Creating a user-friendly & SEO-friendly web page builder.
AFG wanted help to reverse engineer the WIX platform and utilise it's key features to build their own custom website application. In addition, it had to match their existing Smart Online platform and improve on the user interface and SEO visibility to make it a viable solution for their users.
Software Engineering at it's finest.
The AFG SmartOnline platform was initially created by their in-house DevOps team to serve as a marketing tool for their brokers. However, the rapid development process resulted in a platform that had many static and unusable components, causing dissatisfaction among brokers.
To address these issues, Whitetower conducted customer surveys and stakeholder interviews to gather information on the pain points and key goals for the platform’s new build. Through multiple workshops, Whitetower defined a comprehensive requirements document that outlined the platform’s new vision, design, functional requirements, and user stories. This document served as a roadmap for designing and building a new, improved system architecture.
The WordPress CMS designed differently
The AFG SmartOnline Platform required significant custom functionality and solutions to support the systems used by all their brokers in their business. This was a complex challenge because any new technology introduced into the platform had to be backwards compatible and integrate seamlessly with their existing technology stack, including the AFG SSO (Single-Sign-On) application.
To meet these requirements, Whitetower designed and built a custom platform that leveraged the power of two of the most popular technologies in web development. The foundation of the platform was built using core components of a Model-View-Controller (MVC) framework, specifically Symfony. This framework provided a solid structure for building a complex, scalable platform that could handle a large number of users and transactions.
In addition, Whitetower integrated the popular Content Management System (CMS) WordPress into the platform. This allowed the AFG team to easily manage and update the content on the site without having to rely on developers. The integration of WordPress also provided a user-friendly interface for the brokers to access and utilize the platform’s custom functionality.
The build took over nine months to develop and over multiple phases, Whitetower delivered a web application that was able to:
- Dynamically build pages using a friendly drag and drop interface
- Track and store leads into AFG’s CRM system
- Design and use Calculator Widgets for Mortgage Recalculations
- Devised and built a SEO-friendly platform that allowed websites to be easily crawlable and indexed using custom domains
- Easily push legal information and updates onto every website in the system
The result was a highly customized platform that met the specific needs of the AFG business, while still being flexible enough to adapt to future changes. This new platform improved the user experience for brokers and provided a foundation for future growth and development.
Small business with large support
AFG further engaged us for ongoing monthly support and assistance with change requests and questions raised by their customers when using the SmartOnline platform.
Over the course of the past two years, Whitetower worked directly with AFG’s marketing team and their customers providing support and technical implementation to deliver new features, embed new widgets (for example an Instagram and Twitter feed) to building new landing pages for their customer’s website and continuing to monitor and keep their SmartOnline platform operational.
With the proposed the system in place, our solution scaled correctly and was able to run smoothly with 99% uptime without issues.
When deploying new features to the website, we utilise a blue/green continuous integration method that allowed the site to transition into a newer version with updates and new features without any down time.