We simplify lives through digital technology.

We specialize in developing, designing, and reimagining complex web applications for established companies. Whether it's a customer-facing website that needs an update, an internal tool that could benefit from a workflow redesign, or an existing app that needs ongoing maintenance – we make it happen.

 
$50,000+
 
$150 - $199 / hr
 
10 - 49
 Founded
2002
Show all +
Portland, OR
headquarters
  • Planet Argon
    3530 N. Vancouver Ave, Ste 300
    Portland, OR 97227-1426
    United States
    + 1 503 847 9214
other locations
  • Planet Argon
    United States

Portfolio

Key clients: 

Disney, American Express, SpendWell, AlphaClone, Contiki, Intel, Oregon State University, Screaming Circuits, McMenamins, Skoshbox, Meyer Memorial Trust, Kongregate, AppleGate

Screaming Circuits: Online Ordering Simplified for a Manufacturer

Screaming Circuits' business depends on a complex, logic-based form and ordering system for their customers. We rebuilt this order system to ensure accurate communication between several moving parts of their workflow. This project is built with Ember.js.

Click here for more information about our work with Screaming Circuits.

The Oregonian: A Redesigned Recipe Box Application

We partnered with The Oregonian's media team to reimagine and re-engineer a responsive directory of over 3,600 recipes to foster exploration and inspiration.

Click here for more information about our work with The Oregonian.

Skoshbox: An eCommerce Subscription Box

We partnered with Skoshbox, a delightful Japanese snack subscription box, to redesign and rebuild their order system and user interface.

The result was a more intuitive ordering workflow and tighter integration with their ecommerce tools, which enabled Skoshbox to scale their business exponentially.

Click here to read more about our work with Skoshbox.

Oregon Coast Aquarium: Oceanscape Educational Platform

Marsh Myers,  Oregon Coast Aquarium

The Oregon Coast Aquarium saw a unique opportunity to engage youth in exploring the natural world in a new online application called the Oceanscape Network. Part resource, part homework tool, part experiential app, the Oceanscape Network aims to connect kids and teenagers to science and nature. (Think encyclopedia of all things ocean.) But to develop this comprehensive site was no small undertaking. To make it a true network, we needed to create an application that would successfully enable functionality for the three main users of the site: teachers managing their classes, youth completing a scientific inquiry and using the network as a guide, and the Oregon Coast Aquarium staff keeping content not only fresh and engaging, but also organized and intuitive.

Click here to learn more about our work with the Oregon Coast Aquarium.

Meyer Memorial Trust: Low Maintenance Grantmaking

We crafted a re-engineered admin tool that streamlines processes for foundation staff and their constituents to help Oregon flourish.

Meyer Memorial Trust highlights how we recrafted their grant management software to streamline their work and better connect them to their constituents.

Click here to read more about our partnership with Meyer Memorial Trust.

Reviews

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Ember System Dev for Electronics Manufacturer

"They have an impressive ability to learn new technologies and implement them." 

Quality: 
4.5
Schedule: 
3.0
Cost: 
4.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
Confidential
 
Summer 2014 - 2015
Project summary: 

Planet Argon upgraded a website to support new electronic turnkey solutions, designing an engaging UX environment and implementing an automatic quoting system using Ember technology. 

The Reviewer
 
51-200 Employees
 
Oregon
Adriel Henderson
Web Applications Supervisor, Screaming Circuits
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

Through Planet Argon’s attentive organization and creative designs, the beta site attracted positive user feedback and provided a robust replacement to the older platform. The team’s collaborative approach, rapid turnaround time, and maintainable code contributed to a rewarding partnership. 

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

I’m the web application supervisor for Screaming Circuits, an electronics manufacturer. We assemble printed circuit boards [PCBs] for engineers who typically are doing a prototype of their new electronic product. We also do some short-run projects. I help run a small team in-house that works on the website applications.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with Planet Argon?

