Could you share any statistics or metrics from this engagement?
Their work was mostly user features, for when people become customers, rather than when they first visit. The big push to the site this time around was related to being able to manage the bookings, both for us and for the customers themselves – managing their groups and inviting their friends – those sorts of things. In the sense of whether the site performs better or worse for getting new customers, it's on the par because the designs of all of our previous sites have been good, including this one.
This job is more about functional improvements, rather than attracting more people generally. Bounce rates are about the same. I've done a comparison of January 1, 2015 to September 22 of this year, and compared it to last year. Everything looks positive with slight improvements across the board. Sessions are up, users are up, page views are up, pages per session is up, average session duration is up, and all is good. The big change for us was making the site completely responsive, so that's helped. In the U.K. now, probably 50 percent or more of visitors are using not just phones, but iPhones and other devices, like Android.
Their working day fits in with different time zones. They work long days. You might not have all of your development team all the time, but there's pretty much somebody working on your site from when they start in the morning to when they finish, which overlaps with the U.K. working day. That's been very beneficial.
How did SynapseIndia perform from a project management standpoint?
SynapseIndia was able to deliver all their assigned milestones on time and within budget, without any major defects in their work. It was a moving target for a lot of the stuff, so we didn't really have major deadlines because we obviously had a working website. They've been good. When needed, they've added a resource and got the job done.
What distinguishes SynapseIndia from other providers?
I can tell you something that I like about them that distinguishes them from offshore, onshore, and all providers: you don't give them a job and then they disappear, and then come back two weeks later and go, "Here it is"' Every day, you get an update on what they've done. Because we've used Elance, we can look at their Work View to see a screenshot every hour, being able to spot a problem as it's happening.
A number of times, I've seen the screenshot and thought, "Oh, hang on, it looks like they're going slightly in the wrong direction there," and been able to get onto Skype to give them some feedback. They're always on Skype. All of the developers have always been available there. They've been brilliant.
My previous experience is, you give somebody a spec, they go away for a couple of weeks, come back with a mockup. You say, "OK," and they go away for a couple more weeks, come back with a full working site, and you're like, "No, that's not what we had in mind at all." This experience has been a case of every day you can see what's going on, and you don't have that whole, "Well that was a wasted two weeks." Or worse, it's a wasted half a day, or something like that, which is amazing. I guess transparency of development is what impressed me the most.
You can give them chunks of work, and they will still get in touch with you with any sort of query. It's almost as if the developer sits next to you, and you can give instant feedback, rather than building up a ton of work to test or review. Everything works very smoothly.
Is there anything SynapseIndia could have improved or done differently?
Not really. They work most Saturdays. There were no problems of a language barrier or anything like that – everybody's good. Offhand, I can't think of anything.