Marketing & Sales Series: Pt 7 ~ Tips for Creating an Inviting & Usable Website


Smolak Farms website, North Andover, MA

Written by guest blogger, Myrna Greenfield, founder of Good Egg Marketing

Creating your first website or considering a relaunch? Whether you hire a professional or build it yourself for free, having a website is still one of the most effective ways to market your farm. Often farms will set up a Facebook page instead of build their own site. Remember, social media sites are great way to get the word out about your brand, but can’t house all of the information potential customers might need.  So, don’t use them instead of having your own site; consider using them as a supplement to your site.

If you can, it can be helpful to hire a professional to set up your website, but if it’s not in your budget, there are several free or inexpensive web platforms that are surprisingly easy to use. In addition to WordPress, the favorite of most small businesses, sites like Weebly, Wix, and Squarespace, have lots of attractive features.

No matter which platform you choose to use, here are some dos and don’ts to keep in mind as you’re planning your site!

1. Keep it simple. Visitors to your home page should be able to “get” you in one glance.

  • Keep your topline navigation menu short, with easy-to-understand tabs.
  • Choose images that make your offerings as clear and compelling as possible.
  • Don’t use too many colors, fonts, flashing images, or boxes.
  • Be careful about using photographs as background images for your site. They can be distracting and compete with the main images on your page. Unless you’ve got good contrast between the background and the rest of your site, use a matching color instead.
  • Make sure the text is easy to read – no shadow typefaces, limit your use of italics and white type reversed out of dark background.
  • If your name of your farm isn’t self-explanatory, a tagline or brief descriptor can help explain what you do.

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The Cowgirl Creamery home page uses beautiful photos and just a few words to convey exactly what they want us to focus on: Visit Us, Our Cheese, Order Now, and About Us. Everything else is organized into subpages inside the site.

2. Be visual. Most users don’t read content on the web, they scan it.

  • Use the best images that you can find. Unless you (or someone you know) is a top-notch photographer, hire a professional. Having compelling photographs draws people in and keeps them glued to your site.
  • Be fussy. Don’t use any photos with fuzzy focus, poor lighting, or that show the shadow of the photographer in the shot.
  • If your photos are high-resolution, bigger is almost always better. A single large photo usually creates more impact than lots of smaller shots.
  • Show some emotion. How do your customers feel when they bite into your Sierra Beauties? How do you feel at the end of long day of weeding?
  • Bring us up close. Make us hungry. Let us see the glistening seeds of a sliced Green Zebra tomato or the lacy edges of your Red Russian Kale.
  • Give us a tour. Introduce us to your animals. What does it look like when the sun rises over your fields? Make us feel like insiders.
  • Videos are a great way for you to help site visitors experience your farm and they can help you drive traffic to your site. But don’t set them up to autoplay; let visitors start the video themselves.
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Morris Grassfed uses an animated video on their home page to create a whimsical tone and they supplement it with other images that evoke farm freshness. Even their Order Here button feels fresh.

3. Layer your content. Don’t try to say it all on the home page.

  • Start with headlines or main points, then link to inside pages that cover that topic in-depth. If we want more information, we’ll click on it.
  • Short pages are easier to read on cell phone and tablets.
  • Creating separate pages for each concept makes it easier to optimize your website to show up in search engines.

4. Give us attitude. You have to differentiate your farm or products from the giant industrial farms and food producers.

  • Don’t be afraid to show some personality; you’re not a bank! Make us smile, or even laugh.
  • Whether your tone is sincere or slightly snarky, it should be consistent through your site (not to mention your social media, signage, print collateral, even your customer service).
  • Tell us your story. Who’s running the joint? How long have you been farming? What’s different about your location?
  • What’s in it for us? Why should we care? How is your site going to entertain, move, or inform us? How is your food or product going to delight us?
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The folks at Dirty Girl Produce seem like a lot of fun, from their Felfies (farmer selfies), shoulder rides for the kids, and the way they talk about their kick-ass crew.

5. Make it mobile friendly. Your site must be easy to view on desktop computers, cell phones, and tablets.

  • According to Comscore, smartphone and tables now account for 60% of the total time spent on digital media (up from 50% a year ago).
  • If you have a website already, you can look at your analytics to see which devices people are using to visit the site.
  • Many website templates are already formatted for “responsive” website design. If you choose one that is already set up to automatically optimize the content to be viewed on mobile devices, it will resize the images to fit on any screen size, work with a touch screen, etc.
  • You should test how your website looks on cell phones and tablets as you’re developing your site.

6. Tell us what you want us to do: e.g. buy now, find us at these farmers markets, follow us on Twitter, join our email list, etc.

  • Your “asks” (a “Call to Action,” in marketing terms) should be clearly visible, but not dominate the page. You don’t want to give people a hard sell before you’ve had a chance to get acquainted.
  • A Call to Action motivates web visitors to click through your site, take a particular action, or return to your site.
  • When you ask people to take an action, describe how it will benefit them. For example, if you want people to sign up for your newsletter, tell them that you offer discounts, recipes, and storage tips.
  • If you give your site visitors too many options, you’ll confuse them. Either focus on one action you want visitors to take (such as visiting your online store) or group your asks together, so you don’t confuse your visitors.
  • If possible, connect each call to action with an image. Images will call attention to your ask and make the sell friendlier.
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This simple home page, built on Weebly, which lets you build a free website, clearly conveys who Two Field Farm is and what they do. It’s also full of attitude. The black backdrop is rather stark, but is softened by the beautiful flowers in the background. Their home page also features a clear action for you to take (subscribe to our newsletter) and a moe subtle call to action (Like us on Facebook) with a small photo. If you scroll down the page, you can also view a photo gallery with some really nice photography.

I hope these pointers help you get started on creating or relaunching your website!

Thank you Myrna for these easy tips! If you’re in need of marketing strategy, branding, social media, email marketing services and more, get in touch with the folks at Good Egg Marketing.

We’re continuing to expand the Marketing & Sales Toolkit, so stay tuned for more resources.

If you happened to miss them, check out our other features in the Marketing & Sales series:

If you have questions or words of wisdom about selling at the farmers market, visit FarmsReach Conversations and post a question or comment!

If you have other great resources to share, get in touch. We’d love to hear from you.

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