We wanted to update our aging website and reached out to Planet Argon for assistance. Our market had changed from just being an assembly house for circuit boards to more of a turnkey provider. More customers wanted to come to us and asked us to provide the board parts and assembly without requiring them to provide kits. We wanted to create a quoting process that was built around that service. Now, customers visit the website and can enter their specifications and upload their bill of materials. We will automatically quote the cost of the boards and assembly all in one piece and present different options for putting everything together. The quoting system is the central design of the website.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

We built the core of the website internally and put an API on the top. Then, we worked with Planet Argon to create the frontend of the website in Ember, which utilizes the API that we’d built internally. They led the design, and we took their deliverables, did some usability testing, and made modifications. It was a highly collaborative engagement. We are no longer working with Planet Argon. We’ve added to the site and handle the maintenance on our own.

What is the team dynamic?

We had the project manager, a designer, a user experience [UX] designer, Annie [Design Strategist, Planet Argon], and a visual designer at times. Annie was an integral part of the project and assisted throughout the process. We had at most three developers at a time on the project.

How did you come to work with Planet Argon?

I’d worked with Planet Argon on a previous engagement at a different company. I personally knew them and was impressed by their ability to create challenging projects with current technology. I knew they could help with our site, even though Ember was a technology they had not really used previously. Even though we looked at other vendor possibilities, the fact that I had previous experience was a big factor in selecting Planet Argon.

What is the status of this engagement?

We started working together in the summer of 2014 until the end of 2015.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

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

We had burndown charts to figure out what we needed to finish and when. As far as quality goes, we were constantly testing. We had a full-time tester on-site during the project. Anything that didn’t test well would go back into a ticket and get reworked. We also had a beta phase with our customers where we’d invite certain customers to use the beta site and share feedback. We eventually opened the entire beta site to anyone in order to collect more feedback. We monitored the usage until we felt the site was useful enough to serve as the primary website and then flipped the switch.

How did Planet Argon perform from a project management standpoint?

They provided continuous updates. We used Jira for ongoing collaboration and had weekly management-level meetings. Our two teams were raising tickets for each other and burning through them. It was a complex project with a lot of collaboration between teams. We did have to extend the timeline to allow for that. We had clear communication throughout the process.

What did you find most impressive about them?

They have an impressive ability to learn new technologies and implement them with high-quality code. Often, if you go to an ad agency and ask them to build a website, you end up with low-quality code that works but isn’t really maintainable. Planet Argon, as a true development house, produces code that’s engineered well and highly maintainable.

Are there any areas they could improve?

Planet Argon offers excellent development help. They have lots of energy and strong creative thinking. The project did become more complex than we first realized, and we had some timeline shifting, but that’s not anything surprising. The only drawback is that they’re a smaller group, so they can’t offer as many design resources for us to lean on. They have only one visual designer, which doesn’t offer the same richness that a large team could.

Do you have any advice for someone who is considering using Planet Argon?

After working with them twice, I’ve been deeply engaged each time. We’re local to Planet Argon, so I spent quite a bit of time on-site, which is highly valuable for a large, complicated project. The team works well with an agile methodology, doing small iterations until we get it right. Even in the design phase, just keep iterating until you hit your goals. 

4.5
Overall Score
  • 3.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
    They underestimated the complexity of the project at the beginning.
  • 4.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
    They are an excellent but somewhat expensive resource.
  • 4.5 Quality
    Service & deliverables
    Internal quality checking could have been stronger.
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer

Code Audit & Database Updates for State University

"They’re friendly and easy to talk to, with a knack for identifying the [best] resources."

Quality: 
4.0
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
4.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$50,000 to $199,999
 
Mar. 2015 - Ongoing
Project summary: 

Planet Argon assumed responsibility for an existing online reporting system when it outgrew internal oversight. They focus primarily on database administration and feature enhancement. 

The Reviewer
 
51-200 Employees
 
United States
Program Manager, State University
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

Planet Argon’s contributions have boosted widespread productivity, especially with the 125-150 data entry employees. They’re understanding of various internal constraints and have been reliable and responsive. Though they’ve experienced turnover, they manage the project well and scale effectively.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

I am a program coordinator for a large state university.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with Planet Argon?

