Let's make your product and team a success.

thoughtbot is a team of expert design and development consultants. We bring web and mobile products from validation to success and teach you how because we care. It’s time to move beyond simply building features and start designing the right product with the right strategy.

The thoughtbot team is driven by our purpose and values. We continually improve our process, do our best work in strong partnerships with our clients, and transparently share how we work.

Benefit from over 16 years of experience designing and building successful products. From a founder with an idea to product owners at large enterprises and everything in between, the thread that ties our clients together is solving meaningful problems with a design-led approach.

You’ll be working with a small, dedicated team of project-focused product experts built to fit your needs. You can find us in Boston, New York, San Francisco, London, Austin, and Raleigh-Durham.

 
$25,000+
 
$150 - $199 / hr
 
50 - 249
 Founded
2003
Show all +
Boston, MA
headquarters
  • 41 Winter Street, 7th Floor
    Boston, MA 02108
    United States
other locations
  • 1384 Broadway, 20th Floor
    New York, NY 10018
    United States
  • 795 Folsom Street
    San Francisco, CA 94107
    United States
  • 3rd Floor, Griffin Court 15 Long Lane
    London EC1A 9PN
    United Kingdom
  • 1601 W. 6th St.
    Austin, TX 78703
    United States
  • 334 Blackwell Street, B015
    Durham, NC 27701
    United States

Portfolio

Key clients: 

Our clients are any organization creating a new product or service under conditions of uncertainty. They want customer feedback and rapid prototypes. They know that designing great productsand achieving product-market fit is hard. We've worked with organizations such as Yammer, Postmates, LOLA, Iora Health, edX, LevelUp, Tile, JoyDrive, and SplitFit. 

Teikametrics: Exploring and developing a new SaaS platform fueled by data engineering Image

Teikametrics: Exploring and developing a new SaaS platform fueled by data engineering

Watch the full video: https://thoughtbot.com/work/teikametrics

Aatish Salvi joined Teikamatrics as CTO to take on an ambitious plan he had formulated with CEO Alasdair McLean-Foreman: explore an entirely new product direction that uses Machine Learning to help small to medium-sized online sellers compete in the market. In addition to the technical

challenges, Aatish needed to develop his engineering team and hire principal engineers at the same time.

In the video below, Aatish talks about why he reached out to thoughtbot Boston to help him explore the concept with design thinking, architect their data pipeline, and ship an MVP. In the end, thoughtbot not only gave him the bandwidth to focus on hiring but developed his existing team's capabilities and culture for future success.

Bark: Developing a full-stack team while launching a new product Image

Bark: Developing a full-stack team while launching a new product

Bark & Co. is a venture-backed consumer product and services company out of NYC. Their popular flagship product, BarkBox, provides a monthly delivery of innovative treats and toys for your dog.

Challenge

VP of Engineering, Becky Segal, realized she needed to add capacity in order to launch a business-critical gift subscription product in time for the holidays. Her team was thin on senior

developers though, especially on the Rails side.

In addition, she recognized the importance of investing in her team’s development so that they could seamlessly take over and handle this work in the future.

Solution

thoughtbot and Bark got to work rewriting the checkout flow to handle gift subscriptions. Once the gift subscription flow was finished, the team expanded the same treatment to the overall shopping cart and checkout flow, with an eye towards extensibility and maintenance.

thoughtbot worked with Bark to introduce larger design patterns to unify the frontend codebase and test-driven development was introduced to the JavaScript frontend. Through pairing, thoughtbot demonstrated how to navigate the full stack, from the JavaScript frontend to the Rails server and back. 

Outcome

After teaming with thoughtbot, the Bark engineering team successfully pushed the new product in time for the holiday. The new architecture performed so well that the team proceeded to work on integrating other product areas beyond gift subscriptions. 

Improving conversion and code for NYC startup LOLA Image

Improving conversion and code for NYC startup LOLA

LOLA is a New York City startup that offers subscription services to delivers 100% organic feminine products to your door. They launched in 2015 and have had great growth and early traction. LOLA came to thoughtbot to support new product launches, improve customer conversion, and stabilize their codebase.

Escape the City: In-house Prototype to Foundation that Secured Funding Image

Escape the City: In-house Prototype to Foundation that Secured Funding

Escape the City, founded in 2010, started as a community driven project with a mission to help over a million people quit jobs they are unhappy or unfulfilled in.

After outgrowing an in-house developed solution, they needed a safe option. Escape the City knew that in order to attract investors, they needed to build a robust platform with experienced and mindful product experts.

Joydrive: Going from concept to Super Bowl Sunday Image

Joydrive: Going from concept to Super Bowl Sunday

Joydrive reduces the stress of purchasing a car by providing customers a hassle-free online storefront where they can browse multiple dealers for new and used cars, get immediate Kelly Blue Book trade-in value, and have cars picked up and delivered right to their front door all in a single app. Joydrive came to thoughtbot looking for a strategic technical partner to help them bring their product idea to life. After successfully

beta testing with thoughtbot, Joydrive was ready to product launch with a Super Bowl Commercial that announced this new service to the world.
How thoughtbot is helping Splitfit disrupt the fitness industry Image

How thoughtbot is helping Splitfit disrupt the fitness industry

SplitFit was founded by three childhood friends who saw an opportunity to revolutionize personal training. Having been in the fitness industry for years they realized that between noon and 5pm gyms typically have unbooked trainers on staff who are being paid to wait until their next session. By building an easy way for people to find and book these trainers people would be able to access training at a lower price point while

still generating additional revenue for the gym.

Reviews

Sort by

Web Design & Dev for Health Care Startup

"thoughtbot’s committed to their client’s success."

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
5.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$200,000 to $999,999
 
Oct. 2019 - Ongoing
Project summary: 

thoughtbot designed and developed a product for a health care startup. They also built a website to support the product. The team implemented an API to enable the service flow.

The Reviewer
 
1-10 Employees
 
San Francisco, California
CEO & Founder, Health Care Startup
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

By efficiently scaling resources, thoughtbot produced accurate and timely deliverables cost-effectively. The team provided insightful suggestions that not only led to product improvements but also ensured a collaborative partnership. Their dedication and responsiveness enable ongoing engagement.

