Digital product innovation

DockYard is a digital product agency offering exceptional user experience, design, full stack engineering, and software consulting.  We work with innovative brands such as Netflix, Apple, Zipcar, McGraw-Hill, Nasdaq, Harvard, Fidelity Investments, Constant Contact, MassMutual, CollegeVine, and WNYC, as well as funded startups.

 DockYard helps organizations transform ambitious, complex new ideas into fully deployed web applications using Ember, Elixir, and Phoenix.  On the bleeding edge of technology, DockYard often pioneers the field, and invests heavily in the open source community.  Our firm is smart, relatable, and deeply knowledgeable about modern application design, UX, and architecture. DockYard’s integrated approach allows us to solve problems quickly with stability and maintainability. We also offer testing and QA, project management, training, support, and staff augmentation.  

 
$25,000+
 
$150 - $199 / hr
 
50 - 249
 Founded
2010
Show all +
Boston, MA
headquarters

Portfolio

Key clients: 

Netflix, Apple, Nasdaq, McGraw-Hill Education, Zipcar, Fidelity Investments, The RealReal, Constant Contact, Harvard, Dollar Shave Club, MassMutual, Digilant, Fender, Flywheel Sports, CollegeVine, MBTA, Ideo, WNYC, SHYFT Analytics, NE Venture CapitalAssociation

Reviews

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Architecture Dev for Blockchain Company

"There is not much direction that needs to be given—they're very independent in their work."

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
5.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$200,000 to $999,999
 
Apr. 2018 - Ongoing
Project summary: 

DockYard developed the architecture for an open-sourced EVM blockchain explorer using the Phoenix framework. The system tracks all blocks and transactions and stores them in a Postgres database.

The Reviewer
 
11-50 Employees
 
San Francisco Bay Area
Project Lead, POA Network
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

DockYard is experienced to the point that the team requires little supervision. They work efficiently and produce a high-quality product. Their expertise is so widespread that development partners on the same project ask DockYard’s team for assistance.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

I am the project lead at POA Network. We are a public blockchain network and an Ethereum sidechain.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with DockYard?

In coordination with two other Elixir development shops, we relied on DockYard to develop elements of our new project called BlockScout, an open-sourced EVM blockchain explorer.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

While the other agencies had other responsibilities, we tasked DockYard with building the architecture and designing the database for BlockScout using the Phoenix framework. The most prominent aspect was creating our indexer, which collects all of the metadata on the blockchain—the blocks and the transactions—and stores it in the Postgres database.

What is the team composition?

Our development team has ranged from 2–4 members depending on the stage of the project.

How did you come to work with DockYard?

We found them at an Elixir conference in Texas in February 2018. We discussed our needs, and the schedule aligned that we could work with Chris (Architectural Engineer, DockYard), who is the creator of the Phoenix framework. We believed that he and that team would be the best people possible to help build our application.

How much have you invested with them?

We’ve spent between $400,000–$500,000 for DockYard’s services.

What is the status of this engagement?

Our engagement began in April 2018 and remains ongoing. We love working with DockYard, and we’ll keep them on board for the long term.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement?

DockYard’s involvement ensured that this project would be completed faster and better than what we could have accomplished without them or with a different development team. The internal developers that we have recently hired are very impressed with the code DockYard has supplied.

How did DockYard perform from a project management standpoint?

DockYard is a team we don't have to worry about. We communicate well using GitHub and Slack. They understand what they're in charge of, and they run with it. We've never had overlapping problems with the other teams. They understand the overall project and each task that's given to them. There is not much direction that needs to be given—they're very independent in their work.

What did you find most impressive about them?

Their overall expertise in multiple areas of the project is notable. The other teams we work with go to DockYard if they have questions. They always seem to have all the answers.

Are there any areas they could improve?

No, I think they're doing a fabulous job in all aspects of the business.

Do you have any advice for potential customers?

Be cognizant of their independence. They understand, and they do their research. There isn’t much more we could provide them to do their tasks better.

5.0
Overall Score We will be retaining the DockYard team for the foreseeable future.
  • 5.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
  • 5.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
    All of their developers are top-notch.
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer

API Dev for Major Mass Transit Agency

"[T]hey’re knowledgeable in what they do."