We have an internal online reporting system for a large federal grant. It has been managed internally by the university over the last 10-or-so years. It outgrew our ability to keep it within our servers and manage it, and we started looking for a tech company which could help take this over, update it, and manage its database.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

When Planet Argon entered the project, the first chore was to perform a code audit, assess the program, how it worked, and to what degree it had been neglected. It required a number of fixes behind-the-scenes in order to make it more efficient, functional, and accurate. There was a continuous need on our end to extract reports and adjust them, but, as we worked with Planet Argon, they made changes and introduced efficiencies so that we could extract a report and not have to modify it. We could get our hands on the data we needed to report against the federal grant more efficiently.

Planet Argon cleaned some elements up and worked with us on storyboarding what an improvement would look like. This happened both on the backend, making a better user experience for our 50-year-old staff, but also allowing me, as a program manager, to get the type of data we wanted and needed for reporting to our funder. Requirements change each year, so Planet Argon helped us build the system such that we could better-respond in the way we were required. They made suggestions, giving us new restructuring ideas, and have been able to fix some of the issues which were invisible to me, but which have improved the overall functionality.

The website is intended for an educational outreach program centered on nutrition and physical activity which works with low-income families, adults, and youth. We’re using federal dollars for outreach in schools and the community, from food pantries to housing developments, any place where our target population might be found. We teach a series of classes, and also work on community engagement projects, like working with corner stores and getting them to provide healthier foods for the neighborhood. Everything being done by educators needs to be reported, whether it’s a series of lessons, or coalition meetings, in order to change what is being offered in the school cafeterias. It’s a statewide program, and it needs to be organized according to who is providing the service or education, and where. It’s a large database which has to capture this information and hold on to it for a number of years, for auditing purposes.

It was somewhat chaotic in places, but, once Planet Argon came on, they were able to help us keep it in a neater fashion. We had not put resources into it for a number of years.

I believe that the site was built with Ruby on Rails, and a part of the problem was finding someone able to work with this technology. We haven’t used Planet Argon for any other services. The site is mainly used for staff reporting, and doesn’t have a need for marketing or design services.

Because it’s still being housed on our university server, it has been too difficult for Planet Argon to interface with it and make changes, given its different protections. They have been setting up an outside server for the program, which has made it easier for them to work on the system.

Right now, we are working with 3 people from Planet Argon’s team, including a project manager who assigns the different fixes needed. Another person is working on migrating the server, and the 3rd is in charge of basic fixes and adjustments.

How did you come to work with Planet Argon?

I went online and looked for a company with Ruby on Rails expertise, and which was local to me. I wanted the ability to meet in person, and Planet Argon was the first option I came across. I contacted them, received a quick response, and we got together to talk about what we needed. We didn’t contact any other companies.

How much have you invested with Planet Argon?

The code audit has had a budget of between $100,000 and $150,000, including the work in the upcoming year.

What is the status of this engagement?

We started working with Planet Argon in March 2015, and have an ongoing collaboration.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

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

I couldn’t provide any quantitative information, but we certainly have happier employees. There are 125-150 people using the system, who have really appreciated the efficiencies in the data entry. We have a lot of data to handle, which takes up much of their time.

How did Planet Argon perform from a project management standpoint?

They’re easy to get in touch with, responsive, and never seemed to get crabby. The project management has gone well, with our only challenge being that Planet Argon has had a significant turnover. Because our project is so complex, it takes time for the new people to become familiar with it, and navigate the work. They have been able to become familiar with our system well.

What did you find most impressive about Planet Argon?

They’re friendly and easy to talk to, with a knack for identifying the resources who are best fit to interact with us. There will be some team members who are focused on tech stuff, which makes it hard to have a conversation and understand what they’re talking about, or vice versa. Planet Argon has been sensitive to this, and they’ve made sure that we have access to a person who can translate.

Are there any areas Planet Argon could improve?

The staff turnover has meant that, when the people who came to understand our system and form a relationship with us leave, it will be hard for us. I certainly don’t hold this against Planet Argon, because people simply move on. The company tries hard to reestablish the team to our satisfaction. It’s been a difficult issue, and it’s one of the reasons why Planet Argon is going through the process of marketing its program so that there will be more constant employees in place.

5.0
Overall Score
  • 5.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
  • 4.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
  • 4.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
    I don’t have any comparison points, but Planet Argon has been prompt, and have done a very nice job.
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer

Custom Redevelopment for Online Retailer

"They were really excited about everything we did and [were] very supportive."

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
4.5
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$50,000 to $199,999
 
Nov. 2014 - Aug. 2016
Project summary: 

Planet Argon developed a site to handle a subscription box service and recurrent billing, among other requirements. They modernized an older version entirely and incorporated new admin features.

The Reviewer
 
11-50 Employees
 
Torrance, California
CFO
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

Planet Argon focused heavily on the end user experience. They took time to understand and visualize company goals, and then creatively fulfilled those requirements. The project team was actively involved, communicative, and available regularly for changes and routine project updates.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

I’m the CEO/CFO of a subscription box company that ships boxes of Japanese snacks to our customers every month. We also work with Japanese snack manufacturers to host promotions and collect marketing data for them.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with Planet Argon?

At the time, no one in our company was able to create a website from the ground-up. We were working with some out-of-the-box website providers, just “duct-taping” some plugins and extensions together. With the volume of business we were doing, it was no longer sustainable. We weren’t in a position to hire a full-time developer, so we reached out to Planet Argon, who had some experience with the subscription management system we used. We asked them to build an entire website from the ground up.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

We migrated the subscription management portion of our site to more of an enterprise-level service. Planet Argon connected the subscription management, or the recurring billing, to the rest of the subscriber features. It wasn’t so much replicating, but building a better version of what we had before. The payment part of the system remained the same and they rebuilt the rest of it.

They have several people specializing in certain topics, so we worked with four or five at one time. We had a project manager as well. In addition to the subscription platform, they also connected the website to a shipping aggregator to generate the shipments, ensure they go out on time, and ensure the proper products go out to our customers.

How did you come to work with Planet Argon?

When we were on our old platform, it wasn’t sustainable, so we decided to move our subscribers to a new subscription management system, Chargify, which is more of an enterprise-level subscription management system. We reached out to Chargify to get recommendations on developers for the actual website. They had worked with Planet Argon in the past and recommended them. We did reach out to several other companies, but Planet Argon was the best fit, so we decided to go with them.

How much have you invested with Planet Argon?

I believe it was a little north of $250,000.

What is the status of this engagement?

We started working together in November or December 2014, and the project wrapped up in August 2016.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

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

Rather than just listening to us and doing whatever we asked them to, they really took the time to understand our business and our target market. They were able to provide recommendations and work with us as partners, rather than just a vendor, to really build the best experience for our customers.

Recently, we were acquired by another company, which is why we stopped working with Planet Argon. As a result, we’re off that platform now, so I don’t have any numbers. Without the website that Planet Argon created for us, I don’t think we would have been in a position to be acquired, so it played a pretty big part.

How did Planet Argon perform from a project management standpoint?

At the beginning of the project, we took a week or two to really understand each other. After that, we had an update meeting every week for about 30 minutes so that we were on the same page. Maybe once a quarter, we would have a much longer discussion on where the company was going, if we’d changed any strategies, what we wanted to do in the short and long term. We had a lot of communication, and we used GoToMeeting. We also talked on the phone and through email. We utilized Google Docs and JIRA for project management.

What did you find most impressive about Planet Argon?

I would have to say it’s the communication. Compared to other vendors we’ve worked with, they are much more involved. They had actual interest in what we were doing. They were really excited about everything we did and very supportive.

Are there any areas Planet Argon could improve?

The only thing would be the estimates. When we started the project with them, we got a much lower estimate than what we ended up paying. To be fair, we did add a lot of new features. We were on a retainer basis, which maybe wasn’t the best approach. It could have been handled on a project basis rather than on retainer. They were very transparent in what they charged us, but the billing model could have been a little different for our project.

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

Platform Redevelopment for Philanthropy

"[We keep] going back to them [for] the quality of their work, how responsive they are, and their creativity."

Quality: 
4.5
Schedule: 
4.5
Cost: 
4.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
Confidential
 
2012 - Ongoing
Project summary: 

Planet Argon rebuilt a custom database and grant application portal. New features include payment processing, document sharing, and complete user histories. The team remains focused on further enhancements.

The Reviewer
 
11-50 Employees
 
Portland, Oregon
Director of Operations
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

Communication was nearly seamless and the project team exceptionally talented. Planet Argon takes a thoughtful approach to problem-solving and attempts to grasp the whole situation well before proposing ideas. The entire process was transparent and well-organized. 