A Clutch analyst personally interviewed this client over the phone. Below is an edited transcript.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

I’m the CEO and founder of a health care startup.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with thoughbot?

We needed to build out one of our products for our website.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

thoughtbot built our website and the product, which essentially creates a flow. To get the end product, users have to go through a couple of steps. Based on the information a user provides, our platform creates a product, which calls an API. If a user accepts the product, we take them through a checkout flow that creates a bind.

What is the team composition?

We worked with an account manager, a designer, and a few engineers. The number of teammates varied between 1–4 depending on the amount of work. One of thoughtbot’s best qualities was their ability to scale.

How did you come to work with thoughtbot?

I originally found them through a piece of press about the best engineering firms that work with startups. I then went to their website and read a couple of customer testimonials. I actually recognized a company on that list and then reached out to their CEO. He spoke so highly of thoughtbot's team. We provided them with a scope of work, which their team reviewed. We ultimately agreed upon the scope and moved forward with the project.

How much have you invested with them?

We’ve spent between $200,000–$999,999 on the project so far.

What is the status of this engagement?

We started working together in October 2019, and our relationship’s ongoing.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

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

They were able to add more resources when we needed them. thoughtbot also reassigned those resources to other projects so that I didn’t have to sustain the maximum capacity of engineers when it wasn't needed. 

Their team was able to scale the team to accommodate our launch deadline. There were also times when we needed basic tasks done, and they scaled down the team. It was a cost-efficient way for us to accommodate the surges of work that happen when you’re a startup.

They have great attention to detail, which was important to our product. They’re also strategic thinkers. If they have a question about a design decision, they won’t accept and implement it.

Their team questions us, so it feels like a thought partnership. The best engineers are the ones who question the design and through that line of questioning, they ultimately make the product better.

How did thoughtbot perform from a project management standpoint?

We have retro at the end of the week with our account manager when we freely talk about projects. We sort out anything that needs to be sorted out. Separately, if there are any issues, I feel comfortable reaching out to my account manager. They’re always addressed. Their team’s communicative.

Historically, we’ve also co-located with their engineering team. That was an advantage, especially around critical launch deadlines. We were able to closely work with them, which kept the timeline sharp. Obviously, that’s not possible because of the coronavirus.

What did you find most impressive about them?

thoughtbot’s committed to their client’s success. The best possible contractors are the ones that believe in your goals and work alongside you. The team from thoughtbot's in this project with us. As a startup, we need as many of those people as possible. 

Are there any areas they could improve?

No, we’ve had a successful partnership. I really appreciate thoughtbot and feel fortunate to have chosen them to work with us.

Do you have any advice for potential customers?

Get them involved early. They provide a thought partnership, which is unique. The earlier you get them involved the better outcome will be. You don’t want to design a product in a vacuum and show up with a finished package because their team can help you achieve even more success.

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

Android Driver App Dev for Transportation & Mobility Firm

“The fact that they functioned like an extension of our team made the process as easy to manage as possible.”

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
5.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$200,000 to $999,999
 
Oct. 2019 - Mar. 2020
Project summary: 

thoughtbot developed an Android application to serve as a partner app for the existing iOS driver application of a mobility solutions provider. They used existing client processes and infrastructure languages.

The Reviewer
 
51 - 200 Employees
 
Raleigh, North Carolina
Nate Baker
Director of Engineering, TransLoc
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

The application provided by thoughtbot received very positive feedback during beta testing stages and has generated excitement about its eventual reception in the market. They worked hard to align their values and processes with the client and communicated closely at all times throughout the work.

A Clutch analyst personally interviewed this client over the phone. Below is an edited transcript.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

I’m the director of engineering at TransLoc, a smart mobility company offering transport and mobility solutions to help folks get where they need to go.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with thoughtbot?

Our in-house mobile app development team has too many work initiatives right now, and we had determined a need for an android driver application that we didn’t have the capacity to develop currently. We reached out to their team to help us in building that.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

They provided engineering and development resources to build out our Android driver app. Their team worked closely with our in-house folks to make sure that it was built similarly to our other apps so that we would be able to take over from them when it was complete.

We already had an iOS driver app in place, so they worked on building out the app infrastructure in a similar way so that our engineers would be able to come in and recognize what they had built.

What is the team composition?

Our team interfaced directly with two of their engineers for the project.

How did you come to work with thoughtbot?

In looking for a development partner, we evaluated several different companies. We decided that thoughtbot’s philosophy and engagement process for their partners aligned most closely with the way that we worked, so we decided to go forward with them.

How much have you invested with them?

The total cost of the project was about $250,000.

What is the status of this engagement?

From our initial kickoff to the final wrap up, we worked together between October 2019–March 2020.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

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

Towards the end of the development process, we put the app out into beta testing with a couple of our customers and received some really great feedback. That process gave us a lot of confidence that there was an existing market need for the app, so we’re excited about the success of the app that we anticipate going forward.

How did thoughtbot perform from a project management standpoint?

I think they did a great job of maintaining complete consistency with the way that our team operates, which made partnering with them incredibly easy. They communicated primarily over Slack, email, and phone calls, but they also used our team’s JIRA instance whenever we made a request around changing procedures or workflows, and they were always very receptive to those.

Ultimately, those efforts enabled us to become familiar with the application really quickly and to be able to jump in and provide what they needed to be able to continue their work on their project smoothly throughout any issues that came up during development.

What did you find most impressive about them?

What stood out to me the most from their process was the ability to adjust to our workflow and align their core values to align with our own. They produced really high-quality code, asked great questions, and identified issues that ended up benefiting our iOS apps as well, but ultimately, the fact that they functioned like an extension of our team that made the process as easy to manage as possible.

Are there any areas they could improve?

There were some initial concerns about whether we would need a project manager from their side, but it turned out we were able to manage the collaboration perfectly well without one. That really was the only potential issue that we came across.

Do you have any advice for potential customers?

If you’re looking for a high-quality application built using a similar method to what your existing team does, they are definitely the right partner for you.

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

Hybrid Mobile App Dev for Ratings & Reviews Platform

The end result is something that we are all happy with.”

