Volume 8, Issue 8 - September 2007

software savvy

What You See . . . Is What You Get 
by Dale Hays

How many times have you heard somebody say, “I’m a visual person?” Have you ever heard anybody say, “I’m a text person?” The fact is we’re all visual people. We make a large number of our key buying decisions based on what we see, and most of us are very dependent upon what we see to perform our jobs. 

As a software professional, I’ve found that the visual outputs of software applications have as much impact on adoption, perceived value and ultimate success as any of the sophisticated program code that works behind the scenes. As a door and window manufacturer, understanding your product visualization options should be an important part of your software creation or selection strategy. This is especially true in software to support your selling process. Use the following guide to apply the “best fit” visualization technology and content for each phase of the interest-to-delivery cycle.

Interest Captured on the Web
One of the important recent trends in website development is to provide the consumer with a web experience that enables them to select and interact with your products in the context of a home or room style that closely matches their own. With some of the latest software, the user can “configure the scene” by specifying different paint, material or product offerings. Dynamic imaging technology is used to enhance traditional photography and enable unlimited variations. 

Specifying Dimensionally-Driven Products
Many architectural products are dimensionally configurable. Doors and windows are a perfect example as the frame/rough openings of the home drive the size of the final end item. The ability to create a “parametric” two-dimensional (2D) drawing to match the dimensional requirements enables you to produce a product drawing that not only shows the resulting product configuration, but can also include key production or verification dimensions. Having an accurate and to-scale 2D drawing makes it easy to validate a quote/order visually, and can be used in the manufacturing and labeling of the resulting product.

Describing and Building Dimensionally-Driven Products
The value of a visually-accurate 3D model can extend beyond initial engineering design and support of CNC production equipment to the quote and order process as well. The key is to deploy parametric CAD automation technology that enables you to create 3D product models in near real-time based on the specific requirements of a quote or order. A manufacturer can utilize the power of 3D automation as part of their on-line quoting and ordering applications. As each line item is configured, the web user (e.g. a dealer) can receive a full 3D model that can be zoomed, panned, rotated, etc. The manufacturer also produces a visually-appealing quote document that includes a dimensionally-accurate snapshot of each window, which can be flowed into the manufacturing process and used to label the packaged product for shipping.

Use These Techniques to Drive More Sales
Each of these visualization techniques is a tool you should consider using at appropriate points in your selling process. Some of today’s newer software solutions will give you the option to select the technique that best fits your needs at various points throughout your interest-to-delivery cycle. When you provide your dealers and customers with the ability to truly visualize your products, “what they see is what they get” will quickly become “what they see is what they want,” and you can be confident they will show their appreciation with increased purchases. 

Dale Hays is vice president of product management and chief solution officer at TDCI Inc. He may be reached at dhays@tdci.com. Mr. Hays’ opinions are solely his own and not necessary those of this magazine. 


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