Client stories

You might be wondering what’s it like to work with us. We asked a few clients to tell you about the projects they hired us for. Here are those stories, in their own words:

Peter Biľak, Founder of Typotheque

I was hoping to attract attention for the launch of our new type family, and to present it to a different audience than usual. The Greta font system is fairly large, so the question was, how can we show the whole, as well as the individual styles and details? The macro and the micro? The app that Fingertips built was part of a larger release. A movie was made, posters and catalogues were printed, ads were placed, a lecture was planned in a large event in Berlin. All had to be synched for the launch.

Why Fingertips?

I make decisions based on gut feelings, and personal involvement and interest is almost always an indicator that things will go right. Thijs was really interested in typography. I already followed him on Twitter, where he’d made numerous comments about fonts, licensing and web typography. That’s what really made me decide. He had a positive attitude and a genuine interest in the project.

The Outcome

Even though Fingertips’ role was relatively small, it was vital. They presented the new product well to a group of tech-savvy people. The app is not intimidating in trying to show too much. It’s intuitive, yet it also allows you to go deeper. It was the first time we’d ever attempted to present font in such a way, so it felt special for me.

Thomas Fuchs, Author of the script.aculo.us JavaScript User Interface framework, a member of the Prototype core team, Ruby on Rails core alumnus, and co-founder of Freckle.

I hired Fingertips to mess with the guts of our most important product, Freckle.

The feature looked easy enough on the outside, but it required a complete overhaul of the permissions structure, as well as new API features.

The Outcome

Fingertips easily pulled it off, implementing one of our most requested features without any hand-holding. They took care of both the technical solution and the UI.

I didn’t need to double-check their work or to explain things twenty times. What they delivered was exactly what we wanted. We never had any issues or bugs.

We now have a super-solid base for permissions in Freckle. The new feature definitely gives us an edge.

What makes Fingertips different

Most code is really bad. A lot of consultants seem to be in it for the money, and don’t enjoy what they do. Work is late, unprofessional, over-budget. One person doesn’t know what the other is doing. We’ve not had a single one of those issues with Fingertips.

Fingertips is different. They have an almost anal attention to detail. But they’re not pretentious or artsy-fartsy. I’d place Fingertips in the top 1% of development and design shops. They’re really, really good. They’re also quite fast.

Why I Recommend Fingertips

Fingertips is the only development company we refer our own clients to. They’re timely, professional, and punctual. We completely trust them—enough to put our own reputation on the line. This is why:

They make products to scratch their own itches. They release a ton of open source software that’s actually highly polished, which is rare for open source.

They write amazingly detailed and well-reasoned tests when writing code—even for their OSS stuff.

They share their knowledge with blog posts, talks, etc.

Most companies don’t do any of these things. And Fingertips is just three people. To me, this shows just how dedicated they are to creating amazing software.

We’d hire Fingertips for everything if we could.

Laurent Sansonetti, Founder of HipByte and creator of RubyMotion

My product, RubyMotion, is a toolchain for iOS development in Ruby. It lacked a simple library to write functional tests, which lots of users had started to request. I honestly didn’t have time to build it, and waiting six months or more wasn’t an option.

Why Fingertips?

I’m a developer myself, so I’d never needed to hire another developer for my own projects before. It was a weird experience, I must confess! But the decision to work with Fingertips was a no-brainer. I’ve known the guys for a long time, and I knew they could deliver it quickly. I’m just glad they were available.

The Approach

Even before Fingertips began implementing, I was 100% sure the feature would be delivered as expected. We defined the specifications so clearly in the beginning. I knew the library would be easy to use, powerful, and well-documented. And it was. Everything was delivered on time. But honestly, the best part was the short video Fingertips made to introduce the feature. What an awesome surprise!

The Outcome

Our users were very excited when this feature was announced. Mission accomplished! Now they can write functional tests for their apps. The blog post got a bit of press in the developer community, too.

If I ever need another feature developed in a timely fashion, I won’t hesitate to call Fingertips.

Edo van Dijk, Creative Director and Managing Partner at Edenspiekermann

The theme of our client’s corporate identity redesign was to see things differently. To look at the world around us, and to make different choices. That’s what the financial world needs. Our client, Robeco, also wanted to look differently at the way they communicated this redesign to their staff. They wanted to be more evocative. Since some of the staff had iPads, our client asked us to create an iPad app. We immediately said, ‘Yes, let’s try to find a solution that will also work on a desktop. We know a party who can make it happen.’

Why Fingertips?

You don’t find many development companies with both native iPad and iPhone as well as web expertise. Fingertips knows both the desktop and the iOS domains. They could bring our idea to life.

Even though we work in the same building, I’d never met Thijs & Fingertips in the flesh before. We’d gotten to know each other well through Twitter.