Quality: 
4.0
Schedule: 
3.5
Cost: 
4.0
Willing to refer: 
4.0
The Project
 
$10,000 to $49,999
 
June 2019 - Nov. 2019
Project summary: 

thoughtbot augmented the staff of a women’s ratings and reviews platform to help build a corresponding mobile app to their online platform. The app is iOS/Android accessible was built in React Native.

The Reviewer
 
1-10 Employees
 
Durham, North Carolina
CTO, Ratings & Reviews Platform
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

thoughtbot’s efforts met expectations. The app is now in beta-testing and is well-received by users. The team learns quickly and efficiently adds to the teams they join. Customers can expect a hardworking team that gets the job done.

A Clutch analyst personally interviewed this client over the phone. Below is an edited transcript.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

I am the CTO of a ratings and reviews platform for women to rate the places they work. We collect ratings from working women about companies and then we make job and company matches based on that data.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with thoughtbot?

We wanted to create an application that would be complementary to our online platform.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

We came with a pretty fleshed out idea as well as early mocks of what we thought the app would be. We went through a design sprint, but essentially it was more of a getting everyone on the same page sprint. It was a week-long group of meetings where we met and came up with different ideas. I created more mocks based on what was talked about in the design sprint, and I created wireframes for user testing, but they essentially facilitated the conversation.

Our online platform is pretty big and the mobile application is a companion to our regular product. We went with React Native and built it to work on Android and iOS. For the most part, we made use of their frontend developers on a day to day basis.

The main features that we ended building into the first pass of the app are a customized home feed where users are delivered what we call, a “daily drop” of content such as articles, polls, questions, links to other things and every day the user gets a new one in their home feed. We also have a job matching section that utilizes the company’s existing functionality to match women to jobs but it delivers them in a more of a daily batch of 10 jobs at a time.

We also built the ability to respond to those jobs in sort of a “Tinder-like” way; not actually swiping, but the concept is swiping up on a job. We also built a community section, which is kind of based on existing functionality but with some changes where people can post questions to the community, get answers, and get notifications about answers to their questions. Finally, we built a profile management system where people can update a résumé in the app.

What is the team composition?

We worked mainly with one developer who they embedded in the office with us. He came into our office half the week to work here with us. Nearer the latter part of the project, we added a second frontend developer who worked on the mobile app for us. A third ran the meetings but wasn’t really plugged in on the day-to-day. There was a fourth person who ran the design sprint at the very beginning but then was hands-off for the rest of the time.

How did you come to work with thoughtbot?

Their company has an office in the same co-working space we use. We met one person from just around the office and when we decided that we wanted to build an app with a third party, we contacted her.

How much have you invested in them?

We’ve spent approximately $25,000–$50,000.

What is the status of this engagement?

We worked together from June – November 2019.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

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

We have hundreds of beta users currently using the app. It is a pretty small number, but we are trickling it out. We are seeing increased engagement numbers for the users that are using the app. Engagement is up as far as the number of times they engage with it in a month compared to what we had before.

Our team of developers are mostly backend developers, but they left it in a good state and they worked with us in a way that we have been able to continue working on the app and we have added quite a lot of functionality ourselves. They gave us quite a good foundation for doing that and a good understanding of how we can continue working.

We worked really closely with them the entire time. The end result is something that we are all happy with. We have continued to meet up with the developer that worked with us in-house. We go to lunch with him every once in a while, and it is still a friendly relationship.

How did thoughtbot perform from a project management standpoint?

There wasn’t much project management on their end, since we ran most of the project ourselves.

What did you find most impressive about them?

The second developer they added was able to plug in very quickly and hit the ground running even though he was remote. He was a very good addition to the team.

Are there any areas they could improve?

There were occasions where we expected them to give more expert advice throughout the project. It didn’t feel like they were pushing on some of those decisions as much as we maybe thought they would. I say that with a caveat, as we had some issues at the beginning of the project that potentially scared them and made them hesitant to push on decisions. Acting more as experts, would have been a real help to us on a lot of things since we didn’t know what we were doing.

Do you have any advice for potential customers?

If you can host the developer in-house, do it. If you feel hesitant to do the design sprint because you feel like you already know what your product is and you don’t need to do it, do it anyway because it can be helpful.

4.5
Overall Score Ultimately we got what we wanted with very little heartburn along the way.
  • 3.5 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
    They have their own internal schedule. They don’t work on Fridays and they work from home several days a week most weeks so that can be an adjustment.
  • 4.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
  • 4.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
    They delivered high-quality results.
  • 4.0 NPS
    Willing to refer

Web Dev & Design for Consumer Energy Service

“They did an excellent job managing our budget while creating a solid MVP.”

Quality: 
4.5
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
4.5
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$50,000 to $199,999
 
Jan. 2018 – Dec. 2019
Project summary: 

thoughtbot designed and developed a custom website from scratch. The unique energy shopping platform was written Python and built on a Django framework. Recently, they updated the design and backend.

The Reviewer
 
2-10 Employees
 
Houston, Texas
Trent Crow
Founder & President, Real Simple Energy
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

The website meets project requirements and has helped the business become successful. thoughtbot delivered a reliable and high-quality product at a reasonable price. Their team used Trello to maintain transparency and communication. Their advice helped determine which features were most important.

A Clutch analyst personally interviewed this client over the phone. Below is an edited transcript.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

I’m the president and founder of Real Simple Energy. We’re a startup energy shopping agent.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with thoughtbot?

We initially hired them to build our website, which had very specific needs, so we couldn’t do it ourselves.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

For our first project, they built our website from scratch. We’ve had three different engagements with them, though. Our subsequent projects have been big design and backend improvements for the original website they built.

The site is written entirely in Python with a Django framework. They created a completely customized retail energy search engine for home electricity purchasers.

What is the team composition?

We’ve worked with a backend developer, a frontend designer, and a frontend engineer. We have one point of contact, but also speak a lot with Dawn (Designer & Managing Director, thoughtbot).

How did you come to work with thoughtbot?

We were referred to them by two completely different contacts. Neither one of those contacts knew that the other had recommended them, which just reinforced the recommendation.

How much have you invested with them?

We’ve spent between $80,00–$100,000.

What is the status of this engagement?

