Well, the folks at Cargill got their new website up and running, and my first impression is - Gosh, it's gorgeous! The layout is clean, the navigation straightforward and the integration smooth.
But then you begin to ask, "Is that all there is?"
Like most in-house websites, the lack of advertising spares this site from jarringly discordant imagery and verbiage. To be sure, Cargill services are featured prominently at every screen, but the layout is crisp and clean.
Still, I soon discovered that until the site becomes a place where I can do business with them, it's just another pretty face. My understanding is this site is where I will eventually access my contracts and sell my grain and see load tickets. I hope so. Otherwise it's just one slick commercial.
For example, the grain price quotes shown on every page are too cute by half. One click on the "quotes" link gets me to what I really can read in a hurry - a true multi-contract, high-low-close-time format that we have all become accustomed to reading. The delicately shaded arrows don't add much for this seller.
In fact, the overall feel of this site is similar to a commercial site that needs click-throughs and page views to generate revenues. Cargill should opt for navigation that minimizes both and maximizes commercial transactions.
In fairness, this site merely needs real content, but they have just fired up. Bearing in mind I am a content provider, this could be a self-serving opinion. But for me to make this site my grain marketing center I would appreciate things like:
- User-defined quote screens. For instance I am now watching Nov 08 beans, Nov 09 beans, Jul 08 corn, and Mar 09 corn. Why can't I design my own screen to show only those quotes?
- Separate URLs for data formatted for my Blackberry. With autosteer, I have 6 minute windows when I could check prices and news and radar. PocketCargill (dibs on the name!) is my suggestion.
- News feeds from the same sources their traders are using. All-USDA-all-the-time isn't the most compelling viewing.
- Something other than in-house opinions and public relations output. After a while, we tend to get the Cargill point of view. [Hint: call me]
But just a suggestion here: the art guys have done their work. Talk to the your grain originators and some customers for how to move beyond pretty.