Cloud native web application development

Isotoma designs and builds digital products and web and mobile applications. Our tight-knit team of developers and consultants in York, London and Manchester transform complex problems into simple solutions.

Usually working with Django and React we’re just as comfortable taking on existing projects as we are starting from scratch - we’re in it for the long haul and look forward to supporting our customers through to a mature and successful product.

As well as over 12 years of Python and Javascript experience we are also AWS Consulting Partners and Kubernetes Service Partners, meaning that we are able to deliver your application into the cloud in the most cost effective manner possible.

Our services:

  • User research and stakeholder analysis
  • User experience design
  • Information architecture and content planning
  • Interaction and graphic design
  • Python and Django development
  • Javascript, Node and React development
  • AWS configuration, deployment, support and cost management
  • Ongoing application support and management
 
$25,000+
 
$100 - $149 / hr
 
10 - 49
 Founded
2004
Show all +
York, United Kingdom
headquarters
  • Swinegate Court East, Swinegate
    York YO1 8AJ
    United Kingdom
other locations
  • 1 Primrose Street
    London EC2A 2EX
    United Kingdom

Portfolio

Key clients: 

Imperial College London, BBC R&D, BBC News, Polpeo, Shortlister Solutions, HarperCollins, iomart, Wilmington Group, NBC Universal, The Key, Ten Lifestyle

Amazon hosted back end for music start up

Evermix is a music startup that is both a hardware solution and streaming platform. Evermix gives DJs the ability to record and upload their sets direct from the decks and allows dance music fans quick and easy access to those sets. The whole thing is wrapped in a host of social features that allow fans to add photos of the events, favourite mixes and follow DJs.

The service was conceived by product design agency Play who approached Isotoma to build the system’s backend; everything from music capture and transcoding through user accounts and social features to secure music delivery.

We built the system API first using Django, meaning that mobile and tablet apps could be built in parallel to the web solution and meaning that the front end could be rapidly iterated over without constant change to the complex server components. And the entire thing is hosted on AWS, making use of many of the core AWS services including RDS, Elasticache, S3 and Elastic Transcoder....

Video recruitment application for start up

Shortlister was one of the first video recruitment applications in the UK. When we were first approached the business was still just an idea; we helped produce user research, wireframes, prototypes and investor decks that supported them in getting funding for the first build phase and - once funding was secured - went on to build the complete service.

Like most of our projects we built API first, meaning that as the business grew and new markets opened the application could be integrated easily with other software solutions. Since launching in 2012 Shortlister has gone on to carry out more than 10,000 video interviews, supporting customers like KFC, ScotRail and Harrogate Water as well as providing whitelabel versions of the application to large recruitment organisations.

As the business has matured and grown we’ve helped Shortlister build their own internal development team, allowing them to...

SaaS platform for legal professionals

Pendragon Perspective is the de facto source of legal information for pensions in the UK, providing specialist legal professionals with a vast library of carefully annotated and curated documents. The product was first developed as a desktop application in the late nineties, but needed to migrate to a SaaS model to meet the requirements of modern users.

Pendragon approached Isotoma with an unusual set of problems. Specifically it was vital that the new browser-based system had to replicate the performance characteristics of the desktop application. This is the kind of challenge that Isotoma relishes; we spent a few weeks prototyping a number of solutions and found that - with some particularly innovative approaches to document delivery - we were able to satisfy the very high performance demands.

We’ve been working with Pendragon since 2013, taking the new version of the product through development and beta testing and into production. Since launch we provide a...

Whitelabel travel portal for global concierge business

Ten Group are global concierge company that listed on AIM at the end of 2017. They provide concierge services for millions of customers of some of the world’s most prestigious financial institutions.

Their members already had access to lifestyle managers 24/7 who could assist them with travel, dining and entertainment requests by telephone, SMS and email, but in 2014 Ten saw the need for an online service that would enhance the offering to their members and to help them expand their business into new areas.

Ten initially asked us to work with them on their digital strategy, helping with product selection and design. We assisted them in selecting a travel tech provider who could deliver the components they needed for this challenging part of the project. We were then asked to develop, deploy and support the portal system itself, providing the shop window for Ten’s customers and allowing members to transact online for these complex services.

The service is...

Digital Asset Management system for augmented reality start up

Supponor are a venture funded augmented reality business. Their technology augments the TV broadcast stream from sporting events by replacing the at-event billboards with region-specific advertising. By using a mix of 3D modelling of locations and overlaid infrared imaging the results are indistinguishable from an unaugmented stream, and produced with only millisecond delays.

