A creative agency for meaningful digital projects.

Plank is an award-winning digital studio based in Montreal. Since 1998, we have committed ourselves to making the web a better place and providing personalized service to our clients. Our group of experienced and enthusiastic digital craftspeople are the heart of our agency. In fact, we’re more than a team, we’re a collective, and we thrive on working together to find the best solutions for your digital projects.

 
$10,000+
 
$100 - $149 / hr
 
10 - 49
 Founded
1998
Show all +
Montreal, Canada
headquarters
  • Plank
    372 Ste-Catherine West, Suite 101
    Montreal H3B 1A2
    Canada
other locations
  • Plank San Francisco, CA
    United States

Portfolio

Key clients: 

evenko, Osheaga, Rush, The Sun Magazine, Juno Beach Centre, Bioware & Concordia University

Reviews

Sort by

Web Redesign for Historical Museum

"They became our digital partner and really helped us craft this virtual exhibit from day one."

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
4.5
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$10,000 to $49,999
 
Sept. 2015 - Ongoing
Project summary: 

Plank updated and debugged code for a nonprofit museum's website. The focus then shifted to redesigning special virtual exhibit and donation pages. Functional improvements to the CMS are also a major priority. 

The Reviewer
 
11-50 Employees
 
Toronto, Canada
Former Executive Director, Historical Museum
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

The team was able to drastically increase end-user access to key features. Plank diligently set timelines and briefings, ensuring that communication was frequent and the project well organized. They provided in-depth development suggestions, along with pros and cons for each option. 

BACKGROUND

Please describe your organization.

I was the Executive Director for a small non-profit museum in Canada.  I also handled our web presence and any digital projects that we were working on.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What business challenge were you trying to address with Plank?

When I took over this role 4 years ago, our website was outdated and Flash-based. Little thought had been given about user experience or the type of information for which people were coming to our website. We built a new website with another company and realized that, while they had done a decent job, we were still unsatisfied with the user experience. Because of this, we switched over to Plank about eight months after the site was built.

SOLUTION

Please describe the scope of their involvement.

Plank took over from the company who designed the site and used all pre-existing code. They made some initial general updates to the website and took over managing the different features.  We had an online store and we also accepted online donations. We worked with the project manager and Warren [Founder, Plank] to fix the UI/UX and try to anticipate who was using the website, what they wanted to do, and we could bring those things to the very forefront of the site. 

The biggest project I worked on with Plank was as a part of a grant from the Canadian government to build a virtual exhibit. It was something we partnered with Plank on before we pitched it to the funders. For the project, they became our digital partner and really helped us craft the virtual exhibit. 

How did you come to work with Plank?

We sent out an RFP for the original website, to which Plank responded, along with various other companies. We went with a fast and easy solution and I’ve spent the last three years kicking myself for not hiring Plank right away. While we wanted to work with them, their price point was a little bit higher and our board of directors went with the cheapest option. Unfortunately, the cheapest option isn’t always the website that you need in the long-term. It was through that process that I met Warren [Founder, Plank] and some of his team members. Warren and I started talking about this digital project that we wanted to do together. Even though that RFP process didn’t pan out, we started working on this huge virtual exhibit and it was through that I was able to say, “Hey, do you remember that RFP? Can you come back and fix the problem?” We became a client of theirs through the process of partnering with them.

Could you provide a sense of the size of this initiative in financial terms?

We have spent about $20,000-$25,000 for the year.

What is the status of this engagement?

We started working with them August 2013. In September 2015 we pitched and were successful in our grant to the Canadian government. The organization has continued working with Plank since.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

Could you share any statistics or metrics from this engagement?

We felt the impact of it almost immediately. We received fewer calls about how to get to the museum and you could see traffic increase substantially to the pages that had that information. The response from educators and studentes who were using the site was overwhelmingly positive. Plank streamlined functionality and we definitely saw an increase not only in our online sales but also our online donations. After the re-design, people could actually find the donation page and the online store, which is a big improvement.

How did Plank perform from a project management standpoint?

The team at Plank is professional and well organized. They set out timelines for all of the work and we had weekly check-ins. We were in constant communication throughout the production phase. There was never a time we didn't know what was happening. For a team that works on so many different projects, it’s impressive that they can still meet their deadlines and keep us in the loop. I dealt with everyone from the founders to the managers and developers.

