The Winery Web Site Report
Effective Winery Web Sites (2005 Year-End Edition)
in this issue
-- Practical Tip: Freshness
-- By the Numbers
-- The Perfect Winery Web Site

Dear subscriber,

Our December 14th press release on the Top Ten Winery Web Sites of 2005 brought us quite a few new subscribers this month. Welcome to those of you joining us as 2005 comes to a close!

2006 will be a year in which your winery's Web site takes on even more significance, as state legislatures (and delivery companies like UPS) act on the Supreme Court's decision regarding direct shipment. This newsletter aims at providing practical information you can use to improve your Web site by making it more visitor effective (see this issue's tip below).

As always, I welcome your questions, comments, and suggestions for this newsletter.

Best wishes for a successful New Year,

Michael E. Duffy, Publisher

Practical Tip: Freshness
One the most common shortcomings we find in our ongoing evaluation of winery Web sites is a lack of freshness. Our automated processes check site home pages byte-by-byte to see how recently they have changed. Our human evaluators are asked to check for a current copyright, and also whether the home page shows any signs of a recent update. When a home page still announces an event that is two months past, it's pretty clear the site is stale.

A fresh-looking site needs two things:

  1. A home page design that supports regular updates
  2. A plan for updating the home page
Why the home page? If you visit a site, and the home page looks the way it always looks, chances are you will say "Nothing new here!" and surf on. Yes, some sites have "News" pages, but these don't provide as clear a sign of freshness to someone arriving on the home page. They aren't actively "escorting" a visitor to the freshest stuff.

A home page design that attractively supports regular updates is not hard to create, but it's easy to overlook if you're not thinking about site freshness. Ideally, updating your home page won't require you to get your designer involved every time you want to update. A page that requires a lot of time/effort/dollars to update won't get updated.

Once you have a home page that is easy to update, sit down and plan what you'd like to announce on your home page every month during 2006. Holiday-related items, upcoming releases, summertime recipes, winery events, .... (if you're using images along with your copy, planning ahead is especially important). With a good site design and some advance planning, keeping your site fresh should become routine.

A home page that feels fresh to returning visitors entices them to explore your site. A site that always presents the same face entices them to press the Back button as quickly as possible. If keeping your site fresh is a expensive chore, you need to take steps to correct the situation now.

By the Numbers
We've had a great response from wineries interested in knowing how they scored on our 100-point "visitor effectiveness" rating in The Winery Web Site Report. One thing we didn't originally provide was a score distribution, which shows how many wineries scored at, above, and below a given point total.

So, we've added the score distribution for the snapshot of our database on which we based the Top Ten Winery Web Sites of 2005. You can find it here.

For example, 60 wineries (2.69% of all wineries in the sample) scored 55 points, with 431 wineries (19.32%) scoring higher, and 77.99% scoring lower. So a score of 55 is roughly in the top 20% of all wineries in the sample.

If you haven't already requested your score, you can get it at no charge.

The Perfect Winery Web Site
I will be speaking on February 1st at the Advanced Tasting Room Strategies conference in Rohnert Park, CA. My topic is The Perfect Winery Web Site, and I'll be talking about how we measure visitor effectiveness, the most common problems we see, and doing some live site evaluations. It should be fun.

We will also have a booth in the trade show area of the conference. Please stop in, say hello, and take a look at a printed sample of the Report. I'd welcome the chance to talk with you about what you're trying to accomplish with your Web site.

More information is available at the conference Web site, I hope to see you there.


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