Ozark Natural Foods launches new Web site

Posted: April 13, 2010 at 6 a.m.

Ozark Natural Foods, a cooperative food store, launched a new Web site Monday using local contractors.

— Ozark Natural Foods moved into the 21st century with the launch of a new Web site Monday, and of course, it was produced locally.

The new site took three months to build and combines photos, a blog, store information and links to their profiles on social media networks.

The natural foods cooperative worked with three different locals to design, organize, develop and host the site.

1554 North College Avenue Map

"We're thrilled to use local people to do this site," Roger Hill, marketing and owner services manager, said by telephone Monday. "Part of being a cooperative is supporting the local community." Hill said the co-op has more than 6,400 owners.

Hill said the old site was an adapted generic site and that the update is part of the overall effort in redesigning the store. Part of the cooperative's efforts include new signage and a new vestibule.

While the new site won't have an online store, Hill said it includes a regularly updated blog that will allow the cooperative to offer a more personalized communication approach, featuring articles from individual staff members.

"We wanted individuality and we wanted our local aspects to be promoted along with an overall upgrade that matches our brand," Hill said. He said the new site would be a valuable resource for the cooperative and its owners.

Old site

New site

Ozark Natural Foods has been using social media to connect with its customers and owners. They have more than 1,000 "fans" on their Facebook page and update it regularly.

Tom Hapgood, the assistant professor of fine arts at the University of Arkansas, designed the site to match the colors of the cooperative's newly redecorated store in Fayetteville, according to a press release distributed on April 2.

Pastel greens and blues are used throughout the site and a photo illustration of the Ozark Mountains is present in the background.

"I made a note: what does a fresh and healthy site look like?" Hapgood said. "A hike outside or a walk down the produce aisle." He said he wanted it to look like a walk through the farmer's market.

The content and search engine optimization was developed by Rebecca Haden, a writing professor at NWACC who specializes in usability.

Haden said she was surprised at how little their first site was about them. "They are such a cool place and their Web site was such a not-cool place," she said.

She said that the cooperative originally purchased a domain in 1996, then launched a page in 2002 that said, "Our Web site is coming soon," and used a pre-built site since 2007.

The new site is maintained and hosted by Sharp Hue Inc., a Springdale-based company for four years.

"We brought together all the components of 2010 going forward to build a modern site," said Shan Pesaru, Sharp Hue Inc. CEO.

Ozark Natural Foods, a community-owned co-op since 1971, is located in the Evelyn Hills Shopping Center at 1554 N. College Ave. For more information, call 479-571-7558 or visit the Web site at www.ozarknaturalfoods.com.