The first project lasted from January–April 2018, but our most recent build-out lasted from October–December 2019.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

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

It’s hard to measure the impact with metrics because we started from scratch. They took our vision and turned it into a reality. They created a totally bespoke website—nothing else is like it, so that has enabled our business to thrive.

We’re very pleased with how it worked out. Since the project ended, I’ve considered what we paid them, our engagement, and what the competition could have done for us, and I don’t think the project could have gone better.

We have a really solid and reliable product and we paid a fair price. We easily could have paid twice as much for a lower-quality site.

How did thoughtbot perform from a project management standpoint?

Communication throughout the project was excellent. They regularly updated the Trello board so we could easily see what was going on. They were very responsive and answered all questions we had about the process. We used InVision early on, and then Slack as well.

What did you find most impressive about them?

I was impressed by the developers’ confidence and ability to execute. They weren’t afraid to tell us that something could be done in a better way or if something else needed to be a priority. As someone with little development experience, that was very valuable.

They did an excellent job managing our budget while creating a solid MVP. At one point, we wanted to add ten more features, but could only afford five. They were great at talking us through that and helping us narrow down the features we needed.

Are there any areas they could improve?

It would be really nice if we could also hire them at an hourly or daily rate. Right now, they charge by the week and they encourage us to let issues build up until they can put a developer on a project for a full period. Of course, the rates aren’t cheap and a week can add up.

There also isn’t a huge difference in price between senior and junior developers. I think that the rates should be more commensurate with the seniority of the developer.

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

Ruby on Rails Development for Healthcare Connector

"They asked great questions and truly understood the users and their goals.”

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
5.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$200,000 to $999,999
 
Sept. 2016 - Mar. 2017
Project summary: 

thoughtbot developed a Ruby on Rails web app and PostgreSQL database for a healthcare company. The new platform helps people find healthcare facilities using filters and editable vendor profiles.

The Reviewer
 
51-200 Employees
 
Boston, Massachusetts
VP of Engineering, Health Care Coordination Company
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

thoughtbot delivered a user-friendly platform that received a lot of positive feedback. Even though it has been in use for several years, the code is still solid and they continue to expand without any issues. Working with their partners in-person they delivered top-notch service.

A Clutch analyst personally interviewed this client over the phone. Below is an edited transcript.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

I’m the VP of engineering at a healthcare coordination company. We help hospitals place patients in post-acute care facilities to improve patient outcomes as they move through the care continuum.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with thoughtbot?

We needed to rebuild our entire platform but didn’t have time to build up our own team. We hired thoughtbot to augment our existing team for both the design and development process.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

We created a search tool for discharge planners at hospitals can use to find the appropriate facility for discharged patients. It helps users collaborate with patients by incorporating their preferences and leverages Medicare information to ensure that they’re going to a high-quality facility. Facilities are able to create and edit profiles to show information like what services they provide and what insurance they accept.

thoughtbot worked through one design sprint with our team before moving into the development stage. They built a web app with Ruby on Rails and integrated a PostgreSQL database. Because thoughtbot was working closely with our internal team, they used the same tech stack as our older platform. However, they didn’t think our older code was salvageable, so they built the platform from the ground up.

What is the team composition?

We worked with one designer and 1–2 developers.

How did you come to work with thoughtbot?

Our head of product worked with them before and I’ve used their Gems before. I’ve also attended Chad’s (Developer & CEO, thoughtbot) discussions. They have a great reputation within the engineering community and I’ve had great experiences with them.

How much have you invested with them?

This project cost between $250,000–$300,000.

What is the status of this engagement?

The project lasted from September 2016–March 2017.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

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

All of our existing users thought the new version was a major upgrade. The interface is much friendlier and easier to use. Our team of engineers felt that they benefitted a lot from working with the thoughtbot team and were able to develop new skills. We ended up with a nice, clean, well-tested code base that we continue to extend. It has lasted for the last four years and is still going strong. Working so closely with our team, it was easy for them to stick to our vision. It’s been a really positive experience all around.

How did thoughtbot perform from a project management standpoint?

Communication was really great, and their team was very thoughtful. They asked great questions and truly understood the users and their goals. They helped our team refine our own development provides to ensure functionality for the customer. We worked in-person and used Slack so it was very easy to collaborate with them.

What did you find most impressive about them?

By asking a lot of questions, they earnestly try to understand the root of the problem and come up with the most effective solution.

Are there any areas they could improve?

Even though their questions ultimately helped us achieve a better product, it also created challenges when we were trying to move on. When we had a clear vision of what we wanted to build, we didn’t feel the need to dive into the details and instead needed to convince them that it was better just to get everything developed.

Do you have any advice for potential customers?

Really engage in discussions with them. You can definitely leverage their knowledge, skills, and expertise, but it’s important to keep in mind what you want. Sometimes, you need to hold your ground when you know what you want to get out of the engagement.

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

Web Design and Dev for Pet Platform

"That level of professionalism was extremely refreshing and distinguishes thoughtbot from other providers."

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
4.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$50,000 to $199,999
 
July - Oct. 2019
Project summary: 

After a brief design sprint, thoughtbot redesigned and redeveloped a knowledge-sharing app using an existing codebase. Features of the product include a social feed, a profile creator, and a search tool.

The Reviewer
 
1-10 Employees
 
New York, New York
Founder, Knowledge Platform for Pet Owners
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

The client now has a stable codebase with comprehensive supplementary documentation. thoughtbot leveraged an iterative and transparent approach to ensure that the client was up-to-speed throughout the engagement. Their professionalism, flexibility, and dedication set them apart.

A Clutch analyst personally interviewed this client over the phone. Below is an edited transcript.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

We’re a startup social networking company, and our product is a knowledge-sharing platform for pet owners. I’m the co-founder and CEO of the organization. Right now, we’re in sort of a pre-launch stage.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with thoughtbot?

We hired thoughtbot to help us redesign and rebuild our app. We had another development company take a first cut at the app, and we just needed a bit more firepower to get it over the finish line. thoughtbot was brought on to rework what was already there, both from a development functionality perspective and a design perspective.

