Digital agency WONDROUS: finding technology agnosticism, freedom, and lower costs

When clients engage a digital agency, what are they looking for? Creativity (check). Talent (check). Innovation. (definitely, check). But at the end of the day, what clients really want are solutions to problems they haven’t yet been able to solve on their own. And that’s where digital creative studio WONDROUS shines.

Established in Switzerland in 2008, WONDROUS designs and develops best-in-class user experiences and bespoke digital solutions with latest web technologies. They approach projects from a user’s perspective and commit to solving them creatively. WONDROUS CTO and Managing Partner Rainer Friederich describes the team as a little family. And for the last five years, this committed, 23-member family has experienced near-zero turnover.

Finding the best solution for each challenge means not being locked into any one technology. Rather, the WONDROUS team chooses the technologies that will yield optimal results and delight their global clients. Clients like healthcare pioneer Roche. Pharma giant Novartis. And one of the most-recognized premium car and commercial vehicle manufacturers in the world, Daimler.

Simplifying workflow, radically reducing costs

Friederich and his team created and maintained client projects on Acquia, Heroku, Amazon Web Services, and others. They chose these providers for different reasons: a strength in workflows. Hosting capacity. Support for a particular language or framework. But Friederich wanted a provider that enabled him to implement a simple, consistent workflow for WONDROUS developers across all client projects—a goal that was complex and difficult to achieve.

For the last five years, the WONDROUS team has had twelve Drupal 8 projects on Acquia; workflows were cumbersome. “While it’s possible to automate workflows with Acquia, it’s difficult to do. It takes a lot of work, and you have to use vendor-locked Acquia libraries and workflows you won’t find anywhere else,” explains Friederich. “The Acquia workflow could just not compete with Platform.sh.”

Overall with Platform.sh, we can handle a higher volume of projects—and work on more projects concurrently—than we could before.”

Platform.sh capabilities don’t require the WONDROUS team to engage in any manual interactions. “It sounds so simple,” Friederich says. “But if you trust your change and have reviewed it on a feature branch or in a development environment, you just merge the PR, and you’re done. You can close the project and move on to other work.”

Beginning with the easiest project first, the team began to move one Acquia project after another to Platform.sh, until all the projects had been migrated. With projects now on Platform.sh, they made the decision not to train any new developers on Acquia workflows. “It would have been a complete waste of time,” says Friederich. “We’re now completely free of Acquia, and that’s a good thing.”

Platform.sh enables us to use a single solution provider for all the different technologies and approaches we use for our projects. We see this as our number-one Platform.sh benefit.”

Today, when WONDROUS developers begin a new Platform.sh project from scratch, they can use their own template to completely set up the project remotely—the production environment, all deployment workflows, and everything else—in under 20 minutes. Friederich describes this process as just insanely good. “At this juncture, I would never consider buying some server hardware somewhere and writing all the deployment scripts and so on; it’s just unthinkable,” concludes Friederich.

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Reduction in infrastructure resource and workflow costs

Another scenario where Friederich shared Acquia couldn’t compete with Platform.sh? Price. After migrating its twelve Drupal 8 projects from Acquia to Platform.sh, WONDROUS was able to reduce infrastructure resource and workflow costs by 80 percent.

Finally, Platform.sh workflows and automation help WONDROUS save significant time compared to previous providers and keep maintenance and support costs low—resulting in more profitable client support contracts.

Modern and natural for developers

As noted, it’s paramount for the WONDROUS team to have the flexibility to use the languages and frameworks most appropriate for any given client project. And that’s a pivotal reason WONDROUS developers embraced Platform.sh.

“When you work with Drupal on Platform sh, you work with a standard, modern, state-of-the-art approach to PHP programming and management,“ explains, Friederich. “It’s much more natural for us to work with Drupal 8 on Platform.sh because all the Symfony projects that we do in PHP or Laravel all work the same way.” In contrast, “Working with Drupal on Acquia is like we used to work 10 years ago; you need special knowledge, and it’s a steep learning curve. We want a technology-agnostic approach to working with software,” says Friederich.

Earlier this year—when WONDROUS launched a team dedicated to client support and developing small, new features—they onboarded a new developer who was new to both Platform.sh and to Drupal 8. After minimal training over the course of a week, the developer was basically able to work on 20 different projects. “Two or three years ago, I could never have imagined that developers could work on more than three different projects in a day; with Platform.sh, it’s possible to work on 10 different projects,” Friederich shares.

The Platform.sh features WONDROUS loves

  • Feature branch environments
    I could not imagine how to develop without it anymore. The ability for multiple developers to work on multiple features simultaneously, together with the Platform.sh CLI, is very, very handy for maintaining all of our projects.
  • Git integration and integrations with GitHub
    We use them on all projects!
  • Support
    Amazingly fast response time for critical issues, always on time for non-critical issues. Those responses are well formulated and quite helpful.

Successful solutions for projects and clients of all sizes

From small clients with a single website to enterprise clients who need the scalability to meet the demand of hundreds of thousands of users, WONDROUS has taken advantage of Platform.sh capabilities to build solutions across the spectrum. All leveraging the same workflows.

Small project, education client

Challenge
Migrate six or seven smaller websites into one new Drupal website, setting up a volume of very, very complicated redirects for all the old URLs prior to go-live.

Outcome
This work was so simple with the Platform.sh routes.yaml. That saved us a lot of work, which otherwise would have had to be done manually in engineer's config.

Complex project, midsize customer

Challenge
Gain flexibility and performance improvements.

Outcome
By moving from Acquia to Platform.sh and adding Cloudflare on top, we’ve been able to significantly boost performance and reduce costs by 40%. And now we can have at least five open feature/bug fix environments to review with our client; the previous development model—with static dev, stage, and prod—only allowed two.

Large project, enterprise client

Challenge
Develop an intranet that could scale to support 200,000 authenticated users on demand.

Outcome
At launch, the site scaled to support all authenticated users without any manual intervention on our parts. Platform.sh gave us a hand by providing onboarding and amazing support with this complex infrastructure landscape. Two days post-launch, we got an email from the client saying ‘everything's so great and running so fast; we’ve never had a system before that could take the load!’ That was a real success for us.

Strength in small numbers

A small, tightly knit team, with a strong company culture. A strategic client partner, with a passion for delivering innovative, sustainable digital solutions that make a difference. Solutions that WONDROUS hosts, whenever possible, on Platform sh. “An agnostic approach, excellent support, security, and cost-effective pricing are the reasons we stay with Platform.sh,” Friederich concludes.