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Is Mugo big enough and stable enough for your web project?

By: Peter Keung | November 20, 2017 | Work at Mugo

This year, after 10 years of steady growth, we reached the milestone of having 10 people on the Mugo Web team. And yet, in early sales discussions, we continue to face concerns about our size and stability: "How can I count on you still being there next year?" We've had to prove that we compare well against -- and outlast -- competing web development partners with hundreds of employees. Inherent to the Mugo story is a long-term, stable team, and our small size is one of the reasons our clients choose us.

A couple of client stories

The Christian Science Monitor is one of our longest client relationships. They came to us in 2010 after having successfully shifted from a daily print focus to a digital web focus. They were looking for a team with expertise on the eZ Publish platform to help build out new sections such as Monitor Breakfast, and to migrate their hosting environment to a more stable and supported setup.

Fast-forward almost 8 years and we've been through a couple of brand pivots, worked with them through several front-end refreshes (from creating split desktop/mobile sites, to a responsive site, to integrating with different publishing platforms such as Google AMP and Facebook Instant Articles). We also prepared for and watched with great excitement the traffic spikes (without downtime) over multiple US presidential elections, and have done hundreds of feature releases from integrating with different video ad platforms to launching entirely new micro-sites. We work together daily, and Mugo is counted upon not just for technical expertise but for helping to improve project management structures and assessing third-party vendors.

When one of our newer clients FindaTopDoc first came to Mugo Web almost 2 years ago, the health care startup was looking for a web development agency that could help build a content-rich doctor search and bookings site. Together, we built the first version of the site in about 4 months to enable them to support dozens of content creators with an editorial workflow that included a plagiarism scanner and SEO checkpoints. But the relationship didn't stop there. The growing startup had a long list of innovative ideas, from building doctor and patient communities and blogs to highly personalized marketing automation e-mails. They realized that they had found a web development partner that could help them flesh out and execute on those ideas as they developed their long-term vision.

Who and what is Mugo?

Mugo Web is a team of people who have chosen to work together on web development client projects that they enjoy. Mugo team members learn, grow, and mature together, and we've watched each other go through the high and low milestones of life, with families, relationships, and other personal endeavours. At our weekly team meetings, we share not just what we've been working on, but also personal highlights (and lowlights) such as Carlos' latest soccer game result, Lisa's latest baking project, Ernesto's new baby pictures, and Dave's performance as Fagin in the local Oliver play. Of course, team members' needs, circumstances, and interests might eventually mis-align with Mugo's, but we do our best to communicate early and honestly as we would do with anybody we respect.

Mugo's success is tied to the success of our clients over many months and years, as we support our clients to learn, grow, and mature. We aren't as interested in doing one-off projects and then moving on, because this is more disruptive to the stability in our own lives as well, nevermind the company's stability itself! We enjoy the day-to-day process of implementing long-term visions, and supporting our clients not just through big milestone launches, but daily editorial questions too. Through shared histories and experiences, as well as an awareness of each others' and our clients' strengths, weaknesses, and tendencies, we are better equipped to face challenges together.

OK, that's nice, but is Mugo big enough?

We work on projects where the initial build is up to a few thousand hours, and ongoing work is up to a couple of hundred hours per month. To achieve such projects, we usually have 2-4 team members dedicated to a particular project, with any other team member able to be pulled in on an as-needed basis; sometimes there is more of a design need up front, or more of a server setup need closer to launch.

What's the size of the development team on your specific project at larger agencies? For these projects, a different web development partner who has 10 times the number of employees will still staff a day-to-day team of a similar size, and we will beat most such partners in terms of additional developers who know the main technology stack (including the eZ Publish / eZ Platform CMS) well.

Is Mugo going to be around next year?

Larger agencies might have more people in general, but this does not actually help in terms of turnover: they tend to have much higher turnover rates for a particular role, and the remaining employees are no better equipped and are less likely to fill a vacant role than an external applicant. At Mugo, we can't make any promises that a particular person won't leave, but the average Mugo team member has been here for years, and we make every effort to smooth out the client experience when someone leaves.

Plus, the quality of the other development partners in the larger eZ community means that if we ever need to hand over a project in the future, we'll be able to make warm and confident recommendations.

The more important question is likely: how long is everybody on your particular project going to be around? We have some projects where we've worked on a client's website or digital implementation more than the client's employees have. We're then counted upon to provide the history, training, and continuity on the project.

Mugo seeks and maintains long-term client relationships

Mugo's size and slow growth have been instrumental in ensuring that we are a stable web development partner. Part of our philosophy from the beginning has been to seek and maintain long-term client relationships, and to find and keep long-term team members. When we decide to add a new Mugo team member, we do so intentionally, and are careful to integrate them into the team, help them learn our technology and process, and ease them in to get to know our clients.

Amidst the ever-evolving business and technology world, we very much value stability in our work and personal lives, and take the care to extend that stability to our clients!


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