What was the scope of their involvement?
I talked to West Agile and liked what they presented based on my requirements. After the first meeting, I was surprised at how good their ideas were. I wasn’t expecting a group of men in their 20s and 30s to have a solid plan for a beauty website.
They asked a lot of good questions. I was impressed with their knowledge. Within a week, they sent suggestions for different screens, and I was blown away by their quality and thoughtfulness. I’m not a coder myself, so I can’t speak to the underlying code, but the UX/UI side was phenomenal. We loved their work and decided to get started. They’d done the mockups and then put together a full timeline and plan.
We created a whole new website. A lot of the changes were visual, but we were also building a shopping engine and a video chat component. Through our initial app building, we discovered that women liked using laptops to access beauty content, even though mobile use was really surging. We needed to have a better presence on our website rather than just on the mobile app. For the video chat consultations, customers need a bigger screen than just a phone. We wanted to build a mobile app, and I still do, but I don’t have a strong use case for it. A mobile app may be more convenient in some ways, but the UX just wasn’t that good.
West Agile came up with everything—our color palette, scheme, and fonts—which wasn’t something that I expected from them. They redid everything with the initial proposal. The only thing we didn’t change was our logo.
We built the website on Meteor because West Agile thought that rolling out the platform to an app would be easier that way. Our backend database is Compose, and everything else is pretty standard.
What is the team dynamic?
We had a project manager and a UI/UX designer. I worked closely with them. Midway through our process, the UX person left, and I panicked. Thankfully, the rest of the people they brought on were phenomenal as well, so the work didn’t suffer.
At the high point, we had 3 or 4 developers, including a senior developer and a few junior ones. My direct interaction with them was limited. I worked with the senior developer a bit but mostly spoke with the project manager. He had a clear understanding of our goals and was able to translate them and direct the senior developer, who moved things around alongside the junior developers. I have a deep technical background, but not deep enough, so I learned that it’s dangerous for me to direct junior developers single-handedly.
How did you come to work with West Agile Labs?
We met them through networking in the Bay Area, which is where their main office is located. I met Pramod [CEO & Co-Founder, West Agile Labs] and really liked him. One of our advisors had told me I should meet them. I was skeptical because I had just developed our app, and I didn’t have the energy to do it again. This advisor told me that West Agile could handle everything and wasn’t too expensive.
I was trying to find a CTO at the time, and my advisor said West Agile would be a better choice because they can supply more people. They’re able to leverage both offshore and onshore resources, and they take care of the project management. They're amazing partners, regardless of whether a company has a CTO. They have a great vision and are really detail- and deadline-oriented.
How much have you invested with them?
We have spent between $50,000 and $100,000.
What is the status of this engagement?
We started working with them in June or July 2015. We still work with them occasionally, but I don’t need a full-time developer right now. They allow us to scale up and down easily. Our initial project length was 3–4 months, but for another 9–12 months, we implemented changes based on different ongoing campaigns.