UX design experts for tech companies

Online Department is a digital design agency based in Rotterdam. We are hyper focussed on digital strategy and user experience design. Our UX experts work embedded in the software development teams of tech companies. 

We deliver resources, conduct research and create state of the art user interfaces. Furthermore, design thinking and lean ux design training is part of the services we provide for management and development teams.  

 
$5,000+
 
$100 - $149 / hr
 
10 - 49
 Founded
2011
Show all +
Rotterdam, Netherlands
headquarters
  • Online Department
    Maashaven Zuidzijde 2
    Rotterdam, ZH 3081AE
    Netherlands
    0108911051

Portfolio

Key clients: 

ANWB, Microsoft, Mediq, Gemeente Rotterdam, Gemeente Den Haag, Easygenerator, Dynasource, Carerix, Willem & Drees, Brandfighters and various startups and scale-ups.

Mediq

Mediq is an international player in healthcare. Each day they improve the lives of millions of people by providing medical devices, pharmaceuticals and associated care services.

Our UX experts developed a scalable digital UX styleguide for international use and tested the platform with their users. The design and guidelines support the efficiency of Mediq’s new digital organization and safeguards the user experience for all users: patients, customers and healthcare professionals.

Dynasource Saas application

Dynasource is an international Saas marketplace for matching IT professionals with jobs and projects within specific industries. Online Department developed the fully responsive framework and tested high fidelity prototypes. Our UX experts team enhanced the level of user experience for their customers, following the user centered design principles.

This Microsoft funded startup is now scaling globally.

Brandfighters | Platform for content marketing creative talent

Brandfighters is more than an agency that creates engaging social media content and campaigns for brands. Marketeers can challenge a community of +900 preselected creative talents and experts to come up with the best ideas and concepts. More choice, faster delivery and cutting the cost on project management. That is the power of creativity.

We created the new (purpose driven) brand, digital strategy and responsive UX for Brandfighters.com

Reviews

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UX Design & Training for Large Member Association

“Their key strength is UX and everything that comes with it.”

Quality: 
4.0
Schedule: 
3.5
Cost: 
4.5
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$200,000 to $999,999
 
Jan. 2016 - Ongoing
Project summary: 

Online Department augments internal design resources by conducting field research, producing wireframes, and leading UX training sessions. Their team has expanded over time and now works on multiple projects.

The Reviewer
 
1,001-5,000 Employees
 
The Hague, Netherlands
Frank de Wit
Manager, ANWB
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

Online Department is easy to communicate with, eager to collaborate, and willing to accommodate evolving needs. Their expertise in the UX field and training sessions are highly useful, and they never lose focus on the end goals. They are a valuable partner.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

I’m the manager of customer and user experience for ANWB, a Dutch company offering road assistance. We also sell insurance, vacations, and credit cards, and have several shops throughout the Netherlands where we sell products in our spare time. I have a team of UX designers who create designs for the website, apps, and newsletters, as well as one person who conducts UI research.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with Online Department?

One of the scrum teams we are organized with had a large UX project and wanted us to improve the website. The team sought us to create a better platform experience for their customers because the content was about cycling, and many of our customers are cyclists. We sought outside expertise because design demand was already high for my team and we needed more people.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

Online Department helped with the team’s vision and business value propositions. Outside designers that we hire get the same treatment as in-house designers as they become a part of the team. I ensure they understand our ethics and design language, including the official designer. We have weekly meetings concerning progress and design solutions for several businesses.

We also talk about expectations on both sides and how we can help each other. We teach each other on areas that are unfamiliar to either party.

The client wanted to know what the most important job was for the user visiting the platform, so Online Department ran a workshop on the cycling team by conducting in-person interviews. They asked customers what they needed and how they decided where to go cycling, then helped create the vision of the project by providing the results from that workshop.

How many resources were assigned to your project?

Initially, there was just one strategist on the cycling team, then 4-5 months later we added a junior designer to create wireframes and templates. We’ve also collaborated on different projects and started a course with Online Department. We’ve decided that creating a common language and vision for the design team would be best, so each month we have a training day at Online Department where we learn about UX, efficient mapping, user story mapping, and interviewing.