The technology has been in development for years. As it neared production readiness Supponor approached Isotoma to build the tools that would allow them to capture, transcode and schedule the ad inventory that would be displayed for each event. This required a rich asset management system that had the ability to ingest a huge array of formats and apply customer specific business rules to each inventory set, all the while presenting a simple interface that could be used by teams in OB trucks at sporting events and achieving broadcast levels of availability.

We’re proud to say that the system has...

Online subscriber-only knowledge base for The Key

We’ve been working with The Key since 2007, when the business was just an idea. Since then they’ve grown from to a company that employs over 160 people and supports more than a third of all schools in England and Wales.

Their core offering is an online subscription knowledge base for senior school leaders that’s supported by a telephone and email based question answering service. Over the ten years of our relationship we’ve developed four different iterations of the core knowledge base. Most recently migrating to Wagtail, a Django based content management system. We’ve supported The Key with user research, design, development and support services for a platform that delivers over 10,000 documents to more than 100,000 registered users who request more than 1,000,000 pages each month.

You can read more about our work with The Key on our website

Reviews

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Custom Development for Global Media Company

“They’ve been hugely collaborative and have brilliant communication skills.”

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
4.5
Cost: 
5.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
Confidential
 
Mar. 2016 - Ongoing
Project summary: 

After helping to refine the project’s scope, Isotoma designed and developed the front- and backend of a video content platform. The central functionally included is a cloud-based content delivery mechanism.

The Reviewer
 
10,001+ Employees
 
London, United Kingdom
Paul Rushforth
Director - Advanced Technology, NBC Universal
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

Isotoma is a world-class development vendor. They’re capable of adapting to frequent scope change and still delivering fantastic results above expectations. They’re willing to travel for in-person meetings to facilitate effective and communicative partnerships. They commit to a transparent approach.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

I’m a director of advanced technology at NBC Universal. We’re a global media content production and distribution company. I’m responsible for examining the impact of new technologies on the business and how to maximize the opportunities they present.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with Isotoma?

We wanted to develop a way of monetizing U.S. exclusive content to highly niche markets without having to utilize a traditional B2C approach.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

We initially approached Isotoma with relatively high-level and somewhat vague requirements regarding the products and solutions we were trying to build. We then worked closely with them to define what that solution would eventually look like. The goal was to distribute video content to non-traditional locations where internet connectivity and bandwidth is very low. We needed to reliability provide content to facilitate a product resembling a television service. Ultimately, they designed and developed the front- and backend of our platform, complete with a cloud-based content delivery mechanism.

What is the team composition?

The team consists of a project manager, a lead developer, QA developer, and a UX lead. They also had access to other experts that came in and out of the project as needed.

How did you come to work with Isotoma?

I’ve known about Isotoma for a long time just through word of mouth. We’d been talking about working on projects together for probably around a year before anything suitable came up. This project was the perfect opportunity to enlist their services, so we were straightforward when selecting them.

What is the status of this engagement?

We started working together in March 2016 and the engagement is ongoing.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

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

It’s a proof of concept project that we’re rolling out gradually, but regarding metrics of success, Isotoma made all the deadlines we’ve set and managed to over-deliver on requirements. They completed the previous two sprints ahead of schedule, so we were able to incorporate additional work. Product reception has been very positive so far. Potential customers who’ve seen the platform say it’s exactly what they’re looking for.

How did Isotoma perform from a project management standpoint?

Their project manager is proactive and always available when needed. We haven’t delivered many Scrum/agile projects, but the project manager made us feel confident when reporting to stakeholders who are used to the waterfall model. Their whole team is excellent. Although they’re in a remote location, we’ve visited each other a couple of times and were able to build a good level of communication and collaboration.

What did you find most impressive about them?

Their ability to adapt, pivot, and reconfigure their time to match our changing goals is brilliant. They represent the standard we would expect from our best suppliers in terms of delivery, communication, and collaboration. We're currently working with about 4­–5 different development agencies and they’re by far the most transparent in the reporting, planning, and delivery of projects.

Are there any areas they could improve?

No. If anything, we needed to improve how we interacted with them initially. They steered us back on track.

5.0
Overall Score They’ve been hugely collaborative and have brilliant communication skills.
  • 4.5 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
    They’ve managed to hit all major deadlines.
  • 5.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
    They’re a great value.
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
    They produced exactly what we asked for.
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer
    I’d recommend them to anyone who wants to try something new and learn from it.

