Bring Your Own Website (BYOW): Utilizing WordPress for Web-to-Print
Over 74 million sites are powered by WordPress, which represents about 18.9% of all websites. The overwhelming popularity of WordPress can largely be attributed to two factors: It is free and highly customizable. As of February 2015, there are over 42,000 plug-ins to enhance the base functionality of WordPress, as well as even more themes and templates to customize the design that can be purchased. Many other available themes and templates are free. With such a large presence, there is an opportunity to leverage existing WordPress-powered websites or quickly create one instead of forcing users into your Web-to-print solution.
The challenge is that WordPress does not provide an out-of-the-box e-commerce setup. While there are several plug-ins that can accommodate e-commerce, they are not tailored to purchasing printed products that require customization (e.g., quantity, stock, and finishing options). These generic e-commerce plug-ins also do not provide any production automation capabilities or ease of incorporating variable data, which are standard capabilities of Web-to-print solutions. The lack of print industry specific options has left print service providers (PSPs) little choice but to force customers to their Web-to-print storefront that, at best, would attempt to replicate the design of the customer’s WordPress site.
RACADTECH launched a Web-to-print plug-in for WordPress in October 2015 to address the shortcomings of the generic e-commerce plug-ins. Although there have been examples of variable data plug-ins for e-commerce platforms, based on InfoTrends’ ongoing research and coverage of the Web-to-print market, this is the first example of a plug-in to add Web-to-print capabilities to a content management system (WordPress). As such, the plug-in has quickly resonated with WordPress users and there are now over 100 active installations (https://wordpress.org/plugins/udraw/). There are several compelling advantages to this approach:
- Plug-in architecture: Allows the site to take full advantage of other ready-made WordPress themes, plug-ins, and customizations. Unlike proprietary Web-to-print systems, this approach means you can harness the full potential of the WordPress community, including the vast pool of programmers who can provide further customizations.
- Configurable pricing engine: Enables PSPs to set options, such as finishing and paper, with specific pricing conditions based on the quantity requested. This unique RACADTECH feature is customized for print-related products — thus saving time to add or revise products.
- Consolidated production dashboard: Merges production information (e.g., orders, due dates, and other production data) from multiple WordPress sites into one easy to view dashboard, which greatly reduces the complexity of managing multiple storefronts.
- Unified production workflow: All orders placed, regardless if on a single or multiple storefronts, are consolidated into one administrative backend using RACADTECH’s WebToPrint Shop solution. The workflow can be further customized with “stations” for job tracking across the different production steps (e.g., prepress, printing, and finishing).
- Online design studio: Integrates RACADTECH’s online graphic designer, uDraw, which allows users to upload, start with an existing template, or create an entirely new document using their what-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSIWYG) editor in HTML 5. uDraw supports many features commonly found in popular graphic design programs, including the ability to create and control layers.
- KISS Hooks: Leveraging the flexibility of WordPress, RACADTECH can perform custom integrations using “keep it simple and straightforward” hooks (snippets of code) instead of having to write complex code. One such hook was created for a PSP who wanted to take information entered into an online form (to quote design work) and have it appear in the production dashboard just as if it were an order that had been placed in the storefront, thus simplifying their production process. Other uses where hooks were utilized include: consolidating all WordPress portal orders into Racad’s original ePOWER system for streamlined processing, uploading 3D object files for 3D printing, confirming file resolution is sufficient for the document type chosen by the customer, and identifying whether pages are B/W or color for pricing purposes.
Ultimately, PSPs need to pursue every opportunity to make it easier for customers to use and purchase their services in an online-centric world. The continued popularity of WordPress only increases the likelihood your customers will want to bring their own website, and RACADTECH can help ensure your needs as a PSP are also brought to the table.
Example of a WordPress Site Integrated with Racad’s Plug-in: