TOL is an international manufacturer of innovative tree management machinery for the ag industry. Their website makes it easier for machine owners and distributors to search for and order parts across a healthy database of thousands of components.
- This site is located at http://tol-inc.com
- Hosting is with baremetal.com (trusted since 1997).
- This site uses our DeepCMS approach.
- We preserved previous design efforts and improved on it with a custom designed child theme we created.
- TOL Distributors and Machine Owners get a different experience once they login based on their user role.
- TOL staff can maintain the entire website themselves and the entire inventory ordering system.
- For online product inventory creation, we engaged a professional photographer with experience enumerating filenames as image capture occurs to match model numbers and other file naming criteria required by TOL’s corporate catalog naming conventions.
- User Manuals are readily available to machine owners and Distributors.
- An enhanced search capability beneath a simple search field makes it easy to quickly find the needed components for ordering.
- Administrative and end-user workflows were optimized to minimize complexity.
- Security paradigms related to inventory management and online ordering dictated how the end user experience would be allowed to emerge.
- This site integrates a user portal experience with e-commerce and a membership system to provide different experiences to different user roles. The portal allows the company to publish different content and files to specific members or groups of members, among many other capabilities.
As with all of our sophisticated builds, an Integration and Security Document is maintained that can be used to understand how the site is put together and what dependencies it contains. These are invaluable for troubleshooting and regression testing through various upgrades of the environment.
TOL required a website to reach their two primary audiences of machine owners and machine distributors. For this audience, our Architectural Phase revealed that a website would only be relevant if it could facilitate an understanding of what their machines do and help order components for those machines. It needed to replace certain print catalog aspects by making it possible to order components on a PO basis, track machine ownership by client, and facilitate file sharing with their Distributors.
The site contains complex navigation rules and conditional navigation logic in order to present the appropriate menu displays based on user role and page location. However, the menu system was created in such a way as to make it manageable by a non-technologist despite the behavioral complexity most visitors might not even notice. Conditional displays of certain navigation elements are codified, all the administrator has to do is manage the specific menu items themselves, not their display behavior.
The search capabilities that exist behind the simple product search fields that appear in various places throughout the site was created to avoid the need for an “advanced search” screen when it comes to shopping for components. We profiled the average user’s search behavior in this regard using past behavior when ordering by phone or e-mail.
The pictorial content for the inventory records was created using gotobryant.com, one of our Trust Partners, for photography. Components were lightboxed and a script run during photo capture that created properly structured filenames consistent with the printed TOL parts catalog. We were retained to populate the inventory database and organize it as per the rules defined during the Architectural Phase of this engagement.
The home page animations were created in HTML5 by Matt Shattuck of Shattuck Computer Solutions, one of our Trust Partners. These animations existed from a previous build attempt by another company, but did not work well across different browsers and used a code approach that conflicted with the WordPress CMS. Matt improved on this and thus another aspect of their previous efforts was preserved for this new build.