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
4.5
Cost: 
4.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$200,000 to $999,999
 
Dec. 2016 - Ongoing
Project summary: 

DockYard mainly assists with revamping an API that’s used by third-party developers on customer-facing technologies. They’re addressing several issues with four engineers that support the internal team, remotely.

The Reviewer
 
5,001-10,000 Employees
 
United States
Head of Engineering for Customer Experience, Mass Transit Agency
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

The internal team is satisfied with DockYard’s development work and the general feedback has been positive so far for the API. Communication is effective and they’re unique in their level of technical skill, however, they could work on having engineers available for onsite work.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

I’m the head of engineering for a major metro system in the United States.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with DockYard?

We had several big projects for revamping everything that has to do with our customer-facing technology. We knew that with this much work, we could use all the help we could get.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

We’re working on a new website and software that powers predictions for train arrivals, digital signage, and SMS notification for service disruptions. Most of the work was around helping us implement an API that we make available to third-party developers so that they can build applications that help our riders find out where their vehicles are or get information about schedules and such.

Currently, we have an older version of the API and there are under 100 different applications that use it for either iOS or Android or some type of website. There were several implementations that were difficult to do and circumstances around how often the API could be used, as it is expensive to run. The new version of the API will address some of these concerns. With DockYard’s help, we’re wrapping it up and are about to put it out there for use.

What is the team dynamic?

We worked with four dedicated engineers over the course of our engagement who essentially became part of our team.

How did you come to work with DockYard?

They are a pretty well-known company, so we reached out to them.

How much have you invested in them?

We have spent more than $200,000.

What is the status of this engagement?

We began working with them around December of last year and the work is ongoing.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement?

The general feedback we have received has been positive and our team is happy with the development they have done.

How did DockYard perform from a project management standpoint?

We’re happy with the level of communication we’ve received so far. We mostly use Slack, phone calls through Google Hangouts, and we may meet in person but this is very infrequent.

What did you find most impressive about them?

We like their technical expertise; they’re knowledgeable in what they do.

Are there any areas they could improve?

The engineers that they had were all remote, which was a potential challenge. Our preference and a recommendation for them would be to try and get engineers who could work with our team onsite.

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

Custom Design For IT Startup

"They hire really well, and they have a strong culture that I see in every one of their employees."

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
5.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
Confidential
 
Mar. 2015 - Ongoing
Project summary: 

DockYard built an SaaS platform that can manage e-commerce, POS, and data analytics. They developed a mobile-friendly front end, performed UI/UX design, and provided strategic consultation.

The Reviewer
 
1-10 Employees
 
Washington DC Metro Area
Founder & CEO, IT Startup
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

Navigating the system is fast and easy due to its simple, intuitive interface. DockYard's enterprising management, proactive communication, and dedicated work built a productive working relationship. They delivered milestones on schedule and kept in constant contact about the project's status.

BACKGROUND

Please describe your company.

We provide software-as-a-service (SaaS) to the fitness industry. Our product delivers online booking, reservations, e-commerce, POS [point of sales] marketing tools and data analytics – the full business management platform. 

What is your position?

I'm the founder and CEO.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

Could you describe the business challenge that you were trying to address with DockYard?

We are entering a marketplace that is crowded and highly competitive. We believe that we're going to make our mark by having a superior product, which has groundbreaking features that we developed on the back-end, but just as importantly, has a design that is the best in the industry; the best UI/UX [user interface/user experience] in a streamlined, sophisticated, mobile-friendly look and feel that we think it's going to bring our back-end features to life.

SOLUTION

Please describe the scope of their involvement in greater detail.

We are developing the back-end functionality in-house. It's in progress now. We are having DockYard do the front-end design for the product, and I think they're doing some great work for us. They're our exclusive designers, and we're open to expanding the project with them.

A lot of their advisory or strategic thinking is embedded in the process, which is one of the things I like so much about them. From the very beginning, they're just kind of end-to-end. I think they help us think through our product spec. As a design firm, they have a very strong focus on the end user. We can come to them with a vision of what the product has to do, but they're very disciplined about helping us think through various segments of users and the unique perspective of how each of those segments would use our application. To me, there's a lot of strategic thinking that's baked into the process, and there's a lot of value in that.

