I-Next was founded in 1995 as a specialist web design agency. Initially focussing on technology companies and media, we were soon publishing some of the most prestigious electronics websites in the UK:
- Electronics Weekly - HyperActive
- The Institution of Electrical Engineers Forum and Professional Networks sites
- GEC Plessey Semiconductors
- Cadence Europe
In working with these large companies and sites from such early days on the web we learned the fundamental principles of running a good website:
- Design: Graphics and structure.
- Technology: Systems, features and functions.
- Hosting: Fast, scalable, secure and reliable
- Promotion: SEO friendliness
- Support: Expert and accessible
Having looked around the open source content management projects at the time, we took these principles into the development of our own, proprietary, content management system. We made this the core of a website management platform, I-ntarsia(tm).
Initially I-ntarsia was marketed as our exclusive management system. However, in the early 'noughties' increasing interest and demand from specialist design and digital agencies led to us establishing the I-ntarsia Reseller Programme. This allowed focus exclusively on the I-ntarsia system and reseller network.
Three types of client emerged:
- Creative and marketing agencies who need web expertise to compliment their creative skills in delivering web content
- Medium and large enterprises who need to deliver multiple web sites and services across their brand base in a cost effective manner
- Vertical solutions providers who needed a flexible web platform to deliver specific web applications to larger clients
Working with these clients I-ntarsia has been used to create:
- Multi-brand corporate and ecommerce sites with GDC Group (Dimplex, Xpelair, Redring, Roberts Radio, Creda, Valor, Galaxy, Robinson Willey)
- Award winning Channel Sales Support programmes with Edenred
- Innovative web startups (A Giving Tribute, Explorer Travel Cruise)
- Automotive sites integrated with manufacturers data systems with KCD (Windrush VW, Park Lane UK, Park Lane Exports, BodyTechnics)
- Corporate Reward and Recognition systems with Edenred
- Corporate Reward and Recognition and Ecode promotion systems with Havas People
- Long Service Award systems with Edenred
- Pure play ecommerce start ups (Handy Trading Company, Cause and Affect)
- Clicks and mortar ecommerce sites (Initially Yours, Somerset Sausage)
Much of the focus whilst delivering these great projects was on using the flexibility of the I-ntarsia platform to add specific functionality for our three core client types as well as developing management systems and infrastructure for handling rapidly growing digital estates. We released two major versions of the I-ntarsia platform and numerous minor revisions. In 2014 we started planning Version 3.0.
By early 2015 we benchmarked the core, proprietary, content management and ecommerce elements of the I-ntarsia system against popular open-source alternatives. We were excited to find that the content management system which showed most promise back in 2004, Drupal, had now matured. Indeed, the latest release at the time, Drupal 8, was a complete, ground up rewrite and addressed all of the issues that we had seen with earlier versions. At this point the decision was taken to replace the proprietary CMS elements of I-ntarsia with Drupal 8. This coincided with a similar major release of the Magento ecommerce system to version 2.x which proved to be an ideal base for the I-ntarsia Commerce solution for product led ecommerce customers.
In developing the third version of I-ntarsia we found that Drupal 8 and Magento 2 fitted well into the I-ntarsia framework and that it made using these systems a far more sensible proposition for our type of customer (or indeed any web project owner). The only thing that didn’t fit was the version numbering. We wanted the version numbers of the I-ntarsia platform to be meaningful to our customers, and we also wanted to adopt as closely as sensible semantic versioning. To do this sensibly we had to re-version I-ntarsia 3.0 to I-ntarsia 8.16.1 which was the first release of a Drupal based I-ntarsia in July 2016; and I-ntarsia E-commerce 3.0 to I-ntarsia Commerce 2.16.1 which was the first Magento based I-ntarsia Commerce.
The first service delivered on I-ntarsia 8.16.1 was an internal Product Information Database for Redring Xpelair Group (RXG), used to manage all of the marketing and technical data associated with their 10,000 product portfolio. The system integrates with the corporate ERP system and their estate of ecommerce web sites.