What was the scope of their involvement?
Although we did some prototypes and some demos, we needed the simplest, cleanest design for the application. Essentially, their job was to design the user experience: the look of the pages, the connections between the pages, interfaces, buttons—all those kinds of things. We contracted Michael [Founder, Humanist] to be the lead on that, and Luke and I worked very closely with him. Michael did wireframes for all the pages.
It was very iterative. We did a few key calls and sprints. The application has different parts: market creation and management, launching the markets (which is what the customers see), trading, rewards, other pages. Those sprints lasted 2.5–3 months end-to-end.
He's in New York City, and I'm 12 miles outside New York City. While he was doing this, we looked at things every day. We didn't talk every day, but over 12 weeks we averaged a conversation two or three times a week. We've met several times face-to-face in a conference room. He's very, very collaborative.
He listens extremely well. In addition to his other talents, he asks really good questions and gets to the bottom of what we're trying to produce. He ran a few different sessions for user testing, and he was very hands-on with that.
At the beginning, he moderated testing with five users from different backgrounds. We recorded the sessions—not only their faces and their conversations, but also what they were clicking on. He has a really good style and manner with testing: It was a combination of supporting the users without giving them too much information.
We started running unmoderated testing with clients, which was basically letting them go through a market with some of their employees, but not with their customers yet. We've finished one round of that, and he set that up and moderated the feedback sessions. He's one of the best front-end tech guys I've ever worked with, if not the best. He has great skills and relates well with people. The results surpassed my expectations. I highly recommend them.
How did you come to work with Humanist?
My partner, Luke Tigaris, had worked with Michael [Founder, Humanist] on a couple of projects. Luke recommended that I talk to Michael. He was one of five agencies I talked to. I looked at his work and his portfolio, and I engaged him and one other agency to do a little bit of work for me.
Michael is just a step above the good people in the market. In fact, we had another agency do prototypes for us, but Michael is just a cut above. He's not a B+ or an A, he's an A+. I think the real differences is, not only can he design better than most of the people in the market, but he can really understand what we're trying to accomplish and help us make decisions fast. Some people placate their customers—they may do what I ask them to do. But he politely pushes us beyond that.
How much have you invested with them?
We've spent $15,000 to $20,000 with them.
What is the status of this engagement?
We worked with them mid-April through mid-July 2017. I keep them on retainer all the time, but once we get funded, we'll bring them back in. When we get our product next year, we'll be extending it, improving it, and learning about ways to do things better. I am confident that I’ll retain them starting in September or October and hopefully on an ongoing basis.