How did you come to choose DockYard?

I had worked with them previously at a different company.

Can you give a sense of the size of the initiative? 

We're in the tens of thousands with them now. We expect to be in the low six digits during the course of the work.

How long has the project been in process, and is there a timeline for the completion?

We started in March. We've had some deliverables with them already, but we continue to work with them. We see our relationship continuing for the foreseeable future.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

Could you share any statistics, metrics or user feedback that would demonstrate the quality of their performance?

I think we'll have that in time, but it's a little early for that now. One of the most important measures for us is the number of steps a customer has to take to complete an action. In that case, we want that number to be as low as possible. So, it's not market quantified, but there is a quantifiable aspect to what we do with them. We look at how many steps are necessary using our competitors' software, and we want to reduce that while not overwhelming a customer with too much information on one page. I think they've been strong partners in helping us eliminate steps wherever necessary through their superior design expertise.

We've not run into any issues from a project management perspective. I'm not just satisfied in this area – I'm frankly impressed. I've never had a budget surprise with them. They have very strong project managers with great availability. They've never missed a deadline. They operate their business and manage their projects very tightly, with the philosophy of "no surprises to customers." We've used Basecamp and Slack as project management tools with them, which have enhanced the overall experience for us.

Is there anything that you'd consider unique about their practice that distinguishes them from other vendors? 

I think they're excellent communicators, and that's worked out really well. In my experience, that's definitely not always the case. We always know where they are in the process. They're very vocal when they need something from us to move forward. I think they apply pressure gently but firmly when they need something from us. They've actually been enjoyable to work with. Part of the reason we keep going to them is that there's just great chemistry with the team. They hire really well, and they have a strong culture that I see in every one of their employees I've ever interacted with.

In retrospect, are there areas in which you think they could improve as a service provider, or certain things you might do differently as the client if given the chance?

Sometimes, I have development work that they can't complete because they don't have a person who writes in that specific language, but I understand that they can't have everything. There's no particular area I can point to where I wish they were better.

What advice, if any, would you give a future client of theirs?

The closer our team works with them, the better the result. I've actually had some people camp out in their shop for days at a time and work closely with them, so there's nothing left to interpretation. I have an active team member on their sprints, and they're up there whiteboarding all day long, and doing what needs to be done. If someone can afford to do that, I think it really pays off.

5.0
Overall Score
  • 5.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
  • 5.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
    I've never had an overage. They spend the time upfront to understand what they need to, in order to give a good estimate.
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer

Ember.js Developed Platform For e-Learning Provider

"Everything they said they would deliver has been done. They really went above and beyond."

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
4.5
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
Confidential
Project summary: 

DockYard built a web app on the Ember platform for an e-learning company. They provided front-end development, information architecture, visual and UI/UX design, and implementation. 

The Reviewer
 
1001-10,000 Employees
 
New York City Metro Area
Hassan Abdel-Rahman
Former Sr. Software Engineer, E-Learning Provider
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

The software was remarkably cohesive, thoroughly tested, and mostly bug-free. DockYard's extensive knowledge of Ember and RAILS, analytical mindset, and cohesive blend of design and development skills were invaluable. Their dedicated work ethic was a crucial component of the project's success. 

BACKGROUND

Please describe your organization.

We are an e-learning provider.

What is your position?

I was a senior software developer.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

Could you describe the business challenge that you were trying to address when you first approached DockYard?

We were working on an application for online learning, but we had a very small internal team and an enormous amount of work to tackle. We had decided beforehand that we wanted to use the Ember framework because our developers were very comfortable in Ember. We wanted to find a vendor that could come up to speed quickly on Ember. DockYard happened to be one of the best for doing Ember applications, so they were a natural choice. We wanted someone who was smart in doing Ember, and DockYard fit the bill very well.

In addition, we had an enormous amount of front-end design that we needed to do – visual as well as user interaction design – and DockYard provided those capabilities as well. So, we also used them for that aspect of the project.

We really had two independent projects working side by side. One track was focused mostly on digital design while the other track focused on implementation.

