What was the scope of their involvement?
They’ve provided primarily e-commerce and PHP development. Over the years, they built 3 versions of the website, upgrading the software and expanding the features and scope. We went with osCommerce, which is an open-source shopping cart platform.
A lot of the things that I wanted to incorporate were not available back then, so many features had to be custom-developed. Today, the site may look pretty simple or standard, but 12 years ago there was little to choose from. WEB4PRO developed things based on my designs and suggestions. We negotiated a full feature set, and they made it happen.
Sometimes, we had communication issues, but most of the work went really smoothly. The features included affiliate management, newsletter integration, and a shopping cart. We did content management, so we had an integration of the articles with each product. The standard shopping cart allowed users to choose a size, color, price, and weight and click to buy.
We have information-rich content and offer some research. I had a lot of referential articles that we needed to link through. We had multiple views of the same database—each article as it relates to the product, category, and application. Each of our products has a list of ingredients, applications, and manufacturers. The database functions kind of like a cube: you can lie it on 6 different sides, and it'll give 6 different views of the same data. That was not common in the feature sets available at the time. WEB4PRO developed that feature for me.
I hired a North American firm to do the design of the website. There are cultural differences between American and Ukrainian views of the world. I found that WEB4PRO’s designs were nice to their eyes but didn’t look right for me. They have multiple developers and many skill sets. I was only using a small section of their expertise for PHP and Apache.
We also dealt with some server and backup issues. WEB4PRO did system work for me where we wanted to make sure that we can restore the site if accidents happen. They offered to work in Magento. They currently maintain the cart. We’re planning to switch to a different platform. We want to use a different shopping cart service, which will signal the end of our partnership with WEB4PRO.
How did you come to work with WEB4PRO?
Web4Pro was recommended by a consultant who was managing our early shopping cart and website development. When we priced things out, doing the work North America was going to cost about 10 times as much as WEB4PRO because they’re based in Ukraine, where the labor costs are a lot lower.
How much have you invested with them?
We’ve spent about $150,000.
What is the status of this engagement?
We started working together in 2005 and continue to collaborate.