The Winery Web Site Report
Effective Winery Web Sites for March, 2006
in this issue
-- Practical Tip: Designing a Winery Web Site
-- got questions?
-- a small request

Dear Subscriber,

This month's newsletter talks about five things to consider when designing a winery Web site. Regardless of whether you already have a site, are currently re-designing, or are building from scratch, you need to know how well your design approach addresses these five issues.

I appreciate that you have plenty to do, so thank you for taking time to read this issue.


Michael E. Duffy, Publisher

PS - Please visit our blog for more thoughts on wineries and their Web sites.

Practical Tip: Designing a Winery Web Site
As I mentioned in the last issue, I got to speak with a number of wineries at the Advanced Tasting Room Strategies conference in February. Several mentioned that they were unhappy with their current Web site, and planning (or already undertaking) a redesign. And every day, new wineries come into existence, most realizing that their Web site will be an important part of their marketing efforts. So let me offer some thoughts about design for (winery) Web sites.

There are (at least) five aspects to designing a Web site which you need to consider

  1. The organization of the site - how does it meet the needs of your visitors?
  2. The visual design of the site - how does its appearance support the organization of the site.
  3. The "back end" of the site - how does the site interact with visitors? (the programming bits, if you will.)
  4. Integration with the rest of your business - how does your site interact with your customer database, club programs, inventory systems, shipping, etc.
  5. Site evolution - how will your site evolve to better meet the needs of visitors and keep pace with change?

A lot of people focus on #2, the visual appearance of the site. They start by hiring a graphic designer, and they end up with a very pretty site. Unfortunately, that pretty site may not be very visitor effective, which is really what #1 is all about - how your site is organized to meet the needs of its visitors. I'd rather have a very plain site design based on meeting visitor needs than a very beautiful site that makes it harder for visitors to accomplish their goals.

Programming (#3) is really what makes the site interact with a visitor, whether it's taking a order, or signing them up for your e-newsletter -- otherwise, your site is just an online brochure. When a winery is just starting out, they often fail to consider how their Web site will work with offline elements of their business (#4), which can cause daily headaches. Finally, it's always good to plan for change (#5).

Given the various aspects above, you can see that a successful site design (or re-design) is very likely to require a team of people, not just a graphic designer. There are a number of firms that work in this space: Cultivate Systems, eWinery Solutions, Inertia Beverages, New Media Works, WineWeb, and WorldZoo. The advantage of these firms is their experience with the various challenges faced by wineries (we are not affiliated with any of these firms).

Finally, remember that it's not just a Web site. Your Web site is a major part of both the marketing and operations aspects of your winery. It is a good investment to design a Web site that meshes smoothly with your entire operation.

(If you already have a Web site, The Winery Web Site Report will show you specifically where your site's visitor effectiveness can be improved.)

got questions?
Do you have a question, challenge, or problem regarding your winery Web site? I'm always interested in hearing about them, by e-mail ( or by phone (1-888-WINERY-WEB), and I'll do my very best to give you an answer.

For example, my recent blog post about winery Web sites and Flash grew out of a question I was asked at the Advanced Tasting Room Strategies conference.

Similarly, the general manager at a newly established winery here in Sonoma County called to ask me about how to go about setting up a Web site. We chatted for a while about the issues, and part of our conversation ended up as this month's "Practical Tip" article.

(As an aside, I told the general manager that there are basically three types of winery Web sites:

  • sites which are completely static (brochures)
  • sites which are interactive but self-contained (standalone), and
  • sites which are part of the entire winery infrastructure (integrated). Integration means that data flows automatically between various parts of your winery.
Unfortunately, a system designed specifically for your winery can be expensive, which is why a semi-custom solution from one of the providers mentioned in the article may be the best approach. But even a "brochure" site can be visitor-effective - it just needs to tell visitors what they need to know. For example, you can't order online, but here is our toll- free number, and a list of retailers that carry our wine.)

So please, consider me a resource in your quest to build a more effective winery Web site. I'm always interested in your questions. And the price is definitely right (f-r-e-e).

a small request
If you find this newsletter informative and interesting, please forward it to someone you know who is interested creating effective Web sites (for example, others in your local winery association). There's a link just below this article that makes it easy.

You can also point them to our newsletter archives, where they can see past issues and decide for themselves if they would like to subscribe.

Thank you for your help in getting the word out about Effective Winery Web Sites!

(If you don't think this is worth forwarding to someone else, would you please take a moment to help improve it? Just hit the "Reply" button and give us your feedback.)


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