Back-end Dev for Financial Management Company

"We’re getting a high level of performance and have cut our annual server bills by about 70%.”

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
4.5
Cost: 
4.5
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$200,000 to $999,999
 
Early 2010 - Ongoing
Project summary: 

Isotoma provided backend development services for a SaaS-based web application. They consolidated 22 different servers down to just 2 Amazon Web Services hosted servers and used PostgreSQL for the database. 

The Reviewer
 
11-50 Employees
 
United Kingdom
Ryan Green
Managing Director, Pebble
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

The team is dedicated, professional, and hard-working, always writing excellent code and ensuring they do the most thorough tests. The server migration is completed and they are currently working on fixing any remaining bugs, having extended the potential life of the application by over 5 years.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

Pebble is a financial management company. We want to develop a finance and fundraising software for schools. I’m the managing director. 

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with Isotoma?

We were consolidating our platform to fewer servers. 

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

They scoped and reviewed our platform then gave a presentation with feedback. They were looking at system performance such as integrity of the code and test scripts. They reported back and then created recommendations, an action plan, and a quotation based on what they could deliver. We then agreed to second phase of work where they did the implementation. They’ve been liaising with our internal development team throughout that course to migrate from 22 servers down to 2.

They write code and set up servers and operational infrastructure needed to do the migration. 

We had a variety of code using Amazon Web Services, EC2 [elastic compute cloud], and RDS [relational database service], but using dedicated servers. We consolidated it down to just 2 Amazon servers. Our platform is written in Python and we use Django. The database we use is PostgreSQL.

It’s not a website, but a SaaS-based application. It’s far more complicated than a website; it’s a finance system. They weren’t working on the features, but the backend infrastructure that underpins the platform. They were looking at server optimization, performance, processing, memory, caching, and all the technical aspects.

What is the team composition? 

There’s a couple of people I interacted with, but Doug [Founder & Director, Isotoma] was the main point of contact. 

How did you come to work with Isotoma?

I found them coincidentally. We chose them over other providers because they were one of the UK’s leading companies for using open source platforms. 

How much have you invested with them?

$200,000–$999,999. 

What is the status of this engagement?

We started working together in early 2011 and the work is ongoing. 

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

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

The migration is complete and we’re finishing the bug fixing. We’re getting a high level of performance and have cut our annual server bills by about 70%. The early work that they did with the revision of the platform extended our business life by 5 years at least because we had a dying product. The code is always excellent and well tested. They run a lot of test scripts. Not a lot of coders like writing test scripts, but they are very passionate about testing and ensuring the quality of their code. 

How did Isotoma perform from a project management standpoint?

They always give a range for the projects. We went slightly over the top part of their range for what they estimated the project was going to come in at. We use Skype, Hangouts, in-person visits, email, or whatever is the preferred channel of choice. 

What did you find most impressive about them?

They’re a quality team. 

Do you have any advice for potential customers?

Be open to sharing what your business is because that’s one of the great things of working with Doug and Andy [Creative Technologist, Director & Founder, Isotoma], the directors. If they understand what your business is, they will help you use technology to deliver your business. Don’t hold back. Help them understand how your business works, how you want to interact with your customers, what your customers are like, what you’re trying to do, and if you’re trying to exit or to grow a lifetime business. If you let them know all of that, they will make sure they fold that business strategy into the technology delivery.

4.5
Overall Score
  • 4.5 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
    They always do an excellent job with a lot of moving parts.
  • 4.5 Cost
    Value / within estimates
    They provide a premium service.
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
    They’re unquestionably excellent.
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer
    No hesitation.

Software Dev for Cloud Computing Company

“They are more than just coders who will meet the requirements, they find solutions and give us exactly what we need.”

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

The React-based application Isotoma collaborated on closes market gaps in the cloud industry, providing a self-serve option with instant pricing and shorter lead times.

The Reviewer
 
201-500 Employees
 
United Kingdom
Neil Christie
Commercial Director, Iomart
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

Thanks to rigorous QA and testing and fully redundant architecture, the app is 100% reliable. Key clients report very positive UX, and the app has the potential to spin future projects. Isotoma demonstrates agility and ingenuity, with very little need for supervision.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

We are one of the UK’s largest managed service providers in the cloud industry. We provide consultancy around cloud-based projects and hosting infrastructure. We have 10 data centers in the UK, with 30,000–35,000 physical servers, all connected by a private network. I’m the commercial director, and am responsible for the self-managed division, which accounts for about one third of our overall revenue.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with Isotoma?

