Let's Do Launch.

Alley Interactive is a web development firm that tackles complex technological challenges facing top digital publishers and content producers. The team has an extensive background working with major media companies and has launched some of the largest websites for leading publishers. 

 

 

 

Services at a glance:

  • Responsive Design
  • Content Migration
  • Training & Team Building
 
Undisclosed
 
$150 - $199 / hr
 
50 - 249
 Founded
2010
Show all +
New York, NY
headquarters
  • 1133 Broadway, Suite 630
    New York, NY 10010
    United States
other locations
  • Burlington, VT
    United States

Reviews

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WordPress Implementation Nonprofit Research Agency

"Their developers are competent communicators with a solid basis of business knowledge."

Quality: 
4.5
Schedule: 
4.0
Cost: 
5.0
Willing to refer: 
4.5
The Project
 
$200,000 to $999,999
Project summary: 

Alley Interactive consolidated content from several websites and databases onto a single WordPress site and CMS. The project included back-end development, data migration, and ongoing support.

The Reviewer
 
51-200 Employees
 
Washington DC Metro Area
Associate Director, New Media & Marketing
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

Higher search rankings and positive customer feedback show that the site is visible and accessible. Employees find the new system easy to learn and use. Alley Interactive's technical skills made the project possible, while direct communication with developers streamlined the entire process.

A Clutch analyst personally interviewed this client over the phone. Below is an edited transcript.

BACKGROUND

Could you provide a brief description of your company?

Our foundation is a nonprofit organization that produces research and analysis and information on health policy issues. All the information that we produce is available for free on our site. As you can imagine, our website is an important vehicle for us to provide access to all of our work.

What is your position?

I'm the associate director of new media and marketing. I work on our marketing initiatives. I was one of a four-member team that worked on the redesign of our network with Alley Interactive.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

Could you describe the business challenges you were attempting to address when you first approached Alley Interactive?

We had several independent websites all run on different content management systems. We wanted to bring them all under one umbrella. We wanted one website and to use only a single content management system. We wanted the system to be easy to use from a lay perspective, easy to update from a developer perspective, and one that would be able to scale with our business over time. We were definitely looking for an open source solution, but which specific one we were relatively unsure.

SOLUTION

How did you select Alley Interactive as your solution partner for this endeavor?

We conducting some preliminary research into firms that we had heard about either through people we had worked with or through independent online research. We put out the RFP [request for proposal] to about 15 different companies, one of which was a firm in New York. They brought in Alley Interactive as their development partner. We wound up pairing Alley Interactive with a different design firm that we had worked with previously because we really liked the solution that they were presenting, but we also wanted the benefit of working with the design firm with which we'd already completed work. We mixed and matched the two vendors that way.

Were there other major factors taken into consideration, such as price, previous experience with similar organizations, and technical competence?

Yes. All of those were really important. We were considering using the Web development company that we'd used for more than 10 years. But, they weren't working with open source solutions. That's why we had to identify another partner. For us, comparing the options and price is a big factor. Their quote was double at least of what Alley Interactive was on the Web development. We like the idea of working with a smaller firm, when you're more closely in touch with the Web developers. The previous firm we'd worked with had gotten so large that it was beginning to cause problems. There were a lot of project management levels to move through, and we didn't like the way the process was unfolding. We prefer to work with smaller organizations like our own because our workflows, philosophies, and approaches seem to align more closely. 

Their experience working with media companies was another crucial factor. Although we're not technically a media company, we do have a lot of content and presenting that content in a digital-first manner was a really important goal of ours. We also do have a part of the organization that focuses on news, and knowing that we would be redesigning that site at some point was an important value-add.

Could you describe the scope of work delivered during the course of this project?

It's primarily Web development, not so much Web design, but they may offer a little bit of that now, because they're growing, too. They also, at the time, were not completely offering user experience and user interface expertise. We got that from our design firm, but I know they've grown in that space during the last year as well. Mostly, Web development and problem solving, we say this is what we want to do and they figure out the most streamlined approach to getting us there.

One of the websites that we were merging into our consolidated site is a data-driven website. It's fairly complex on the backend. It draws a lot of data and can manipulate it to a significant extent. That was a big project. The other big thing was content migration, so they had to migrate a lot of content from our existing systems into the new consolidated WordPress site. That was a big part of the project as well, just writing all the necessary programming to get the content out of our old systems and into WordPress. They continue to offer ongoing support and strategic services.

