Operations + Support
Elegant and intuitive software doesn’t happen overnight or inadvertently. It’s a process that requires time, energy, and expertise.
Charles Eames once said, "The details are not details, they make the product." This is true for lounge chairs designed in the mid 20th century, and it’s true for software launching next week. Designing and building something elegant and intuitive is never accidental.
All software exists by design; the technologies and code used to build it, the contents and behavior of the user interface, and the graphics and visuals that give it a personality. At every point in the development process design decisions define software, and Cast Iron is a partner that understands how crucial each and every one of those decisions are in the development of successful software.
Great software design is repeatable—it’s the result of a thorough, iterative process of trial-and-error, discovery, and decision-making—a process that remains focused on the smallest details while never losing site of the big picture.
Not everything is an app. At least, not yet. Organizations are producing more web content than ever before, and this content is consumed via an increasing number of platforms, channels, and devices. We have a decade’s worth of experience building scalable content management solutions for our clients.
It is a unique and challenging time in the world of content management.
Roughly 40% of sites worldwide use a content management system, and about 80% of those sites manage content with Wordpress, Drupal, Joomla, Magento, or TYPO3. The youngest of those solutions, Magento, is over seven years old. The oldest are closer to fifteen years. As these tools have matured, they have become increasingly complex.
Each of these platforms struggle with content management demands—mobile, social media, multi-channel publishing, to name a few—that weren’t even on the horizon when they were created. That said, these platforms still dominate the web because the next generation of content management systems are still under development and have a long ways to go before reaching feature parity. Proprietary alternatives, on the other hand, come with significant licensing costs that often far outweigh the cost of open source solutions coupled with a strong provider like Cast Iron.
Our CMS development approach bridges the gap between legacy CMS solutions and the demands of 21st century marketing groups by providing a layer of thoughtful development and scalable customization on top of these existing solutions. Our understanding of modern web development practices, backend architecture, and these legacy platforms uniquely positions us to provide complex, responsive CMS build-outs that number from the hundreds to the tens of thousands of pages.
From small eCommerce implementations on Shopify to custom online stores for Fortune 500 companies: we can build it.
eCommerce is one of the most challenging aspects of web development. There are security considerations in relation to payment processing. The user interface design needs to be pitch-perfect or else you risk losing valuable sales opportunities. And web sales channels often need to integrate closely with accounting, fulfillment, marketing, and CRM backends and services.
These sorts of challenges are our bread and butter. We begin e-commerce projects by working very closely with clients to understand their sales model and order fulfillment process. From there, we often work closely with stakeholders from sales, marketing, and accounting departments to determine where the e-commerce platform needs to integrate with existing systems. We provide architectural recommendations based on these findings, and work with the client to select an appropriate platform. When an out-of-the-box platform is appropriate, we often choose Magento, Spree, or Shopify. In cases where more custom solutions are required, we will build eCommerce apps in Rails or Laravel.
Native applications need to target more platforms than ever, including Windows, OSX, iOS, Android, and Linux. By deploying your application on the web, you have the potential to reach any user with access to a browser. With new packaging frameworks like node-webkit, it’s even possible to deploy web applications directly to the desktop. Our developers understand the strengths and weaknesses of the web-as-platform and can handle the entire process through discovery, design, development, and deployment.
Our platforms of choice for web development are Ruby on Rails and Laravel. For application development, we prefer to use either Backbone or Angular to manage the asynchronicity that leads to a fast, non-blocking user experience. Using these frameworks, we’ve built a wide range of applications, from an iPad sales tool allowing low-income individuals to sign up for a government subsidized, large telecom cell phone plan to a web application for uploading, transcoding, and assessing student oral presentations for the City University of New York.
Tell us what you want built, and we’ll tell you how we can help.
Mobile used to be an afterthought, but those days are long behind us. Mobile browsing is at just over 20% and growing quickly. Even in B2B sectors, where the desktop has reigned for years, mobile usage is on the rise. Because of this growth, we recommend a mobile-first strategy for most of our clients.
For mobile site development, we begin with mobile wireframes that force stakeholders to distill content down to its essential core. From there, we produce comps for phone, table, and desktop resolutions that show how the site layout will adjust at each break point. During development, we use modern development techniques and CSS3 media queries to produce responsive templates that adjust at each defined break point.
On mobile application projects, we rely on Cordova and PhoneGap to build and deploy a single HTML5 codebase across various platforms including iOS, Windows, and Android. For projects that require a native experience on iOS, we provide Swift development services.
For existing sites or legacy sites, we can also assist with graceful degradation and mobile compatibility fixes.
Our clients enjoy working with us because we are a team of doers and go-getters. They know that when we see a problem, we’ll fix it. They trust us to pursue hard solutions to tough problems instead of half-measures and hacks. These qualities have allowed us to form long-lasting partnerships with our clients spanning many years. As a result, we’ve become integral partners with both IT and marketing teams in the support, maintenance, and ongoing development of their web properties.
While we’d like nothing more than to always work with the newest web technology on the block, the reality is that our clients have web sites and web applications that need to be managed over the course of several years, and that some of these are built on complex, custom, legacy platforms. We’ve worked with these sorts of systems for a long time, and when we build a solution for a client, we’re committed to maintaining and, if necessary, adding new development to that solution for several years. We never leave a client hanging, and we never leave a call unanswered.
Our services in this regard are varied, and often highly tailored to specific client needs. We’ve worked with large clients to develop sane and safe deployment mechanisms for their websites. We’ve taken sites with thousands of pages, complex analytics and tracking mechanisms, and detailed session management rules, and moved them behind content delivery networks (CDNs). We’ve been brought on as de facto members of and integral contributors to client IT and marketing groups. We’ve assisted with the rollout of identity management solutions, and we’ve helped modernize and integrate legacy IT systems. We’ve provisioned and configured virtual machines, and consulted on how to setup hosting infrastructure. We’ve been in the trenches, and we get our hands dirty to help our clients solve tricky problems.
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