5 UX Tips to Help You Build Better Websites
You probably have a favorite brand of peanut butter. It’s just got a better taste and texture than all the others, right? It works exactly the way you want it to, every way you use it — whether it’s on white with your choice of jam, on wheat with bananas and honey, or straight off the spoon. It’s simply the best, and you’re not quite sure why anyone would bother too much with any other peanut butter.
That’s how our TrendyMinds digital team feels about Craft, which is the CMS (Content Management System) we use for the majority of the websites we build. Its uniquely versatile platform allows us to create customized functions and design beautiful, interactive sites that engage client audiences at any scale. Whether our clients need multi-site management, multilingual capabilities, modular content, cloud storage, or something else, we can build it all into their websites easily with Craft.
That’s why we’re proud to be members of the Craft Partner Network, an exclusive community of businesses with proven Craft CMS expertise. When clients work with a Craft Partner, they can rest easy knowing that their agency has a deep understanding of the whole CMS platform. Craft also helps its Partners identify opportunities to find new clients looking for web solutions created on the CMS, and supports active third-party development.
The flexibility of Craft has given us the freedom to implement custom tools and plugins tailored to the specific needs of each client’s website. With Craft, we’ve integrated established third-party vendors with new ecommerce websites, set up website searches to seamlessly pull results from third-party content libraries, and built unique tools — like a 360° virtual tour with informational hotspots — into client websites.
One of our clients, a national bean brand, was already using Square to host their online store, but products couldn’t be added to the shopping cart from individual product pages. Instead, users had to navigate to a shop page and scroll through the whole inventory to find the product they wanted. During the process of developing a new website for the client, we integrated the Square API with Craft to give users the shopping experience they want and expect by allowing them to purchase directly from the product page.
To accomplish this inside Craft, our content authors define what should be sold on each product page. From the website, shoppers can see the option to select a quantity, and are prompted to select Buy Now, which adds the product to their cart. When they’re ready for checkout, shoppers can select the cart icon and follow the instructions to complete their purchase.
As we began developing a new website for our local public library client, it became clear that there were opportunities to improve their search function. We’ve used Algolia — an excellent search tool with which we’re also partners — to power search on a variety of client websites. For the library, and we integrated Algolia with Craft to create a more streamlined and robust catalog search experience. Library site users can interact with an Algolia search box synced with Craft to search for any term. Once they arrive on the results page, they can choose from results pulled from a number of different third-party tools.
One of the third-party tools we used was BiblioCommons, which gives site users digital access to the full library catalog. We created a BiblioCommons fieldtype within Craft, so content authors can select a library catalog module to display on a page by selecting individual books, or book lists and galleries curated by librarians themselves.
Our public library client was opening a new history center at its downtown branch, and wanted to showcase the space for online audiences. Our creative production team at Think Ahead Studios captured the interior of the history center with a 360° camera, which we then stitched together to create a virtual tour built directly into Craft.
The tour is easily editable by content editors through the CMS. They can add and update informational hotspots and other touchpoints displayed to site users, who can interact with the module and take an educational virtual tour of the historical center.
As Craft Partners and enthusiasts, our TrendyMinds web development team has also developed two third-party plugins for the CMS. Visor is a simple administrator-side overlay that makes it even easier for content authors to access relevant areas and navigate the Craft CMS control panel. Uplimiter makes it simple for content authors to define the maximum file upload size for each user group inside Craft. We’ve also built smaller plugins to help integrate Algolia, our custom module library, and Square with Craft… and although it’s not strictly just for Craft, we’re quite proud of our lightweight open-source project starter, Pura.
To see more of the projects we’ve used Craft for, please visit our web development portfolio.