The Cure for Over-Wrought Winery Websites

websiteA fellow blogger who writes  The Winery Website Report” just flipped my switch. He wrote a post called “Why Most Winery Websites Stink, Part II”, where he explains why many winery websites, well, suck.

That’s putting it kinda bluntly, but the truth is that too many winery websites are mind-blowingly visual and high-tech, but they tell you almost nothing about… the wine!

I’m sensitive to this problem, because I always start work on my posts by researching the winery and the wine region in question. I want information that I can use to understand the winery and its wines, and if I like what I see (and taste), I end up promoting them to an international wine audience.

Unfortunately, I too often get fancy graphics instead of info. The first bad sign comes right up front, as the website is building on my screen. If I see one of those running bars that says something like, “Uploading images, 98% to go,” I sigh and settle in for a wait. If I see an on-screen message that says, “Skip Intro,” I think, “Yeah, don’t have to sit through this one,” and I click to the next page.

Problem is, the other pages are often just more spectacular images. Still no information.

Michael Duffy, creator of the Winery Website Report, uses a good quote to explain the problem:

“Say you’re a designer and you’ve got to demo a site you’ve spent two months creating,” Bohan explains. “Your client is someone in their 50s who runs a restaurant but is not very in tune with technology. What’s going to impress them more: Something with music and moving images, something that looks very fancy to someone who doesn’t know about optimizing the Web for consumer use, or if you show them a bare-bones site that just lists all the information? I bet it would be the former—they would think it’s great and money well spent.”

OK, now I get it. “The sizzle” beats “the steak” when the person approving the website doesn’t understand the technology or the process enough to know what really matters.

Here’s what matters to a blogger like me or to a wine drinker interested in learning more about your wine:

We want to connect to you: we want to see and feel a personality, whether it’s something wacky and fun, or classic and elegant.

We want to learn about you and your wines. We actually care about your philosophy, your winemaking approach, your wine region and how you interact with it.

We want to know your stories: tell us who you are, where you’re from, and why you named your winery after a podunk town in Illinois (or whatever).

We want to feel your passion: not for fancy technology, but for grapes and wines and great times with wine, food, friends and family.

Do you see what I mean? You can keep your website simple if that’s your style, or load it up with photos and recipes and journals from the vineyard, or whatever. Just give us honest content that lets us leave your site feeling like we know a lot more about you than when we came.

It’s that simple. Cheers!




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