Alberta Pulse Growers (APG) is a nonprofit group that supports thousands of farmers across the province who grow peas, beans, chickpeas, lentils, soybeans, and faba beans. Through their work with food and agricultural groups, they’re building a market and helping growers sell more pulses.
Before we started working with them, APG had a website and a wiki. The website was meant for both purchasers and the general public. It had information about marketing and buying pulses alongside recipes and cooking tips. The wiki was just for farmers and had in-depth information about the various types of pulses, from seeding to post-harvest and everything in between.
Both the site and the wiki were difficult for visitors to navigate and for staff members to update. The site was also dated and wasn’t mobile friendly. To build momentum for International Year of Pulses, APG was looking to built a great-looking, easy-to-use website that integrated the wiki.
They liked our recommended approach and our teams clicked right off the bat, so they chose us to make it happen for them.
APG is made up of people who are experts on pulses. Our expertise, on the other hand, lies in website design. We both recognized that if we wanted to make something great, we would need to work together every step of the way—even more than we usually do.
Every week, we met with APG team members from every department to walk through our website progress, discuss their ideas, and determine how best to implement them.
There was still plenty of opportunity for the APG brand to grow. The website was an opportunity to figure out and define what that brand should look like. Working hand in hand with APG to get all the details just right, we expanded the brand to include illustrations, an extended pulse photo library, and a secondary colour palette.
We created custom visuals like maps, diagrams, and iconography to support the written content and highlight important features. Fantastic photography of pulses in various stages of growth and applications (including tasty-looking recipes) give life to the site, too. Vibrant colours in contrast with the clean, refined layout keep the site modern and professional while still being welcoming. This attracts visitors and keeps them engaged as they move through the site.
The reason APG had three websites in the first place was because there was such a massive amount of content. Combining this content into a single site in a clear, visually appealing way proved to be a huge undertaking. We worked with the APG team to categorize every page, graphic, and piece of content to make sure it was in the right place and that it met their needs.
APG initially asked us to divide the site by audience and sub-audience for producers and consumers because the existing site was structured that way. However, we didn’t know if audiences would want the site organized that way, so we dug deeper.
Website analytics told us that people were looking for three different types of information: growing, eating, and marketing. We organized the site to fit those user journeys and make the information easy to access.
APG’s biggest concern was being able to add and edit content themselves. That’s why we built the website on WordPress, which has an incredibly easy-to-use interface.
To make content management even simpler, we used Scaffolding, our in-house WordPress plugin. APG can add new sections, choose the content types and design styles for those sections, and quickly make changes as needed, including shuffling entire sections within a page.
WordPress also allows for custom functionality, which is why it’s such a great fit for APG. We were able to build out features like the ones below.
Director Login Portal
The existing site had a portal so directors could see documents, financials, and annual reports, but it didn’t have enough room for all of it and didn’t allow content to be rearranged. We built a new portal that met these needs.
We built a Recipes section that’s easy for everyone to use. Staff can create recipes with ingredients, directions, and nutritional information, and visitors can search for them by meal, key ingredients, and dietary needs.
Before this project, APG regularly released a list of their pulse dealers as a PDF. We built a section for this on the website so the dealers list is easy to search, not to mention always accurate and up to date.
We built a section where APG can promote expos, workshops, and other events in an easily manageable way.
APG offers all kinds of print resources and recipe sheets for classes and programs. We made many of these resources available in an easily downloadable format and set up online order forms for the more exclusive ones.
APG funds pulse-related research projects, so we built a custom post type for these projects and a section to house them. Visitors can search for projects using criteria like year, crop type, research area, and project status.
APG is always posting articles, news releases, crop reports, newsletters, and market insights. The News section makes it easy for visitors to sort through and keep up with the hundreds of different content pieces available.
We built an email newsletter sign-up section that automatically segments subscribers from different industries into the right groups.
APG’s wiki was meant to be a resource that producers could refer to with any questions about growing pulses. Like any wiki, it was designed to give selected experts the power to update any information they wanted to. The trouble was, the wiki used complicated code that wasn’t ideal for quick and easy updates. This meant experts couldn’t manage content in a way that worked for visitors.
Because WordPress handles large amounts of content without any trouble, we didn’t need a separate system for the wiki. Instead we added that information to the Growing Pulses section.
Now visitors can click a specific type of pulse to see an overview. From there, they can click the type of information they want to learn more about, like harvesting or pest control. It’s also easy for experts to log in and create or edit any piece of content they need to.
The website launched in summer 2017. Since then, the Alberta Pulse Growers team has been able to manage their website themselves with just a little bit of help from Habit. They now have the functionality they need, and they can build on the site as those needs change.
The success of the website design has affected other areas of the APG brand, too. They’ve used custom visuals, type treatment, and design cues from the website to create consistency across items like their business package, annual report, newsletter, presentation documents, cooking class workbook, and app. (As you’ll see below, we lent a hand with some of those!)
But most importantly, Alberta Pulse Growers loves the work we did and now has the tools they need to help their organization grow.