Exact App Center

Today I finished developing the new Exact App Center (EAC) and put everything live at http://www.exact.nl/appcenter. The EAC is an app center just as Facebook, Google and Apple use, with the only difference that it there is no actual store, but it has a lead generating focus.

What’s the EAC about?

The EAC is a catalogue which displays all the extensions for existing Exact products like Exact Globe Next, Exact Synergy, Exact Online, etc… Extensions, also known as apps, are built internally by Exact or by third parties. As you can imagine there are many apps available for the Exact products.

Offering an app center to website visitors is vital these days, quote by the CEO of Exact (Eric van der Meijden): “In line with market trends we will launch an Exact App Center before the end of 2012.”

Differences

Normally an app center just lists all available apps, the EAC is somewhat different. At Exact we sell many apps through our partners, we promote reference customers and their stories, already have a lot of existing content and media material available and some apps even require other apps to work. In short, an Exact app is not just an app, it’s part of entire eco system. And that makes the EAC complicated…

Figure: an Exact app consists of various already existing “pieces of content”, these are added on-the-fly when an Exact app webpage is shown.

Content Construction Kit

As shown in the figure the EAC uses a lot of existing content from different parts of the Exact websites. Luckily a lot of content on the site is structured by using a content construction kit (CCK). By using a CCK you can create standard website templates based on list of fields which content editors can complete. The CCK makes sure that all the information entered by the content editor is displayed in a proper layout.

For the creation of the EAC there are a lot of these website templates (we call them cards):

As you can see, all these pages have one thing in common, their layout is fixed and based on the values of the list of fields, which the content editors complete, the webpages are rendered by the CCK. Besides rendering the webpages the CCK also automatically builds category lists and a homepage, all based on the structured content.

Crosslinking

That’s not all the CCK does, in the figure above you can see that the Exact App card also re-uses content from other cards. By doing so the EAC becomes a hub for the various cards. Also the other entities (cards) are hubs in themselves, thus building a truly interconnected web, great for SEO and great for people to navigate. The more relevant connections there are between parts of the site and other sites, the stronger a sites becomes.

An example

Probably this all sounds a bit theoretical, but let me give you a live world example. In the EAC there is an app, let’s call it Synergizer, which allows you to use Exact Synergy faster. To use this app Exact suggests to use a couple of different apps as well and one other app is required. You can imagine, that this is the first step in content linking and re-using. Now imagine that Synergizer is being sold through partner T-Caxe. This reseller information is also bundled into the EAC card automatically and also a link to the external site of the reseller  is created.

Suppose there are also three customers who act as references, that information is also integrated into that same EAC card. Download of a PDF that Exact has on file? Video’s, images? Same story! Comments and ratings from web site visitors? It all get bundled into one single EAC card with links to other cards, entities and websites.

Do you see the power of this application? 🙂

Thank you!

First of all, a big thank you goes out to all the colleagues I worked with to achieve this. And let’s not forget the fine people from YOOTheme who created ZOO, in my eyes the number one CCK for Joomla. By the way, if you are interested in all the cool stuff we do at Exact in building websites, you can also read some info here, here and here! Or drop me a line.

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