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

We are a private grant-making foundation that awards grants to nonprofit organizations around the state. I am the director of operations.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenges were you trying to address with Planet Argon?

We previously used a PHP custom software application for grants management and a database that was very outdated and did not have the flexibility we needed. We began working with Planet Argon in 2013 on a broad scope project to overhaul the system in Ruby on Rails and improve the user design and interface.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

Planet Argon redesigned the whole database and grant application portal that included an admin side for staff to process grant applications, contracts, payments, and reporting. It’s the primary tool we use for all our work in the office, as well as communication with applicants.

Planet Argon started the project with two days of discovery, where they sat with everyone on our team to understand what we do and what we needed. They then decided on the team they needed to assemble for our project and developed a timeline. We worked with them for two years on this project and have retained them on subsequent contracts for system enhancements.

The composition of their team didn’t change over the course of the project, which is something I really appreciate. We’ve worked with other firms in the past where you’d get a new project manager almost every month. Olivia [Halfen, Senior Project & Account Manager] was our project manager from beginning to end, and we also had the same designer throughout the process and the same core engineers and programmers as well. We still, to this day, work with the same team of people we had back then, so there’s definitely continuity.

In our previous software, we had to get one of our programming staff members to build an application form for us every time we needed one. The new Planet Argon system now allows anyone on the operations team to go in and build a form on the fly. In 30 minutes, we can have an application posted, where it used to take weeks of programming to get that done.

On the applicant’s side, they can upload files and see their history, including submitted applications and reporting schedules. The groups no longer have to contact us to get this information; they can find all their history with us in one spot.

What is the status of this engagement?

We started working together in 2013, and our 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 number of applicants applying to us generally stays the same, but the Planet Argon redesign provides a better experience for our applicants and our staff. Staff members can log in and see the tasks assigned to them on the dashboard. Our old system didn’t have a workflow. Now they can log in and see the payments needing approval or a report they need to review. It’s all centralized now.

How did Planet Argon perform from a project management standpoint?

With Planet Argon, we broke everything down into iterations, because the project had such a large scope. They estimated what they thought it would be, but then as we finished each one, we’d re-scope and determine the next step. It was very clear along the way, and we could adjust as needed.

We also really like the communication style. During certain parts of the project, we had a weekly call either by phone or video. They’d come to our office when needed, or we’d go there. We never had to guess what was going on. We also used their dashboard system so we could keep track of the project as well. The communication was impeccable.

What did you find most impressive about Planet Argon?

The things that keep us going back to them are the quality of their work, how responsive they are, and their creativity. They really take the time to understand what you’re doing and what you’re trying to solve before they throw options at you. I consider them a partner. They’re not trying to sell you something you don’t need. 

Are there any areas Planet Argon could improve?

We had open communication along the way. Sometimes there would be a little confusion about who is doing what piece of the work, as our internal team would also work on projects. Because we had regular communication, though, that was always addressed as soon as it came up. It was never a surprise.

What tips or recommendations could you share that might increase the likelihood of success with Planet Argon?

From my experience, you can find multiple firms that would have the same technical expertise. It’s important to find the group who is the right cultural fit with how your team works, and definitely the firm that’s in alignment with your vision for the project, especially if it’s a large one. You’re going to need to work with these people for an extended period of time, in our case two years. Make sure you’re philosophically aligned with the firm.

5.0
Overall Score
  • 4.5 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
    Nobody’s perfect on everything.
  • 4.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
    It is expensive, but it’s a good value.
  • 4.5 Quality
    Service & deliverables
    Almost a 5.
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer

Product & Corporate Site Dev for Investment Management Startup

"Planet Argon is very much a part of my team."

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
4.5
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
Confidential
 
Feb. 2008 - Ongoing
Project summary: 

Planet Argon built a custom solution meant to analyze SEC disclosure data. A corresponding site was then developed for marketing purposes. Platform improvement continues, unabated. 

The Reviewer
 
1-10 Employees
 
San Francisco, California
Founder & CEO, Investment Research Firm
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

The developed platform now managed $200M worth of investments, which demonstrates how quickly customers have adopted it. Planet Argon brings exceptional customer service to the table and uncompromising responsiveness.  

