Chapter247 was able to implement pretty much any function that we desired.
Role: Illustrator at Wizards of the Coast
Chapter247 has been responsible entirely for building our new and improved platform. The new website that we’re building expands from the basic webshop that we currently run and is turning Photobash into an entire ecosystem. Many features and functions were required, and this platform is, in many ways, more of an application than a website. We needed a huge number of features, and, over the course of the development, many new features were added and improved. The website required all of the basics of our current webshop, including a shopping cart, a checkout system, and automated emails. On top of that, we needed a whole new system for managing user accounts and subscription plans that unlock special features. We also wanted to incorporate an internal wallet system, an advanced search and filter engine, invoice generation tools, and an entire backend system with analytics, file uploads, and a tagging system. The scope of this project was quite huge in terms of the features and the variety of components that we required.
Because we’re a small company, we reached out to various vendors that were in a more affordable range. The quotes that we got from Western developers were not affordable for us, so we asked for quotes in a variety of countries that have more competitive prices. Chapter247 was in the midrange of the offers that we got. There were definitely lower-priced options, but when we had the calls with those companies, we did not feel like they were suitable, for a variety of reasons. When we had the initial brief with one of their co-founders, we felt immediately that they understood the scope of the project and the multiple challenges that would be involved. They asked very logical questions and made comments about all the things that we requested. The communication was great, and that was the driving force initially to choose them for this project.
Chapter247 developed and implemented our new website based on designs that we provided. Our website features products in the form of 2D images and 3D models. Users can buy these in bundles or as individual files. This required an advanced search engine and filtering systems, as well as visually appealing galleries to display all of the content.
Additionally, the user account allows customers to store, browse, and download their purchased content. Chapter247 built a variety of other features that can be unlocked via subscriptions. Users also have access to a dashboard with various features. The dashboard gives them the ability to customize their interface and generate invoices, among other things. The team is currently working on a backend system that will let us upload, tag, and add additional details to all of our products. They’re also building an entire sales data system, tax integrations, page customization tools, and many other backend features.
As the project is still ongoing, and the website is yet to go fully live, we cannot yet determine the impact. However, we are sure that what we have now is a massive improvement over our existing service. We're positive that it will make our business grow immensely. Chapter247 has made a huge contribution to getting us to where we are now.
Project management was very flexible in the sense that Chapter247 was always able to work with whatever task we required. Over the course of almost two years of development, many things changed, and we both evolved in our approach.
The development definitely required a very active involvement, as our requirements were very precise and strict. Leaving choices up to the development team to decide was not an efficient way to work, as it would require someone from within our industry to fully understand the logic of each choice.
We worked very closely and had many long calls to discuss what was happening in the project. Chapter247 pumped countless, literally countless, hours into this project. Some calls were over three hours long, but they always made time to listen and discuss even if it was out of working hours. Turnarounds were always reasonable, and, at the end of most working weeks, we were provided with an update of the completed tasks.
What do you like most about the company?
Many things were impressive, so I will list them one at a time. The first is communication. The speed of response was generally very good. We always got answers for issues on short notice quickly, sometimes even over the weekend. Whenever we found problems, our team lost their minds over everything going wrong Chapter247 always approached issues calmly and with a determination to find a solution or provide an existing one.
The next is coding proficiency. Obviously, this is their strong suit. Chapter247 was able to implement pretty much any function that we desired. They also integrated existing plugins to work seamlessly with the website. Some of these required a substantial amount of trial and error before they worked correctly. In the end, most things ended up working as expected.
The third is that they were hardworking. There is no doubt that it is hard to work on a team, especially when you have to work long hours to solve a problem and multi-task when needed. We provided a large amount of feedback, changes, and additions. The team took the time to read through our suggestions and work on them. They provided many questions and comments, and ultimately delivered results. We don't have full insight into the hours and amount of people, but, given the scope of the project and how they were able to tackle it step by step, it’s clear that they are extremely hard working.
The fourth impressive component was the cost and aftercare. Their quotes and prices are extremely reasonable for the amount of work that they delivered. Some features required more hours than we anticipated, but those things were hard to predict from our side. Other features were implemented with a quick turnaround and at a competitive cost. When it came to bug fixes and sorting other issues, Chapter247 took proper responsibility for delivering a working product. They made sure not to charge us twice for work that was in the scope from the beginning.
This last point was extremely important for us. Many road bumps came to light during development, and sometimes features that worked before would stop working when we added something new. There is always the question if this is part of the quoted scope or something that should have worked in the first place. When it was clear that an issue was part of delivering quality, Chapter247 always took responsibility and worked hard to provide solutions at no extra charge. This is probably one of the most valuable aspects of working with them, as these things can break budgets easily when unanticipated.
What they should improve on?
Nothing is perfect, and, of course, there are always areas for improvement. I believe that both our team and Chapter247 learned a lot from this project. It was a huge endeavor—one that we definitely underestimated in scope—and I can tell that their company has grown through this process. I will list below the points that could be improved.
First, they could improve their mastery of the English language. I strongly believe that correct grammar and understanding common web jargon is vital to building a professional-looking website. Text implemented by the developer often had typos or odd grammar. We often had to check their work before publishing to save us from having to correct those mistakes.
Secondly, they could work on their quality assurance. Despite the extensive testing that the developer conducts, we repeatedly find bugs or broken functions on the website while testing it ourselves. This forces us to invest a large amount of time in providing detailed feedback in the form of text, images, or video. Our total feedback reports are in the hundreds of pages at this point. This is something that we definitely underestimated.
It is important to note that our project has a lot of features and possible scenarios for things to go wrong. We understand that it is extremely difficult to test every single minute thing. Sometimes, something may work on one system but not on the other, and, of course, the developer has some logistical limitations to testing such possibilities. However, we found that, overall, there can be an improvement in making sure that things work correctly before writing off a task as completed. More resources should be spent on not letting bugs slip by during development.
The third area for improvement is design. Our website is built and designed for and by artists, so we are very particular about design. To most people, small unnoticeable things don't matter. However, we required pixel perfection, and the implementation of our design required quite a bit of our guidance to perfect. Regardless, the developer always ended up nailing it when we provided feedback for improvement