Montage of screenshots showing a modern user interface

Recognising that off the shelf SAAS can only take you so far

The Boundary is a global CGI company that creates marketing content and immersive VR experiences for real estate, hospitality and ecommerce clients.

Like many organisations, it supports its day-to-day operations with third party SAAS (software as a service). We do, too — Xero for accounting, Slack for internal comms, Figma for design and prototyping and so on. But while single-purpose platforms still serve The Boundary well in specific departments, its core-business workflow was suffering. Key processes were stuck in an awkward tangle of multiple platforms that each did some of the job required but didn’t do anything perfectly. The challenge for us was, in essence, fairly straightforward:

  • Identify the must-have features of the platforms The Boundary was using;
  • Uncover any features that none of the platforms offered, but for which a strong need existed;
  • Explore how they might all fit together in a single, bespoke solution, and;
  • Build the thing in a way that allows it to grow and adapt with the changing needs of the business.
Screenshot of a web app homepage showing navigation, multiple image tiles and a comments sidebar


The Boundary Live homepage

Digital product development from the ground up

We decided that the best way to tackle the job was to take it one feature at a time. The Boundary’s core deliverables to its clients are high-def CGI renders of proposed architectural projects. In the course of creating these assets, multiple rounds of client feedback are required. After lots of back and forth on low-res draft versions, the asset is signed-off, whereby the full resolution final version is delivered to the client.

Much of the project management for this process was happening on Basecamp and email. Dropbox was used to share large assets (in large quantities). Spreadsheets were used (as they always are) to cover a multitude of other functions.

But there was a big piece missing. Clients wanted to appraise the step-by-step, incremental development of each asset, comparing works in progress from wireframe to clay model to first render to final sign-off, without wading through dozens of emails. So that’s where we began.

At the end of phase one we had designed and built a platform for clients to review newly uploaded images and leave comments. Alerts informed staff to make revisions, which were in turn uploaded, triggering another alert for the client. This resulted in a history of all the client interactions that led to the final signed-off image. The best part was that the story of each asset could be played back like a flick-book, layering on revision after revision of sometimes minute changes, sometimes significant ones. A full audit trail of the feedback loop from beginning to end.

Clients and staff loved it. And from there, the ball never stopped rolling.

The process of taking an idea, testing it, developing it into a useful tool and then making it all work has always been incredibly smooth and hassle-free with Ten4. We look forward to continued collaboration with Ten4 on the next iteration, and on other online tools in the pipeline.

Peter Guthrie, co-founder, The Boundary
Montage showing various user interface elements from a modern web app


Various user interface (UI) elements of the bespoke platform

Working in sprints, with big-picture vision

We continued to work in sprints, creating quick hand-drawn mockups followed by wireframe prototypes to test features with staff. This process helped uncover more insight: “What about X?”, “We don’t always work like Y” and so on. As from the start, we prioritised features that would have the most impact, collaborating with international teams to make sure the investment was helping the business as a whole.

With each iteration we often enhanced the user experience and interface, and improved the back-end technology to make it faster.

In all of this, our dedication to modular development, robust technology, and long-term thinking, allowed us to develop an app that isn’t just for project management; it’s also a sales tool.

This is true in a loose sense, in that a quick demo to a prospective client will show how easy it is to work with The Boundary. But it’s also true in a literal sense. However, to maintain competitive advantage, several features can’t be disclosed in this case study 🤫.

The platform, named “The Boundary Live”, continues to grow. Features we can talk about include:

  • User dashboards
  • Project dashboards
  • Project chat
  • Multiple file-types supporting all of The Boundary’s output including video and VR
  • Unlimited file-size upload
  • Clients and staff commenting on every asset revision
  • Client and staff notifications


The Boundary's marketing website, also designed and produced by Ten4

Creating long term value

It takes time to get to know all the ins and outs of a business, how it works, what its main challenges are and how they might change as the company grows. What we’ve learned working with The Boundary is that sometimes you have to take the bull by the horns. The company could have struggled on, using a multitude of platforms that did the job “well enough”. As its staff numbers grew, monthly subscription fees would have mushroomed. And it would still be stuck in a tangle of disconnected features, each doing their own thing quite well, but none filling that final 10% gap to let the business take off.

Since making the decision to build its own platform, The Boundary has gone from strength to strength. The long term value that we helped deliver is an integral part of its global success, and its staff now number 100+, up from just 15 when the project began. The company works directly with the world’s top architects and developers. Its founders have attracted millions in investment, and they’ve opened offices covering Europe, the GCC, the USA and Asia-Pacific.

And our small part in their success started with one simple sentence: “Yes, we can build something that works for you”.

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