We started in 2007 and had set ourselves the goal to go live for a limited group at the beginning of 2008 and eventually for the general public in June 2008". Peter Weijmarshausen, CEO of Shapeways: “With this challenging objective, the decision to outsource the development and construction of the site was quickly made. A logical choice, as we couldn’t do everything ourselves,” Peter explains. “We were therefore looking for a partner that could provide more than just developers. We wanted to outsource the whole thing, so we really looked for a strategic partner… “”
…A partner that could think along with you about the design and architecture of the new site, advised, manage the project and could also build the website. At Ibuildings we found this whole package.
The offer of Ibuildings stood out. They came up with a well-founded and credible story. That soon became the deciding factor.
Ibuildings grows along
Peter: “In the beginning we expected a lot of flexibility from Ibuildings. As a start-up, it is difficult to estimate exactly what support and capacity you will need. Everything is still new. Now that we are in the next phase, this is much clearer. The nice thing about Ibuildings is that they have grown along with us. This was a very important point for us when choosing a partner. Together with Ibuildings we first went through all the wishes and requirements.
Ibuildings translated this into a functional and technical design. Soon the scope of our challenge was clear: a complex project with multiple parties and integrations with advanced 3D software.
Due to expected peaks in visitor numbers and the possibility of international rollout, we always took scalability into account. Everything also had to be done quickly, because we wanted to go live with the site at the beginning of 2008.
Special custom tools
Ibuildings did everything possible to deliver the desired features at the launch of the site. And with results. Ibuildings developed special tools to optimise the processing of calculations, orders and other features. Features such as ‘best new design’ and the ability to rate other people’s designs through ratings and comments also went live, along with the blog and forum functionality.
For us, that ‘community’-feature was especially important. As a visitor, it allows you to have contact with other designers. Tens of thousands of members are already active on the site, which is a great result”.
Development of the shops
“For 2008, we had drawn up a roadmap with all the developments we wanted to realise in 2008. With Ibuildings we went through the entire 2008 roadmap, so that they also had a good idea of what had to be done and how much capacity this would require.
A nice highlight was the development of the shops. Users of 3D software can open their own shop on our site,” Peter explains. “We had a very tight deadline for this. We wanted to launch this unique feature at the CES fair in Las Vegas. The CES is the largest international consumer electronics fair in the world.
Ibuildings worked day and night to make it happen. And successfully. We met the deadline and there are already more than 500 shops on the site”.
Continue building with Ibuildings
“For 2009, we also drew up a roadmap, but you can see that we are now really in the next phase. While the 2008 roadmap still contained all kinds of introductions of major new features, it is now time to go into depth and fine-tune the existing stuff. Of course we have our own ideas about this, but our current visitors also regularly come up with suggestions for improvements. This keeps us sharp and ensures regular contact and consultation with Ibuildings,” says Peter.
Co-creator brings designer and customer together
One of the latest projects Ibuildings has developed for Shapeways is the Co-Creator Platform. This allows designers to respond directly to the wishes and needs of the customer. Through the platform, the designer offers a basic product that customers can adapt to their own specific wishes. For example, photo frames, cufflinks, napkin rings and decorations for the Christmas tree can be made to measure.
Mass customization conquers the world! Now there are over a hundred designs on the website that are easy to customize.