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

We’re an investment research firm. We apply a very specific research methodology that requires number crunching in computer intensity and develop investment strategies based on that data. My firm specializes in utilizing SEC [US Securities and Exchange Commission] disclosures from large investors, hedge funds, and institutional investors, who have to disclose their holdings on a quarterly basis. We take that information, decide what is useful and what is not, and build strategies from the information that we think is useful. I’m the founder and CEO.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with Planet Argon?

When we first became a company in December of 2008, what we had was a research product. Since then, we pivoted and became an investment firm, not a research firm. We registered with the SEC as an investment firm in 2010 and developed our investing strategies and started applying them on behalf of our clients. In 2012, we started deploying exchange-traded funds based on our strategies and no longer offered the research product. However, the research product that we developed is the underpinning behind how we develop our strategies today, and we couldn’t do our job without it.

The original idea behind my firm was to develop a research product that exploited the data set that we were using and to offer that product to users who pay the subscription fee. We hired Planet Argon to help us build a web-based and in-the-cloud research platform. 

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

One of the things that I love about them is their ability to service what we need, when we need it, even as our needs changed. For example, when we first deployed, we needed to build out the research platform and the research product. Then, we needed to build a marketing site—the face of the website. We went through a couple of iterations of that. Over the years, we’ve added new features and capabilities to the research platform. They’ve been very flexible and always high-quality, no matter what they’re working on.

The research site is really where the bulk of the development has happened over the last eight years. Essentially, what we’ve built is a platform that simulates investing in a particular way based on a certain set of rules. They have developed and coded that capability within the simulation platform. There’s a GUI [graphical user interface] with graphs and tables, so it is very user-friendly. You can’t see it because it’s not on the marketing site, but that is where the bulk of the coding has been.

None of the requirements were determined before hiring them. They were early proponents and advocates of Agile development. Not being a software development expert myself, Agile development really appealed not only to me but also to where we were in terms of defining the requirements of the software. You didn’t have to define everything up front at once; you could develop in an emergent way. That was really perfect for us.

I didn’t have a hand in putting the team together at Planet Argon. Back then, they were a small team. It’s interesting that the people on the senior side who were involved from day one are still involved in my project today. Although there have been several developers over the years, all of them have come up quickly and have done very well.

How did you come to work with Planet Argon?

There were other companies under consideration at the time. Like anyone looking to develop software, we searched overseas as well. I decided that a local team would help reduce the risk in the project quite a bit, especially one that was close to me. I’m based in San Francisco, and the folks at Planet Argon are based in Portland. So, they were über-accessible. Again, since the requirements were emergent, I thought it was important for the teams to be close to each other.

What is the status of this engagement?

The first line of code was written in February of 2008. They’ve been on retainer every day since then. 

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

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

We’re an investment firm, so we don’t measure ourselves by the number of visitors that come to our website. We’re an asset manager now, so we keep track of performance by the number of dollars that are being managed through our strategies, and the high-water mark in August of 2015 was over $200 million. I don’t have any internal teams, and they’re the only team I have used in this respect, so I can’t compare their performance to other suppliers.

Expectations made at the beginning of the contract were kept most of the time. That is the cool thing about Agile. It helps manage the promises/expectations dynamic. They were always very upfront with no sugarcoating. If they said that they could do something in an iteration, they always did it. If I asked for too much, they would be realistic and explain that we would need to divide this into two iterations. That really helped the process move along quicker because there were no dashed hopes or fixes.

How did Planet Argon perform from a project management standpoint?

I interact with them as needed. Another cool thing about them is that they use tools like Atlassian and JIRA to make communication and tracking tickets really efficient between us. I can communicate with whoever I need to on a particular issue. All of the communication is monitored by everyone who needs to know at the same time, and that really helps with efficiency.

I’ve visited them on-site a couple of times. I try to make it up there at least once a year. I found it to be a beneficial exercise. It’s always good to meet the people that are working on your project.

What did you find most impressive about Planet Argon?

