Two weeks ago we hosted a DTC Roadshow in Santa Maria and Johnny Hanshew, Digital Art Director at our Certified Design partner Kraftwerk Design, shared his top tips on what to consider when you design or redesign your winery website.
His first directive? Don't start with design! It may seem counterintuitive, but design should be the LAST thing you think about. Instead, start here:
1. Know your customer
Consider who your customers are and what kind of information they are likely to want when they come to your site. Johnny recommends starting with Google Analytics. For example, do most people view your site on mobile or desktop? What pages do they spend the most time on? How are they finding your site - through search, social media, other website referrals? Depending on the answers, you will have a better idea of what type of content you should be serving up, how you might want to build your navigation, and what aspect you should focus on for your winery website design.
You should also think in terms of customer profiles. There are likely a few categories here such as:
Tourists who want information about your opening hours, location and tasting experiences
Wine club members who want to view their next shipment or reorder their favorite wine
Investigators who had your wine at a restaurant or saw it in a shop and want to learn more about who you are and what kind of wines you make
Make sure each of these groups can easily find what they need on your site.
2. Create great content
This doesn't just mean beautiful photography and witty writing (although that's important!). Content is also about organization. Using your takeaways from #1, build out a site map and consider what kind of navigation will work best for you. According to Johnny, the idea of the "fold" on the internet is a myth. People are conditioned to scroll - especially on smartphones - so don't worry about cramming all your information at the top of the page. Instead, before choosing a winery website design or template, focus on creating a logical progression for your visitors that makes it easy for them to find what they want.
It's also important to consider up front whether your winery website will include a news or blog section. If you do want one, make sure you have someone specifically tasked with keeping it updated. It's better not to have a news page at all than to have one where the latest post is three years old. One suggestion to make this easier is to feature your Instagram or other social media feed on your website. That way you won't waste time duplicating update efforts and you might drive additional engagement on those platforms.
3. Plan to build it well
You've got your customer profiles and your site map, now you need to consider some of the nuts and bolts of actually buliding your winery's website. First things first: building a responsive site is not optional. Almost half of all traffic to Vin65-hosted websites comes from a mobile or tablet device and if your site doesn't look good on your customer's phone, they'll move on. Even if you have a mobile app or dedicated mobile site, your primary website should be mobile friendly as well. Fast load times are also critical. You might have the most beautiful site in the world, but if it takes too long to load, no one will ever see it. Johnny recommends two resources to help with this:
Cloudflare: They cache your images and static content to servers around the world, making load times faster
Compressor.io: Use this free tool to compress your images before uploading to your site
And finally: Don't wait for it to be perfect! Designing a winery website is like renovating a house. You're never really done. Don't let your new website languish for months because you aren't sure whether you want to use picture A or B on the homepage. Try it out, see how it works, if you don't like it you can change it later (or even perform an A/B test).