Burl Audio is a maker of premier audio production equipment used by top recording industry professionals.
Burl uses a proprietary, modular format to build custom configurations for their customers. Configuring these systems was a complex, high touch effort. We simplified things by building an online configurator.
The Burl Configurator is a drag-and-drop visual builder for custom audio products. It happens all online.
Much of our work wasn’t about coding, but planning. We took the time to understand all of the product complexities. We then planned a webapp that made everything simple for the customer.
Professional audio engineers get to have fun building different configurations of audio systems. And they can do this without having to pore over complex documentation.
We built the webapp in a Laravel environment. It gave us the power and freedom to make something truly unique and useful.
When complicated work is truly done well it will seem simple to anyone not involved with it. Consider a cooking channel on YouTube. Even the simple ones involve multiple cameras, sound equipment, lights, and many takes of food prep, not to mention the editing. If it looks clean and simple on the screen, rest assured that there’s plenty going on in the background.
Our recent work with our client Burl Audio is a great example of this behind-the-scenes work. Solspace created and launched a new configuration tool for Burl. They make some of the best audio production equipment in the business. Their customers are generally savvy professionals who have specific ideas about what they want to accomplish with an audio system. This means each setup is special to each engineer, maybe even special to particular recording jobs. Because of this, the ability to configure the Burl components to meet a customer's special needs is an essential service Burl must provide.
Formerly, audio system custom configuration had to be done in an offline manner with analog documentation using PDFs or printed materials. Building a full setup required a calculus of considering channel loads, jumpers, boards, and plenty of dependencies. Even for professionals, the process was complicated and arduous. It almost always required the help of the Burl sales team.
This is why the configurator we launched is such a help. The user can build a custom audio arrangement merely by selecting or dragging a card or component of an audio configuration into the virtual chassis image on the screen. Users even see what their customization will look like from the front and back simultaneously. This interactive module helps customers, salespeople, and retailers. Everyone will be on the same page for the component dependencies and costs, saving time and effort for everyone.
The logic behind the scenes of this configurator is far from simple though. Our engineers at Solspace worked with the professionals at Burl to document how each of these audio components worked together. We needed to account for the number of channels a “daughter” component will take up, which slot they can be placed in, and how much each of them costs. As the user builds their full system, the background of the configurator must take dozens of aspects into account to continually update the number of slots left and curate only those components that will fit into the set the user is building. We did all this work before ever writing a line of code. It was every bit as important as the actual programming.
As for the programming we chose to use Laravel as a foundation for this configurator. If you’re not familiar with it, the Laravel framework is what we use when too much customization would be required of a CMS like WordPress or Craft.
The rest of the Burlaudio.com website is powered by Wordpress. Our use of a subdomain means this feature can live on their website alongside the rest of their content. The users can move back and forth from learning about the components to configuring them on their own without ever having to know about all the work being done in the background.
The Burl Mothership Configurator can even be better than “real life” in some ways. Gone is the work of having to review the channel limits gleaned from PDFs or other web content to customize a build. The Configurator just knows. This means that users can build several versions to consider and save them or send them to others. In short, it allows the users to play around and have fun (it’s an audio engineer’s version of fun, anyway).
It’s also a great way for Burl to develop some lead generation contacts. A simple email address gives them the opportunity to connect with audio professionals in a highly competitive market. The Configurator is a great example of advanced content marketing. Users get something of real, self-contained value to aid their work. Retailers get informed clients ready to buy a custom set of technologies. Burl gets connections to savvy customers. It’s really a winning combination for the users, salespeople, and retailers.
You may have complex services or products that require offline work to customize that you’ve never considered could be accomplished online. With the right planning, the right technology, and the right team, you’ll be surprised about what we can create that will make your work easier and your clients happier. And, they might even have fun with the process.