Custom ERS Website Design
If you have your reservation system hosted by Event Rental Systems, you know how great their software is. We have many clients using ERS and happily recommend their system to other businesses. In fact, if you haven’t looked at their system, just click the link in the right sidebar and check it out!
While ERS has ready-to-go templates built in that make your site look good and function well, many business owners want to go to the next step and are looking for a custom design based on the current business branding or a completely new concept.
If you are looking for a custom solution to your ERS website, we are here to help.
Various Ways For Integration
For the last year, we’ve been working closely with the owners and programmers at ERS to come up with the best way to integrate custom designs into their system. While some issues were easy to overcome, others created a dilemma, such as specific things that our clients wanted on their websites that could not be fully integrated or hosted on ERS platform. These components included a WordPress blog on the company domain rather than an externally hosted blog, elaborate image and video sliders and other components.
There are couple different ways that other companies have integrated ERS into their sites.
One of the ways to integrate ERS into existing site is to create an iFrame on the website that shows ERS platform. In non-technical terms, this is basically creating a window through which an ERS site is shown within the main site. There are couple issues with this method:
1. SEO Disadvantage
ERS system has a good on-site SEO optimization built in by using keyword targeted URLs, meta tags and etc. When this system is put into iFrame, search engines only see a short line of code for the “window” and cannot see all the great things that are inside each ERS page. So the SEO benefit of the pages is greatly diminished.
2. Navigation Issues
We’ve seen websites set up with this method that are difficult to navigate around. Once a customer clicks on a link inside the iFrame, the new page opens inside that window and oftentimes prevents from going back or easily browsing around.
Another common integration method is to host ERS system on a subdomain. So if the main company domain is OurRentalCompanySite.com (this is not an actual site, but just an example), ERS would be placed on Orders.OurRentalCompanySite.com or Reservations.OurRentalCompanySite.com.
This is a common way to integrate a custom design with ERS. Here are some issues with this method:
1. Branding Disconnect
Let’s look at a hypothetical scenario:
A customer is browsing a business website that has specific design, colors and image. Then this customer clicks on reservations link and is now redirected to a website that looks nothing like the business site, has a different template, and a completely different look and feel. This creates a disconnect in image and branding that may confuse the customer and impact the decision.
2. Having to upkeep duplicate product listings
With this method, most companies will create product pages highlighting their products and then place an order button on either a sidebar or each product page. The problem is that now, if you want to update a product or add a new one, it has to be done in two places – inside the custom website and inside ERS. In addition, while product management is a breeze inside ERS, many people have to end up paying a webmaster to update the custom site with new information.
3. SEO Disadvantage
While this method is better than the iFrame method, it still diminishes the powerful on-site SEO features of ERS website. The reason is simple – Google treats sub-domains as separate websites for the purposes of website rankings. So it literally thinks that Orders.OurRentalCompanySite.com is a different website than OurRentalCompanySite.com. So in effect, you are trying to rank two separate websites.
Granted, there is an overlap because all the links from the product pages link to “Orders” and possibly vice-versa. And if you are doing SEO, some of the effect does spill over to the main domain. However, the effect of SEO would be better if the site was fully integrated on one domain instead of being divided into subdomains.
Hosting an Outside Blog
Many people understand the importance of using social media and creating interaction between business and customers. A blog (combined with social media profiles, such as Facebook) is one of the best way to accomplish this. Therefore, many businesses set up a blog at third-party websites, such as wordpress.com or blog.com that they link to from their main ERS site.
The biggest problem with this method: Lack of Professionalism!
When a business blog is hosted on a free platform, it screams, “Unprofessional!!!” While those platforms are perfect for personal blogs, they undermine business credibility. Many people feel that if a business is using a free platform (whether it is for a blog, or worse yet, for their company website), that business is not willing to invest in itself. This may imply worse quality products, less quality employees and many other underlying issues. While this may be completely false, the implied feeling translates into lost transactions.
This method also suffers from the Branding Disconnect that was discussed earlier since these platforms do not allow you to replicate the look of the ERS template you are using on their system.
Our Custom Solution
After testing many different ways to accomplish the task, and working with ERS team, we have a great solution worked out that combines the best of two worlds – a fully custom design with almost unlimited features and components that is fully integrated into the powerhouse system that Event Rental Systems offers.
Here is what our solution allows you to have:
- Custom design fully integrated with ERS system on a main company domain name
- Custom ERS category images for the front page (so that they don’t look the same as every other ERS site)
- An integrated WordPress blog. ERS does not allow other software to run on their server due to security issues with credit card processing. However we designed a setup that allows seamless transition for the visitors as if they are on the same site.
- Use of advanced image sliders and video sliders on the main site.
- Dynamic navigation controlled through ERS – when making changes in ERS, navigation menus will change on the site.
- Custom sidebar with any type of desired content that can be changed at any time.
Our design and integration process also includes:
- Editing of current product pages modified with SEO friendly product descriptions and additional items, such as additional images and styled with html code as much as ERS system will allow. Product options and descriptions will be controlled inside ERS, thus removing the need to maintain products in two separate places.
- SEO optimization of every page with meta tags for titles, keywords and descriptions
If this all sounds like a foreign language to you, take a look at some of the examples below and see how these ERS websites were set up and how they function. Then contact us to discuss what we can do for your website.