Ranch Network cattle search

The ranching community has unique needs currently not served by traditional auction or classified ads websites. It isn’t easy to sell a cow on eBay and Craiglist.com is limited by their city based listings. Ranch Network is designed to fill that void. Ranch Network seeks to connect livestock producers, managers, employees, vendors, and service providers to create an open community with the goal of increasing profitability and efficiency. The site aims to be the one-stop-shop for those in the industry looking to buy, sell, hire, advertise, and discuss current issues by providing a simple and efficient platform while lowering transaction costs.

Ranch Network is a free platform that allows livestock producers to sell their livestock, ranchers to buy hay and supplies, service providers to advertise their companies and much more. Users can create listings, search by location and category, message sellers and discuss the issue of the day on the Ranch Network forum.

Ed Lipkins and Jesse Womack are the co-founders of Ranch Network. Ed and Jesse became friends at college. On a deer hunt in late 2011, they conceived the general idea of Ranch Network from what they identified as inefficiencies and biases in the current system.

Why Drupal was chosen: 

Taoti Creative built the Ranch Network site with Drupal for three main reasons. First, we wanted to build the site so it could scale as it grew. We needed the ability to support thousands of listings and users. Second, we wanted to build the site quickly with a focus on cost. By utilizing community built modules we were able to shorten the development process and launch the site quicker and cheaper than a custom or proprietary CMS. In particular the integration with the location module and Google Maps API allowed us to provide location based searching. Finally, we wanted to a build site that could be improved after launch. We felt that Drupal was best suited to offer a stable live site that could be updated with new features and design after launch.

Describe the project (goals, requirements and outcome): 

Ranch Network aims to connect buyers and sellers in the ranching community. It also hopes to connect employers and those looking for jobs and people who are hoping to discuss issues in the ranching community. The end goal is to be the go-to-website for all things in the ranching industry

Users can register for a free account and then post a listing for everything from cattle and hay, to job postings and ranching services. For users who are posting a listing, we use custom fields that adapt to a user’s choices to provide an intuitive user experience. These custom forms mean that a user never sees options that don't apply to his or her listing. This also allowed us to limit the number of content types while providing many different options for listings as diverse as livestock, supplies, hay and land sales.

Users also can contact other users through the site. This includes prospective buyers contacting sellers and job seekers contacting employers. We chose to integrate this functionality to protect our user’s privacy and limit their exposure to spam.

We have also built out a Ranch Network Forum. By using core Drupal functionality, we limited our initial investment in this feature. As users begin to utilize the forum we plan to add additional features and functionality.

Finally, we built a custom searching feature. Users can search by location, by keyword or by listing category. This powerful search feature provides users a simple and intuitive way to find the information or listings they are seeking.

Drupal proved to be an excellent platform to build this robust and complex website in a way that was simple and intuitive to users.

Modules/Themes/Distributions
Key modules/theme/distribution used: 
Why these modules/theme/distribution were chosen: 

One of our key challenges was the need to provide location based search. (It is expensive to ship a dozen cattle from Texas to North Dakota; so many users want to search for local livestock and supplies.) Taoti Creative used the location module to power our proximity search along with some customization to ensure that default searches produced relevant results. We then integrated the Google Maps API (we were unable to use Google Maps Gmap module because we wanted to use the Google Maps API V3) to display the search results.

We also needed the ability to create complex custom forms. Because the listing results for a horse are very different from a sheep, we utilized the conditional fields module to customize the content creation forms. This allowed us to create forms that adapt as users select different criteria which only populate relevant options. This improves the user experience for the seller and helps provide more detailed accurate listing for the buyers.

Drupal also helped us add private messaging capabilities so users could contact sellers through the site. We used the Privatemsg module to allow users to contact a person who had posted a listing while protecting their private contact information. Users can read their messages online, respond to messages and chose their email notification preferences.

Implementing GoogleAds was crucial to generating revenue for the website. Utilizing the AdSense module allowed us to easily display ads without any custom coding.

Finally, we used the core Forum module to create a fully functioning forum system at a fraction of the cost of a custom build. The forum allows ranchers to discuss issues that are relevant to their industry.

Community contributions: 

Taoti Creative sponsored a contribution to the MailChimp module to provide Rules integration. See the project notes at http://drupal.org/node/1307222#comment-5412894.

The coding was developed by Jon Diamond (strategictech)

This contribution was used to subscribe new users who checked a subscribe box to the client's MailChimp list.

Project team: 

Lead Developer - Bruce Fulton
Supporting Developer - Jon Diamond
Supporting Developer - Jason Wasser
Designer - Brent Lightner
Project Manager - Sam Harper

Ed Lipkins and Jesse Womack are the co-founders of Ranch Network. They can be reached at ed@ranchnetwork.com and jesse@ranchnetwork.com.

Ranch Network Homepage
Ranch Network Listing

Comments

To bad they don't pay their contractors... Google them and read the rip off reports.

Jon Diamond