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Websites equipped with appointment scheduling tools and booking calendars make everyone’s lives easier.
For starters, business owners can entrust the often time-consuming and tedious work of scheduling appointments to the website. Customers and prospects, on the other hand, have a faster and more convenient way of booking and managing appointments on their own.
That said, when it comes time to add a booking system to a client’s website, what should you build it with? Is there one option that’s better than another?
In this post, we’ll weigh the the following options:
Code it from-scratchUse a pluginUse a business automation platform like Trafft
Comparing booking solution options for websites
You have three options when it comes to implementing a booking solution on a client’s site:
Do-it-yourself and code the booking platform from scratch.Install a WordPress plugin and do light customizations and configurations.Use Trafft’s feature-rich premium appointment scheduling software.
Let’s see how they compare:
This option might seem like it’s free since you’re the one doing all the work. However, the cost of your time can be tremendous depending on how robust a solution you plan to build.
For instance, if you’re building a complete scheduling system, you’ll need to account for different services, locations, employees, and time slots. You’ll also have to build out features like payment processing, taxation, invoice generation, SMS reminders, and more.
There are technically free WordPress plugins that’ll handle this. However, there’s going to be a trade-off in terms of features and control. Even freemium plugins have their limits.
Trafft is a freemium software. You can use the free plan to do a test run of the platform or to implement basic booking systems for small business clients.
The premium plans give you access to all the features you need to build the booking system you envisioned for your client… Without having to do the work of building it yourself. You even get to choose which custom features — like group booking, special days, and Zoom integration — are included.
Out of the three options, this one is going to take the longest, for obvious reasons. Even once you get the hang of building an appointment scheduling system, expect to spend hundreds to thousands of hours on each project.
While plugins might provide seemingly ready-made booking systems, they’re dependent on having a website up and running.
So, before you even think about working on this, you’ll need to buy a web hosting plan and domain, design the site, and make sure all the themes, plugins, and other modules look good and work well together. What’s more, there’s a ton of maintenance afterwards — managing backups, data security, server uptime, app integration, and much, much more.
Using Trafft to set up an appointment scheduling system is so easy. You’ll get started the second you enter the platform:
You can configure the business’s availability, who can manage the booking system, as well as what services can be scheduled.
Once your account is set up, general settings allow you to refine the rules of appointment scheduling. That way, your client has less to do in terms of reviewing, adjusting, and overall managing their bookings.
One other thing worth mentioning is that Trafft isn’t dependent on a content management system like WordPress. You have the flexibility of designing a free-standing scheduling platform or you can integrate it with a website. So, you could realistically have this up and running in less than an hour.
The world is your oyster. However, advanced customization can take quite a while to complete, which means potentially leaving your client without an appointment scheduling platform for weeks or even months.
Free plugins mean limited features, control, and support. As a result of this, an insufficient or lackluster appointment scheduling system could become a liability for your client.
Freemium plugins offer more control and features, but you still have to conform to what the developer envisioned for the booking system in terms of design and features.
You’ll have the ability to do light tweaks to the design of your Trafft booking system. Things like colors, fonts, and booking steps can easily be updated for your booking website.
As far as features go, Trafft has accounted for the features and integrations you’d need for the majority of booking systems. After you sign up for Trafft, you’ll soon discover that advanced features have already been set up for you:
You can easily deactivate the features or integrations you don’t need and then add in the ones that you do. But this’ll at least keep you from having to enable every feature from-scratch.
It’s just as easy to set up integrations like Zoom meetings or PayPal or Stripe payment processing. Enable the integrations, add your account details, and save.
In addition to building out your booking platform, you’ll have to manually connect the other apps needed to streamline the scheduling process. So, make sure to add the additional time retrieving the API information and hooking them up to your system when considering this option.
There are limits to which software you can connect to a WordPress plugin.
If the app you want to use doesn’t have a built-in integration, you always use IFTTT or Zapier. However, your booking system needs to be compatible with common business software in order for that to happen, so your client may end up having to manually manage these business processes anyway.
Trafft was built to be a business automation platform. So if your client needs a truly streamlined scheduling process, this is going to be your best bet.
For instance, the appointment booking process takes customers through a series of questions. Like who they want to schedule the appointment or service with:
All of those details get hashed out online. What’s more, once the appointment is booked, notifications go out to both the customer and employee so everyone is kept in the loop about appointments and changes to them.
Also, with software integrations already built into the Trafft platform, things like collecting payments, managing VAT or other taxes, creating Zoom meeting room, generating invoices, and so on happen automatically.
Different business types need different booking solutions. So, the more variety there is in your client base, the more booking systems you’ll have to learn how to build. This’ll only slow things down even further for you.
This is another limitation you’re likely to encounter when using an open source plugin. While some might offer different types of booking calendars, lists, or displays, they’re not always the best option for every niche.
Trafft was built with different industries/niches in mind. For example:
SalonsHealthcareSports and trainingEducation and consultingAdministrationEvents and entertainmentProfessional servicesPersonal services
When you first sign up for Trafft, one of the first things you’ll be asked is what type of business it’s for. This helps the platform configure the settings for the chosen niche.
If you build it, you’re responsible for supporting, maintaining, and debugging it.
If you’re using a free plugin, you might not get much in the way of support when something goes wrong with it. Even with freemium plugins, there’s no guarantee that the developer will be immediately available to help you troubleshoot an issue.
The longer you have to wait to get something resolved, the more it’ll cost your clients business.
With premium scheduling software like Trafft, support is part of what you pay for.
To start, Trafft has a self-help Knowledgebase for its users:
Within the app itself, users will also find a live chat form for more immediate questions or issues.
You can always email them for help as well.
Bottom line: Premium support is built into a Trafft subscription, so you and your clients will never be stuck with a faulty booking system.
How will you add appointment scheduling to your clients’ sites?
There are clear benefits to each of the options presented here.
With DIY, you have total control in terms of design, features, and integrations. However, it’s going to be quite costly in terms of the amount of time you have to put into building and supporting it.
With a WordPress plugin, you have the speed and ease of implementation. However, you’ll have to build your appointment scheduling platform around the limitations of the plugin and the developer’s vision for it.
With the Trafft premium appointment scheduling software, you get the best of both worlds. It’s insanely easy to get a booking platform up and running and you have more control over how it works and looks. What’s more, you can have it in your clients’ hands in no time at all.Having a robust scheduling tool can be a real game-changer for business. If you want to build something that looks professional, is universally user-friendly, and empowers your clients to schedule appointments and start making more money starting tomorrow, Trafft is the logical choice.
The post How to Create an Appointment Scheduling Platform: DIY vs. Plugin vs. Trafft appeared first on Codrops.