - Ucraft v2! Improvements and updates included:
An updated UI/UX design for improved user experience
A mobile editor, enabling separate control over a website’s mobile version
Improved multilingual support, allowing for the creation of a multilingual website
Language visibility, giving users the ability hide/display specific content on their websites depending on the language selected by the visitor
A new Dark Mode interface, partially for aesthetics and partially for ocular health reasons
Several other tweaks
Alongside our v2 release, we also began updating our eCommerce App - something you’ll be seeing quite a bit in this post. We started off by adding more automated email options, including: Abandoned cart recovery, Order confirmation, Feedback request, Inactive customer reminder (with bestsellers), Purchase anniversary and of course the good old “Thank you for shopping with us”. This was a great step towards helping the Ucraft retail community improve their user experience, engagement and enhance their customer loyalty.
Well, we can’t speak about February without at least mentioning Covid. Yes, we know some of you were waiting to see if we would gloss over this unpleasant subject, but no - it was also a big part of 2020. And yes, we were all walking around the office in masks like it was the plague, spraying hand sanitizer on everything we touched and opting to fist-bump each other instead of the usual hug. Our morning routines consisted of checking the news, and soon enough noone wanted to hear the word “bat” and “virus” in the same sentence. But alas, life went on.
As our team continued to increase in numbers, we decided that it was time to move to a new office - a big change from our beloved space on the 5th floor of our office building. We packed up our plants, posters and souvenirs, and headed to our new place. It was a peculiar experience at first, but we didn’t even have the time to process the change before the country went into lockdown and Ucraft transitioned to a remote working schedule. Yes, that’s right; we packed up our plants, posters and souvenirs once more and headed home, not knowing that the whole team would be working on a new schedule for quite some time.
It turned out that remote Ucraft-ing was not as difficult as it seemed at first. In fact, we made the transition rather smoothly and even published an article on the matter to help others make the best of a bad situation - How to Remain Positive and Productive in the Midst of a Pandemic. However, we were one of the lucky companies, as many small businesses began to suffer at the hands of the pandemic, with restaurants being one of the first targets. Taking this into account, and wanting to play a part in helping small restaurants stay in business, we came up with a totally new plan - the Ucraft Restaurant Plan. We decided to offer this plan to restaurant owners for free until the end of the year, helping many restaurant owners keep their businesses afloat.
Covid or no Covid, our team continued working on more updates that would make Ucraft users’ lives just a little bit brighter. For starters, we updated our Text Editor, which made adding web content and posting blog articles from the Articles App a smoother and better experience. We also made some functional improvements to our Site Settings App, adding WebP image conversion for better page performance, as well as a site caching function for improved page load speed. After all, it’s necessary to keep up with the demand for high-performing websites, and we weren’t about to fall behind.
Although May wasn’t the most eventful month of the year, Ucraft did have a tiny milestone to celebrate. By this point, all of the Ucraft websites had successfully migrated to v2, and things seemed to be going pretty smoothly in that department as our support team worked day and night to help users get accustomed to the new and improved builder. And by day and night, we don’t mean figuratively - shout out to the Ucraft support team working morning and night shifts!
June & July
Summertime, and the livin’s easy. Okay, maybe a little more difficult during a world pandemic, but we still had a few surprises up our sleeve for the summer months. During June and July, we launched our new integration with the graphic design platform Canva, as well as a Hubspot integration for powerful marketing campaigns. Ecommerce updates for these two months included adding Shipstation to our eCommerce App for significantly better shipping organization.
But wait, that’s not all for summer! Alongside these cool updates, we also launched Ucraft Academy - a guide for everything web-related. Even the newest of newbies can run successful marketing campaigns, create a website, open an online store and design a landing page with the help of this comprehensive guide.
August mostly consisted of new updates to our eCommerce App, starting with an updated design for our App dashboard, making it possible for virtually anyone to create an online store. Likewise, we also launched a new email marketing automation tool with Mailchimp, which allows users to create and send newsletters and other email announcements to customers - further enhancing B2C communication. The third and final update was enhancing our cart and checkout system, allowing store owners to choose their own product ordering - e.g. showing bestsellers first for improved sales and conversions.
Our team finally made the decision to go back to the office, but we only managed to stick it out for a month until our dear friend Covid came back for a second visit in October. Although we were only at the office for a short period of time, it was still nice to see everybody and catch up for a bit. Aside from that, we also added another feature to our eCommerce App - Taxjar, which helps users automatically calculate and process tax rates. And if you’re wondering why we’ve been so focused on the eCommerce side of things, you’ll find the answer further down below...
October & November
By this point, holiday season had arrived, starting with Halloween. This year, we decided to give both new and existing users a whole 20% off their chosen plan, and created an eye-catching landing page to go with this offer - not to brag, but it was one of our best ones yet. November was also full to the brim with cool discounts, all thanks to Thanksgiving (no pun intended), Black Friday and Cyber Monday, during which we offered lifetime website discounts.
We’ve arrived at the last month of 2020, and it’s nearly time to say goodbye to this tumultuous year. But before we do so, it’s time to dive into the most eventful month so far! And yes, we’ve saved the best till last - so buckle up.
Our final eCommerce App update for the year consisted of the addition of a number of new payment methods such as PayPal Plus, iDeal, Klarna Giropay, Sofort and SEPA - all in addition to the 50+ payment methods already supported by Ucraft. We also represented Ucraft in the East and West iGaming Expo (virtual, of course) and even got nominated as the Best Photography Website Builder of 2021 by Digital.com. Thanks guys, we’re honoured!
So, the time has come for the most exciting news. Next year, we will be having our biggest launch yet, and it’s a very promising one indeed. This is something our whole team has been working on since the middle of this year, and we’ve finally got a little teaser to share… The new version will include:
A platform with a built-in eCommerce solution, allowing users to create incredible online stores (without neglecting other spheres such as blogging, online portfolios etc)
An AI-powered tool that will allow you to create custom websites with minimal time and effort - just give our AI tool the idea, and it will create your website for you
The platform will enable you to sell physical products, digital products, subscriptions and gift cards with ease
An excellent solution for both online and offline stores wanting to migrate to the web, as well as dropshipping stores
And much, much more
Speaking of dropshipping, we are also currently working on an all-encompassing, comprehensive dropshipping guide that will be released in January, so stay tuned for that. And one more thing - Ucraft has a baby girl! Her name is Hoory, and she is an AI assistant who will prove to be of great service to you in the upcoming year. But that’s all we can say for now. Shh, corporate secrets.
2020 Recap in Numbers
This year, Ucraft has:
Published 15 new templates
Posted 65 long-read articles in 3 languages (66 including this one)
Posted 4 Academy articles
Welcomed 75 new employees
Translated the builder into 2 languages (Chinese and Japanese)
Translated the Ucraft website into Japanese
Changed 1 office space
And that’s a wrap for 2020. Surprisingly, we managed to be quite productive this year, and next year is going to be filled with lots of exciting stuff. Stay tuned for all the updates and releases.
Thank you for staying with us throughout the year, we hope you’ve enjoyed your experience with Ucraft over the past 12 months. We appreciate each and every single one of you, and wish you a peaceful, happy holiday season.
Happy New Year!