We were made aware of everyone’s function, which was important to us in working with a digital agency. In Plank’s case, they wanted us to understand who everybody was and what they were bringing to the project. It all funnelled through the main project manager, who was excellent, organized, and communicative and was available anytime we had an issue.  

What did you find most impressive about them?

They were terrific at explaining all of their decisions - from design to why we should use a certain platform over another one. One of the sites was built with WordPress.  I can’t remember the other CMS that we used, but they wanted to build good looking web properties that would last; with a plan like, “Here’s what this technology can do. Here’s how long you have and here’s how we’re going to work with you to maintain it in hopefully years and years that it’s going to exist.” Plank wants to build websites that are going to last and work. 

They were very gracious about working with the other company’s code and made some really great fixes to the site. Plank provided a real solution to meet the needs of both the museum part of our busines and also the nonprofit. A lot of the website's UX/UI was muddied beforehand and when Plank came in, they really simplified things and broke down exactly what people were coming to the website for. 

I’m most proud of our work on the virtual exhibit because it looks amazing and it really is an example of non-profits and digital studios working together to build really slick, useful, and educational online tools.

Is there anything Plank could have improved or done differently?

Honestly, I’m a huge fan of theirs. I worked with my fair share of web companies and Plank is the one that we continue to have a positive relationship with because they focus on ensuring customer satisfaction. I can’t name an area of improvement because I feel like they’re constantly fine tuning their own work in ways their clients don't realize or see. I really respect what they do. 

Do you have any recommendations for others considering working with Plank?

I would recommend them for anyone that has a digital product but not the expertise to get them off the ground. Plank can work with and improve existing web properties. We’re on a monthly retainer, which I would recommend to any non-profit. If you’re going to have a website, invest in your digital presence and maintain it like you would any other asset.

5.0
Overall Score And they’re not paying me. It was an amazing experience compared to experiences I’ve had with others. They’re great at what they do. I’m a happy customer.
  • 5.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
  • 4.5 Cost
    Value / within estimates
    For cost I would give them a 4, but for value I would give them a 5. They are a little bit expensive, but worth it.  
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer
    Can you give them a 10 for that? Absolutely 5. I already have done so.

Web Development for Non-Profit Literary Magazine

"Every meeting in which I presented... was derailed because people wanted to keep exploring the site built by Plank."

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
4.0
Cost: 
5.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
Confidential
 
June 2015 - Ongoing
Project summary: 

Plank is designing and developing an update for an exisiting non-profit literary site. The team worked on creating a custom CMS, metered paywall, and subscription options.

The Reviewer
 
11-50 Employees
 
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Digital Media Director, Literary Magazine
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

The new site is clean and better displays the site’s offerings. Plank takes feedback seriously in both their work and their management, making changes accordingly. The team sets accurate deadlines for deliverables and produced great design work.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

We are a small non-profit literary magazine based out of Chapel Hill, North Carolina. We publish interviews, essays, short stories, poetry and black-and-white photography. The magazine is completely reader-supported and ad-free. We don’t run any ads from third parties. I am the digital media director, which means that I am a project manager for all our online activities, including the website, social media, email marketing and IT tech support for the staff.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with Plank?

We’ve been working with them for longer than I’ve been here. I did initiate a project with Plank a couple of years ago, coming out of the same challenge which led us to reach out to them in the first place, namely that we needed a modern web platform for the material we publish in the magazine.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

We’re currently working on building a new website. Plank’s model involves having a project manager as a direct contact. He facilitates the work on their end. I have been in touch with a designer, a frontend developer and a couple of backend developers for our project, but I can’t speak to the specific number of people involved. It’s significantly more efficient for us to have one point of contact who can translate between Plank and our group, in the same way as it is more convenient for our team to have me as a single point of contact, translating all the strange editorial requests we make.

On our legacy site, we would only run excerpts of material, and only seldom ran full text of the articles we publish. We undertook the new site with the aim to build a different access model. Plank has helped us implement a metered paywall for the articles we publish, so that we are loading in full texts, and governing access to them for the public, based on their subscription status.

We’ve been publishing since 1974, and have started working on loading in our full digital archive. Plank is building a custom CMS on Bolt. It accommodates the various needs and formats we’ve published over this 43-year span.

