Choosing a Digital Agency (and why you should choose a Technical Agency)
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Introduction

Hey ! My name is Paddy O’Sullivan and I am the CTO and owner of REPTILEHAUS.

Depending on how well you know us that may mean we are a Digital Agency or Technical Agency. I prefer the latter, but the former is necessary for us to compete within this, often times, over-crowded industry.

When I started this company back in 2015 I saw a distinct gap in the market. I saw other companies doing what I do but not really caring about how they did it nor the end product and its success.

Unless of course, its success, would become “their” success.

Each project was simply a transaction on the balance sheet, built to a specification that is usually written by someone with no in depth technical knowledge.

In other words: not a lot of pre-planning, foresight and for sure a security incident was something that “hopefully” won’t happen.

I thought to myself that this must be the distinction that a master craftsmen makes when he sees a production line churning out the same drivel over and over again where under the surface it is lacking in quality and longevity… and so I set up REPTILEHAUS !

 

Choosing a Digital Agency (and why you should choose a Technical Agency)

TLDR; Scroll to the end if you want to see our offerings and pricing

HAUS Reptile

Who you are hiring ?

I am an avid technologist and engineer at heart but I don’t let that cloud my creativity. I personally designed and wrote every line of code on this site – not because it was cost effective (I value my time more than money) but because I am very passionate about what I do, how it is done and I wanted my site to reflect that in every way.

My career progression has been slightly unconventional in that I am self taught in a dozen programming languages picked up over more years that I care to remember, as well as systems, servers and security.

I discovered security and vulnerabilities accidentally while experimenting with TCP post request parameters and noticing errors – after more digging I realised if I feed certain web applications with “Garbage in” occasionally it would result in “Gold Out”, in other words it was possible to access private databases because developers do not understand security basics.

This is known as MySQL Injection and it was through reconnaissance and discovery of this vulnerability that I was able to make responsible disclosures to website owners which were usually followed up with requests to help fix the issue and occasionally to provide consultancy on how to secure their infrastructure.

Essentially it was these clients who were the building blocks that helped pave the way for me to start the journey of REPTILEHAUS with its security first approach.

I like to solve problems with simplicity and creativity. The ethos of REPTILEHAUS has always been to use our development skills with the same care and consideration as the master craftsman does when he carves, bends or distorts his chosen medium until it takes shape then he tempers it in the fire to create something new, thought provoking and perpetual (For this analogy we will have to substitute the use of fire and flames with our burning passion for technology and occasionally the use of soldering irons).

These days our means of client acquisition is not as exotic, we now favour SEO, word of mouth and old fashioned networking at conferences and events.

Many of our clients start out their journey with a simple Google search “Digital Agency near me” which will turn up the best of the best, the best of the worst along with those who pay thousands of Euro to Google Ads each week to position them on page 1 of Google and somewhere buried past page 8 you will find us  – were working on that.

The real question is why and what was this person actually looking for ?

If the answer is a designer or a marketer then they are probably in the right place. If they are looking to have a website or app built to last then they should probably refine their search parameters, although each of these companies can create websites it will cost more and will not necessarily be built to a high standard or the “right” way.

Its tough for CMO’s and decision makers who get a budget and wish to “go forth and commission a great digital work-of-art” as the term Digital Agency is opaque meaning everything from:

  1. Ad Agency
  2. Marketing Agency
  3. Design Agency
  4. Technical Agency
  5. Creative Agency
  6. Media Agency

I mean… there is a lot of crossover between all of these titles. Isn’t an Ad Agency the same thing as a Marketing Agency anyway ?

We fall into #4 and sadly Technical Agency doesn’t sound quite as sexy as Digital Agency nor does it get so many results on Google’s SERPS – I hope to change that as I am now targeting that keyword by writing this very article 😀

As you can see there is a direct juxtaposition when you consider words like security, expert development, systems administration and cloud architect yada, yada, yada with any of the aforementioned flavours of Digital Agency and for good reason – because it is what we do ! and not what they do.

