Case Study •

No More Bottlenecks
How Thinkmill Reduced Dependencies on Senior Developers with Astro

Astro Team

Thinkmill is an engineering and design consultancy based in Sydney, Australia. They specialize in building digital products and design systems with clients including Atlassian and Westpac (one of Australia’s Big Four banks).

Astro enabled Thinkmill to increase their team productivity by removing complexity and avoiding over-engineering. Astro’s HTML-friendly approach to modern web development meant that developers could contribute changes more easily without over-relying on Javascript. With Astro, Thinkmill was able to remove bottlenecks and increased the total number of contributors on a project from 1 to 15.

Before: Senior developer is needed to make changes to website and is a bottleneck for process. After: Technology is much simpler so more people can make changes without needing a senior developer.


Thinkmill is a slightly unconventional agency. They have no project managers and are instead made up of a collective of designers and developers that like working together. Under this structure, it’s not uncommon for folks in different disciplines to be working together on the same parts of a project - even if it’s not their forte. Herein lay Thinkmill’s major challenge.

The team wanted designers and content editors to be able to autonomously contribute to the codebase. However, their previous tech stack used Next.js because the team liked React. This made it difficult for non-developers and less experienced developers to contribute. As a result, updating the website required the team to enlist the help of a senior developer. This would take the developer out of their flow state and into an entirely different context - one that would take time for them to gather enough data on to deliver the work. It would also halt the work of whichever person was initially responsible for the work because they needed to get unblocked.


In order to maintain a website that was easy to use for both less experienced developers as well as folks that were not familiar with code, Thinkmill needed a solution that was simple.

Astro is extremely well documented and has a friendly community.

Simon Swiss, Developer Advocate at Thinkmill, strongly advocated for the team to use Astro because it was extremely well documented. Anyone that wanted to jump into the website could easily upskill themselves to start contributing. Non-senior developers could manage the site with only HTML and CSS while senior developers who favoured React could feel at home with the JSX syntax. Astro also came with highly desirable content features such as MDX support, syntax highlighting and pagination out of the box so Thinkmill did not have to build those features.

“Astro seemed to hit that sweet spot of simplicity of use without compromising on the power it gives to developers. The documentation and friendly community were two big factors that made us choose Astro.”

— Simon Swiss, Developer Advocate

The team was also not sure if they were going to stick with the solution they chose. This made it absolutely necessary for the solution to be flexible in case they needed to swap it out later on. Astro allowed Thinkmill to support their legacy MDX files straight out of the box. At the same time, if Thinkmill ever wanted to move to a headless CMS or even use an API, they could.

Astro ended up being such a simple and flexible tool that the team made it a permanent solution.

Thinkmill homepage.

Solution and Implementation

When asked what the two most advantageous things about Astro were, Simon cited strong documentation and ease of entry for non-senior engineers.

According to Simon, Astro was easy to explain to both sides. React engineers found Astro familiar because of the JSX syntax and it wasn’t that much of a reach for developers that only knew HTML and CSS. Astro felt like using HTML with JSX capabilities, which the entire team loved.

The team heavily leveraged Astro components in their site - treating it almost like a React project but without any of the complexity that React can bring. As soon as content collections released, Simon’s team started using them. Content collections even allowed Thinkmill to pair Astro with Keystatic - their content management tool - to make content collections editable in a GUI.

“Astro is a game changer for cross-functional teams. Its simplicity has opened the door to a more inclusive way of working that brings designers into the heart of code contributions to our website repo.”

— Ronald Aveling, Lead Designer


Reduced Friction

Thinkmill went from needing a senior developer to make changes to the website to 4 non-senior design engineers actively managing the site today. In addition, close to 15 people have contributed to the source code of the Thinkmill website - designers and developers inclusive.

Prior to Astro, it was difficult for people to join the website project for several days due to the time needed to gain enough context to contribute. However, with Astro, the tool is so simple, well documented, and flexible that people can join an Astro project and be productive in 3-4 days.

Performance Gains

Thinkmill ran their Astro site through Unlighthouse, which runs every page through Lighthouse. Almost every page scored 100 for performance, best practices, SEO, and accessibility.

Unlighthouse performance scores of 100 for 4 different categories.