When we were discussing which platform to use for the CMS, we addressed our cross-referencing needs. The archive is indexed through around 100 keywords, but it’s also navigable by section (interviews, essays, fiction, and so on), and by contributor; users can check out all the work published by a given person.

When this is scaled out to 500 issues of the magazine, each of which with around 12 articles, 120 keywords and a few thousand contributors, WordPress will not be adequate; it will end up choking on the data calls. We landed on the Bolt CMS, on which Plank made some extensive modifications. It’s a more modern open-source content management system, designed to be more modular and flexible than some of the options we had been considering, prior to it.

There was also an e-commerce component to the site, but we ended up not using it. We had built subscription forms, as well as single-issue sale options. We have a book-publishing unit and rely on reader donations. Historically, we had all these siloed into individual sales arms, managed by the vendors which were fulfilling each independently. One of the goals for the site was to integrate all of this into a single unified e-commerce tool, which Plank did build, and had working well, but, near the end of our development process, we changed fulfillment vendors for the magazine, which made it much more difficult to accommodate the kind of unified platform we were building. Plank had relied on the APIs of our partners, so we were not able to use it, but it was key to the overall site vision.

How did you come to work with Plank?

We made a request for quote with a number of web vendors back in 2006-2007. We were taking our then-existent site from a minimal portal with half a dozen pages, including the About one, and a link where subscriptions could be ordered online. There was very little dynamic content, and we went from that to what can be seen right now: a full gallery of our back-issues with excerpted content from most of them, which is accessible and matches our minimalist aesthetic well.

This is as true today as it was then: Plank had an intuitive grasp of the magazine’s aesthetic and ethos, which they arrived at by being attentive to how we talk about and think about our publication. Plank wasn’t the cheapest option for the project, but they were the best fit.

What is the status of this engagement?

I believe we started working with Plank in 2007. The current project was started around 18 months ago and is 2 weeks away from launch.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

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

I am essentially the only staff in the magazine which will be working within the CMS. It was important that we be able to quickly and efficiently load in all archive material for new and back-issues. We have digital assets for much of this, but it was essentially material designed for print using Adobe InDesign. The HTML export tool available through that suite doesn’t lend itself to what we’re doing on the web, so we were looking at a great deal of intensive manual work to clean that code.

Plank was able to collect several samples and write an HTML cleanup script which looked for specific patterns in the InDesign export, generating clean outputs. This made it much easier to import into the site.

This is a hyper-specific example, but, more broadly, the site is incredibly readable, and it highlights the content of the magazine in a way which I believe will serve the material well, particularly the black-and-white photography. I’ve had to do demos for our staff and board; every meeting in which I presented the beta of the site was derailed because people wanted to keep exploring the site built by Plank.

How did Plank perform from a project management standpoint?

They have been responsive in some ways, and less so in others. When we identified the areas where we were not communicating well, Plank was willing to make corrections.

I’m a hands-on project manager on my end and want to know where things are in terms of progress on their end. Plank’s default is to collect as much information as possible upfront, and then do the work, bringing a finished product back to us. It’s a different work style, and we solved the issue by granting me access to their internal project management board, Trello. Plank also used Basecamp, at least for our projects, early on, in order to communicate what they needed and what their version of events was.

I can currently see the start-to-finish process and have been able to provide feedback during the process, which I’m sure is a bit tedious for them. It does help clarify things which are in progress and saves us work later on. We’re iterative in our feedback process, and, in terms of deadlines, Plank tends to get us what they promised, by the time they promised it, but both our parties have ultimately been surprised at the additional time taken for getting from that initial deliverable to something polished and carefully-edited in terms of text. We continue to adjust the timing of deadlines in response to this.

What did you find most impressive about Plank?

The main thing I’ve found striking (and this is coming from someone who is not a coder) is the design work. Plank is an integrated, start-to-finish development house, and they have a design team in-house which works hand-in-hand with the code team. This isn’t necessarily rare, but it does end up leading to a cleaner, better project. The design work done by Plank is really incredible.

They conformed to our set of guidelines, which was pretty broad, namely wanting the site to be deeply readable and to echo the aesthetic of the magazine itself, which is, as I said, ad-free and peppered with black-and-white photography, with very little color. Above all, we didn’t want to interrupt the reading experience of our users, which is almost antithetical to the web (if we’re not converting in some way, we’re not doing our jobs). Plank was able to carry all of this forward in a way which I felt was indicative of an incredibly thoughtful design process. Every time I look at the site, I remain impressed with that work.