The Solution: a Web App Optimized for iPad

After discussing the options with Fingertips, we chose to build a web app that could also be optimized for the iPad. Robeco didn’t have many iPads within the organization, so we needed something that worked for regular desktop browsers.

The Process: Difficult at First

My two colleagues worked closely with Fingertips, and they said the process wasn’t easy.

This is partly because Thijs is quite a character. He’s a bit nerdy, and very knowledgeable. He can talk for hours about certain subjects, things you should and shouldn’t do. He’s also a designer, like we are. Sometimes we had to push back and say, ‘No, we have to do this.’ It took some time to get used to his way of working. He can be tenacious. But in the end, he delivers, and we understood why it was necessary.

When you’re making something this cutting-edge, there are lots of things going on under the hood. The client doesn’t need to know, as long as it works. We envisioned all kinds of things that, from a usability perspective, would be great. But Fingertips wiped them off the table because they wouldn’t work perfectly in a web app. It’s easy to make promises, but it’s hard to deliver. Thijs works in this way so he can ensure it really comes together, with all the snappiness and perfection we strive for. Fingertips kept us focused on what was feasible with our budget, time, and technology constraints.

The Outcome

The app is a joy to play with. Even though there’s a lot going on under the hood, it feels very logical and simple to use. It even looks good on Internet Explorer.

We weren’t there when our client gave it to the management team, but we heard everyone was very happy. It’s a great way to bridge the gap between people who just want to know the basics, and those who need to access the entire brand manual.

Things We Might Do Differently Next Time

Now that we’ve gone through this process of finding a common ground between design, user interaction, and feasibility, I think we could get to a result even faster next time. There’s quite a bit of overlap between what we do as designers. I think we’d give Fingertips a little more freedom to move next time. We might not prepare every detail of the user interface and its functionality beforehand. We’d give them more space to come up with their own ideas and suggestions.

Brad Byrd, Digital Marketing and Analytics Expert from San Francisco

When I came to Fingertips, I was building a product from scratch. The first thing I needed was a basic framework. A way to create user accounts, to manage permissions, to have signups. Once that was built, I had a pretty complex concept for how the product as a whole should fit together. Fingertips broke it down into bite-sized pieces. Their approach was, ‘Let’s not over-complicate this. Let’s figure out the most important pieces, then identify the most reliable, efficient way to launch these features, so you can explore and get feedback. We can evolve the architecture over time if we need to.’ I appreciated that.

Why Fingertips?

I’ve paid lots for American engineers, and had bad experiences with ‘good’ guys. But being good and smart doesn’t mean you can run a business. You never know how much attention you’ll get, how much focus you’ll get, or how quickly you’ll get it. I didn’t want to write a check to someone I wouldn’t be able to talk to. Some firms just want to be in control, you know? Their attitude is, ‘This is my turf, and this is the problem.’ Fingertips isn’t like that at all.

I chose Fingertips because I wanted to be in control of my own destiny, and they were available in an ongoing, consultative way. They were open to educating me whenever I needed help.

Also, they’re a small, really competent team — which, I think, is the best way to get things done.

Fundamentally, Fingertips gets shit done. That’s why I’m working with a team in Amsterdam. These guys were the best I could find. I know they’re working on other things, but when they’re tackling this, I feel like I have their focus.

Their English is good, too. There’s no language barrier at all.

The Solution?

Fingertips yielded results pretty quickly. It’s not like they disappear for two weeks, then a bunch of stuff appears. Their process is transparent. I could tell on a day-to-day basis what they were working on. They were diligent about checking their code into GitHub.

Once they created the basic framework, we began exploring different aspects of the basic idea, fleshing it out. Fingertips became a key part of developing this product. Where I’m focused today, now that we’re about to launch, is very different from where I was when we started 9 months ago.

A Secret Benefit

For any engineer, working with someone who’s better than you is the best way to learn. That’s been the best part of this project—working with good guys to learn best practices. In 9 months, I’ve gone from knowing absolutely no Ruby at all, to being good enough to be hired as a junior developer.

The learning experience has allowed me to get more value out of the investment. I don’t need them to polish and explore every possibility. I’ll say to Manfred, “What’s the best way to do this?” He’ll sketch it in an hour, or we’ll talk through it. We shortcut to the right seed piece. It’s planted. Then I can spend as much time as I want exploring the idea on my own.

The A-Ha! Moment

One of the last things we worked on gave me an epiphany. We’re building marketing tools, and the last thing we built was an analytics piece. We’re finishing that one first so I can take it out, and use it as a foundation to make all the other tools relevant.

