Manual hit the UK market and it was not long till it became a sensation!
You have a new e-commerce idea that you want to hit the market with. That's great!
But what technologies should you build it on? And if the idea doesn't fly? Should you hire in-house developers or external? What is the best approach?
This is more or less the conversation we had in the beginning. And we needed to find the best approach!
So we sat down with the business and the CTO and discussed what the needs were. The Manual business proposition was great! Targeting men wellness for hard-to-talk-about issues, like hair loss and ED.
But it didn't fit into the normal e-commerce flow as we all know it. It had to do with regulatory checkpoints, approvals and doctor prescriptions.
So the main 2 questions were:
For the first question our recommendation was simple. Start off by creating the MVP with an experienced team and if that goes well, you should hire in-house developers.
We strongly feel that the technology knowledge should be kept within or close to the company, once the product-market fit is found. We can then help grow the team and make the hand-over while the product is selling.
For the second question, we chose React.js and you can read on as to why.
Subscription and on-demand purchaces, doctor prescription approvals and eligibility questionnaires before buying, create a web of complex user flows. Our team needed to make sure that no edge-case was missed that could lead to a regulatory penalty. A challenge we gladly took on!
React, if not used correctly, can actually harm SEO. But using Server-Side Rendering, this can be avoided and the application can take advantage of React's speed without any SEO impact. Based on our experience in many other React applications, our team made sure that all elements and pages were indexable by search engines.
Turning a modern-looking design into a pixel perfect website that works on all browsers and devices is a challenge that allowed us to showcase our skills.
React.js is a frontend library created by Facebook that breaks up the page into fast rendering components and takes advantage of the page's virtual DOM in order to reload only the required components when some data changes. It is recommended when requiring to create interactive UIs and it is backend technology agnostic, meaning that you can use it together with your favourite backend technology.
During the last 5 years, it has become one of the top 2 frontend technologies and has a very extensive community.
React.js on the frontend together with a front-end-agnostic e-commerce framework was the ideal combination for the MVP.
The CTO of Manual was an expert in PHP-based backends, so we focused on turning designs into pixel-perfect React components and communicating with the backend via a REST API, whenever needed.
Developing complex e-commerce flows, like implementing medical eligibility questionnaires for prescription-requiring products was part of what made this project a nice challenge for us.
Finally, integrating with external payment gateways for both one-off and subscription payments was required in order to close the online ordering cycle.
Special attention was given to making sure that the components' design was adapting to different devices. CSS Media queries and responsive HTML5 image elements, improve the user experience and allow great look & feel on all devices.
SEO on an e-commerce business is very important! Our team made sure that Server-Side Rendering was used when developing the React components, so that SEO was not affected by dynamic nature of React.
Testability of the components and Redux-compliant state management was the top priority, in order to make maintenance easier in the future.
After the launch, we have been supporting Manual with our QA Services in order to ensure the quality and stability of newly developed features.
Dimos Nikoudis - Head of Engineering