Strategy and Innovation

WillowTree named in "best agencies in mobile app development services"

We’re proud of the work we do here at WillowTree. We’ve always believed that by hiring the best talent and creating a culture where that talent wants to stay, a small team can punch well above its weight.

As WillowTree has grown, we’ve worked hard to keep those priorities in focus, and it’s served us immeasurably well. So it feels great when that philosophy is validated from sources outside of our team.

That’s why we’re so excited to share that WillowTree was named in The Forrester Wave™ report of top B2C Mobile Services Providers for Q4 2016.

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About the report

The Forrester Wave™ research process is a rigorous one.

To assess the state of the B2C mobile services provider market for more complex and transactional (commerce) apps, Forrester evaluated the strengths and weaknesses of top B2C mobile services providers with referenceable B2C mobile project qualifications in large enterprises.

After examining past research, user needs assessments, and vendor and expert interviews, they developed a comprehensive set of 20 evaluation criteria. Forrester identified the 13 most significant B2C mobile services providers to evaluate…and WillowTree was one of them. To paraphrase an oft-heard Oscar-nominee quote, it was an honor just to be invited to participate in the Wave.

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WillowTree scores highest among mid-sized agencies

To make it in this list of only 13 mobile solutions firms at all is significant. But the criteria make it even more significant for a company of our size to make the list.

One important distinction you’ll notice in the report is the way small and large companies were evaluated. The really big agencies were judged on size—their strengths being in numbers of developers and designers at their disposal—while smaller agencies like WillowTree were judged on the quality and range of referenceable work.

To that end, we received the highest score possible in the referenceable work (which includes customer feedback) and employee retention criteria.

In other words, our actual tangible output of work for our clients got us to the table with the giants. That’s huge. But then, that’s been our theory all along—a small ship is easier to turn.

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Why boutique is better

WillowTree is lean on purpose. Here are some advantages we see in being (and working with) a smaller agency:

1. We can invest in our employees

The best talent builds the best stuff. That’s a fact. It’s been our experience that if we create a truly enjoyable environment and offer best-in-class compensation to our hires, not only will we attract the very best talent; we’ll be able to retain them longer. Since the goal is to hire the best, we can build an efficient team of A+ experts capable of outperforming much larger teams.

2. College-town mindset

Many agencies operate under an assumption that the high cost of living and overhead of being based in a place like NYC is simply the cost of doing business with Fortune 500 companies.

But those real-estate, overhead, and employee costs can’t stop with the agency—all of it factors into the cost of billable work, translating to steeper contracts for clients.

At WillowTree, we’re choosing a different route. We selected two small yet culturally vibrant college cities to call home: Charlottesville, VA and Durham, NC. There are several reasons:

  • Access to top-tier college recruits. UVA and Duke both have top-tier computer science programs, giving us access to some of the most well-trained entry-level developers graduating each year, coming right out of our home communities.
  • Better quality of life for our employees. We believe the quality of life and the ability to raise a family, and by extension really put down roots, is greater in smaller cities like ours.
  • Lower overhead costs. Like we said, this allows us to create the best work in the industry at the best possible rates.

3. We’re co-located.

While we realize there are a lot of industries and businesses that might really flourish with a remote workforce, we don’t think agency work is one of them.

That’s why our project teams are all co-located, on-site, in the same office. We don’t even split project teams across our Charlottesville and Durham offices—we think better, faster, and more satisfying project work is produced when a team is able to collaborate and communicate in the same room every day.

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Additional report highlights

In the report, Forrester noted, “As technology becomes outdated and less effective, mobile moment design and user experience (UX) skills, employee retention, and a robust partner ecosystem will dictate which providers stand out from the pack.

WillowTree is cited as “a mobile agency that blends mobile strategy with consumer-grade design skills and enterprise-grade development capabilities,” and is mentioned as one of the “technology services providers that excel in mobile development.

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