SOLUTION

Could you describe in detail the scope of their actual involvement?

They were pretty much driving the bus. They were doing a lot of the architectural analysis, which they would then divide up between their developers. One of the developers at DockYard was actually one of the core Ember team members and one of the major contributors to that framework. He's a natural leader, so it felt pretty natural to have him also lead our project. He was working with us to help understand what the problems were and how we could move forward, so that DockYard could develop the best solution. If it wasn't for DockYard, we would not have even gotten close to being able to deliver this particular project. They played every single role in the entire implementation process.

How did you come to choose DockYard as your partner?

A big part of our company is based in Boston, and we were looking for Boston-based vendors so they could be locally available to us, if need be. Our Boston colleagues are well connected to the tech community and had interacted with DockYard at various professional events. In talking with DockYard, we found them to be brilliant. That's one of the real strengths of DockYard. They regularly host Ember meetings in Boston and host an Ember conference every summer as well, so they're a major player in the development community in Boston and the East Coast. Their reputation is amazing in terms of the contributions they make to the community.

Can you provide a general cost estimate for the amount you've invested in their services?

I wasn't involved in the contract process, but I believe they were charging around $250 an hour. We had four developers working for six months.

Is the relationship with DockYard ongoing?

I no longer work at that particular company. I've since moved on, so I'm not exactly sure about the current status of the relationship. I believe the company is currently focused on moving things offshore, and they're mostly using DockYard as a means to jump-start that process. If the relationship were not continued, I certainly wouldn't put it on DockYard's performance but instead on internal changes within that company. 

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

In terms of results, could you share any statistics, metrics, or user feedback that would demonstrate the quality of their performance and/or the overall success of your engagement with them?

Our QA [quality assurance] team told us that they have never seen software developed so free of issues and bugs, compared to other software development firms. DockYard is very bullish in terms of doing test-driven development, so there's not a single line of code that they write that they don't actually write a test for.

Generally, when we are looking at issues and defects, lots of times the defects are around the intersections between systems that are talking to us or feeding us data as well as systems that are consuming the data that we're generating, so we'll see a lot of bugs on the peripheries. In terms of the actual application itself, the QA team found very few actual defects and zero regressions. A lot of that was due to the test-driven development. It was really fascinating to be a part of a project where quality was such a driver in terms of actual development.

We didn't experience any problems with their project management. Our company was doing a lot of the project management internally to begin with, and it was pretty sloppy. DockYard stepped in and was able to prevent a lot of potential disasters in terms of bad project management. They even volunteered to work on nights and weekends at one point, when our project team was accepting more work than they should have. DockYard really came through for us on many of those fronts. Everything they said they would deliver has been done. They really went above and beyond to try to get us out of a morass that our own project team got us into. They were fantastic.

When working with DockYard, is there anything that you consider unique about their practice that distinguishes them from other vendors?

I think they are the premier RAILS and Ember agency anywhere. If you want to create an Ember application, there is no better team. DockYard is pretty amazing in terms of taking a problem and trying to figure out the best way to go forward. One of the neat things about them is that, if you go back in their history, they started out as two separate companies. There was one company that did just development and another company that did just design. They happened to be working in the same collaborative workspace, they were teaming on projects, and they decided to combine.

They can do everything. They do visual design and user experience design as well as development. They come from a background where they specialize in those specific areas, and now they've managed to merge to provide the complete package. To me, that's kind of rare, that a company can have such deep expertise in both design and development. You don't normally see that, so I think that's a special thing about them.

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

I understand that DockYard struggles with how to market themselves and go after new opportunities. I think one of the challenges that DockYard has is trying to get out of that niche of just being really good with Ember. They need to frame what they do in a way that allows organizations that want to build apps to find them. Right now, their main source of new business is through referrals, conferences, and word of mouth. They need to go after organizations that don't yet know that they need to use DockYard. Once you've actually chosen DockYard, it's a pretty amazing ride.

What advice, if any, would you give a future client of theirs?

When DockYard offers to do the discovery phase, have them do it. The money that you spend in doing that will pay off in having a more cohesive road map going forward. It will save you money in the long run because DockYard is very good at doing requirements analysis.

