Learn about different ways to add an online booking system to your website, as well as the pros and cons of each.
In the age of digitization, an online scheduling system is definitely a MUST. Various studies show that having a channel permanently available to customers increases sales and customer satisfaction. (Source)
It not only increases the convenience for your customers, as they no longer have to reach out to everyone and customers are not unnecessarily waiting on hold, but it also benefits you, your team and your company.
Booking online means less work and fewer mistakes - remember, machines never get tired.
In addition, it also offers more scheduling options as more people could work at the same time while you can only speak to one customer at a time.
Today there are a multitude of different technological ways to do this. But how can you add an online booking system to your website? Also, which method should you choose?
The fact is - all of them come with a certain number of advantages and disadvantages, and what you choose in the end will most likely depend on factors like your budget, human resources, etc.
To help you weigh the pros and cons against these factors, we will analyze these methods thoroughly.
1. Link to an external website
Linking to an external website is the easiest method out there, although it is in no way what is called true integration. All you have to do is create a link that will take your visitors to a different destination.
It's cheap and easy to implement, and that's the biggest benefit. We would be happy to create this quick and easy integration for your appointment calendar within a few hours.
You don't have to have a website, integrate it directly into your Google My Business account or on social media and you're ready to go! And Or we add a link to your website. This makes it very easy to use.
It's free too. If you don't have the budget to pay for a plugin that works well, or to program a custom piece of code, this might be the way to go. We will help you with the implementation.
However, since it's free and anyone can do it, it only makes sense that it comes with a pretty extensive list of drawbacks.
First of all, you are sending people from your website to a new one, something most of us don't want to do (traffic, privacy, user journey).
You continue to risk losing the appointment altogether as the external website may be slow or have a poor user experience.
Additionally, your analysis and strategy will suffer badly as by sending people away you will not be able to track them or learn about their behavior.
While not that important for functionality, especially if there is no budget, another downside would be the different branding. Your visitors will find it difficult to connect your services with the external functionalities that you use.
If you add a link to an external website, you will lose all user behavior analysis information that could have helped you improve your service.
2. Embed an iframe
Also known as an inline frame, iframe is used to embed an external website within your own. If you've ever tried embedding a YouTube video on your website then you know what we're talking about.
Just one step higher on the "True Integration" scale as opposed to external links, iframe integration will at least not send any visitors away from your website.
In order to run the iframe integration, you have to copy and paste some already prepared code into your website, which makes the implementation very easy.
A budget is also not necessary as most of the sites that allow embedding provide the code and option for free.
Most importantly, since it is a window built into your page, the users stay on your website.
While it's built into your page, it's still a third-party provider, meaning you have no control over how it is displayed.
The problems that can arise from this are that, on responsive websites, iframe is not displayed correctly in a mobile context in most cases, unless the external booking system is also mobile.
Worse still, this has even resulted in some security breaches in the past.
In 2008, the websites of some major news networks were hacked. The hackers added links to malicious websites that unsuspecting users would click and then infect their computers with malware - resulting in numerous problems.
While many things have been standardized online, it is important to note that not all browsers support iframes.
Iframes are also difficult for search engines to index. Even if they are indexed, users are usually sent to the wrong page.
However, the biggest downside is still the fact that you are unable to keep track of your users' activity and implement your branding.
3. Install a plugin
Plugins are almost synonymous with the most popular CMS, WordPress. And for good reason - there are a number of them, for a number of different purposes, all of which save valuable time and sometimes money.
Other popular CMS platforms like Drupal and Joomla also have plugins that add more functionality to the website. However, these CMS also have some disadvantages.
First, it's very user friendly and easy to set up. It usually takes a few clicks to get it working.
It also saves time and resources. You don't have to program it yourself or it is already there, made, works and is left up to you for integration. We will help you with the implementation.
An online scheduling plugin is great for both small and large business owners as the competition is fierce so there are very well developed solutions out there.
And in the age where we all use different devices, they are mostly optimized for everyone. So, whether someone is trying to book an appointment on their computer or cell phone, it will work fine.
When installing such a system, you need to take care that it is not out of date. Developers often make a plugin and then end support and further updates - both of which are very necessary with the constantly evolving technology. We develop and guarantee standard solutions and help you with the implementation.