Our project was unique to them because they were inheriting a codebase that wasn’t theirs to begin with. Diana (Managing Director, thoughtbot) told us before the engagement started that they don’t usually take on clients like us. There were a lot more unknowns compared to a project where they would be building the product from scratch.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

We started with a design sprint, which was a week-long brainstorming process to come up with a design based on extensive user testing and feedback gathering. thoughtbot set out to identify which functionalities were the most important to our users. They took a platform that felt like a traditional social networking app and redesigned it to be more focused on knowledge sharing. 

We retained the social networking elements, but the goal was to build a community of pet owners who can easily share knowledge with each other. They delivered a set of features that you would expect with a social network—feed, profile creation, onboarding, search functionality—and kept those as the key pieces of functionality. Everything was built and designed for iOS.

What is the team composition?

We started with a team of three individuals from thoughtbot—two designers and one programmer. After the design sprint, we transitioned to having just a head designer and a lead programmer. 

How did you come to work with thoughtbot?

We wanted to work with a company that had an office close to us. Since we’re a Connecticut-based organization, we started looking for New York City-based development firms. We were referred to thoughtbot by a friend of my business partner, who had interviewed with them and thought that they were an exceptionally strong development company.

After interviewing a handful of other development companies, we felt that thoughtbot was the best fit for us, from many different perspectives. One is that they were incredibly professional and well-organized, both in terms of their organizational structure and their ability to produce materials quickly. We felt comfort in the fact that they had a well-thought-out process in place.

I care greatly about efficiency and structure, and that was important for my business partner as well. I also appreciated how their thought process was clear and how they were able to articulate their plans well. That gave us confidence in their abilities from the outset.

How much have you invested with them?

We spent close to $150,000.

What is the status of this engagement?

We started working with thoughtbot in early July 2019 and finished with them in October 2019.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

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

We’ve only worked with a couple of other development firms, but, from our perspective, the thing that worked well for this engagement was how dedicated they were. We had both a designer and a developer from thoughtbot that were singularly focused on our project. This brought a level of focus that was critical to making our time with them successful. The designer and developer were also both incredibly talented and diligent in their workflow. 

For example, our developer was excellent at documenting every single change that was made. As a result, we now have a codebase that any other developer could step in and quickly understand because it’s so well documented and organized. That level of professionalism was extremely refreshing and distinguishes thoughtbot from other providers.

The other element of the engagement that helped a lot was the level of collaboration between the designer and developer. There was a constant flow of communication, and every time the designer worked on a deliverable, they confirmed the feasibility with the developer. If there was ever a moment when the design was a bit off, they could make adjustments very quickly. It was amazing how in-sync they were.

How did thoughtbot perform from a project management standpoint?

We had an exceptional working relationship with them. thoughtbot follows an iterative design and development process, meaning that they didn’t lay out a schedule for the whole engagement at the very beginning. It’s a week-by-week process.
    
We used different tools, like Slack and Trello, to stay in constant communication. We were tracking progress with them all day, every day. Because we were always on the same page, we were able to test out features that they had developed in real-time. Having a small team also helped with this.

There was a tight feedback loop that we maintained throughout the engagement. Every morning, we’d have a standup meeting to plan out the day, and, at the end of the week, we’d have what they called a “retro” meeting. This was typically 45 minutes of discussing the successes and challenges of the week with some planning to improve the following week. Those meetings always brought the week together in a thoughtful, organized way, and we always felt prepared going into the next week as a result.

What did you find most impressive about them?

The standups and retro meetings were helpful because they provided an open forum for us to look critically at our performance. They also gave us the chance to make adjustments as needed, relative to our timeline and budget. Whenever we were falling short in an area, we were able to make the best decision to get us back on track.

Working with thoughtbot was, overall, a wonderful experience. I can’t say enough great things about the entire team, their process, their workflow, and the quality of the code. They have an excellent team of developers working there.

Are there any areas they could improve?

There were a lot of unknowns coming into the project that ended up delaying our timeline. I don’t know if these could have been avoided; I think that’s just the nature of working with an existing codebase.

They struggled to make accurate predictions at times, despite their best efforts to review and dissect the code at the beginning. In that regard, the timeline did slip, but it wasn't due to a lack of effort or a lack of programming knowledge.

In general, they had a great sense of what could be accomplished in a given week. They were also very helpful in guiding us through pivots that we had to make because of new content or information that we encountered along the way.

Do you have any advice for potential customers?

Getting the most out of working with thoughtbot will come from having a tight feedback loop between your company and their team. That’s one of the things that we did well, and I’ve been told that it doesn’t always happen with their clients. Usually, clients take more of a hands-off approach, whereas we—my business partner and I—were working alongside them all day long.

That created a strong working relationship and allowed us to maximize the output during the time we had with them. I would highly recommend maintaining that level of engagement when working with thoughtbot.

5.0
Overall Score I wish I could rate them higher. I’m an achievement-oriented person, and they’re the same way. That’s another reason why I loved working with them.
  • 5.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
    There were a handful of weeks when we weren’t able to accomplish everything that we set out to do because of some unexpected challenges that arose.
  • 4.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
    They’re expensive, but not relative to the quality of the work. Based on their efficiency and their deliverables, their prices are fair and justified.
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
    I think of them as the Goldman Sachs of developers, in terms of organizational efficiency, effectiveness, and professionalism.
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer
    I can’t wait to work with them again. They’re exceptional. I would recommend them highly to anyone who wants top-quality work and a responsive team.

UX/UI & Web Dev for Automotive Marketplace

"Project management was well structured yet flexible throughout the entire process."

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

thoughtbot delivered a web-based platform that lets users browse, select, and purchase vehicles. They provide additional strategy, design, and consulting services.

The Reviewer
 
11-50 Employees
 
Raleigh, North Carolina
Tech Team Leader, Automotive Marketplace
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

The client is now positioned as a leader among online vehicle marketplaces. Collaborative and methodical, thoughtbot creates detailed plans, maintains open lines of communication, and leverages multiple workflow tools. Customers can expect an innovative partner that delivers on requirements.

The client submitted this review online.

BACKGROUND

Please describe your company and your position there.

Joydrive is the first online marketplace where customers can buy both new and pre-owned vehicles without visiting a dealership. Customers can complete the entire car-buying process online, on their own time and at their own pace.