Choosing a Digital Agency (and why you should choose a Technical Agency)

I also have a creative side

Building a website or app is highly technical.

It’s not just the code inside the app or that sits on a server in some datacenter. At a minimum you have got to understand  servers, systems, architect the infrastructure for cost effectiveness and performance, pinpoint potential vulnerabilities and adversarial scenarios.

This is a very high level overview of what goes into our project pre-planning but it resonates through all parts of the project lifecycle from the first line of code to configuring the servers.

From your Google search you will receive a barrage of results, The price for a simple corporate site will range from the amazing price of €250 right up to €10,000 which is generally the minimum entry level price that most digital agencies will consider your project as viable enough to take on.

Of course €250 is not something you should go for if you are truly serious about tackling your online presence but it is what it is – that is not to take away from our own budget pricing tier which starts at €500 which is simply there to get you up and running.

In the interest of transparency with our pricing structure and lack of overheads we can provide the same work for approx. €6000 (€2500-3000 development + €3000 design) and being that most of our team are ex-Agency folks you get the same quality for less.

What do we actually offer

To provide an itemised list of our services I could go on forever and this blog post is already way too long 🙂

Our primary offerings are below but not limited to them either. We also provide Photography, VFX, Sound and Electrical engineering, Art Installations and more:

Websites

Websites are our bread and butter. Our preferred platform is of course WordPress which powers 34% of all websites and we have become experts in creating secure WordPress sites, so much so that we regularly release security patches before the official ones get released.

We also create 100% bespoke websites where every single line of code is written from the ground up, we generally advise clients to go this route when a site has more a more complex feature set that requires more tweaking that a simple blog or corporate site.

We understand how to control and tweak every part of your website in order to ensure if performs to its best, after all there are over 200 different ranking factors all integral to ensure your site is more favourable than your competitors a lot of these should be taken care of during development like specific well thought micro formats  whilst others are ongoing such as creative SEO writing and regular blog posting – In short when it comes to SEO the job is never finished and is ongoing, it may also mean putting in place ongoing PPC campaign’s.

We have put extensive efforts into working with Google PageSpeed to get 100/100, if this is a metric you need to achieve we can help get you there by architecting your site specifically for this (CSS above fold loading, Web Images, Image optimisation, Nginx + PageSpeed modules etc..).

We offer Web Development from €2,500.00 

Some examples we built:

  1. GoRaffleIt.com – The world’s first personalised raffle platform
  2. InvoiceFair.com – a nice example of a startup/corporate website
  3. Styla.com – Berlin based startup focusing on content commerce

iOS/Android Apps

Our love for digital of course includes building mobile applications. We recently launched a social network app for the over 65’s community in Stockholm Sweden and we are currently working on 2 other apps.

One is a crypto-currency digital wallet for simple payments to be integrated with a hardware POS system (which we are also building) and the other is a social network app for dog owners in Prague and Berlin.

We’re fast becoming an App Development studio ! and for good reason. It’s twice as important to get apps right the first time round because once they get installed on a phone you are not in control of updating or fixing them, it is down to the user.

It is our meticulous attention to detail and planning efforts across our engineering team that ensure the app is built the right way, performs great on all target devices, that the backend infrastructure is setup and built to handle high traffic as well as scalable at the drop of a hat.

We offer MVP App Development from €10,000.00*

Our latest released app is the “Still Active” app for the over 65+ community in Stockholm, Sweden – check it out on the Apple App Store here and also available on Android via the Google Play Store here

Choosing a Digital Agency (and why you should choose a Technical Agency)

Our latest app. Released for both iOS and Android

 

Desktop Applications

We build desktop applications for Windows, OSX or Linux operating systems using Electron.

We recently completed a project for a well known Irish retailer whereby customers sign up and register to their service using a desktop kiosk. We use the same technologies for making desktop data aggregation monitoring apps and also for our point-of-sale cryptocurrency terminal.

