In our experience we’ve found that a customized solution, be it an application, a CMS, or a website, usually performs better, for longer, than an out-of-the-box alternative.
However, we find many businesses initially struggle to see the value of a custom option.
Here we look at three custom solutions we've developed to solve challenges that couldn’t have been done with an out-of-the-box solution.
1. e-commerce / e-procurement
The out-of-the-box solution
There are many e-commerce solutions that you can start with quickly. Shopify, Squarespace, Big Commerce, Volusion and more - they all offer an easy to build storefronts and allow you to quickly bring your products to your customers.
And if that is all you want, these solutions could be a fit for you. However, sometimes that isn’t quite enough.
Bell's process of onboarding corporate customers wasn’t living up to the standard set by the telecom industry in general.
It was a common story – their B2C experience was quickly evolving, while their B2B experience lagged behind, despite having the same users on both. Enginess worked with Bell to identify specific problems within their procurement processes, such as their approvals workflow and lack of self-serve tools, that were becoming bottlenecks for their operations.
Enginess helped change Bell's perspective on how e-procurement could be applied to the telecom/mobility space. By rolling out a robust e-procurement framework that introduced a number of self-serve functions, Bell was able to improve their corporate customer experience - making it easier for their business clients to procure their plans, devices and accessories online.
The procurement process was built on a customized e-commerce platform, using language and workflows that Bell corporate customers were already familiar with. With a personalized interface, different users engage with the system based on their own preferences, tied to their corporate agreements with Bell Mobility.
Now businesses can browse, research and purchase plans, devices and accessories more easily and without calling for help.
Providing a solution that allowed users to easily manage their own accounts reduced service calls and administrative work internally, saving Bell both time and money. But, just as important, it also changed the way Bell sales reps engaged with their accounts allowing them to focus on being more proactive in developing new business and servicing clients as opposed to reacting to procurement related questions and calls.
The out-of-the-box solution
Building a microsite isn’t necessarily hard – all the major open source CMS solutions will help you with it, and plenty of services offer them as a cheap mobile site (rather than responsive design). And this may be all that most organizations need.
However, The Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario (RCDSO) needed something more robust.
The Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario
(RCDSO) has many different audiences visiting their site, each requiring access to different information and tools. When evaluating RCDSO's processes and strategy, we found that to properly serve the audiences they wanted to attract to their site, we needed multiple sites unique to each user group.
We solved their problem by customizing Advantage CSP to produce a solution that fit their exact needs. To make everything simple to manage, we provided a single back-end CMS that allowed content to be shared across multiple sites and also had the ability to send out updates for important notifications.
The new RCDSO network of custom sites gives different departments in the organization the ability to work and update the site autonomously without running through a central structure. But, the central RCDSO administrators still retained control of the site (to prevent it from getting too out of control).
Enginess also developed an online web portal to facilitate its continuing education program, making it easy to complete courses and log hours. Working with RCDSO we found that a key problem for them was in the amount of administration required to properly manage their continuing education offering for the association and its members.
RCDSO’s e-Portfolio accreditation platform
Our solution was to leverage their enterprise CMS to automate much of the CE administration, creating a custom online educational portal that dentists could access from anywhere, browse the full range of courses available, select courses and log hours, while also reducing the time needed to complete the required education.
3. Multiple user bases
The out-of-the-box solution
Some businesses are focused on a single audience, or offering a single product. For these simple sites, an out of the box solution might be the right investment to produce an effective site.
But what if you had multiple product lines, for multiple audiences across multiple countries? How do you build an effective website that serves up relevant content to all your visitors without having an unmanageable site? In Iridium's case, the answer was to build a custom solution to make the task manageable.
We worked with Iridium to launch its new website on a customized enterprise-CMS platform, optimized for its unique business needs. Iridium’s key challenge was that it had multiple different user groups, each with unique demands. Iridium needed a single site that catered to the global demands from:
- Corporate partners
- End users
To allow Iridium to serve all of its diverse audiences from a single site, we created a custom site on Advantage CSP with an extranet that automatically serves up content Iridium has decided is relevant content to its audience by recognizing their role, geography and permissions.
The result is a custom site that works well for all audiences who engage with it, and reduces the amount of time visitors spend discovering content - all while being managed by Iridium through a single backend.
Believing an out-of-the-box piece of software will be able to address all the unique needs of your site, is similar to believing that you'll always be able to find a suit or dress that fits perfectly off the rack (and on sale!). It can happen, but more often than not to get the perfect fit requires a lot of work.
The good news is that getting that right solution that does fit isn’t impossible. A bit of tailoring here, a new lining and refresh on the cuffs, and you can be closer to your perfect fit than you may realize.
So while you may think that the solution you’ve found will work fine right out of the box, there’s often going to be something you can make a little better.
A custom site doesn’t have to be a huge project.
No matter now generic you think your business is, each one is unique and a little bit of customization goes a long way when building your online presence.