An Open-Source Digital Agency Partnership Is a Stronger One | Insights

Article details:

How our custom, open-source frameworks allow your brand to sleep better at night

September 2022

  • Andrew Rubin, Senior Frontend Developer
  • Ariel Hitchcock, UX Design Lead
  • Liam Egan, Director of Technology

When your brand needs a website to promote an upcoming launch, you could be excused for overlooking the development process. After all, you have a deadline and a (hopefully) massive audience to attract with a new campaign. Does it really matter how your project gets built as long as it’s built on time and functions properly?

To put it bluntly, yes.

When you’re working with an outside agency, you want to ensure their work meets specific standards that serve your needs. Do you want a campaign with unproven code derived from some off-the-shelf library your agency used to save time and effort? Or do you want a custom project whose every detail — including accessibility standards — has been created to suit the specifications of your brand?

If you’re under deadline pressure, the idea of securing a custom development solution sounds time-consuming and cost-prohibitive. However, if you’re partnering with the right digital agency, your project moves faster courtesy of proven tools that streamline development. Your legal team also gains the assurance your campaign won’t cause headaches down the road by ensuring the building blocks for your project are properly licensed.

But just as importantly, your team develops an understanding of the tools that built your project, which enables you to make future adjustments as needed. Open source frameworks offer unmatched flexibility. Your brand should experience those advantages to the fullest.

How open source libraries streamline web development

As a digital agency, web development is a hugely important part of our creative process. But it also typically requires executing a number of complex, repetitive tasks. Creating libraries of code, documentation, configuration data, and other details forms the building blocks of your audience’s user experience.

Many developers will use common open source libraries to store code or documentation for JavaScript or other programming languages. We prefer to build our own.

Custom development tools eliminate headaches for your brand’s next project

Libraries are made up of a developer’s opinions about how various components will work in a project’s code base. At We The Collective, we create, maintain, and distribute custom open source tools to manage our clients’ work. As an added benefit, open source tools allow the client and any future developers for the project to gain full access to the source code for the component systems.

Fundamentally, we develop our libraries with an eye toward making sure our designers can do anything they may possibly conceive of once a project reaches the design stage. We do this with two purposes in mind:

  • Frameworks: A custom library of commonly used components for a project designed to function with greater flexibility. For example, a WebGL library stores all the appropriate pieces needed to render animated graphics and breaks them into separate classes.
  • Boilerplates: Reusable libraries of open source tools that we can access and apply to different clients and projects. One common boilerplate is a sticker book library we use to build applications that drop virtual stickers on a user’s screen and create downloadable assets.

These libraries deliver two advantages on the road to your brand’s next project. For one, your development teams gain assurance the contents of these libraries are robust and have been proven through their use in other projects. And secondly, your legal department gains the assurance that the rights for these tools are in order through our preexisting code disclosure.

Ultimately, using custom open source libraries allows us to work on your project faster and more efficiently. But just as importantly, your brand gains the assurance that your campaign will be built from proven components.

Why open source libraries are better for your project and the industry

Collaboration is crucial in the way we work with open source tools. We create best-in-class libraries, complete with documentation and a full history of their uses. This ecosystem of tools provides a robust framework for your project once it’s in production.

The process ultimately gives your brand more ownership of the project. Rather than relying on an agency to produce every detail, your team is empowered to play a role. If something comes up and you need a late adjustment to the language or other specific detail, your developers know how to make any required changes because we’ve worked together to show them how.

But along with empowering your brand’s team to take ownership of its project, we also give back to the open source community. We maintain our open source packages with the latest updates and ensure they’re available to the public on Github.

Part of what makes us such enthusiastic supporters of open source is its ability to build and support a sense of community. It’s not something that’s billable, but open source is a pursuit beyond client work that our team feels passionate about. As far as we’re concerned, nurturing that kind of work is as important as what we create for clients.

Frankly, you don’t often see development or design agencies releasing open source code for the community’s use. Typically, larger companies like Airbnb or the NFL develop tools and release them for wider use. At We The Collective, we don’t see our size as a barrier. Along with making our projects run more smoothly, why not improve entertainment marketing as a whole in the process?

Custom open source libraries protect your brand’s priorities — and ours

Using our custom open source libraries offers a level of assurance that an off-the-shelf library simply can’t provide. Even as open source tools have become the norm in agency development, they still don’t consistently conform with best practices.

For us, creating equitable, approachable experiences is among our top priorities. Working from our custom open source libraries doesn’t just allow your development team more control over your next campaign. It allows us to ensure we’re creating the kind of inclusive projects that will engage with the widest possible audience.

The practice is another way our adoption of open source development creates strong creative work and a stronger sense of community. Maybe you haven’t previously considered the tools behind your campaigns, but what’s inside our work is as important as what goes out front. If this sounds like the kind of work you want your brand to develop, we should talk.