We already have designers of various professional levels on staff, but everyone comes from a different background. We want the team to remain updated and on the same level as far as design trends and experience lingo goes.

How did you come to work with Online Department?

We met at a workshop where our companies got acquainted. We later asked three companies to give presentations of potential services in regards to a project we had coming up, and Online Department had a vision of SaaS or user-experience-as-a-service, so we talked to them about collaboration. They really add value to our company, and that’s the main reason we wanted to hire them over the competitors.

How much have you invested with Online Department?

We have spent between $300,000 and $500,000.

What is the status of this engagement?

We started working with them in January 2016, and the relationship is ongoing.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

Could you share any evidence that would demonstrate the productivity, quality of work, or the impact of the engagement?

Since January, the cycling platform has reached 1.5 million visitors and our complete website has 10 million sessions a month. The in-house stakeholders are very happy with the results because it shows that Online Department was truly invested in the project.

They currently give my team valuable training that helps us renew knowledge about UX. We do a lot of production, and this training helps us easily see the UX of an entire company. The impact my team has made is bigger than it was in the beginning of the year.

How did Online Department perform from a project management standpoint?

Communication is easy, and I have direct contact with the people working with us as well as the person who handles finances. They’re really a partner instead of just a supplier. We have a good relationship.

What did you find most impressive about Online Department?

Their key strength is UX and everything that comes with it, including research, workshops, and knowledge sharing. The customer is in the forefront of their minds with everything they do, and they work with a network of outside resources to achieve their goals. They have mentioned integrating coding and marketing materials into their business, but their main focus is UX.

Are there any areas Online Department could improve?

I once gave them feedback about one of their team members who wasn’t working out, and they resolved the situation. Time management was an issue occasionally, but especially on training days.

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

Ongoing UX Design for E-Learning Tool

“Online Department came up with a methodology that allows us … to measure impact before actually building something.”

Quality: 
4.5
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
4.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$10,000 to $49,999
 
Apr. 2017 - Ongoing
Project summary: 

Online Department is refining the user experience and graphic design of a platform that allows users to create online courses. The team also assists with product coaching, implementation, and evaluation.

The Reviewer
 
11-50 Employees
 
Rotterdam, Netherlands
Kasper Spiro
CEO, Easygenerator
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

Online Department’s flexibility stands out. They accommodate changes in the scope and adjust to schedule and location preferences. The team has also improved the process by recommending a method for forecasting product impact. However, implementing the new design is taking longer than expected.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

I’m the CEO of Easygenerator, a SaaS [Software-as-a-service] company that delivers an authoring solution for subject matter experts. We are in an emerging market. The product is live, and it’s being used in over 160 countries by thousands of people. It’s a live platform that we launched 2 ½ or 3 years ago, and it’s our core business.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with Online Department?

We are trying to sell our solution to people so they can create e-learning courses, which is a complicated task. The pitch that we have is that people can sign up without any training or coaching. We do have built-in support, but users can create courses without any learning curve.

We're now refining the platform and making sure it’s even better. The challenge is the improvement of an existing tool. I think our tool is fairly easy to use, but we know it should be much easier than what we were able to achieve by ourselves. That’s why we reached out to Online Department.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

They have a couple of services that we use, from UX [user experience] design and graphic design to coaching a product owner. We decided to start with the design since we wanted to improve the look and feel of the courses created with Easygenerator. For that, we started working with Online Department’s senior partners. They did the project management and coached the product owner. We worked with one of the graphic designers to create the design and a couple of other things.

During the project, we found that they are better on certain items than we are. As a result, we decided to change our structure by integrating Online Department’s services into our approach. They would still coach a product owner in deciding what to build and what not to build because this ensures the course will have value for our customers. Online Department’s team also helps create user stories. We just started working with their user interface designer, who delivers wireframes. Our own graphic designer will do the design and their graphic designer will review it to make sure it’s at the right level. That’s basically what we do now with them. We started this process 2 weeks ago.

