Part of the value-add for the fluid handling SCPQ software at Revalize is the option for customers to tailor the appearance of the UI to their unique branding. When we began the development of Portal Center to serve as the new “front page” of our application suite, I built a powerful, flexible system that could accommodate any layout a customer could imagine.
In this post:
One page to rule them all
Project Portal was one of the first “modern” applications we launched in 2015. These newer applications were a marked departure from the “classic” suite, in that they feature a more casual UI/UX and prominent points of customization for our customers. While we nailed the ability for customers to easily change important colors, background images, and more, we did not anticipate the interest in modifying the layout and appearance of the Project Portal landing page. Every customer’s page looked roughly the same.
Hands across the sea
Project Portal (and its replacement, Portal Center) don’t always sit at the same place in a user’s journey. There are plenty of users who will navigate directly to this landing page to sign in and begin their work day, but there are others who may arrive here through some second, third, or fourth link from our customer’s main website. In those cases, having more control over the appearance of the landing page helps our customers give their users the confidence that this new environment they’re entering is, in fact, under the same umbrella as the main marketing site they just left.
When we started roadmapping the development of Portal Center in 2019, improving this landing page experience was top-of-mind. I worked with our internal customer representatives to assemble a punch-list of “must haves,” and combined that with my own personal notes of feature requests from over the years. The number one biggest feature request, by a large margin, was the desire to have more control over the landing page layout. Colors, images, logos—those were all nice, but being able to format the page so that it matched the customer’s other marketing and branding efforts was priority number one.
New kid(s) on the block
As we discovered a few years ago, we can use a single set of well-formatted HTML to drive near-infinite layout possibilities with CSS Grid Layout. Our new landing page is nothing more than a collection of “blocks”:
<main> <div class="c-landing-page g-landing-page"> <div id="company_logo"> <img class="c-landing-page__company-logo"> </div> <div id="sales_pitch" class="c-landing-page__sales-pitch"> <!-- --> </div> <div id="product_features" class="c-landing-page__product-features"> <!-- --> </div> <div id="sign_in" class="c-landing-page__sign-in"> <!-- --> </div> <div id="external_links" class="c-landing-page__external-links"> <!-- --> </div> <div id="social_media" class="c-landing-page__social-media"> <!-- --> </div> </div> </main>
From there, I use CSS Grid Layout and a touch of Flexbox to arrange the pieces in whatever way the customer needs.
There are five “plug-n-play” layouts available to help our customers get the ball rolling. Every layout is built on the exact same set of HTML; the layout is driven entirely by CSS.
I have a set of variables and other SCSS helpers to streamline the easier customization tasks. For something more complex, I build the page from scratch so I don’t have to spend as much time overwriting existing styles.
In the wild
Here are some examples from real landing pages in use today. Can you spot which landing page option serves as the foundation for each customer?
The new landing page functionality in Portal Center has been a breath of fresh air for our customers. Having total control over the appearance of the landing page goes a long way in building brand confidence with our users, and helps each customer’s unique implementation of our software stand out from their competitors.