NoCowboys: Marketplace for
Tradesmen in New Zealand

Project Idea

An online B2C marketplace and review platform for tradesmen services in New Zealand.


We made several significant upgrades to an existing website that helps people quickly find the best home service specialists in New Zealand.

project figures

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new profiles
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new job posts
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ratings and reviews

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NoCowboys is a review website founded in 2004 in New Zealand. Its users can find and book any kind of home services — from plumbing to house building. The customers can rate businesses from NoCowboys based on their experience to help others find a reliable provider.


New Zealand

Online Reviews:
107 000

Company Size:
11-50 Employees

Visitors a Year:
1 Million +

Business Accounts:
41 000


Reputation Marketing, Online Marketing, Reviews, Jobs Board, Rated Tradespeople, and Deal Direct with Tradesperson


NoCowboys contracted Greenice web development agency in 2016 after being in the market for 12 years already. Before Greenice, several development teams worked on their system. The code was half-written in Zend 1 PHP framework; the rest of the web app was written with several other frameworks. This made it difficult to add new features. NoCowboys needed us to do the code refactoring, upgrade the CRM system, and enhance the website UX.

How It Works

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There are Registered, Unregistered, and Customer Prefered Businesses:

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Each of them has its own privileges:

‘Unregistered’ businesses are unpaid accounts that can be created either by a business or by a customer. They can be listed and reviewed but cannot apply for the posted jobs.

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‘Registered’ businesses are paid accounts (subscription). They have advanced functionality, an enhanced interface, and the ability to add links to personal websites and use the account analytics.

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‘Customer Preferred’ businesses are paid registered accounts that have fulfilled three conditions: have at least 10 reviews from clients, the last review was written not earlier than 120 days ago, and the overall rating is higher than 85%. Their privileged status allows them to apply for customers’ jobs. When the business becomes ‘Customer Prefered’, the company gets a special badge that gives them an advantage in the search and shows the customers that this business is highly rated.

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What We Did

Our team joined the project after it had already been launched, but needed improvements. The scope of tasks that we carried out consisted of:

Creation of a new CRM system
UX improvement
Automating reports
Security upgrades

The New CRM System


Originally, there were two separate systems for Admins that were built with old technologies.

We combined these two systems into a new CRM by rewriting all the code to Zend 1. This technology was selected because one of the Admin systems was already built with Zend 1. The refactoring improved the performance, enabled quicker development of new features, and enhanced security.

The new system allows NoCowboys admins to manage customers and business accounts (jobs, message history, statistics, subscription expiry dates), verify ratings, and generate reports. Here is a new Admin panel for a Business account:

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Automated Report


NoCowboys managers have to notify each customer of the need to prolong the subscription before it expires.

Previously, the manager had to check the subscription expiration dates manually, which was cumbersome. To reduce their routine, we made an automated ‘master spreadsheet’ report that could be downloaded at any time to show lists of businesses requiring updates.

UX Improvement


We changed the outdated on-site search engine to ElasticSearch and improved the search logic.

To retrieve the best results, the system takes into account a combination of factors like proximity to the client, rating of the business, and recency of the last review.

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Maintenance and Improvements


As the platform gains popularity in New Zealand and grows, there is a constant need in adding new service categories and features to give exposure to new businesses on the platform.

Multi-Layered System Security for Trusted Reviews


The trustworthiness of customer reviews is a big issue for review platforms so we paid special attention to reviews validation. We instituted the following measures to validate reviews:

The system prevents more than one rating or review for the same business from one email and IP address.
The system accepts ratings only from registered users. The feedback from unregistered users is still displayed but marked as unauthenticated.

Look at the difference between authenticated and unauthenticated ratings:

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Businesses or admins may request a customer to provide proof that he/she really received a service, otherwise, the feedback is removed.
Data security is ensured by a certified service that takes measures against DDoS attacks and suspicious behavior; they also distribute traffic among several servers to improve performance.
To prevent spam reviews, we use Akismet, a service that scans the system for spam-like patterns. We also use blacklists to filter bot emails, phone numbers, and content.


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Benefits for the Client

  • 01 The code and architecture optimization allowed faster development of new features, increased security, and improved performance.
  • 02 A new CRM simplifies the manager’s daily routine.
  • 03 A new search engine and rating validation measures made the platform more attractive, and easier to use.
  • 04 Automated data processing and subscription renewal saves man-hours and eliminates human errors.

What the Client Says

Here is what our client, the owner of NoCowboys, says about our work in his feedback verified by Clutch

Consistently producing satisfying deliverables, Greenice continues to manage site upgrades and expansion. The team communicates and organizes assignments effectively to ensure project goals are met. They foster collaboration to optimize resources, which has made them a valuable partner.

Bruce Lindsay CEO NoCowboys

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