We offer Desktop App Development from €2,000.00*

 

Blockchain

We love coding secure applications and infrastructure so of course we are on the forefront of innovation when it comes to blockchain technology, We are one of (if not) the first Irish software development house to be so heavily involved with blockchain development.

Our chain platform of choice is Ethereum’s EVM which we used to build infrastructure solutions for next generation Blockchain payments startup, Aerum Technologies, which allowed us to use our never ending search for performance and scalability to create a side chain capable of handling 10,000 transactions a second, 3 second block time and 5 second block finalisation as well as a decentralised wallet application.

In 2020 we are also breaking new ground by releasing our own Cryptocurrency wallet and accompanying point-of-sale terminal allowing stores and individuals to create their own ERC20 or ERC721 tokens which can then be used as a means of payment.

We offer Blockchain/dApp/Contract Development from €5,000.00*

Aerum has now transitioned to Fuchsia network but our work on their cryptographically secure wallet is still in use check it out here as is our research and network implementation.

 

Hosting

As CTO of REPTILEHAUS I personally started off working server side be it with Databases or spinning up new boxes for Microsoft as an external vendor.

Hosting is a logical part of the puzzle for us to handle, after all we built your website, we know what environment it will perform at its best in, we can also maintain it and ensure it does not get hacked which is an ever so often overlooked part of the puzzle.

I personally spend quite a lot of time weighing up each cloud provider and there truly is no one size fits all solution. I make that decision once I know what shape the project is taking on during our planning stages.

Rest assured we are experts in cloud infrastructure and we can put in place the solution that is best for you be it Google Cloud Platform, Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure or our other providers.

We offer Hosting from €150.00*/month

Please see testimonials on our homepage for reviews from clients on our hosting offering’s and indeed our dedicated hosting page for plan specific information and pricing here

 

IoT

Occasionally we get asked to create something that requires us to roll up our sleeves, strip cables, prototype on bread boards and finally heat up our soldering iron to build out the final product.

We have created cool art installations using ws2812b addressable LED lights, worked on autonomous forklifts, programmed micro-controllers to monitor blockchain events and reactions, Point of sale terminals and even fun customer interaction boxes at Kildare Village.

We love working with electronics and even more so when we can fuse it together by creating a bridging API to your website or iOS/Android App and see multiple platforms talking together using a common interface.

 

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We offer IoT Development from €2,500*

Choosing a Digital Agency (and why you should choose a Technical Agency)

Our work at Kildare Village back in 2015 – we programmed the HYPEBOX® Augmented Reality Screens experience as part of the “Christmas Village”

 

Security

If you read this blog or follow our Twitter @REPTILEHAUS you can probably tell that we have a vested interest in security and staying on top of all the latest threats, as mentioned before it is not uncommon for us to release our own security updates for clients WordPress sites this is because we monitor the threat landscape daily, hourly and at times minute by minute when we see something crop up – when something does we develop a patch. Security is massively important here at REPTILEHAUS and we have forged some solid alliances with other security vendors to ensure that our clients always get the best ! Our service offering is usually included as part of development or hosting packages however we do also offer audits in the domain of web and app security, for smart contract audit and more we work closely with our specialist security vendors in Berlin, Germany.

Services: Web/AppSec, Physical, Infrastructure, disaster recovery/prevention and more.

We offer an array of solutions both in house and 3rd party. Call for quote.

 

Support / Maintenance

We are a small boutique agency because we foster relationships with our clients and they know they can count on us when they need us. One of our biggest selling points is that you are usually in direct contact with me personally as CTO, when there is an issue I delegate the task directly and more often than not you will get a response even outside of our office hours, it is one of the small USPs which sets us aside from our competition.

Services: Updates, Upgrades, Phone/Chat support, Expert advice, Maintenance, Fixing hacked assets, Content creation and creative writing and more.

We offer Support from €65.00*/hour (packages available)

* more or less depending on features, programming languages or 3rd party providers (AWS, GCP, Azure)

Choosing a Digital Agency (and why you should choose a Technical Agency)

You will always get a response from us. Period.