How did you come to work with Online Department?

We’re a relatively small startup, and the only people that we could hire wanted a full-time job. Unfortunately, we don’t have enough work for full-time staff. Then, we started talking to about 20 agencies. We had 2 really nice conversations with the guys at Online Department, which was important.

A small detail is that we’re located in Rotterdam, and our development department is in Ukraine. By default, they work from our office, which I really like. That allows for easy integration with the marketing and sales team in addition to the development team, which is really important. The goal is to not only improve the product, but also my teams. I think they can learn more in that way, so those things were really important to me.

How much have you invested with Online Department?

The whole contract has a budget of about €30,000 [$34,255]. We’ve spent roughly 1/3 of that in the first 3 months. We also have an hourly rate for certain functions.

What is the status of this engagement?

I think our partnership started in March or April of 2017, and the relationship is ongoing.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

Could you share any evidence that would demonstrate the productivity, quality of work, or the impact of the engagement?

The whole redesign took 2–3 months, and we really loved the results. It only needs to be implemented by our development team, and that is where we went wrong. Unfortunately, we’re still struggling to see how we can implement their work. It’s a big thing that will take a year to build, which is not an option. This means that it didn’t have any direct business impact so far, which I don’t like.

As of last week, Online Department has become an integral part of our day-to-day work. Since we work in 1-week sprints, that means the first result of their work will be in the product this Thursday. That’s when we can start seeing and measuring the impact they have on our users. That was something we didn’t do well, which I partly blame myself for, but it’s also something they could have done better. Now, I think we have an approach that I prefer. It is much more effective for us and much more agile.

What I really like about Online Department is their flexibility, which means their knowledge has an impact on our product pretty quickly. Their flexibility helped me change the project without changing the contract. They have a proven track record of working with companies like ours.

How did Online Department perform from a project management standpoint?

They perform very well. We have a very simple approach. Each Wednesday, a couple of their guys work at our office. We did struggle a bit because Wednesday is also a very busy day for our development team. It’s the last day of the sprint, and they have to do stand-ups and retrospectives. They were really flexible about that. I think they do a great job here, and I’m happy about that.

What did you find most impressive about Online Department?

The guy in charge of project management and coaching came up with different approaches we could use. We design new things, and we come up with innovations. It is hard to get a feeling for how much value they will add to the business, so it’s sort of an educated guess. Fortunately, Online Department came up with a methodology that allows us, with very simple and short efforts, to measure impact before actually building something. That is something I really like, and we’ve implemented it for all the innovations that we are doing. Since I’m a bit distant from product development, it gives me much more insight. More importantly, it helps us make decisions on what to build or what not to build.  

Another thing, the guy that was working with us as a graphical designer is extremely good. He could do designs maybe 10 or 20 times faster than my own designer, and they were better as well. Although he was a bit more expensive, it was much more productive and cheaper in the end.

Are there any areas Online Department could improve?

I think that working with a remote team is a challenge, especially for communication. Aside from having cultural and time differences, we also had a conflict of interest. We solved that by getting some people to The Netherlands and getting them in 1 room. I think that could have been better. The other thing is the fact that we created something that is very hard for us to implement in a relatively short time. We should have found a much more agile way for that than we did. With their experience, they should have seen that coming and advised us a bit better.

5.0
Overall Score I really like it.
  • 5.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
    This was excellent.
  • 4.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
    I did a project with another company before. In comparison, Online Department delivers much more value.
  • 4.5 Quality
    Service & deliverables
    I’m really happy with them, but there’s always room for improvement.
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer
    I will definitely refer them.

UI Design for HR SaaS Startup

"They have a good balance of work and pleasure, and they deliver what is needed."

Quality: 
4.0
Schedule: 
4.0
Cost: 
4.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
Confidential
 
Feb. 2015 - May 2016
Project summary: 

Online Department migrated a partner-to-partner web portal from Drupal to Sitecore. Their work included frontend and backend development as well as UI/UX design. A critical service was ideating site navigation.

