What I Learned Designing a CRM from Scratch
Designing a CRM from scratch can be a daunting task. There are so many things to consider, from the user interface to the data model, and if you’re not careful, you can quickly end up with a mess on your hands. I should know: I’ve designed a CRM from scratch before. Here are a few things I learned along the way.
Designing a CRM Is Hard Work
Designing a CRM from scratch is hard work. There are a lot of moving parts, and if you don’t have a clear vision from the outset, it’s easy to get lost in the details. It is important to define your goals and objectives early on and keep the design as simple as possible. The more complicated the CRM is, the more difficult it will be to use and maintain.
Think about scalability. As your business grows, so will your need for more sophisticated features in your CRM. Design with growth in mind to avoid having to start over from scratch down the line. It is also important to consider the needs of the users and make sure your design meets their needs. This will help to ensure you do not create a CRM that no one wants to use.
After creating a prototype or a beta version of your CRM, have some real users test it and provide you with feedback. This can help you make changes to the CRM to ensure it works for everyone.
There Are a Lot of Things to Consider
You’ll want to first think about the purpose of the CRM. What are you trying to achieve with it? Once you know the purpose, you can start thinking about the features you’ll need to include.
These features are essential:
- Usability and intuitiveness
- Data storage capacity and scalability
- Integrations with other software platforms
- Customer support
Each of these features is important in its own right, but you’ll also need to think about how they work together.
The User Interface Is Critical
The user interface (UI) is one of the most important aspects of designing a CRM from scratch. It needs to be intuitive and easy to use, or else users will quickly become frustrated and give up on using the system.
There are a few elements that make up a good UI:
Simplicity. The UI should be as simple as possible, without any unnecessary clutter or complexity. Users should find what they need quickly and easily.
Consistency. The UI should be consistent throughout the system so that users know where they are and what they need to do. This means using similar layouts, icons, and buttons in different areas of the CRM.
Feedback. The UI should provide users with clear feedback on their actions so that they know what is happening and whether or not their input was successful.
Error handling. The UI should gracefully handle any errors that occur so that users can recover from them without losing data or becoming frustrated.
Customizability. The UI should be customizable to some extent so that users can tailor it to their own needs and preferences.
The CRM Must Be Easy to Use
When it comes to CRMs, user-friendliness is key. A difficult or counter-intuitive CRM will only frustrate employees. Therefore, making the CRM easy to use should be a top priority.
Focus on creating an interface that is clean and uncluttered. Use drop-down menus sparingly and make sure all key information is visible at a glance. Whenever possible, allow users to customize their own views.
Testing Is Essential
Always test your software before you release it to the public. There are bound to be bugs and glitches that need to be ironed out. Test early and often. The sooner you catch problems, the easier they are to fix.
Don’t just rely on automated testing tools. Get some real people to use your software and give you feedback. Be prepared to do a lot of tweaking and fine-tuning before your software is ready for prime time. Don’t get too attached to your original design ideas. Be flexible and willing to make changes based on feedback from testers.
Remember to keep your end goal at the forefront, focus on how to generate leads with content marketing and the needs of your users, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. By using the things I learned while designing a CRM, you’ll be well on your way to designing a CRM of your own.
Kelsey Raymond is the cofounder and CEO of Influence & Co., a full-service content marketing firm that specializes in helping companies strategize, create, publish, and distribute content that accomplishes their goals. Influence & Co.’s clients range from venture-backed startups to Fortune 500 brands.