Our market has some massive corporations with public clouds which enable customers to log in, view a catalog of services, and pay for the services they choose. We wanted to bring that look and feel to the technical side of the market, and allow individuals to buy services without the traditional account managers and vendors.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

We marked out the problems in the industry, namely a lack of self-serve options, instant pricing, or the ability to procure goods and services without extensive lead time. The application we set out to build fills many of those market gaps. They delivered an intuitive interface, hosted on AWS [Amazon Web Services]. They drew on best-of-breed technology with React and some JavaScript, which has spawned a number of similar projects with their other clients.

The app incorporates a catalog of services, including hosting, internet lines, servers, switches, firewalls, virtual machines, and other infrastructure. All of these can be combined and connected by virtual network, or hardwired for clients in the UK. This is all traditionally done through big vendors, but we’re able to provide live pricing in a drag-and-drop environment that gives customers the services they want. It’s a more efficient, and doesn’t require an account manager.

What is the team composition?

My day-to-day contact is our project manager, Richard. I’m also in touch with David, one of their lead developers, who has a team under him. He changes the composition of that team as required. Rob heads our QA [quality assurance] testing and another portion of the development team, while Sharon works with the backend admin interface.

How did you come to work with Isotoma?

They were originally a client of ours, and I knew their work was high quality. They had worked with one of the massive corporations in the market, and already had some infrastructure with us. We knew they were good with end users and how they interact with software applications.

We considered a few companies, but Isotoma really understood our actual user problems. They got to the point where they could finish our sentences. We knew that would add a lot of value to our team, because they could come up with ideas themselves with very little fine-tuning required from us.

How much have you invested with them?

We’ve spent $500,000–$600,000 on this project.

What is the status of this engagement?

We started working on the application near the end of 2015, and went live in summer 2016. It’s a hosted app, so we still liaise with them for development, fixes, and other support.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

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

Customer signups are growing, and we’re approaching 1000 new users. Several key clients have reported a very positive application experience. It’s fast, slick, and we haven’t heard of any issues with the app itself. We field requests for tutorials, which we’ve added to our YouTube channel. We can also talk to users through the live chat function.

The app is 100% reliable. It’s built in completely redundant architecture, and we’ve never seen it freeze. They are a high-end agency, and their QA and testing are very rigorous. We haven’t encountered any problems to date. It is something we can build upon, and has the potential to be white-labelled or spun into other projects.

How did Isotoma perform from a project management standpoint?

They’re very agile. We have regular sprint meetings to catch up, review testing, and move through production. We have Google Hangout meetings, as well as some in-person visits. Once we have an initial meeting to set priorities, they build the sprints, and we queue up our resources and estimates in Jira. Their estimates match the actuals, and they deliver on time. Whenever we change the scope, they factor in the change and provide us with new estimates. It’s a tight process.

What did you find most impressive about them?

They’re very self-sufficient, and don’t require a lot of handholding. They really understood our problem, and came up with their own ideas to fix it. They are more than just coders who will meet the requirements, they find solutions and give us exactly what we need.

Do you have any advice for potential customers?

Though they’re more expensive than other options on the market, make sure you are choosing the right partner who understands your needs. That’s more important that the price or simple coding ability.

5.0
Overall Score The whole process has been easy and positive. We’ve had no friction or surprises.
  • 5.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
    They itemize everything, and never vary from what we ask for. We know what to expect, and have had a perfect experience.
  • 4.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
    They are at the high end for cost, but the savings we see from the minimal need for correction and the quality of their designs gives us little we would change about the experience.
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
    Everything that we asked for was delivered. Nothing was substandard or needed improvement.
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer
    I’d recommend them to anyone with a serious business problem to solve.

Software Dev for Educational Institution

“They’re amazing. They’re the best people we’ve worked with ever.”

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
4.5
Cost: 
4.5
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$200,000 to $999,999
 
Aug. 2014 - Ongoing
Project summary: 

After determining project scope, Isotoma developed bespoke curriculum software used by students, teachers and senior faculty. They’ll likely be engaged to help commercialize the tool.

The Reviewer
 
5,001-10,000 Employees
 
London, United Kingdom
Head of School Secretariat, University
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

Unintended user groups have found use for the tool. Student engagement with it is more than 3 times as high as other tools. Positive student feedback has been shared in school and country-wide surveys.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

I’m in charge of student experience at a higher education institution.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with Isotoma?