5.0
Overall Score Plank is refreshingly engaged in projects, and are good communicators.
  • 4.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
    Working with different entities will always be complicated. Plank has done a good job, but they and we underestimated the amount of work.
  • 5.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
    For what we got, the value is good, but it’s definitely on the higher end in terms of cost.
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer
    I’ve done it for several colleagues already.

Web Development for Event Promotion Site

"They're straightforward and honest."

Quality: 
4.5
Schedule: 
4.0
Cost: 
4.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$50,000 to $199,999
 
2007 - Ongoing
Project summary: 

After successfully rebuilding the Evenko website from scratch, Plank built sites for three music festivals including a brand a new custom CMS, a member/login page, and HTML responsive emails.

The Reviewer
 
51-200 Employees
 
Montreal, Canada
Audric Trudeau
Digital Strategist, evenko
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

A 10-year relationship and positive user feedback are testament to Plank’s consistently high quality work. Online sales through the new responsive website have increased dramatically since the start of the collaboration. Plank’s project management is solid and the overall experience is positive.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.
Evenko is a regional event promoter in Montreal. I'm a digital strategist so I take care of the strategy for all of our festivals, the brands associated with Evenko, and our artists.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with Plank?
Plank came in as our business partner to take care of building our websites.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?
They rebuilt our Evenko website from scratch several years ago. We used to be called GEG, then we merged and created a new website (evenko.ca) 6 years ago. Our business kept growing, and we invited them to build our festival websites this year. Their latest challenge was building osheaga.com, heavymontreal.com, and ilesoniq.com, which are our 3 big music festivals.. For these websites, they built brand new custom CMSs that work very well. They are mostly built with PHP and other code.

For evenko.ca we're now working on a monthly newsletter that’s incorporated into our website but that gets pulled out for other purposes. We do that because we work with merchants, so it's very easy to pop out emails. We have over 100 events per month, so we pull all the data from the website into an HTML format responsive email, import that into MailChimp, and send it off. That is a new challenge on the Evenko side.

The Osheaga Play login/member profile was the main technology challenge this year for Osheaga. It is different and more challenging than the usual project so that was very interesting for them. It has been a great success overall and so far, so we're very happy with the results.

I usually work with Sean, who is the lead senior developer at Plank. He's been the big guy for all these projects and the brain behind the operation. I'm not sure how many developers worked on the project, but I assume there are a few others working with the senior lead. Jason Koskie is my project manager.

How did you come to work with Plank?
My old boss used Plank originally. It was important for us to work with a local business that was nearby. They're just a few blocks away, so that helped a lot. It also worked chemistry-wise, and since then we’ve formed an ongoing relationship.

How much have you invested with Plank?
It's tough to gauge because it's merging multiple projects into one. It’s a huge project..

What is the status of this engagement?
Our relationship started about 10 years ago, and we're still working with them currently. The festivals are new every year, so we're going to be with them for a while.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

Could you share any evidence that would demonstrate the productivity, quality of work, or the impact of the engagement?
Online sales have increased dramatically since signing on with them. We didn't have a mobile site, so we adapted to a new responsive website. I know more than 50% of traffic comes from mobile, and that is rewarding enough.

Although we haven't necessarily talked to random users about feedback, people like it in general. The overall experience is good. It's clean and easy to use. It's easy to find what you need, and the process to buy tickets is straight and to the point..

How did Plank perform from a project management standpoint?
Project management has been very good. They use Trello, and that system has worked out very well. Sean and Jason have been very good employees, and we have a good relationship.

Communication is key in a partnership. We've learned that over time, so it's on us to communicate clearly what we want and not always blame them. In general, we've had issues, but it happens with everybody, it's not just them, and it’s been good since.

What did you find most impressive about Plank?
It’s their confidence. They're straightforward and honest. In this business, you can easily overcharge people, so honesty is always important. That relationship we have is key, and that's probably why we're still together at this point.

Are there any areas Plank could improve?
There's always room for improvement no matter what. Maybe they could push us to do some new things. We like to wow people, so we’d like them to challenge us more.

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