ALPCO is an awesome company that helps make it possible for health care professionals and researchers to make people healthier. And now, they are doing it with an award-winning website! WebAward announced the 2015 winners of their annual website awards this month, and we at Vital are so excited to see the ALPCO site on the list.
We launched the site just last month, and it’s one of the most robust sites in our portfolio to date. WebAwards agreed, awarding it with “Outstanding Achievement in Web Development” in the Medical category. We talked to our award-winning developers to get the scoop on what makes this site so special.
We have been working with ALPCO since earlier this year, working on designing and developing a new website that would better serve their customers. We started with a web strategy to engage and convert their major audiences, thinking through the experience of the people who used their website the most and planning ways to improve their user experiences.
ALPCO has a very large inventory of products. They needed an ecommerce solution so that their customers could easily learn about their offerings, find the products they needed, and put them in a cart to be purchased. Once orders are placed, ALPCO’s Customer Solutions team is able to easily approve and complete the purchase and delivery of the products they needed.
“Our customers appreciate the ability to navigate the new website and shop for products more easily. They also enjoy having more resources and tools at their fingertips, which allow them to feel more informed and confident as they research products before making a final purchase decision.” – Terry Fisher, VP of Strategic Marketing at ALPCO
In addition to improving the experience of their customers, ALPCO also wanted to make it easier for their staff to use. When they came to Vital, their site’s back end made for a confusing and frustrating experience for many of their employees in Marketing, Product Management and Customer Solutions. It was difficult to locate company, product and customer information, and difficult to change or edit many elements of the site.
For this reason, Vital’s strategy for the new ALPCO website was to combine WordPress and Magento. Using WordPress as the content management system (CMS) would make it very easy to edit any text or imagery on the website. Magento also offers editorial controls so that review and approval of edits or changes to products is built right into the system (this is a key consideration for a research and medical product supplier such as ALPCO). On ALPCO’s new site, whenever a product is added in the store, a notification is sent automatically to a Quality Analyst. Once QA has reviewed the product, they can approve and publish it.
“The development team worked really hard to integrate Magento and WordPress in this build,” said Vital Senior Web Developer Sean Dempsey. “ALPCO’s WordPress installation has some pretty unprecedented access to product information from the store (Magento) side of the site.” Sean said that until this project, we were not able to integrate these two platforms together in this way — but the dev team worked really hard to make it happen.
Another website development tool that was new for Vital in the building of this website was an animation library called Velocity.js. This library allowed for better use of motion and improved animation performance on all devices. Check out the interactive animation triggered by clicking on different Therapeutic Areas on the second section of the homepage of ALPCO.com to see this animation library at work.
The unique nature of ALPCO’s ecommerce guidelines and requirements meant that this site needed to go beyond integrating WordPress (the best content marketing platform out there) with Magento (a very robust ecommerce solution). It also needed to play nice with specific third-party integrations that were necessary in ALPCO’s process.
“For this website, we integrated the Magento store with Microsoft Dynamics GP, an ERP handled by ALPCO, to manage the catalog,” said Vital Senior Programmer Mak Velsamy, “We also integrated with SalesPad, an ERP that handles all the orders and payment processing. Since the SalesPad Payment Gateway works only on Windows platform, we designed an architecture by introducing the Middleware Layer (a Windows server with scripts runs in C#) to communicate between the store being used by Mac user (on a Linux Platform) with the SalesPad API in Windows.”
“Our customer service representatives refer to product information on the website multiple times each day as they speak to customers, which has enabled them to easily answer questions on the spot. Additionally, the utilization of both WordPress and Magento have helped to simplify not only our Marketing, Product Management and regulatory needs, but also our order processing and logistical efforts.” – Terry Fisher, ALPCO’s VP of Strategic Marketing
For more on this project, read ALPCO’s blog post on the experience of launching their new website.
We’re really excited to win this award for our client. Being an award-winning website development shop is really nice and all — but we’re here to make our clients look good. And getting them this award is proof that they’re looking REALLY good.