Could you provide a sense of the size of this initiative in financial terms?

I believe the development was around $250,000.

Do you recall when the project was first completed?

We launched the website in May of 2013.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

In terms of results, could you share any statistics, metrics, or user feedback that would demonstrate the effectiveness of the work they've delivered?

Our Web traffic is influenced by factors outside of our control. We do know that one of the websites that we merged definitely gets a lot more visibility by being combined under the consolidated site. The overall usability has definitely improved and brought more visitors to it.

At the beginning, there was some resistance and unease, especially here. We not only changed the look of the site and the way that people interact with it, but all of our backend processes had also changed. From an administrative perspective, this was rather frustrating for some. But overall, the site was well received. We had more people involved in producing content for the website directly in the content management system, which really streamlined our content development. We also receive far fewer support requests through the new site, indicating that our system is easier to use and less prone to malfunction and defect. There was some slight hesitation during training, but now our staff is up-to-speed and confident with the system. It was a very easy system for people to understand. We would have never dreamed of introducing new people to this workflow if we felt that they would have trouble figuring out our system, but that's why we knew WordPress was a good choice: It has a reputation for being extremely simple to use by non-technical staff. Our last site was managed in Sitecore, which has a very non-intuitive backend. It was frustrating because all updates and content development really had to pass through our developers because most of our people couldn't do it themselves. We wanted desperately to move away from that process.

We did have some great feedback at the beginning. Nothing specific that stands out except that people liked the new design and liked being able to read our content online as opposed to having to download PDFs. Our readers still do like PDFs, so we continue produce them; but the option to view our content online, or via mobile, is a real boon to our readership.

We also see better search results. Our site and content is now optimized for search. We believe that people are finding our content more easily. A lot of our traffic comes in directly from search engines. We've been very pleased.

When working with Alley Interactive, is there anything you'd consider unique about their approach or development methodology that distinguishes them from other vendors?

Yes. I think it's due to the size of their firm, but it's definitely also the approach that they take. You, as the client, are working directly with their Web developers. They really minimize their project management layer in a positive way. I was the project manager internally, so we really saw it as our job to manage the schedule and manage other aspects that are not involved in the actual coding. There were always project management resources if we required them. We were having daily phone calls with their team when we were close to launch. We still have twice weekly calls with them, directly with their developers.

If we have a question or see a bug, you're talking directly to the person that knows how to fix it. They're not so caught up in the code that they can't communicate effectively with clients. There's a nice balance there, and I think they probably look for that when they're hiring Web developers. It's not someone who's going to be completely shielded and working in a dark room by themselves all day. Their developers are competent communicators with a solid basis of business knowledge. They can really transition between speaking to us on our own terms and in their own technical vocabulary. They're just extremely responsive.

In retrospect, are there areas you think they could improve upon?

Because you're working with developers one on one, some of the feedback is developer-specific. By and large, we've had really positive experiences and our timelines have been pretty realistic. Something to be aware of is not just answering to the client saying, "We can do that," but providing a realistic timeframe for when things can be done. We throw a lot of work at them, so we're not always really at being realistic. They could take the initiative and provide that kind of feedback. Otherwise, we're bound to keep throwing more work at them without regard for what might be happening on their end. I know it's in their interest to accept the work, but being more open or realistic about timing estimates might make for smoother deployments.

4.5
Overall Score
  • 4.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
  • 5.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
  • 4.5 Quality
    Service & deliverables
  • 4.5 NPS
    Willing to refer

Drupal 7 Upgrade Leading News Publication

"We were able to work one-on-one with them whenever we needed to."

Quality: 
4.5
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
4.5
Willing to refer: 
4.5
The Project
 
$200,000 to $999,999
Project summary: 

Alley Interactive migrated a publisher's website to Drupal 7. The team crafted a new theme and migrated existing content, then remained on retainer for additional Drupal development needs.

The Reviewer
 
51-200 Employees
 
New York City Metro Area
Justen Fox
Director of Product Engineering, The New Republic
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

The entire development process was fluid and efficient. Alley Interactive's approach encourages direct and seamless collaboration between clients, project managers, and developers. The team scaled to meet requirements and used their extensive knowledge of Drupal to deliver excellent code.

A Clutch analyst personally interviewed this client over the phone. Below is an edited transcript.