 

Why REPTILEHAUS

When summing up our boutique agency the areas which we really shine in comparison to hiring bigger digital agencies lies in the detail – We are not really a digital agency – shhhh, we are a technical implementation agency created and ran by expert consultants and technologists.

Experts: We do not have any juniors on our team. Our team as all seasoned developers and infrastructure experts with over 100 years of shared experience who will actually be working and taking part in decision making on your project, you will most likely be in direct contact with the person who is coding the site.

In-haus: We do not out-source any work that we can do in-haus. In fact we work quite closely with other creative agencies who outsource to us. Essentially we have become a wholesale software development ‘haus. You get agency quality and get to save $$$$’s in the process.

Dedicated: We take on a limited number of jobs per year and we are dedicated to ensuring that they all run smoothly and efficiently – once your project is launched and gone live our job is only half done and we keep in regular contact irregardless of if you have a support plan or not. Our customer reviews and testimonials are of vital importance to us and how we do business, It is by choice that we don’t spend bucket loads of money on advertising so its important that our customer satisfaction levels are unparalleled, after all word of mouth is how we get most of our business.

Security: we are focused on being a technical agency – you cannot focus on being a truly technical agency if security is not at the forefront of what you do. Our competitors can create beautiful sites (as do we) and bill for thousands more than we do but we have found an innate lack of understanding with regards to the basic concepts of security. You may request that your site is built using OWASP Top 10 standards (which would be the most basic of all security requirements) but we see 99.9% of all agencies don’t understand nor do they have the talent in house to carry out even such a basic audit.  In short almost all our competitors cannot tell their XSS from their XXE never mind knowing their Insecure Direct Object references from Insecure Deserialisation. Cyber security is a very sought after skill and with good reason, demand is high and there are not enough skilled people – aside from us having the knowledge in-house we know some of the best guys including folks with the distinction of hacking NASA – depending on your project we can take care in house or we can scale up our security offering as needs be using our trusted partners. It is my personal mission to drive REPTILEHAUS security offerings in tandem with our development efforts.

Choosing a Digital Agency (and why you should choose a Technical Agency)

Free advice: If you are not already requesting it be built to OWASP TOP 10, you should be.

Fast response time: One thing all of our clients will praise is how quickly we will respond to tickets, more surprising is that we respond after hours and on weekends – just because the hours are 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday doesn’t mean you won’t encounter problems outside of these hours and if we happen to be online we will be there to help you.

Price: Of course quality comes at a price ,as does all the expertise and attention we provide, however we usually undercut our competition by magnitudes for the very simple reason that we like to KISS and by KISS I mean the acronym for “keep it simple, stupid”. We have very little overheads other than servers, subscriptions and office space. We don’t have Team Leaders, Chief Happiness Officers,  Information Security Officers, Developer Advocates or Human Resources (other than our office Dog “Bowie”) we are simply a closely knit group of Expert consultants with over 100 years of shared experience and as such we are all multi disciplinary all working under a flat hierarchy – We are each entrepreneurs, developers and project managers all wrapped up in one. Tasks are distributed team wide each day/week by me as CTO, the job gets done and you get informed – why complicated it any more than it needs to be.

So with all that in mind, you are now armed with the knowledge for selecting a development partner.

 

COMPETITION

We have a competition ongoing at present where the winner will be chosen on December 24th 2019.

To be in with a chance to win €500.00 off your next project with us please visit and like our facebook page here then find our pinned post with this article and also like / share it.

The winner will be chosen on Xmas eve 2019 at 23:30 for information email competition@reptile.haus (please note that this offer is only for new projects being started in 2020, not existing ones).

If you need any more information do not hesitate to get in touch, you will find a number of ways to get in touch with us via our CONTACT PAGE

#ENGINEERINGINNOVATION 

#TECHNISCHEINNOVATION

#TECHNICKÉINOVACE

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