Otherwise, outdated plugins could go so far as to cause security problems.
However, don't install too many plugins. This could slow down your website. Or even the simple installation of plugins by different third party developers can lead to conflicts if they don't work well together.
Adding too many plugins can slow down your website significantly. The slower it is, the more likely it will ricochet.
4. Connection via API
CMS-controlled websites usually offer the possibility of integrating APIs or application programming interfaces that come closest to the real and seamless integration of the online booking system. We will help you with the implementation.
The biggest advantage of APIs is their great ease of use. External data is integrated into your websites and can be used as such on your website by your users. You are also in control of the user interface.
Unlike some other methods, APIs also allow tracking of data and user behavior, which could only be the deciding factor when choosing between these options.
After all, they allow two-way communication - your website can push, but also pull data instead of just displaying it.
As mentioned earlier, the best that real integration can do, so it only makes sense that it is very expensive. It takes development.
Continuous development, ie. You need to keep up with any changes made to the external system. Otherwise, they can affect the overall functionality of your website.
If you don't keep up with the changes to the online booking API, the malfunction will appear on your website.
Developers need to adjust the API over time. We help you with the development and implementation. wemakefuture.com
The answer to this question is not easy, it mainly depends on your CMS and budget.
If your website was built using drag and drop builders (Wix, Squarespace, etc), external links or iframes are your only option.
If your website is based on WordPress, then well-developed plugins offer the best value for money as you save on development costs and maintenance. We would be happy to advise you without obligation and help you with the implementation. wemakefuture.com
Cloud Integration, iPaaS, SaaS, BPA… Ough, hard to keep track of all these terms. They are currently used frequently (and increasingly) in the context of automation, and it is sometimes difficult to make a clear distinction and distinction. We have already written blog posts on the terms iPaaS, SaaS and BPA, but we’ll take them up again here to make the difference.
But let’s start with cloud integration, because that’s the central umbrella term in which we embed all the other technologies in this blog post.
Arrange a free cloud integration consultation now
Arrange a free cloud integration consultation now
To illustrate these advantages, an example is suitable that we know well from our everyday work as an automation agency:
The central data to be used here is the data of a major customer. This can be the simplest information, such as the address. This address is required in numerous but completely different processes in the company: on the one hand, for correct invoicing in accounting. On the other hand, in the CRM system, where all the data of the large customer is also stored. But the address is also important in sales, for example, when employees go to the sales meeting on site.
Now the customer announces that the address of the company has changed after a move. This information will reach you by e-mail. There are now two options:
01. The e-mail is forwarded to all affected departments, accounting, sales, customer service, marketing… All persons open their corresponding program, CRM, accounting software, marketing tools (such as newsletter marketing) and change the data already stored there of the customer. This means that in multiple applications, different people do exactly the same thing: change one address.
02. But there is also an alternative: By connecting your applications, thus by integrizing them, the customer’s e-mail, or rather the information it contains about the address change, is automatically passed on to all affected applications: CRM, accounting, marketing, ERP. This does not require any clicks, because the cloud integration detects a trigger, i.e. address change, and thus automatically starts the process.
What sounds unimpressive in a single process becomes more effective when such a process occurs several times a day or weekly. Because there is a lot of data that is available in different applications and should always be correct. If these applications are cloud applications they are suitable for cloud integration.
But cloud integration doesn’t just happen. There are now a variety of applications that enable and implement this. Such tools usually allow us to link the relevant cloud applications on a central platform and define clear rules on when, how, where, how much data should be passed on and what happens to them.
To realize cloud integration, there are various applications and technologies that are sometimes used interchangeably.
We have made a first distinction between iPaaS and BPA here.
We explain the term SaaS in more detail here.
Cloud integration is rather an umbrella term that includes numerous technologies, such as SaaS, iPaaS and BPA, and this is also absolutely necessary. Cloud integration is a concept that is made possible by appropriate technologies.
However, all terms share the commonality that they are cloud-based and thus offer enormous potential for growth and scaling. In addition, they are often cheaper to implement and maintain because changed requirements are easy to implement.
As an independent automation agency, we implement cloud integration according to your requirements. We use a variety of SaaS tools and iPaas (strictly speaking BPA) software. Together we find individual solutions that are flexible and scalable.