Dealers interact with customers through a platform that provides the tools and features needed to complete the transaction, all the while being consistent, transparent, and fair to consumers. It's like Amazon, but for cars!

My role is leading our technical team, including any thoughtbotters who are currently engaged with us. My responsibilities range from product design to project management. I have been involved with the project since the technical inception.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

For what projects/services did your company hire thoughtbot?

We went to thoughtbot to help build and provide a solid foundation for our website and marketplace platform. Being in the Automotive industry, there are quite a lot of challenges when it comes to interfacing with fragments vehicle data and descriptions, so ingesting and presenting all that information to consumers in an accurate, easy to understand way was difficult.

There is also a need for consumers to have an easy and intuitive purchasing experience and a need for dealers to be able to interact and fulfill consumer's purchases. Car purchases are quite complicated and almost always situational, so our system needed to be flexible and adaptive.

thoughtbot teamed up with Joydrive to help build a well-structured codebase and system using best practices and modern languages in order to scale as needed and be as performant as possible. Between design and development, there was a large opportunity to make a unique product that was special in the industry.

What were your goals for this project?

We needed a resilient and reliable website that used modern practices to provide a truly online ecommerce marketplace. This meant responsive & component-based design for optimum UI and UX that at all times considers accessibility. We needed a system that would scale as we grew and a codebase that was clean, well-tested, and maintainable.

We were largely flexible on the technologies used and consulted extensively with thoughtbot to find the correct fit. We ultimately settled on Elixir and the Phoenix framework, which has served us extremely well. This project was our entire business, as this was the first technical step in our journey. The stakes were extremely high for us to create a dependable foundation and an actually viable first iteration.

SOLUTION

How did you select this vendor?

We utilized a ton of research and referral reviews as we considered many companies. Over several months we revewied many different companies to find the right fit. Several factors were critical in this selection:

  1. the company must work as a partner in our journey, we wanted collaboration and growth-mindset
  2. we needed nimbleness and technical excellence
  3. we wanted consultative approach in addition to technical implementation
  4. we wanted a vendor that can help us grow our technical team as we grew. Our President and CEO, myself, and others were involved in the selection process.

Describe the project and the services they provided in detail.

thoughtbot started with a deep-dive design sprint to fully understand the business and to figure out the initial structure of the product itself. We started with no codebase, and they established not only the structure and a growing product, but also the approach and strategy to develop and design.

The process, from inception, was very collaborative and the thoughtbot team was deeply involved to understand the core needs and next steps. Since this was a multi-sided marketplace platform, there were many needed features, not only in the base functionality but also in design and branding.

Technical requirements were broad but necessary--a consumer would need to be able to browse, select, and actually purchase a vehicle, 100% online. At the same time, a dealer would need to be able to interact and complete the purchase. thoughtbot helped design and develop a product that would do all of this.

What was the team composition?

Our interaction with thoughtbot and their team members engaged with us have always been very lean and nimble. We started with a team of 2-3 and have ranged in size up to 6 members.

Throughout the entire process, there has been flexibility to scale up or down depending on needed bandwidth, current backlog, time to market, etc. thoughtbot has been a valuable partner in their flexibility and expertise.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

Can you share any information that demonstrates the impact that this project has had on your business?

thoughtbot has not only helped build our initial project but aided in continued development throughout our multiple year engagement. They have hep improve and refactor features along that way that significantly help grow our results, not only in direct transactions but also in added efficiencies, new technologies, and even additional services offered to consumers via the marketplace.

We are now the largest true marketplace in the industry and the only place where a consumer can buy, sell, trade, or lease New, Certified, and Pre-Owned vehicles, all 100% online.

How was project management arranged and how effective was it?

Project management was well structured yet flexible throughout the entire process. They helped introduce Agile processes and build out a management system that we still use today. For all work, they helped set expectations for timelines, were always responsive, and deeply involved.

In the beginning, they led project management but helped to grow our team to lead the management of the product and project. Many tools were used on the project to assist in communication and management, including GitHub, Slack, Google Hangouts, and Trello.

Over time, the technical team became 100% remote and thoughtbot's leadership in this area (along with the tools and practices they helped introduce) has led to a very successful team.

What did you find most impressive about this company?

thoughtbot is very innovative and knowledgable about not only the technologies that are widely adopted but also emerging or younger technologies. They quickly become experts in the tools and languages they use and have a network on employees they can rely upon to fill in any knowledge gaps.

They constantly work to "level up" their knowledge and are big contributors to the design/development communities and to open source. They are very consultative and thorough with their approach, doing the appropriate amount of user research and due diligence in order to properly identify what is viable and actually worth implementing. They communicate extraodinarily well and continue to help improve our processes.

Are there any areas for improvement?

We have only had difficulty once when we had a thoughtbotter in a European timezone when that person was the only one who's schedule didn't really overlap with the rest of the team. While this usually was not a problem, occassionally the timezone difference did prove challenging.

By the end of that person's engagement, we had discovered some additional strategies to deal with the time differences but unfortunately, it did take a bit of time to optimize. This is not thoughtbot's fault but just the circumstances.

5.0
Overall Score We have a very high view of thoughtbot, their employees, and the quality of work they produce. Highly recommended.
  • 5.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
    Scheduling was almost always easy. They and we are firm believers in quality, so timelines are built around that expectation.
  • 4.5 Cost
    Value / within estimates
    Their quality of work and expertise, along with consultative approach, provides immense value!
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
    All work put out has been well thought out, well designed, well tested, and built with future maintainability in mind. Excellence all around.
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer
    They are excellent to work with and produce excellent outcomes. Highly recommend.

Prototype Design for Online Education Co

"thoughtbot were creative thinkers."

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
5.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$10,000 to $49,999
 
Sep. - Oct. 2019
Project summary: 

Following research into company needs, thoughtbot designed a prototype of an online education platform using Sketch and InVision. The team developed a storyboard and facilitated tests to discern user needs.

The Reviewer
 
51-200 Employees
 
Oxford, United Kingdom
Product Manager, Education Company
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

thoughtbot delivered satisfying designs to support a more efficient development process. The team listened actively and was receptive to feedback, fostering effective collaboration to support product improvements. They were committed to project goals, which ensured a successful engagement.

