Agriculture Financial Services Corporation (AFSC) is a provincial Crown corporation operating out of Lacombe, Alberta, Canada. For over 80 years AFSC has provided Alberta’s agricultural producers, agribusinesses and other small businesses with loans, crop insurance and farm income disaster assistance. The existing AFSC site over a decade old and did not provide a modern mobile or desktop experience, nor content editing capability. AFSC needed a new website to empower their comms team and provide more value to their end users.
The new AFSC site uses WordPress alongside our custom Layout Engine system to enhance the flexibility and customizability of the WordPress implementation by content managers while maintaining a consistent look and feel throughout the site. Informed by an extensive discovery phase that included the creation of user stories, a new information architecture and the creation of a clickable prototype, their new responsive site works beautifully on all devices and loads quickly for a variety of connection types and speeds across the province.
The Agriculture Financial Services Corporation is headquartered in Lacombe, Alberta but works through an extensive, rural branch network extending across the province of Alberta. Their mission is to provide innovative, client-focused financial and risk-management solutions to grow agriculture as an industry in Alberta. They have been providing Alberta’s agricultural producers, agribusinesses and other small businesses with loans, crop insurance and farm income disaster assistance for over 80 years.
With client’s spread across Alberta, AFSC needed to provide a consistent web experience throughout the province that reflected their mandate as a leading, innovative and client-focused brand. Unfortunately, their existing site didn’t do that – it was outdated and unresponsive, built on a system that hamstrung the communication team and in turn made for a subpar user experience for end users. Working with AFSC, our team underwent an extensive Discovery Phase for this project that included the development of user stories, site architecture and a clickable prototype. This allowed our teams to develop an understanding of the site requirements for an AFSC current and potential client as well as internal requirements for content managers, and in turn make the most effective use of project funds.
Our discovery phase started with a needs assessment with AFSC, inclusive of user story generation and sorting of the user stories by priority. User stories were created to match the needs of each stakeholder and what they will need to do on the website. Based on the user stories, we defined acceptance criteria to ensure that both parties would understand what was required for the user story to be considered complete. Using the goals of the user stories and working with AFSC, we went through a variety of site architecture and information architecture exercises to arrive at the final visual sitemap. This involved the creation of a utility navigation which includes items like news, deadlines, FAQs and resources and an informational navigation which includes information on AFSC and their products. Using the user stories and visual site map, we conducted a wireframing and prototyping session to complete the Discovery phase, resulting in a comprehensive understanding of what needed to be delivered in Phase 2 (Design & Build).
This discovery followed our discovery process which you can read about in more detail here.
The existing AFSC site had many content types that lacked consistent styling or appropriate hierarchy. This resulted in long, convoluted pages with unclear and inconsistent actions for the end user.
Working with AFSC, we came to understand that the communications team required many different page layouts that needed to allow for the flexibility to change during the year. That meant your standard, rigid CMS implementation wouldn’t meet their needs – but we also needed to account for long-term design and content integrity. With that in mind, we developed the site using our custom Layout Engine method – an intuitive tool we’ve developed in-house that allows for building different page layouts within WordPress using consistent components (determined on a site by site basis). The AFSC site includes a resource listing, FAQ, WSYIWYG (basic content block), featured news, testimonials, images and a specific call to action block (that can be full width or share the real estate with an image). These components are custom-designed within AFSC’s overall design system, allowing for customizability by a content manager with zero in-line HTML or coding and implemented in a fashion that maintains long-term design integrity. You can read more about Layout Engine and our approach here.
Overall, the site is highly editable with the WordPress Content Management System but maintains a consistent look and feel across a variety of devices and experiences.
The End Result
Overall, the new Agriculture Financial Services Corporation website brought AFSC into the modern era of website design and editing. The unique needs of their end users were highly considered, allowing for intuitive understanding and discovery of AFSC’s services and products, while empowering the communication team to continue their efforts to help grow Alberta’s agricultural industry. We continue to work with AFSC, offering managed web services (hosting and maintenance) alongside new feature development via retainer services.
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