Sowing seeds for the future

When launching a new website for a client, sometimes, that website won’t undergo any changes for its entire lifetime. For many small businesses their requirements don’t change frequently, or they’re simply just too busy growing their business that evolving their website isn’t high on their list of priorities.

Changes to a website becomes more common as a business grows. These might be simple changes of content or various promotions but eventually there comes a point where additional functionality is needed. Recently Ripon Farm Services came back to us with a list of developments they wanted to make to their new and used machinery pages.

The brief

Since launching in September 2017 the machinery pages (similar to product pages in a standard E-commerce website) had gone largely unchanged.

2017-2020 Machinery Page

Fast forward 2+ years and with various competitors having progressed and it was necessary for Ripon Farm Services to look at what changes they could implement that would improve these pages to better reflect the needs of the business as well as offering the functionality that users would be looking for in 2020. Below is the list of requirements that the client identified…

  1. Ability to add up to 25 product images, with watermarks on the images
  2. Include a last updated date on the page
  3. Increase the visibility of the product name and specification details
  4. Add a PDF download of product details
  5. Link to finance options
  6. Increased prominence of video upload
  7. Add currency convertor
  8. Add Google translate
  9. Add latest products to the base of the page within a carousel
  10. Alter view all manufacturer link to view all category link

Upon receiving the list of requirements for the client we discussed a number of these to better understand the reasoning behind changes. For example, watermarked images are something we tend to see have a negative impact on users and so look to understand the reasoning behind requests like these.

One requirement that we didn’t progress any further on was the inclusion of Google Translate. While it was still possible to implement the widget on the website it was clear that Google had made the decision to retire this feature. With no clarity on if this would remain on the website in the long term, and Google’s position we felt it was best to omit this requirement.

A new design

With a raft on new or changed elements on the machinery pages it would be necessary to change the layout of the page to accommodate these changes and so a new design was produced.

2020 Machinery Page

As you’ll see in the design above, compared to the original, we have moved to a standard two column layout, often seen through many product pages across E-commerce website. Though this means moving away from a more unique and potentially visually engaging layout we felt it was necessary in order to accommodate the changes required and aide users in consuming the increased content/features within the page.

A raft of new features

As listed in the requirements above the new machinery page would include a variety of new features. Some of these are simple reworking of existing links, or content placement while others and entirely new features like currency convertors, latest product carousel and product specification PDF download.

Current Convertor

While it’s possible to use a third-party integration to get accurate currency conversions for Ripon Farm Services a number of factors meant this wasn’t necessary. With online purchasing disabled an accurate figure would not be required and so using estimated figures would be more cost effective than paying to subscribe to a third-party service.

Instead we would provide the ability to set the conversion amount manually within the CMS. Users would then be able to get a rough estimate of the cost in Euros or US Dollars rather than an accurate purchase amount that may change by the time the purchase is completed.

Latest Products Carousel

Carousel’s are always a little tricky, especially if you choose to avoid the use of third-party plugins to create the carousel effect.

The benefit of hand coding a carousel, however, is that you can develop a solution that is perfectly attuned to the requirements of the feature. This means developing a lightweight function that does the exact job required without extra bloat that comes from a plugin that attempts to cover a variety of use cases.

The result is a simple carousel that allows the user to easily move through a subset of products in a form that doesn’t overly dominate the page.

Product Specification Download

For this we utilised the FDPF library to assist in the easy conversion of the product information into a PDF document for download. This combined with the download attribute on the <a> link provides the users a quick and easy function for the user to save, download and print the product information as they desire.

Within the PDF document we’re able to pair down the information to the basic product information, specification and imagery that is relevant to the user and the product only. This ensures this document isn’t overly complex and difficult for the users to digest if reviewing multiple options.

For now and the future

This is the primary strapline that Ripon Farm Services utilises across their marketing and we believe it suites the new developments we’ve implemented for them on their website. By enhancing the machinery pages throughout the website we’re delivering a page that better suits the needs of users and the business both now and for the future.

Eventually the business will grow and their needs of this page and possibly the entire website will change, but at Bronco we’re always happy to see a client come back and want to push their website forward to reflect their growth and help push that growth even further.

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  • Dixon

    Ripon is lucky to have you guys on its doorstep!

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