The senior people running the show are really special. In the software world, it is really easy to get mired in difficult processes: either the teams are overseas, or there is a lack of communication, or you get lost in the shuffle between clients with the larger agencies here in the US. Planet Argon is very much a part of my team. I consider them almost like employees and partners. That’s the big difference-maker when you’re dealing with software development studios and teams. They’ve been there since day one, so I couldn’t recommend them more.

Are there any areas Planet Argon could improve?

Nothing comes to mind at this time. 

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
    I’m extremely happy to recommend them and have done so many times.

Custom Development for Food & Beverage Retailer

"I’ve never seen any firm work with clients the way they do."

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
4.0
Cost: 
4.5
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
Confidential
 
June 2016 - Ongoing
Project summary: 

Planet Argon replaced a desktop site and its static mobile counterpart with a single, responsive website. The project team then helped update the aesthetics to coincide with a rebranding effort and optimized the site’s UX.

The Reviewer
 
51-200 Employees
 
Bridgewater, New Jersey
Digital Media Manager, Applegate
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

Transparency and budget/timeline management are strengths. Another highlight is Planet Argon’s unusual ability to convey complicated, technical details in an intelligible and relatable way.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

I’m the digital media manager at Applegate, a natural and organic meat company. I oversee all the digital assets, including our website, digital coupons, and email marketing.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with Planet Argon?

We had been running a static mobile site and a desktop site for some time now, and it created a lot of redundancies. We hired Planet Argon to move us from two versions to one responsive site. At the same time, we were also undergoing a major rebranding, which meant updating our logos, our packaging, and our general feel. The third component was optimizing our website’s user experience in certain critical areas.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

Planet Argon delivered the whole responsive site, as well as maintaining the integration of our third-party applications while keeping a cohesive look and feel. This included our native product locator, product locator widgets on our detail pages, our help center, and our product review platform. Our current site is static, so we worked with Planet Argon to create a streamlined, seamless product. They did a great job creating more dynamic fields. We turned some image fields into text fields so that we could have more control over them. The other major component was a style guide, which we asked them to produce for us so that we could reference it after the project was completed. The guide will help us keep the site cohesive stylistically on an ongoing basis. The whole team was comprised of a product manager, one to three frontend developers, two backend developers, one designer, and one design strategist.

How did you come to work with Planet Argon?

Our developer found them, actually. As soon as we spoke with them, we knew that we had chemistry. We selected them over other firms for a number of reasons, but one key reason was that they were flexible with our needs. They usually work with Bootstrap, but we wanted to stick with our current CMS structure, which is Foundation. They were great with letting us do that.

What is the status of this engagement?

We started working with them in June of 2016. We flew a team out to meet them in Oregon before we got started. We’re currently in the final stages of the product. The bulk of the work is done, but we’re going to continue working with them throughout the year for any needs that arise.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

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

They’ve been such a pleasure to work with. There was one critical staffing change during the middle of the project, but there was barely a bump in the road at all. They’re also really transparent about progress and budget. I really love working with them. I’ve worked with a lot of vendors in my time at Applegate, and I wish I had more like them. We’ve had a really good experience. I especially admire their commitment to their client’s experience.

How did Planet Argon perform from a project management standpoint?

We used a ticketing system through JIRA, so we were able to keep track of progress on sometimes as many as 230 separate ticket items at any given time. Every week, we got budget updates and progress reports. We met weekly as well to hammer out each ticket item.

What did you find most impressive about Planet Argon?

I’ve worked with developers in the past, and it’s not always a seamless experience. I found that Planet Argon had a unique blend of strong technical expertise coupled with strong customer service and interpersonal fluency. I’ve never seen any firm work with clients the way they do. They’re able to execute all the technical items, but then also go through and communicate what they’re doing to someone like me who doesn’t have the technical knowledge they do. They also have people with cross-functional skills. Their lead graphic designer has years of development experience, so he was able to provide guidance about decisions we were making that weren’t in our best interest. For instance, not choosing a particular style that would limit us down the road or cause potential issues. The team really had to train some of us on responsive design and creative treatments and walk us through the backend process. They did a great job communicating effectively.

Are there any areas Planet Argon could improve?