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

Custom Platform Development For Learnivore

"[T]hey treated the project very much as if they were stakeholders and owners, not as contractors."

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
3.5
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
Confidential
Project summary: 

DockYard built a custom web app for a social network. The team took the lead on visual design and back-end development of the app, which was built using Ruby on Rails and Ember.js.

The Reviewer
 
11-50 Employees
 
Boston, Massachusetts
Emily Burns
Founder & CEO, Learnivore
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

The app has scaled with the network, presents few bugs, and is easy to customize. During the project, DockYard refined their management and testing to deliver an outstanding product. Their creative methodologies, personal investment, and understanding of the project's goals were valuable assets.

BACKGROUND

Please describe your company.

Learnivore is a site that connects people to local instructors, classes, and friends in art, athletics, and academics.

What is your position?

I’m the founder.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

Could you describe the business challenge that you were trying to address when you first approached DockYard?

I used DockYard to build the application from scratch. I had nothing, but a general concept prior to going to them. I went to DockYard with a series of mockups, and told them what I wanted to build. I had decided that I wanted to use Ruby on Rails, which they have a lot of experience with, so it made sense to have them at the helm.

SOLUTION

Could you describe the actual scope of their involvement in detail?

They were responsible for the entire design and development of the custom application. I came to them with Pixel Perfect design, but I let them know that it was just a start, a way of communicating my vision. So, the site looks quite different from what I started with, because they did a full overhaul of the visual design.

They operated in sprints, and they had broken down the entire process accordingly. We did the full design first, and then sprinted it out. I believe each sprint was around three weeks, and it took about four months to get there. I haven’t used them for hosting, third-party systems integration or training.

I’m satisfied with the selection of Ruby on Rails as the technology to base this app on. They built it with an Ember.js, and the Ember has ended up being particularly helpful in terms of making us very agile going forward. Although I don’t maintain an ongoing relationship with them, they did help me find my in-house lead developer, and that was very helpful, too.

How did you come to choose DockYard as your partner?

I initially found them through a LinkedIn search. I presented my mockups and evaluated how people responded to that and what the bids were. I looked at DockYard and a couple other people in the Boston area who had good reputations as Rails developers. One of the reasons I chose DockYard was that they had worked on other marketplace sites. From my experience, handling the marketplace elements was going to be one of the biggest challenges, so I wanted someone who had experience doing that.

Could you provide a general cost estimate for the size of this engagement?

The first release was $200,000, and the second was $400,000.

When was the application launched?

It launched on June 6, [2014].

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

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

For me, the value of their involvement was just how easy it was to get a new developer up and running. She was able to understand the code easily and was able to go in and continue developing. As far as the product goes, we had an awful lot of bugs for the first month after it went live.

We now have around 2,000 instructors, so frankly we still have a long way to go. They created an effective base platform, and now we’re just kind of iterating through to figure out how to make that platform more usable to our end users. We’ve had people who absolutely love our platform and some people who hate it, but I’m not sure that’s all their fault. It takes time to create a usable interface.

I had two major engagements with DockYard. I had the release in June, and then another release at the end of September, which was twice as big. Although the June release had some very serious bugs, the second release was so much better. I’m talking leaps and bounds. Their project management methodology was just a thousand times better. They managed themselves much better. They were on time, and it was very well tested. It was a much better process. I’d say we’ve established a very effective workflow now.

When working with DockYard, is there anything that you would consider unique about their strategic approach or development methodology that distinguish them from other vendors?

I felt that in working with them, I didn’t have just a developer and a designer, but actually product manager, too. They were very thoughtful and took the time to understand what my business problems were. I expected that I would need to be very involved in terms of the product management, but I really wasn’t. They really internalized that, which was wonderful.

I felt that they treated it very much as if they were stakeholders and owners, not as contractors, which was nice. It freed me up to focus on the marketing of my business, which is the hardest thing I have to do right now. It felt very much like a partnership. They communicated well, and they thought up some creative solutions for the UX [user experience].

What advice, if any, would you give a future client of theirs?

I think taking advantage of their discovery session prior to the visual design was helpful because it clarified exactly what we were building. It was expensive, but I think it was worthwhile.

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