A Web Designer’s Perspective on Sow True Seed

Sow True Seed is a small, Asheville based, seed company with a national online customer base. They run a WordPress website with WooCommerce plugins to manage the e-Commerce functionality of the website. In the spirit of learning, I’m going to offer a brief analysis of the web design trends used by Sow True Seed. We’ll look at the Good, the Bad and the Should Have!

Sow True Seed   Open Pollinated   Heirloom Garden Seeds  .png

Two Web Trends Sow True Seed Has Nailed

  1. Content is King
  2. Original Art and Photography

Content is King

Sow True Seed has a lot of original content. They have a blog with multiple authors and categories for organization. The information ranges from seed saving, seed starting and garden planning to harvest, storage and cooking.

Sow True Seed are also actively developing a Garden Ambassador program to create a network of gardening content creators in states throughout the USA. This program will increase the quantity of blogs being written by expert gardeners as well as increase the geographic reach of Sow True Seed’s knowledge.

The product pages continue the content trend with on-page planting and variety information, user generated reviews and links back to the blog for supporting articles. Despite being an e-Commerce website, there is a lot of useful gardening information that helps to establish Sow True Seed as an expert in the field and encourage return visitors.

Cherokee Purple  ORGANIC   Sow True Seed Heirloom Tomato.png

The inter connectivity of the content and multiple access points makes the content easy to find and relevant to the customer.

Original Art and Photography

Sow True Seed does a reasonably good job of providing good quality, original imagery for its webpages. Most of the products have at least one photo, with many making use of a multi-image product gallery.

Swamp Milkweed Flower Asheville Sow True Seed NC Open Pollinated.png

There are the occasional stock photographs, but in general the photos have an organic feel to them. The Garden Ambassador program fuels the input of good photographs and Sow True Seed also solicits the use of photos tagged by their fan base on Social Media. An increasing number of these photos will create a more ‘social’ feel to the type level (i.e. tomatoes) pages.

Another trend that Sow True Seed has embraced is illustration and artwork. This is tied in with the organic nature of their brand identity and most prominent on their catalog artwork, which is displayed on their homepage (above the fold) with a clear call to action:

Sow True Seed   Open Pollinated   Heirloom Garden Seeds  55.png

The Sow True Seed website is very welcoming to the idea of artwork and creates an expectation that this will be a homegrown type site. Things that enhance this feeling include:

  • The simple vector illustrated background repeating the Fibonacci pattern that we see in the Sow True Seed logo;
  • The stylized navigation menu;
  • The¬†uncommon Bromwich font;
  • Photographs with burlap backgrounds;
  • And art-inspired product packaging.

A Web Trend Sow True Seed Has Failed

Slimline Navigation Menus

As the web goes on a navigation menu diet, Sow True Seed is plumping up.

sow-true-seed-open-pollinated-heirloom-garden-seeds-22

Yes, you just counted 14 parent pages on 2 top navigation bars. The green navigation bar bar along has 29 child pages in various drop down menus. This definitely requires some redesign for easier and clearer use. The wavy navigation bar can be slightly excused since as the product categories are so numerous, but I’m sure there is a better navigational system that could be less clumsy.

There is also the question of the checkout funnel being too long. To order a packet of Cosmic Purple Carrot seeds I have to:

  1. Hover over Vegetables
  2. Click the drop down menu: Carrots
  3. Click the Cosmic Purple Carrot
  4. Click Add to Cart

From that point I can checkout or continue shopping. Since as Sow True Seed is selling low value items, most people will continue shopping. If I want to add another variety of carrot I have to:

  1. Click Back or repeat step 1 and 2 above.
  2. Click the new variety.
  3. Add to Cart

For people who are ordering many items, this will be extremely frustrating. Even more so for people who are using the print catalog to place an online order and just want to throw a list of items in a cart.

Improvements in navigation could streamline the checkout funnel and reduce drop-offs and abandoned carts. As well as quick add-to-cart options for smoother shopping.

Web Trend Ideas For The Future

  1. Microinteractions
  2. Animation
  3. Video

Microinteractions

I think microinteractions could add a little sheen to the Sow True Seed website. They should be subtle (this isn’t a hi-tech state of the art type of company), but I think they could improve user interactions.

  • Perhaps the larger call to action buttons need some redesign and a little life.
  • The Forms could be more engaging with some subtle microinteractions.

Animation

Simple GIFs could add some real power to Sow True Seeds products. Seed itself isn’t that glamorous, but what it can become is. Showing the transition, or some simple techniques through animated media could really improve user satisfaction.

Here is an example of a Sow True Seed GIF:

source.gif

Video

Sow True Seed has some great written content to support the home gardener, but people want videos and Sow True Seed needs to keep up with the trend to stay relevant and engage the new generation of gardeners and farmers coming through.

Here is an example of an educational video they need to repeat more often:

Sow True Seed – pretty cool, but not that trendy.

Sow True Seed has some work to do to keep up with the modern web design trends, but with a basis of good content and graphics, the polishing touches to make this content fun and accessible shouldn’t be too much work.

Got any ideas for Sow True Seed? Let us know in the comments below.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s