In July 2018, when we had just launched Brucira, we were approached by a Canadian business who wanted to hire us for a website design project. The client needed both website and internal product design, which would take almost 4-5 months — an opportunity we really needed at the time.
Here’s what they required from us:
- 4-pager website design
- 6 illustrations
- Website development in vue.js
- Internal dashboard
The client wanted to launch their website within 60 days, so they gave us 5 weeks to complete the project. This was split into design (3 weeks) and development (2 weeks).
We split the cost of website design and development and provided the breakdown of the same to the client. Once they accepted, we began the project immediately. The project was good and the scope was well-defined. The only problem we had was that even though we had accepted the development part of the project, we didn’t know how to do it (especially in vue.js). We were banking on hiring some of our ex-colleagues, but no one seemed to know how to develop in vue.js — they were all proficient in react, which is much easier to find developers for.
Somehow, we found two developers who knew a little bit of vue.js and were willing to learn on the go as we worked on the project. Once we worked out their fees and hired the, they immediately got to work on the development of the website.
At that time, Brucira was a startup where only the two co-founders were working. This meant that a long, 5-month project like this was a HUGE opportunity that we couldn’t let go. Since we knew the client would hesitate if they had to do their design in one place and development from another, we simply said yes to the opportunity, thinking we would figure it out like we always do.
Generally, we take 5-6 weeks to design a 4-page website with illustrations but since this project was extremely important for us (and for Brucira), we went the extra mile and worked for nearly 16 hours every day. We delivered an immensely high-quality design in under 3 weeks. The client was very happy with the output and we even talked about the scope of long-term engagement.
While we told the client that we would finish their website development within 2 weeks, we were facing issues because the developers worked full-time for another company during the day. Hence, they worked odd hours for the project.
The first weekend, they shared the first page for review and that’s when we began worrying. The webpage was very different from the design we had shared and the client was certainly going to dislike the quality of the codes. The developer and I sat down in a café and I began reviewing the page section by section.
Here is exactly how I reviewed the webpage:
- I took screenshots of the website sections and overlapped them with the actual designs so that the developer could see what needed to be fixed.
- I inspected the elements of the staging link and gave precise values to the developer.
- I dictated each change that would be necessary to fix the other minor bugs so that it would be a high-quality website to match our designs.
Reviewing a single webpage took me over three hours and the results were still not satisfactory. Now I got really worried because it seemed like there was no chance that we could deliver the client’s website on time.
I requested that the client give us an additional week so we could refine their site. This way, we wouldn’t lose the great impression we had created with our designs. Since the developers only worked in the night, I had to restructure my day accordingly. I worked on other projects during the day and we burned the midnight oil every night. Over the next two weeks, I spent nearly 50 hours just reviewing the website development.
Even with a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, we only managed to finish the desktop version of the site in time. The client was furious and decided to involve their in-house developer to work on the mobile (and desktop) versions of their site. We had no choice; we dropped the project in the middle. The client didn’t pay us for the development, but since our developers had worked so hard in such a short time, we somehow managed to pay them for their work.
The New Approach
We lost a lot that day.
We lost our standing with the client, we lost some good business, and most importantly, we lost the opportunity to build a long-lasting and mutually beneficial relationship with the client. It was then that we understood that in our eagerness to prove ourselves, we had taken on too much.
From then on, we decided that we would change our approach to projects completely:
- We padded the time we would realistically need to finish a project with some buffer time. This allows us to deal with any unforeseen circumstance and still deliver the client’s needs on time.
- We decided not to take on projects until we knew we had someone with the right skill set to work on them perfectly. This meant hiring and trialling a lot of freelancers for smaller assignments so we could find the right fit.
- We also realized that we needed a new way to work on design and development in tandem. The whole screenshot and overlay process was time-consuming, exhausting, and the developer couldn’t see exactly what we wanted anyway.
Like a Phoenix Rising from The Ashes
This is why we were inspired to create ruttl.
As they say, when one door shuts, another opens. We built ruttl out of our failure that day. We knew there was a crucial need for time-strapped developers and designers to work easily on website projects.
ruttl simplifies your review process and allows you to collaborate with your team on live websites. This way you can collect visual feedback to know exactly what needs to be changed to make your design and development better.
Clients or managing leaders can use the Inspect mode to take a look at how the webpage looks and then Comment directly on the sections that need changes. ruttl offers a transparent yet innovative way for design and development teams to collaborate on website development.
We wanted to make sure that other designers and developers need not go through what we did. We want to offer them a way to work together and generate ideas to create the best they can. Eager to know more?
We’re launching soon.
Join the wait-list for our private beta-program until then. We’re looking forward to your feedback so we can create something truly wonderful and useful.