It’s no secret why so many companies (including web design companies) use WordPress. It’s a very stable, mature platform with a huge community of developers, an easy-to-use content management system (CMS) and a massive library of plugins — it can do basically anything you need it to do.
There are WordPress plugins for eCommerce, plugins for SEO management, plugins to create forms, plugins for almost anything your heart desires.
But what happens when you have a unique scenario or a business requirement for which none of these plugins will do exactly what you need? Whether you’re working with WordPress or another platform, that’s when “custom integrations” become critical to your business goals.
What is a Custom Integration?
So, what is a custom integration? Simply put, it means building a custom software solution that is specific to your exact use case. This code could be as simple as a plugin to shuffle data from one database to another, all the way up to a full-blown customized content management system. Such integrations could require hours, or even weeks of development — each is unique.
Custom integrations are often needed to help your business integrate your website, software, systems or platforms with each other, according to your unique needs and specifications. A good example is a custom integration between your website and your backend systems, such as your enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) functions.
Here are a few common examples of situations that might call for a custom integration:
- Do you need to connect an ancient ERP system that’s running on a 20-year-old server in the basement to a public form so users can submit support tickets easily via your website? Use a custom website integration.
- Do you have an Excel spreadsheet that’s been kicking around for years with all of your locations in it, and you want to throw those on a map, but not give up the ease of updating your list the way you’ve always done it? You need a custom website integration.
- Do you need to present data to your clients that’s buried in some obscure offline database? Add a custom integration.
How Do Custom Integrations Work?
This is where the “custom” comes into the equation. Each integration is different and, in most cases, creating the code needed to build a custom integration requires the expertise of a skilled developer.
That’s why you will likely need a trusted web design and development partner that can evaluate your needs and assist you in meeting your specific goals.
An experienced website design firm will sit down with the key stakeholders in your organization, review and document your current website architecture, and develop a solution to add the new functionality that you are looking for. This may involve using existing hooks and APIs (application program interfaces) in your current software solution, or finding a way to export data from your software into a more universal format.
Once your custom solution is developed, the end goal is typically to not even know it’s there. Built properly, a custom integration is your silent partner; it runs in the background and does its job without complaint. It’s kind of like your robot butler, ideally replacing a manual process in your organization and saving you hours each week.
That’s not to say that your custom integration can’t evolve; often you will find that once you automate one manual process, other manual processes in your organization will seem old-fashioned and you’ll want to do more custom integrations.
Examples of Custom Integrations
At Vital, we’ve performed hundreds of custom website integrations for clients across all industries.
Check out Duck Creek’s Content Exchange page:
Duck Creek needed to pull content from existing services and eliminate the need for their employees to manage the same content in two disparate places. Using an API from a service called MindTouch, we were able to totally automate this.
We also developed a code for Weathervane Seafood Restaurants that enables Givex gift card customers to check their balance and add funds to it using a simple credit card payment process.
There are tons of other examples of custom integrations we’ve created to help make our clients’ (and their customers’) lives easier — including some award-winning websites. So, if you think you may need a custom integration to make your website the best it can be, please don’t hesitate to reach out to start a conversation. We’ll be right here — skilled web developers (and robot butlers) at the ready.