Spending most of my time immersed in managing the pages of the new CropLife.com, I sometimes forget to poke my head out of the bunker to check out other agriculture Websites. Not only was I able to do that recently, but I specifically targeted the Websites of the CropLife 100 companies. And I like what I found.
Visiting each site for about 10-15 minutes, I asked myself a few key fundamental questions. What was my first impression of the site? Does the site serve its customers well? Is the site navigation well or poorly planned?
After completing this impromptu evaluation process, I determined there were 10 top 100 Websites that stood out from the rest. I recommend you visit these sites — which can be linked to from their company profile pages on CropLife.com/top100 — when you have time to poke your head out of your own personal bunker. You might come across something that makes sense for your own Website.
1. Helena Chemical. The company’s theme — People…Products…Knowledge — is reinforced throughout the Website. The site is truly customer-oriented. The e-Helena login allows customers to access their accounts securely, while a location search enables users to find the nearest Helena facility. Visitors can get the latest information on Helena’s wide variety of products and services, including proprietary adjuvants, seed treatments and value-added products.
CropLife 100 info: Rank: 2 | No. retail outlets: 334 | No. states served: 48 | more >>
2. GROWMARK. The Bloomington, IL, cooperative presents a lot of information in its easy-to-navigate Website. From the most recent annual report to the latest GROWMARK news, visitors can quickly drill down to what they are looking for using the topic-specific navigation bar. Enter in your zip code in the “Where To Do Business” widget to access a map marked with GROWMARK-affiliated firms closest to you. Visitors can also watch a video in the “Our History” section, as past and present leaders of the GROWMARK System reflect on the cooperative’s 85-year history. A searchable Media Center features news, blogs, video, and more.
CropLife 100 info: Rank: 3 | No. retail outlets: 663 | No. states served: 31 | more >>
3. Southern States Co-op. The cooperative successfully integrates social media into its site. For instance, visitors can learn about Southern States’ history, local specials and more through its new Facebook Timeline. Plus, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube icons are featured prominently on the home page. The Commercial Ag page features Southern States’ products and services, from seed to precision ag, as well as the latest headline news from agriculture.
CropLife 100 info: Rank: 7 | No. retail outlets: 211 | No. states served: 11 | more >>
4. Jimmy Sanders, Inc. Jimmy Sanders packs a lot of information and links in a well-designed, graphically pleasing Website. The company’s award-winning OptiGro program is showcased prominently throughout the site, giving critical space to the Jimmy Sanders’ precision ag offerings. With just a click, users have access to a soil fertility expert, label look-ups, and career opportunities. An interactive map highlights the retailer’s 80 locations in eight states in the Mid-South. Plus, the Products tab lists a comprehensive suite of offerings, from crop inputs to financing.
CropLife 100 info: Rank: 8 | No. retail outlets: 80 | No. states served: 8 | more >>
5. South Dakota Wheat Growers. The grain and agronomy cooperative does an excellent job of serving more than 5,400 active members through its Website. Members can view their commodities and merchandise accounts through iView, and receive monthly eStatements via e-mail. Users can also customize their homepage, including where grain marketing information, weather data, and alerts appear. The site also features a section dedicated to blogs, with agronomists and other key contributors providing valuable insight from the field.
CropLife 100 info: Rank: 13 | No. retail outlets: 37 | No. states served: 2 | more >>
6. Hefty Seed Co. The South Dakota-based company does a great job of achieving a Web 2.0 site, highlighted by its use of video and radio to communicate to growers. Through its Ag PhD TV and Ag PhD Radio, owners Brian and Darren Hefty offer agronomic advice on how to pick the right herbicides, better fertilize crops, stop yield-robbing insects and diseases, and much more. Growers can also live chat online with one of Hefty Seed’s agronomists, subscribe to the Ag PhD newsletter, and download the 2012 Soybean Seed Resource Guide.
CropLife 100 info: Rank: 20 | No. retail outlets: 29 | No. states served: 7 | more >>
7. Brandt Consolidated. Probably one of the more robust top 100 ag retail sites, Brandt efficiently uses video throughout, including footage taken from its Agronomy Plot Days. Users can sign up to receive Brandt Alerts on important information impacting their farms. Also featured prominently is the Brandt Racing page showcasing the company’s partnership with NASCAR driver Justin Allgaier and the No. 31 BRANDT Chevrolet car.
CropLife 100 info: Rank: 21 | No. retail outlets: 16 | No. states served: 1 | more >>
8. Twin State Inc. The site is one of the better examples of striking the balance of simplicity with rich imagery subtlely applied. Its fresh design is easy to navigate either through search or one of six key topical areas. The site also features a blog by Chief Agronomist Ken Washburn, who reports on recent news and what he has observed in the field.
CropLife 100 info: Rank: 29 | No. retail outlets: 16 | No. states served: 3 | more >>
9. Mid Kansas Coop. The site features a simple, clean design highlighted by key offerings, from agronomy to financing, in the navigation bar. The company’s presence on social media is prominent throughout the site, with icons for Facebook, Blogspot, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn displayed on every page. Highly visible logins for both customers and employees are anchored at the upper right corner of every page, as well.
CropLife 100 info: Rank: 69 | No. retail outlets: 39 | No. states served: 1 | more >>
10. Asmus Farm Supply. The site features a modern, elegant design that makes navigation easy. A number of tools are highlighted throughout the site, including an Agrian Label Look Up and Agronomy Links. News and updates are featured on the homepage and can be accessed through an RSS news feed. Videos are a major element on the site, and can be viewed on the company’s YouTube page, too.
CropLife 100 info: Rank: 71 | No. retail outlets | No. states served: 3 | more >>
Honorable mention: Aurora Cooperative, BEI Hawaii, Central Valley Ag, CHS, Co-Alliance LLP, Farmers Cooperative Co., Frontier Cooperative, Harvest Land Co-op, J.R. Simplot, Landmark Service Cooperative, MaxYield Cooperative, MRM Ag Services, Tennessee Farmers Cooperative, Van Horn Inc., The McGregor Co., Watonwan Farm Service, West Central Cooperative, Wilbur-Ellis, Wilco-Winfield