The Reviewer
 
11-50 Employees
 
Amsterdam, Netherlands
CTO, SaaS company
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

The user interface can make or break a web portal, and Online Department’s UI work has allowed the platform to flourish. The team excels when they’re working with a small group of passionate people; they are committed to great design. They were quick to course-correct when asked to.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

I’m the CTO of a partner-to-partner collaboration platform that works closely with Microsoft Partner Network. We make sure that Microsoft’s partners can find other partners with whom to collaborate.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with Online Department?

We were trying to create a second version of our P2P platform. The first one was created in Drupal, and we chose to make a technology switch to Sitecore for the second version. We needed a UX/UI designer to help with delivering the right user experience on our platform.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

We needed both front and backend developers experienced in Sitecore, as well as the involvement of people who understood the user interface part of creating a web portal. We didn’t have the knowledge internally, so we asked around to get recommendations. Online Department was the company that we chose to help us with this part of the project.

To start, we had ideation sessions about the user experience and customer journey creation. They moved into interaction and visual designs, and they conducted interviews with our members to get a feel for what the members liked. They did both the design and the development for the frontend, and another company supplied the backend developers.

I wanted all the development done in the same location, so I asked them to always be on-site to work with the backend developers and co-create the website. We had six to eight people sitting in one room together, going through the process of delivering the designs. On the other side, there was we were doing the planning, making sure the front and backend components all connected.  

How did you come to work with Online Department?

They were referred to us through Caesar Experts, which was the company that did the backend development. We had some talks with them, and we were happy with their involvement in the end. I think we looked at three agencies at the time, but Online Department gave us the best feel about what they were doing.

What is the status of this engagement?

I think we started working together in February or March of 2015, and we completed our engagement with them in May of 2016 when we brought the design work in-house.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

Could you share any evidence that would demonstrate the productivity, quality of work, or the impact of the engagement?

Their work has had a huge impact on our business. They designed the whole user interface. We’re a partner collaboration platform, so the user interface is very important. If it’s bad, you don’t get any members, and we’re still successfully in the market. It’s getting better and better, and a lot of that is because we had the right people to design the user experience.

The feedback from our users is always very positive. They say it’s a clean interface, easy to understand and use, and visually appealing. We’re very happy with that.

How did Online Department perform from a project management standpoint?

It took several months before we had a good working process. We started with people not being on-site, and I realized that didn’t really work for us. They were very open to making changes, and they added a project manager after a few months. After that, our working relationship improved greatly, and we continued to improve the process bi-weekly throughout the rest of the project. I believe they’ve incorporated the process we worked out into other projects as well. They’re using what they learned on our project with their new customers. I think it was a learning experience at the start, but in the end, we had a really good process going on.

Part of the learning experience was deciding on a tool to use and setting up the workflow within the tool. We decided on InVision to share all the designs. We had good communication and feedback in that tool about the designs. We also used Visual Studio online for all the planning.

What did you find most impressive about Online Department?

I think it’s their passion and trust. That’s probably why we had a good relationship. I don’t like to get political in business. I just want people to tell the truth and take ownership, and that’s what they did. They’re very passionate about designing. They’re a good, small group of people with the same attitudes within their company. They have a good balance of work and pleasure, and they deliver what is needed.

Are there any areas Online Department could improve?

They could improve in project management, getting control of the project. Also, they were a bit thin on best practices in UX/UI work a few years ago, but I don’t know how that is at the moment. For me, it was going very well by the end of our project. If you’re doing small, passionate projects with a company like that, it works like a charm. If you’re doing a huge, political project with large companies, they might have a little difficulty in managing that. Passion and politics don’t always mix.

4.0
Overall Score
  • 4.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
    In the latter part of the project, we had good meetings and everyone was involved on-site. At the start, it took some time to set up a rhythm together.
  • 4.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
    They’re not the cheapest, but they do deliver.
  • 4.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
    It was a 3 out of 5 at the start, but a 5 out of 5 by the end, when we had a good process in place.
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer
    I would definitely refer them to anyone for UX/UI work.