A Clutch analyst personally interviewed this client over the phone. Below is an edited transcript.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

I’m the product manager at an education company.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with thoughtbot?

We needed a partner to design our online courses. We wanted a company to help us finder where to start and position us well for our development work. We needed help to focus our vision.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

thoughtbot facilitated a design sprint for us. We shared the feedback received during our previous two design sprints with thoughtbot. Then, they came into our office and worked to understand our company including processes, challenges, and previous research. Their team helped us define the assumptions we wanted to test and the results we wanted from the design sprint. We worked on a storyboard for the prototype and discussed various different solutions. Their team built a prototype product using Sketch and InVision, integrating the content I produced. After, their team managed user tests.

What is the team composition?

Two thoughtbot employees worked directly on the project. In the run-up to the project, we had meetings with their team when they tried to understand our business and needs. Through that process, I communicated with three or four additional staff members.

How did you come to work with thoughtbot?

Our colleague had met a thoughtbot employee at a conference. I spent a lot of time researching agencies to decide which would be the best partner. I looked at about 30 different companies and contractors both onshore and offshore. What made thoughtbot stand out was that they really took time to understand our needs. Their team asked good questions and challenged us, which is what we needed. We didn’t want a partner to only execute a provided brief. Rather, we wanted a collaborator to challenge us, question our assumptions, and maintain a rigorous focus on the user. Even though they weren’t the cheapest offering, we felt like thoughtbot would provide us with the most value.

How much have you invested with them?

The project cost about £16,000 (approximately $20,000 USD).

What is the status of this engagement?

We began the design work in September 2019. We began talking to them in May, but it was quite a long process because we weren’t sure when this project would start. Our work with them has concluded but it’s possible that we will work with them again.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

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

Their designs were impressive. They had listened to everything we discussed in the collaborative design sprint as well as any feedback we provided.

Their team also facilitated the user test well. As a result, we have valuable feedback and constructive criticism that can guide our development efforts. That’s what we wanted: a clear picture of what we needed to build for users. Our work with thoughtbot will save us time during development as we won't be creating a platform that isn't focused on user needs. Their team has enabled us to be more efficient.

How did thoughtbot perform from a project management standpoint?

We communicated well via Slack. I was impressed with how quickly they responded. We also did a lot of co-location work.

What did you find most impressive about them?

They’re relentless in their focus on user needs and outcomes. Their team's not afraid to ask challenging questions, making sure the project hones in on one question or outcome that will shape the product. They were more collaborative than any other provider, listening and acting on any feedback. thoughtbot were creative thinkers. Their team approaches challenges with creativity.

Are there any areas they could improve?

No, I don’t think so.

Do you have any advice for potential customers?

Have frank conversations and give thoughtbot a call. Before we started the work, they came to our office to understand the cultural fit and work styles. The experience was incredibly valuable.

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

Web App Development for Digital Marketing Company

"I always felt comfortable talking with them because they held our needs in the highest regard."

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
5.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$50,000 to $199,999
 
Jun. - Jul. 2019
Project summary: 

thoughtbot used Ruby on Rails and JavaScript to develop a web app tool for a digital marketing firm. The product handles video submissions, as well as payments and donations. 

The Reviewer
 
11-50 Employees
 
New York, New York
Chief Product Officer, Digital Marketing Company
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

External users are pleased with how easily they're able to use the product. Open and collaborative, thoughtbot remained accessible during each phase of the project. Their customer-centric approach, coupled with their wealth of experience, set them apart from other providers.

A Clutch analyst personally interviewed this client over the phone. Below is an edited transcript.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

I work for a product company that also delivers digital marketing services. We make tools that help nonprofits, political organizations, and other altruistic groups solve digital marketing problems.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with thoughtbot?

We were hearing signals from the market about a need for a conversion tool, but we didn’t have the engineering resources to spin that out fast enough. Most of our engineering resources were tied up with our flagship platform.

We hired thoughtbot to not only bring that product idea to fruition, but also to level up our own development practices and methodologies. Our goal was to build a more engaging and personalized form that could handle video and other rich forms of media.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

Thoughtbot developed a tool that can handle a variety of use cases. One of the early ones they implemented was collecting video stories for crowdsourcing campaigns.

Another feature provides an easier method for accepting payments and donations. The product itself is a web app, which they built using Ruby on Rails and JavaScript.

What is the team composition?

We had two full-time engineers on the team from thoughtbot. One was a frontend guy who was also a designer. The other focused on backend development.

Throughout the engagement, we had plenty of opportunities to work with other designers and developers as well. Also, during vacation times, they assigned one or two additional developers to the project.

How did you come to work with thoughtbot?

We’d borrowed some things from thoughtbot in our own development methodologies and practices. They’re not only consultants but also practitioners. This made thoughtbot stand out from other development teams.

When it came to choosing a partner, we thought it would be useful to engage with a company that wrote the book on a lot of development best practices. We searched around for other development shops, but ultimately thoughtbot seemed to be the best fit, both in terms of culture and skillset.

How much have you invested with them?

The total cost of the engagement was between $90,000–$110,000.

What is the status of this engagement?

We started at the beginning of June 2019, and we were done by the end of July 2019.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

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

We recently started launching the product, and people seem to be very impressed with it. It’s much easier to use than other leading forms tools, and that was one of our goals.

We learned a lot from thoughtbot during the engagement, mainly because of their agile expertise. They also built an amazing product; something that few people have seen before. Overall, the experience was extremely positive.

How did thoughtbot perform from a project management standpoint?

The project management was excellent. thoughtbot was very good at understanding our needs and goals, and they planned each week of work to meet those requirements. We were also embedded in their offices; they were very gracious to let our team members sit in with them. We were able to talk through processes, as well as our clients and users, which made for a very collaborative environment.

We had a Slack channel that we used and a Trello board to track tasks. We also communicated through a DevOps platform. They guided us throughout the project, and they were always receptive to adjustments. Sometimes we would go to them with things that we learned during the week, and they would respond with ideas for how to make our new vision happen. It was a warm partnership.

What did you find most impressive about them?

Aside from their technical proficiency, they were able to listen well and understand our perspective. They were very customer-focused. I always felt comfortable talking with them because they held our needs in the highest regard.