We needed a bespoke tool that would help us be more transparent about our curriculum.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

The tool is fundamentally a database with a tree-based structure that is common across curriculum mapping tools. It includes two overlays to visualize the curriculum in different ways. We describe it as a kaleidoscope.

They came in to do a scoping exercise with us because we didn't know entirely what we wanted. We had some very nebulous ideas and they helped to turn them into proper user and technical requirements. Then they worked with us to build it. They essentially turned some shaky PowerPoint diagrams into a tool that works great.

We liked the tool so much that we decided to expand it. That work is ongoing. We signed an agreement with them to commercialize the tool, which is our IP. They will be almost partners in the effort.

What is the team composition?

We worked with a project manager and around 7 team members. There were 1-2 people in the background that did QA for us that we didn't meet.

How did you come to work with Isotoma?

A friend of a friend had worked with them before and recommended them. We were speaking to 4 other companies and received bids from a number of them. Isotoma was up front with the fact that they didn’t know anything about this field. When we met with them again they had really done their homework. They were now telling us things about the field that we didn’t know, which was really impressive.

We liked Isotoma because they didn’t have their own agenda. The other companies were more focused on telling us what our problem was and proposing a solution. Isotoma didn’t try to force a solution on us. They asked us questions that made us think about what we needed and wanted. At no point did they try to tell us what the issue was and solve it before we got there ourselves. It felt very much like a partnership.

How much have you invested with them?

Around $400,000.

What is the status of this engagement?

We started working together in May or June 2014. Our engagement is ongoing.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

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

The tool was primarily built for students but we’ve found it useful for teachers who are based across lots of different sites. They use it to situate their teaching in the context of the entire curriculum. It has also been useful as a learning management tool. From an administrative point of view, senior faculty are able to use it to identify areas to change.

Quantitatively we know that approximately 2/3 of our students use the software on a regular basis. That’s unheard of for the kinds of systems that we use. Normally we struggle to get more than 20% engagement. We have about 68% engagement. One of the things students can do is stores notes in it. We have 1800 students and over 150,000 notes stored. It shows that they use the system properly.

We love it. We’ve had lots of direct positive feedback from students. For example, every year graduates across the UK are asked about their university experience. The system has been mentioned by name by students who left us. Our survey feedback in that particular area, in terms of learning resources, went up by 18 points this year. For us that’s a massive success.

How did Isotoma perform from a project management standpoint?

Our project manager is absolutely incredible. I’ve worked with the same project manager since we’ve started working with them. I think he’s taken on more projects since we started because they have grown and expanded. We haven’t felt any less loved by them for that.

We have a regular weekly phone call and use tools like Jira, Slack and Google Hangouts. They're based about three hours away from us but they come here quite regularly. We've had several face-to-face meetings. While they were doing discovery, I think they spent about 10 days with us identifying what it was that we wanted. I find academics like to have facetime and we’ve never had a problem getting them to do that.

What did you find most impressive about them?

I have worked with technical people before who tend to be very good at solving a particular technical problem but can lack the social skills to understand what it is that you're doing. I find that a lot of technically-minded people hear a problem and instantly jump to the technical solution. Isotoma never do that. They're much more creative. They want to understand the problem and then they try to solve the problem or identify solutions to the problem before they even start thinking about the technical side of it. I think that is incredibly valuable.

Are there any areas they could improve?

They have a small London office. I think they would benefit from more of a presence in London as that’s where all the big players are.

Do you have any advice for potential customers?

One of the mistakes that we made, that Isotoma helped us solve, was that we did a lot of end-gaming. We went running down a particular path thinking that that was the solution and then we belatedly realized that that was the wrong choice, that we wanted to do something else. Isotoma rescued us from overspending in the wrong direction. If we had let ourselves be guided more by Isotoma rather than arrogantly assuming we knew what we wanted, it would probably have been cheaper overall. Let them do it, they know what they're doing.

4.5
Overall Score Only because they are not in London so we have to schedule in whole days.
  • 4.5 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
    I would only drop them half a point because they are quite small so they have to schedule other things alongside.
  • 4.5 Cost
    Value / within estimates
    We've overspent quite a bit but it was our fault. They’re good value for money.
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
    They’re amazing. They’re the best people we’ve worked with ever.
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer
    I do. I have.