StackSocial is a Venice startup that sells geeky goods and tools for digital publishers, all at a discount. They had heard about Philosophie through our relationship with their accelerator, Amplify.LA. Over the years, we have been a go-to partner for StackSocial on a variety of special projects, including a complete responsive redesign, proprietary internal tools, and even developer recruiting.

Responsive Redesign

StackSocial first came to us for their first major redesign. They wanted the site to work well across all devices, so making the site responsive was a top priority. In addition, they provided key performance indicators for the new design that were easy to measure: decrease bounce rate, increase time on the site, and increase revenue.

Jordan Keating, UI Designer at Philosophie, worked closely with Stack’s founder, Josh Payne, to bring his vision of the site to life. We presented designs in both mobile, tablet and desktop breakpoints. The new design added more visual interest through the use of textures, and extended the brand concept by introducing “stacks” as a visual element. The “stacks” also served to convey the bundled software packages that StackSocial is known for. The layout was also modified to promote shareability.

Trying to figure out the overall design direction was definitely a big challenge on this project. Ultimately having plenty of client communication and face time allowed us to hash it out.

Jordan Keating

UI Designer on StackSocial

The redesign significantly outperformed the previous one on all of our KPIs. In the month following the relaunch, we saw:


Bounce rate decrease


Avg. visit duration increase


Revenue increase

Codebase Refactoring

StackSocial was a hit, and as the company scaled its operations, it needed to leverage technology more and more in order to stay efficient. After the successful redesign, StackSocial came back to Philosophie to help them add features to its administrative system, through which they ran all aspects of the business. However, after a year of building features onto a homegrown system, the legacy codebase was beginning to slow down feature development.

Nick Giancola, a Partner at Philosophie, led the effort to carefully balance codebase refactoring while developing new features that the company urgently needed. The refactoring allowed the engineering team to move faster, and also optimized certain aspects of the code to improve scalability. The accounting system that Nick built from the ground up was able to handle thousands of partner accounts and millions of transactions over a quarter-million user accounts. In fact, it was even featured in Subledger's blog.

Accounting Dashboard

As a sales-driven business, the management and sales teams at StackSocial needed a dashboard to analyze real-time data from their system. Nick worked with Stack’s growing development team while a Philosophie UX designer worked with the business team to determine which statistics should be calculated from the data.

Here are some examples of the data we exposed:

Item Box
Hour-by-hour breakdowns of performance - both revenue and # of orders
Green Turtle Shells
Breakdowns of their top publishers and affiliates
Fire Flower
Performance of different promotions
Super Mushroom
Referral order and user tracking

All of these visualizations let StackSocial customize marketing and sales engagements based on their biggest revenue drivers. Before the dashboard, Stack’s sales team had to manually extract and analyze this data with Excel, a process that took hours. The dash was built to enable new statistics to be exposed with very little effort.

Recruiting an internal dev team

Meanwhile, we also worked with Josh to recruit and expand their internal tech team. We helped set up a recruiting process for StackSocial and Nick led technical reviews of the candidates. As we hired new developers, we trained them quickly through pair programming and then set them up with the systems they needed to better prioritize and deliver features. We hired three developers and set Stack up for future hiring success.

Content Management

StackSocial’s business data is complicated: an advanced referral system, multi-tenant platform, flexible payout schedules, and wide range of product types resulted in a mind-boggling array of business rules and processes. Philosophie simplified the complex. Our team designed and built a custom administrative backend which exposes over 50 database tables via a few consistent and easy to use interfaces.

This example shows how StackSocial can search through their massive members database (main table) using a few key query parameters (left column). The search feature also produces real time statistics (page header) based on the results returned.

Admin UX

Almost a year later, StackSocial brought us back to envision an even more delightful admin experience. This was an exciting time — we witnessed StackSocial’s growth from a handful of hardworking employees to a serious business. Our UX Strategist on the project, Joy Liu, sums the project up best: “Because of the evolution of the company and expansion of the team, the admin dashboard could no longer accommodate the most recent business strategy. There was a lot of technical and design debt left behind by the forerunners. I was brought into the project to help realign the admin experience with the current and upcoming strategy, as well as create a new platform for each team to perform their job with ease.”

To start the project, Joy spent two weeks interviewing each StackSocial team member. Here are some user insights:

It’s hard to find a user account within the current system, it’s like chasing a rabbit down the rabbit trail.


The goal here is to create an onboarding system that is much more simple for both Operations and Vendors, maybe even Sales.


From there, Joy derived a feature set, populated with user stories based on these insights. For instance:

"As an admin, I want to search all partners in one space so I can find what I need quickly without performing multiple searches in different parts of the system."

"As a sales manager, I want to see at least 20 sales in Top Grossing Sales instead of 10 sales so I can get a bigger spectrum of what the customers are purchasing."

What We Learned

The most enjoyable part was definitely the user interview phase. Since this is an internal tool, I was able to interact with the actual end users and figure out exactly what they need to make their jobs easier. To build a product truly for your users, you cannot assume what they want, you need to talk to them.

Joy Liu


The Team

  • Joy
    UX Designer
  • Nick
    Software Engineer
  • Jordan
    UI Developer