By Jorge Abrego
Advertising Director at Acres U.S.A.

Having worked on and developed numerous websites for clients in agriculture, irrigation and technology over the last fifteen years, most of these clients hired my company for three reasons:

  1. They needed a website that was easier to update and maintain
  2. They needed a website that offered a better user experience
  3. They needed a website that aesthetically projected an accurate depiction of their company, and skillfully communicated their product’s/service’s value proposition, unique attributes and tangible advantages

For better or for worse, in today’s world your website is the front door to your customers and your most visible marketing tool. Ensuring that your website can attract potential customers and serve them in tangible ways is critical to the success of your overarching marketing efforts.

Deciding you need a new website is step one in the process. Step two centers on determining what you want from your new website, so let’s talk about seven important questions you need to ask yourself before engaging a partner and requesting a website proposal.

Question #1: What is the main purpose of your website?

Different companies have different goals for their websites. Some websites exist to produce sales leads while others are designed to sell product. Most clients want to use their website to engage prospective customers by educating them and demonstrating their own expertise.

Question #2: Who is the main audience for your website?

This should be one of the simplest questions, but clarifying this key point ensures that the website design and development efforts are aligned to accomplish this goal.

Question #3: Who are your main competitors?

You’ll want to review your competitors and even your customers’ websites to understand what your prospective customers will expect for your website. Identify ‘must have’ features and determine opportunities for you to differentiate yourself. Be mindful of how your industry is progressing and which new players are moving into your space.

Question #4: What does your website need or not need (from a technology standpoint)?

Different technological needs can certainly influence a proposal and a project. Different technologies ranging from e-commerce capabilities to faceted search that allows users to customize their product search to integration with a client’s customer database so website visitors can check order history, etc. Just about everything is possible in today’s world, so determining a clear scope for the project is critical.

Question #5: What new features or functions does the website need?

Another way to look at this is, what features do you absolutely want to keep from your current website or wish you could add to that website? What parts of the current website do your customers value the most? What do you wish your current website did that it doesn’t do?

Question #6: How will you measure whether the new website is a success?

Answering this question can be difficult in our world since not too many clients transact sales online. So, will you use traffic growth to evaluate success? Are you going to count on anecdotal feedback from the market to indicate how well the new website works? Or, do you have some other measuring stick?

Question #7: What’s your budget?

Yes, any good designer/developer is going to ask this. Sharing these details – even if you only have a range – helps ensure everyone shares the same vision and expectations for your project. Depending on the complexity of the architecture and what you need to accomplish (Qs 4 & 5), the cost of a new professionally developed agricultural website can range from as low as $3,000 to $15,000 – $20,000. There’s no need to bust the budget, but given that it’s something that most companies do every 7-10 years, skimping usually does not yield real value or lasting ROI

Jorge Abrego is the Advertising Director for Acres U.S.A. and has 26 years of advertising agency and B2B media experience in the agriculture, energy and technology sectors.