I will say that we spent too much time in the initial creative exploration process. We came in having done our own wireframes and design work, so we knew what we wanted for the most part, but we opened the door for them to spend a lot of time in that exploratory stage. That pushed back our timelines—we initially planned to launch at end of December, but we pushed into February. It also meant that we overshot our internal budget forecasting a bit. I will say that we opened the door for this exploration initially. I think it was a learning curve for all who were involved, as the ultimate outcome resulted in a beautiful product—a fusion of our initial designs and a smarter UX approach.

5.0
Overall Score
  • 4.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
    We planned on being wrapped up by December, but we needed more time internally as well as with them.
  • 4.5 Cost
    Value / within estimates
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
    I think the Planet Argon team is a truly unique group. I would recommend them to anyone with a massive project to complete.
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer

Long Term Dev Engagement for Real Estate Tech Firm

"They're really top-notch as far as communication is concerned."

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
5.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$50,000 to $199,999
 
Mar. 2014 - Ongoing
Project summary: 

Planet Argon maintains an existing database designed to manage real estate. They also replicated an e-commerce platform meant to market/sell vacant land; and it evolves as the business grows.

The Reviewer
 
11-50 Employees
 
Portland, Oregon
Vice President
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

Assigned developers are more qualified and reliable than any of those hired from other suppliers. Clients can expect weekly progress reports and meticulously detailed documentation, which helps prevent project derailment.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

We run a real estate e-commerce business that sells vacant land. I’m the vice president.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with Planet Argon?

We had an existing Ruby on Rails backend and we had been struggling to find new, experienced Ruby developers to work on it. We had our own internal developer, and then after about 2 months, we let our employee go. Instead of getting a contractor or hiring another Ruby developer internally, we decided to try an agency for our ongoing development.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

Behind that website, we have an enormous backend that populates our website but it also runs workflows for a lot of different things. They have made a lot of improvements and upgrades to that system. One big project they did was a customer preference center. Customers would get an email every time a new property is marked ready, which is a feature we didn’t have before. Another big project that they did was moving our whole frontend onto Rails from WordPress. Now, we are able to have more flexibility with our frontend. They dealt with the problems in the legacy backend and they’ve done a great job of navigating it. They also upgraded our versions of Rails and Bootstrap. They have made sure the whole system is in better shape. There are staging and testing processes that we didn’t have before.

We have an assigned project manager. We’ve always had between 2–3 developers and a frontend person occasionally. That’s 2–3 backend developers that are familiar with our system. When we have a frontend need, a frontend person will jump in. We are mostly interacting with 1–2 points of contact.

How did you come to work with Planet Argon?

They were one of multiple possible partners that we approached and considered. I found them online and they happened to be local to us. It wasn’t a necessity to be local, but they were. I liked the vetting process with them. They had been around a while so they weren’t here today, gone tomorrow. I also liked that they employ their developers. It wasn’t one guy that said he had an agency and then he hires out a bunch of contractors. It was a real agency where they have all their developers on their payroll. To me, that’s a sign of a successful agency, and that was one of the reasons I chose them. It was the best fit for us.

How much have you invested with Planet Argon?

We’ve spent at least $150,000 on their services. It was slow at first; we were starting with a monthly retainer that was small. We’ve done both retainer and project work with them, and we’ve done some projects alongside our retainer. I feel like they do tackle things to be as efficient with your budget as possible.

What is the status of this engagement?

It’s been over two years since we began. We’ve been working with them every month with a steady retainer.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

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

I’m sure someone else could have done some of it, but I feel like they are very efficient. They are on top of things.

How did Planet Argon perform from a project management standpoint?

They do weekly progress reports and set up JIRA for communication. I’ve worked with other agencies that are not as attentive where stuff just rolls week to week but nothing really gets done. As far as making real progress, they are way more on top of it compared to other agencies that I’ve used. They are checking things off and getting through tickets instead of working on a lot of things without getting anything finished. In retainer work, sometimes a lot can happen but not a lot gets done. That’s one area where they stand out—they can actually get something finished.

What did you most impressive about Planet Argon?

They're really top-notch as far as communication is concerned. Like I said, in my experience, I’ve had poor agency work that is not as defined and specific. They follow through and document everything, meticulously. I’ve appreciated the reporting and follow-through.

Are there any areas Planet Argon could improve?

None. I don’t have any issues.

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