BACKGROUND

Could you provide a brief description of your company?

I work for a magazine publisher. We've been around for almost a century. We publish 20 print issues a year. Right now, we're publishing about 15 or 20 articles a day on our website. It's mostly covering politics and policy and lots of different domestic issues. 

What is your position?

I'm the director of product engineering.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

Could you describe the business challenges you were attempting to address when you first approached Alley Interactive?

We were migrating from a Drupal 6 to a Drupal 7 site. We're undergoing a complete rebrand of our logo, of our mission statement. Our print magazine was been completely redesigned and so was our website. We were looking for them to assist in the final step of converting a new design into a Drupal theme, and then handling the content migration from [Drupal] 6 to 7 and launching on a very tight deadline.

SOLUTION

How did you select Alley Interactive as your solution partner for this endeavor?

They were selected by people that were here before I was. I inherited that relationship, but I also quickly discovered that it was a very good one for us to be a part of. They're located a couple of blocks away from where our offices are in New York City. That was certainly a benefit. Also, I asked around and pretty quickly found out that when it comes to Drupal development, they were very active in the Drupal community, which is important to me and they're also widely regarded as being a quality firm with great code production. They're considered very reliable. They came to us highly recommended after I started asking around.

Could you describe the scope of work delivered to you during the course of this relationship?

Initially, it was a full engagement. All hands were on deck for this endeavor. We spent a lot of time looking at the possibility of being our own digital fulfillment company for online subscription, but ended up doing a lot of the work, but keeping the traditional magazine fulfillment company that we had a previous relationship with. The logistics of it made more sense to keep everything in one place. We rebuilt the site. We migrated everything over, and then we entered into a retainer with them.

For at least a year after we launched, we used their developers as our exclusive development partner. We had no full-time internal development team. We typically have two of their developers working on our site at any given time. Occasionally, we'd need to double it to four, sometimes five, depending on our development needs.

We've grown a bit since then, so we have a few internal developers of our own. They still act as our Drupal experts and we rely on their expertise to keep our site running and certainly from the backend perspective.

Could you provide a sense of the size of this initiative in financial terms?

Our ongoing relationship usually ends up with about 60 to 80 hours of development per month.

This remains an ongoing relationship, correct?

Yes. We continue to work with them. 

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

In terms of results, could you share any statistics, metrics, or user feedback that would demonstrate the effectiveness of their work?

Not directly, especially now that we have a development team in-house. The work that we've done with Alley was to supplement some of the initiatives that the product team, the front-end team here is doing. I don't really have any solid numbers that would directly correlate. Unfortunately, the capacity in which we use them doesn't lend itself so well to tracking metric performance. I can tell you that they're consistently able to deliver high-quality, viable code to us.

In terms of evaluating their performance, from a project management perspective, have you been pleased with the project deployment?

Yes. They have their own project managers inside their organization, which was definitely helpful for us in the beginning because we were getting started and growing as a company. At the time, we had no full-time project management on our side, so we relied heavily on their ability to allocate incoming issues and classify them as bug enhancements, set adequate deadlines, and track their team's performance.

We also benefited from having direct access to their developers. We were able to work one on one with them whenever we needed to communicate issues or ideas. It was a very open line of communication. The project managers were there to help and not play traffic cop. They really facilitated the fluidity of the deployment.

When working with Alley Interactive, is there anything you'd consider unique about their approach or development methodology that distinguishes them from other vendors?

Just being able to have direct relationships with their project leads and their development team; that's really been beneficial for us, as a company, to hire Alley and have them act as our full-time technical staff because we can scale up or down depending on the initiative. That's a real advantage. Alley has gained a reputation for that, on top for the quality of their work. It's a very rewarding and convenient relationship.

In retrospect, are there areas in which you think Alley Interactive could improve upon as a service provider?

I would recommend them for Drupal and WordPress development. They do other things, too. They do frontend development, things like that, but their specialty is WordPress and Drupal. I actually prefer it that way because I consider them experts in that area. I don't want them to grow into a giant shop because I like the one-on-one interactions, and I like the people that they have there, too. That's one of the unique advantages that they offer.

4.5
Overall Score
  • 5.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
  • 4.5 Cost
    Value / within estimates
  • 4.5 Quality
    Service & deliverables
  • 4.5 NPS
    Willing to refer