The Bottom Line

It boils down to this. Fingertips is not cheap, but they’re good. They’re a specialist team of high-quality, experienced engineers who helped me get this product off the ground, without needing full-time employees. The longer you’ve been in this world, the more you realize that cheap is meaningless. Getting a good price is nice, but it’s second to good quality. And Fingertips is good. They’re efficient. They write good code. It’s clean, it’s sophisticated, and it’s simple. That’s all I need.

Andy Rossmeissl, Co-Founder and Product Design Director, Brighter Planet

My business partner and I started this company when I was just coming out of college. This was our baby at the time. We were reluctant to let anyone in — much less someone halfway across the globe. We weren’t about to leave our business in the hands of some faceless, robotic development firm.

We talked to a couple of firms, but fell in love with Thijs and Manfred right away. There was something quirky and special about Fingertips.

You could tell there was a personality there. We loved that they were a small team. We were a very small company, too. And we loved how well written their code was. Fingertips seemed to be in the loop of some kind of inner Rails cabal. We were attracted to that mystique.

The Process

Fingertips demonstrated the right way to do the things we needed, at the time we wanted. They were as much educators as they were developers for hire.

It was more education than I ever expected. We were constantly asking them questions about Ruby. They would answer in really excellent ways.

Our approach is still colored by our lucky work with those guys. We literally use the phrase, ‘What would Fingertips do?’ on a regular basis.

The Outcome

We’ve worked with a lot of contractors over the years. It has surprised me how we still talk to Fingertips — like, all the time. We’ll wake up, drop into Campfire. Hey everybody, how are you doing? The funny thing is we’ve never even met.

André Foeken, Project Leader at Nedap

Our company was building a large system, and it was a massive amount of work. I asked Fingertips to build the part that integrates with finances—things like accepting credit card payments and allowing wire transfers between bank accounts. Getting all these parts working was one hassle. Integrating them with the external companies was another. I gladly outsourced the entire slice to Fingertips.

Why Fingertips?

Whenever our company needs extra hands, I prefer to add them to my on-site team. Having full-time developers here in person makes it easy for me to control the quality and keep track of everything. Fingertips works virtually, has other clients, and is more expensive than other shops.

But I hired them without hesitation.

Fingertips had a good reputation and lots of experience with financial integration, so I knew they’d do it faster and better than I could. I also knew I could trust that what they delivered would work.

The Process: Not for Everyone

Fingertips has quite a rigorous process. Before they build anything, they deliver a very detailed description—almost a story—about the system. You know exactly what they’re going to build.

We spent a half-day together hashing through the document, which gave me a sense of relief. ‘Okay!’ I thought. ‘They’re up for it, and they’ll build it!’ After that, I left them alone. I didn’t need updates.

With other firms, the estimate and the original discussion are more vague.

If you have a big project like a website, I can see how chewing it all out in the beginning could be annoying. No matter how much time you spend thinking, you always forget something.

But at least with Fingertips, you start out with a clear picture of where you’re going.

The Outcome

There are lots of development shops, but most aren’t that good. Will the end result match what you think? Will you get ripped off? It’s a crapshoot.

When Fingertips delivered, it worked exactly as we’d decided in the beginning.

It’s like a little bit of magic happened, without me having to do anything.

If I’d hired another company, it would have been 80% them doing the work, and 20% me keeping track of them. Hiring Fingertips means you can devote 100% of your time to something else.

They’re capable. And what they deliver is as promised. That’s quite a rare thing in the world of development firms.

Things We Might Do Differently Next Time

Fingertips has their own way of working. Who knows? Maybe their way is better. But next time I’d be stronger in voicing my opinion. If they’re integrating into our stuff, they should use our tests. These things in software development are almost like a religion. I can see both sides. We had a lot of tests in natural language, and they added tests in programming language. I had to rewrite those because it’s strange if one part is tested differently. We could have prevented some of this minor stuff if I did have a minor check-up every other week. But that takes more time on both ends, and I’m not complaining. We still finished on time.

Marco Teunisse, IT Coordinator, University of Amsterdam

When you’re working with a development agency on a project like this, you’re never 100% sure what you’re going to get.

They’re making this big thing — and you have to wait. You might communicate some, but you don’t see them every day. So it’s important that you work well together and that you feel a sense of trust.

The Process

We always knew we could trust Fingertips. They were very skilled. They worked fast. They knew what was essential to do now, and what could wait.

They would advise us on the right way to go — or not go — and give us the positive and negative points of every possible option. Sometimes they brought in more people to get things done without bothering me.

The Outcome

Thijs is very fair — a clear and straightforward communicator. I was on a fixed budget, so he would think with us about what could be done and what couldn’t be done, all on a personal basis. We never had to fear anything would go wrong.

Fingertips was able to do our projects within our budget and within our timeframe. We’re still using the application they created for us several years ago.