Interview with the Champion of CloneComp 2020

#CloneComp is Back!

We recently talked with Josh Jacobs about his CloneComp experience so you can get a better idea of what to expect — and pick up some insider tips — from last year's grand champ.  


While everyone starts from a blank canvas on day one, rounds 2 and 3 begin by forcing participants to clone someone else’s project from the day before. They must then use the cloned site as the starting point for their next submission. This creates a unique dynamic as stories fork day after day and participants flock to start their next round from the most interesting submissions the day before. 

“That’s one of the beauties of CloneComp. You don’t pick up where you left off, you pick up where someone else left off.” 

On Cloning:

With that comes a slew of challenges… CSS & HTML - they’re the basic tenets of the language. But the way you organize things and the way you name things is an infinite world of possibilities. So the second day, going into the file of the clone I picked up on was like going to Mars. Because not only did she have different names for things that I wasn’t used to, the way that she organized her documents was different from the way that I organized my documents. And it was very difficult for me to find things. Not because she organized things in a way that was wrong, but because she organized things in a way which was different. So that was another challenge — how do I improve on and add to this experience without deleting everything and starting over? 

But each review I was so excited to see what other people were doing, because when you get to the 3rd day you get people who had cloned your comp on the 1st day and on the 2nd day and then people were making clones of that and doing stuff on top of that. So I think the most exciting thing for me was just seeing from step 1 to step 3 how things had changed and grown. 

On Creating: 

The hardest part was the fact that you only got a day for each project. Combat that against my own ambition to do a million and one things. When you start a project you have an idea in your head of what you want it to be, but if you only have 24 hours to do something — and also I was working some that week! — I didn’t have an infinite amount of time. When you think about personal projects or things that you do for fun or creativity, there’s not necessarily typically a time limit, and so the 24-hour period was really hard because I had to scale back or abandon some things I wanted to do. 

For example: My first project was a very 8-bit style set of animation where it was a rocket ship with some people loading up, you click a button and it launches. Which was the prompt — load and launch a rocket ship. But I used CSS grid and I built the ship myself, which was a challenge. I wanted everything to be in this 8-bit style, including the background and the surroundings. And it took me 2 hours to build the ship in grid, because I was futzing around with things and I wanted to make that particular detail perfect... I was just moving literal pixels around. But after that 2 hours I was like okay, I need to scale this back…. Things like that were the biggest challenges. How can I do what I set out to do and be successful without getting ahead of myself? 

On Connecting:

It definitely reinforced my love for the Webflow community. I think a lot of times when we do interactions with the community they happen asynchronously and without a lot of touch points. So there was a Slack channel for the event where I got to talk to people and whine about the deadline and how late we were up. And then the livestreams gave us an opportunity to chat and talk and be a part of that. And I think that was one of the best things. 

The cloning piece of the competition led to a very communal aspect. You almost had to watch the reviews and be looking at the showcase where it listed all the different submissions to help figure out what you wanted to do next. 

On Competing: 

To competitors in this year’s competition I would say 2 things: The first thing is be conscious of your time, because there’s not a lot of it. You'll want to do things that are huge, but you will not have time to do any of it. But more so than that, when you're thinking about your projects, I would challenge you to do something different. What’s going to set you apart from the rest of the competition and what’s going to make the judges notice oh this is different, this is cool, this is going to change the rest of the competition? That 8-bit style that I did at the beginning was different from what everyone else was doing not just visually, but in how it was implemented. And that put me ahead of the curve and ultimately I think that’s probably one of the main reasons I was selected as the final winner, because of the resounding impact that had. So try and think differently. Don’t just start to make a website. Take a second to plan and think through how specifically you’re going to change the game. 

CloneComp 2021 is going to be insane. I look forward to seeing everyone there. And they better bring their A-game because I’m taking time off!
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