Online Reservation – SiteLink API Integration

May 24, 2024

Project Description

Background

Self-Storage facilities use 3rd party software to manage their customers and business operations. One of the most used self-storage customer management systems is SiteLink. SiteLink allows developers to tie directly into their system through API Integration. As a stand-alone software package, SiteLink is amazing. However, I saw an opportunity to improve the customers online user experience. I set out to create an improved user interface for the unit pricing and online reservation system. It is important that users remain on the facility website throughout the reservation process. This is important so we can measure their interactions with the website and track that in Google Analytics.

Strategy:

This project (like most) started with research. I needed to understand the user experience industry leaders were providing prospective tenants through the sales funnel. Once understood, I designed a unit pricing and reservation system that integrates with the Sitelink API. The new unit size and reservation system should mirror (and improve upon) industry leading self-storage websites. Out of the box, SiteLink provides a web interface for displaying unit sizes and their own reservation system. The problem with the SiteLink interface is that there are glaring limitations. Limited control over the design and branding of the user experience is one thing. Another is that the UX isn’t put together with responsive design and scaling capabilities for smaller resolutions. There is a mobile version that’s activated on smartphones, but it too is very limited.

The other problem is that SiteLink offers few options for integration into your website. These options are dated and less than ideal. As an example, one option provides unit sizes through an iFrame (frowned on by Google and most search engines). Once a unit is selected, everything can be done through the iFrame. Alternatively, you can have SiteLink take the user away from your website during the reservation process. Upon completion, SiteLink returns them back to the website (all bad options). The system works, but isn’t ideal and doesn’t provide an attractive or dynamic user experience. The final option is to develop your own plugins and tie them directly into the SiteLink API Integration features.

Development:

I was able to bring in a WordPress programmer that would take my UX designs and make them a working reality. I used the Wrike project management system to setup sprints, deadlines, and goals for the project. Once the functionality was built, I handled the responsive design and CSS.

I designed the plugin so it used a variety of features that would adapt to the facility and website manager preferences. The WordPress’s “short code” technology was used so we could place everything wherever it needed to be on the website. I also wanted the plugin to offer managers the ability to display the “Street Rate” or the “Push Rate” for their units. Finally, I wanted the plugin to be customizable. Due to this, I designed the plugin to have a “templates” folder. This allows the web developer to modify the CSS and insert tracking data. The tracking data allows them to track and measure the user experience through the sales funnel.

Security Concerns:

I made it a point that the plugin be secure and encrypted. SiteLink user details require encryption. The plugin should also serve as a conduit for data and not a place to store anything. All of the facility websites are developed with SSL encryption. Any and all credit card details passed to SiteLink would be fully secure and not stored on the databases.

Results:

At the conclusion, the final product was a seamless WordPress plugin that functioned accordingly with the parameters defined in the SiteLink API Integration documentation. The plugin allowed website visitors to see the current available inventory of units, their specific details/pricing, and links to make their online reservations directly within the branded website(s). I also made sure that the WordPress site manager (myself in this case) would be able to setup a single location or even multiple locations for brands that had more than one facility.

In the end, the final WordPress plugin operated as expected and is fully secure!

Project Details

Company: Security Storage
Position: Marketing Director
Skills Needed:
  • 3rd Party Integration
  • Branding
  • Content Writing
  • Critical Thinking
  • CSS
  • Customer Research
  • Design
  • HTML
  • Problem Solving
  • Project Management
  • Vendor Management
  • WordPress Security
Results Summary:
  • User Experience (UX) = 5 Star
  • Custom Plugin Developed
  • Testing = Completed (0 Errors)
  • Integration = Seamless
  • Portability = Seamless
  • Security = SSL Encryption
Ryan Berry

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