Web Dev for Fashion Tech CompanyFeatured Review
- Web Development
- $50,000 to $199,999
- Dec. 2021 - May 2022
- Willing to Refer
"Throughout hardship, they've been honest — willing to keep high standards to successfully complete project on time."
- Other Industry
- 1-10 Employees
- Phone Interview
Softblues provides frontend and UX/UI development for a consumer and fashion data viewing platform. They've worked with a number of technologies including Vue, TypeScript, and Python. They also do page design.
Coordinating their frontend work with pre-established backend development anchors, Softblues is a fully integrated external partner. They participate in the client's Slack channels and are working to form even more ownership of the product, specifically to proactively suggest feature improvements.
A Clutch analyst personally interviewed this client over the phone. Below is an edited transcript.
Introduce your business and what you do there.
I am the COO of Virtusize. We are headquartered in Tokyo, Japan and make size and product recommendation tools for fashion websites. We support clients mostly in Japan, Korea, and Australia, as well as a bit in Europe as well.
As the COO, I manage the data science and product management team and have worked very closely with Softblues.
OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE
What challenge were you trying to address with Softblues?
They're helping us build an analytics platform for fashion companies. Up until now, we've focused on improving the customer experience on fashion websites by offering different kinds of recommendations, mostly related to finding the correct size. Through this experience with our clients, we've found a lot of interesting data from our clients and our application around our users and certain trends in the industry. We decided to create a data platform and application to share this information with our clients.
What was the scope of their involvement?
We spent about a month planning and understanding how many resources would be required for this browser-based website development. Softblues had their principal engineer work on the project for the first month, which was really integral in helping us set up the correct environment: Vue, TypeScript, and a Nuxt framework on the frontend, while our backend team uses Python. We mostly used Postman to connect the API and confirm the data.
The project consists of about 20 different features; most of them are related to charting and creating a dashboard for our clients to view their data. First, Softblues design team crafted a design system for us — it's a singular system for our data platform that lets us use the same frontend components across the entire application. This setup minimizes the risk of repeating work and helps us keep standardized look across the entire application.
Once the design system was created, we focused on individual screens. One screen can consist of 5–10 different charts with many different filters and sorting functionalities. It is a very complex analytics dashboard, and the Softblues team helped us a lot with the UI work, as well as with connecting the endpoints that our internal backend team developed.
What is the team composition?
We worked with the project manager on their end, and we started with one principal engineer. Moving on, we had one senior member join, and we are now at two senior members and one junior member.
How did you come to work with Softblues?
How much have you invested in them?
The cost is a little over $100,000.
What is the status of this engagement?
We worked with them beginning in December 2021, and we are wrapping up at the end of May 2022.
RESULTS & FEEDBACK
What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement?
Since our platform is an entirely new service, its performance is greatly dependent on how our clients take to the proof of concept. We've been looking at the time to completion as our main KPI, basing their performance on a rough estimate of how long a certain task should take. Their project manager and I have bi-weekly meetings where we explain what needs to get done that week, and then she will talk to her team and give me an estimate of how long the task should take.
How did Softblues perform from a project management standpoint?
We use Slack for communication. There's one channel for general communication; one for communication with our backend team, which is discussion strictly related to the deployment of APIs; and then we send separate independent messages within Slack. Our team uses a project management tool called ClickUp to manage our tasks and share QA requests or bugs that we find. Their team uses Jira, and they manage the tasks on their own board; I was able to get access to that board so I could see what was in progress and what was yet to start.
What did you find most impressive about them?
As a company, Softblues is very invested in their clients. At the beginning of our partnership, we had meetings with their CEO, and then throughout the partnership, we had meetings with one of their managing directors. The latter has also helped introduce other partners that he works with that we may create new projects with in the future. The same director has also been invested in the success of our project, checking in from time to time to see if everything is going according to plan.
They've experienced quite a lot of hardship in the last few months being based in Ukraine. As a company, we decided that we would support them fully and that they didn’t necessarily need to work for our agreement to remain in place. On their end, they were very adamant about continuing to work and helping us, however. They've had members move away from their homes to different places, and even then, they've been very professional. When they had one member of the team who wasn’t performing very well, they gave us a discounted rate on an additional developer for the next month even though it would have been very difficult to notice the decrease in performance. Throughout hardship, they've been honest — willing to keep high standards to successfully complete project on time.
Their communication level is really good in terms of their reporting and tracking of certain details; they are very good at oversharing. We've worked with partners in the past that delivered good-looking work but we weren't really sure how it got done and who on the team was working on it. In this case, we can put a face to every single developer on their team, and each of them is able to tell our team what they are working on.
Are there any areas they could improve?
Something that comes up often when you are working with external partners is that proactiveness and the ability to complete something without complete guidance from our end could be improved. Sometimes a vendor won't fix a feature until they are completely sure that it will function as the client wants. There are a lot of features within our service that could be optimized by the developers themselves based on their expertise, and we would like to work with our external vendors the same way we work with our internal developers: giving them ownership over the project and trusting them to implement features in the best way. Softblues could take more liberty on their end to suggest certain features that should be implemented, rather than waiting for guidance.
Do you have any advice for potential customers?
As is most often the case with these kinds of projects, you only get out as much as you put into the team. Even though they're an external partner, provide them with direct communication with your developers. Rather than isolating them to just one point of contact on your side, incorporate them into your team whether by adding them to your Slack or messaging channels. This exposure to your team will be really helpful in spreading out the work and helping Softblues feel like they are a part of your team, which will motivate them.
Service & Deliverables
On time / deadlines
Value / within estimates
Willing to Refer5.0