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How 10 People Serve Over 10 Million Users: the Software Powering Smallpdf

by Arvo Partanen

The era of internet and technology has made it possible for even a small company to serve an audience of thousands, if not millions of customers.

Smallpdf is the most successful web-based PDF software worldwide thanks to its simplicity, efficiency and clean design. Its 16 online tools allow you to edit, sign, compress and convert PDFs free of charge. In the past 3,5 years we have grown to serving over 10 million unique users on a monthly basis.

Our small 10-person team, based in Zurich, Switzerland, is only able to make this happen by automating and centralizing our processes using various great software and tools.

See below a few of the favourites our employees from different departments love to use and want to highlight:

HotJar - Research

HotJar is a web tool that helps us uncover user needs on our site.

“It's vital to design with our users. When we have an idea, we validate it with a HotJar poll. When we release a new feature, we leave a feedback widget on the side for users to suggest features and report bugs. We've caught issues we never would have otherwise known about using HotJar. We respect each others' processes - in fact, they've written about us as well.”

-    Kristina, Design

FreshDesk - Customer Service

Freshdesk is a cloud-based customer support software and ticketing system providing helpdesk support.

“At Smallpdf, listening to our users is highly important: we simply want to create a product that they love. Therefore, having an efficient communication channel between us is crucial, and this is where Freshdesk comes to play. It allows us to organize the tickets, spot technical bugs rapidly and be up to date on how our users find the product. Freshdesk enables flawless communication between us and our users, and we could not survive a day without it.”

-    Janina, Business

Dashlane - Access

Store and share your passwords and accounts.

Dashlane is the smart way of being secure and fast at the same time. Not only the quality (and quantity) of all the passwords is increasing, it also helps you to log in faster and to easily fill address or credit card information with a single click.”

 -     Christoph, Business

Gitkraken - Product Development

Axosoft GitKraken is a cross-platform Git client with efficiency, elegance and reliability at the core.

“GitKraken gives us granular control over which new features and improvements make it into our next release, and provides a simple interface for peer-reviewing changes to our codebase.”

-    Max, Software Engineer


SEMrush - Digital Marketing

SEMrush is a digital marketing toolkit for analyzing and optimizing SEO, paid traffic, social media, content & PR.

“We use SEMrush mainly in planning, tracking and analyzing our search engine optimization efforts. It is easily the most convenient tool on the market, and it keeps on improving further with a steady rollout of new features. It also suits great in competitor analysis and tracking bigger movements on the markets.”

-    Arvo, Marketing

Amazon Web Services - Infrastructure

Amazon Web Services (AWS) offers a broad set of global compute, storage, database, analytics, application, and deployment services that help organizations move faster, lower IT costs, and scale applications.

"Amazon Web Services is our cloud provider. It provides us with a lot of virtual servers, unlimited file storage and a lot of other services that we don’t have to code or maintain. This means we don’t have to care about hardware and all the possible ways it can break. It allows us to scale up as high and fast as we want without needing a lot of manpower."

-    Alexander, Software Engineer


Sketch - Design

Sketch is a vector design tool entirely focused on user interface design.

“We first ideate on paper and we then craft on Sketch every new element of our product. With Sketch we have full control over any pixel of our design library so we keep it consistent and reusable. In combination with “Craft” by InVision LABS, we can now also easily turn any static set of interfaces into a click through prototype and test right away every design alternatives we ideate.”

-    Valerio, Design


Surveymonkey - Business Insights

SurveyMonkey is an online survey software.

*“Our users are our most valuable asset when it comes to product development. We want to listen to our customers’ needs to the fullest and Surveymonkey is the perfect tool to plan and collect feedback with minimal effort. In addition, it suits perfectly for analyzing the data thoroughly and breaking it into tangible insights and actions.”

    • Arvo, Marketing

WeTransfer - File Transfer Service

WeTransfer is a cloud-based computer file transfer service.

“We use weTransfer in sending oversized files effortlessly to our customers and 3rd parties. The simplicity of the service makes even working with big files fun.”

 -    Janina, Business


Terraform - Infrastructure

Terraform is a tool for building, changing, and versioning IT infrastructure.

"Terraform lets us describe our infrastructure as code that can be checked into our version control system. This means we can see the current state of our infrastructure with one glance and make changes to it just by altering a variable or two. It is also a huge part of our goal to automate everything."

-    Alexander, Software Engineer


DaPulse - Planning & Visualization

Dapulse is a visual project management tool that is very simple and customizable.

“DaPulse is the perfect tool for organizing work. Here at Smallpdf it acts as the heart and soul of marketing where one can find all information regarding marketing: from higher level planning to tiny details of smaller tasks.

*Its latest timeline feature is a great way to get an overview where we are currently standing and are we on time - in simply a matter of seconds. It is also a huge timesaver when other departments need an overview on what is currently going on with marketing.”

    • Arvo, Marketing

Workable - Recruiting

Workable is an applicant tracking system that helps companies find and hire the right people. You can publish jobs on multiple platforms with a single click.

“Workable is fantastic. You have a total overview and full control of incoming applicants. It makes the complicated recruitment process transparent and so easy that it is fun to work with. And not to forget it saved me tons of time.”

-    Christoph, Business


InVision - Design

InVision is a prototyping tool created for designers, by designers. It allows you to quickly and easily create interactive mockups for your designs.

“With InVision we can easily bring to life any design we made. We can test upfront the optimal user experience we want to achieve for our users any time we introduce new tools and features. It makes it very easy to move from design to realisation.”

-    Valerio, Design


Ansible - Infrastructure

Ansible is an open source automation platform.

"Ansible lets us describe what software should be deployed on each server. It allows us to deploy new versions to a lot of servers with one command within seconds. It is also a huge part of our goal to automate everything."

-    Alexander, Software Engineer
Arvo Partanen
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