They didn’t push things on us, but they did offer suggestions based on their past experiences. I was impressed with how they were able to adhere to our needs and deliver an awesome product.

Are there any areas they could improve?

Maybe the handoff of the work at the end could have been smoother. Even so, I felt like that transition was pretty fluid. It was honestly more on us to be more receptive.

It’s hard for me to come up with things that could’ve been improved. We gave them a two-month timeline, so we didn’t expect them to help us set long term goals or anything like that. There’s some room for improvement with the UI/UX of the tool, but we knew that would be the case with a quickly-launched web app. Overall, they did a great job.

Do you have any advice for potential customers?

Research what you want to build. thoughtbot can spend plenty of time problem solving, but if you don’t know what you want, you may not get the right product. We did tons of user research and planning, and I think that allowed us to maximize the time that we spent with them.

5.0
Overall Score
  • 5.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
    We set deliverables week by week, and always knew the reason if we didn’t hit a deadline. We honestly got more done in two months that we expected.
  • 5.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
    We were able to meet a tight deadline thanks to thoughtbot. The opportunity cost of not having a product is much higher than what we paid them.
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
    They brought our team to the next level, and their work product was stable and well-tested. We'd love to work with them again.
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer

Custom Software Dev & Training for Digital Advertising Firm

"They’re great in leveling up an engineering team."

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
4.5
Cost: 
4.5
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$200,000 to $999,999
 
Nov. 2017 - Nov. 2018
Project summary: 

thoughtbot provided software development and staff training. They coded mostly in Ruby on Rails and worked on experimental applications.

The Reviewer
 
51-200 Employees
 
Durham, North Carolina
VP Engineering, Digital Advertising Firm
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

thoughtbot provided tools and guides to improve development processes, and their work improved testing times. They offer experienced and capable developers.

A Clutch analyst personally interviewed this client over the phone. Below is an edited transcript.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

I’m the VP of engineering for a digital advertising firm. We specialize in creating digital advertising for the real estate industry.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with thoughtbot?

We were looking for expert developers who specialize in the same language that we used on our codebase which was Ruby on Rails.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

We originally intended to get some help on some really difficult software that we were writing. We found out that the best way to use thoughtbot at the time was to help level up our current development staff to make them better engineers and help them solve these problems. That went fantastically and really set the stage for all the other engagements that we’d have after that.

In our first engagement, we used them primarily for teaching and pairing with our developers. After that experience, we used thoughtbot to augment our team. We were going through a transition in our organization; instead of immediately hiring the next engineer, we were able to be a bit pickier. We needed thoughtbot to give us the right amount of staffing to execute on our projects that we were looking for.

We found that the best projects for them to be a part of were new ideas. For short-term engagements, because we have a pretty complex business model, and it didn’t make sense for them to get in the weeds on some challenging business logic. It takes our developers months to learn those things.

They were exclusively on the development side, mostly Ruby on Rails but did some frontend work for us, too. They worked with our designers and product managers and they brought their backend skills.

They were embedded alongside our team and worked on our whole platform. They didn’t work on any one big project on their own but worked alongside the existing set of product developers for our existing application. They were also working on some experimental applications that we were prototyping at the time.

Their services included building custom software with us, providing in-depth training, and implementing developer best practices that we hadn’t been following yet on our team. They also did feature development and architectural review help.

What is the team composition?

We worked with four thoughtbot developers. I worked directly with their Raleigh managing partner. There were a couple of people who helped with weekly project status meetings as well.

How did you come to work with thoughtbot?

They’re a national company, but they also have a Raleigh/Durham office and that made them a really great potential partner to work closely with. Their engineers were well-known in our development community as very knowledgeable. We had a lot of trust in thoughtbot.

How much have you invested with them?

We’ve spent $250,000–$280,000.

What is the status of this engagement?

We worked together from November 2017–November 2018.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

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

thoughtbot gave us all the tools and guides to be able to overhaul our whole test suites. We had more accurate tests that ran less time and were more dependable. We found the evergreen projects and the new development that was outside of our core business regular path to be a really fantastic way to leverage thoughtbot's value. They could deliver on a lot of things in that regard.

How did thoughtbot perform from a project management standpoint?

Their project management was highly effective. We had weekly retros to get us all on the same page. We’d talk about the progress we were making and they would talk about any tension that might have existed. There were times when we needed to pivot based on the level of difficulty on our end. We learned that we can’t just throw any developer, regardless of how much of an expert they are, at our hardest business problems and expect them to solve it in a few weeks.

We also had video calls. Most of the time, everybody was remote with the exception of a few in-person arrangements. We communicated on Slack and Google Meet.

What did you find most impressive about them?

We already trusted them due to the fairly public persona of the standards and styles that their team works with. We already were getting inspiration from them. From the beginning, we were aligned from a philosophical perspective of how to build software. That gave them a level of sway that may have been more challenging for another agency.

Are there any areas they could improve?

We learned the best way they could help our team was providing assistance to our existing developers, who had a lot more knowledge than thoughtbot did on how the business works and the business use cases. Short term engagements on systems with complicated business logic wasn't as impactful.

Do you have any advice for potential customers?

thoughtbot does really well if you have a team of engineers who are transitioning away from that small, scrappy startup model and are starting to take on a more standard approach to engineering. They’re great in leveling up an engineering team.

If that’s not a concern, thoughtbot can really own the whole development in building a new application. They have excellent strategies for how to start a project and deliver when something doesn’t exist. If some company is trying to use thoughtbot and has a very complex app, I’d advocate that you’d never want to do a short engagement for six weeks because it wouldn’t be helpful for anyone. The ramp-up time in a complex app is such that you can only deliver so much value in a short period of time, and thoughtbot needs a month or so to really start delivering.

They’re really talented developers, but they’re not magicians and it’s easy to forget that sometimes.

5.0
Overall Score They care about our team since they spent so much time with us. I still continue to have good relationships with them.
  • 4.5 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
    They didn’t have the context to be able to deliver within what we thought as the original estimate.
  • 4.5 Cost
    Value / within estimates
    You’re paying for the luxury of a well-oiled machine and a lot of consistency within it.
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer