The following article is the second of a three-part interview with Mike Duffy, author of The Winery Web Site Report. Mike's impressive career spans design and development of successful software companies (and their products) and equity venture firms.
We asked Mike: What are the five top mistakes that wineries make in web design?
Mistake #1: It's all about me.
Probably the #1 mistake is making the site all about the winery (look at me!), and not all about what a visitor wants to accomplish when they visit (how can I help you?). Visitors arrive at your website with a goal already in mind. The harder you make it for them to achieve that goal, the less satisfied they will be, and the less likely you will establish a relationship with them. You've got to think like a visitor.
My premise is that there are four types of visitors to a winery website:
1. Someone who wants to buy wine right now (buyers)
2. Someone who wants information about your wines (browsers)
3. Someone who wants to sell your wine (distributors, retailer, restaurants—the trade)
4. Someone who wants to tell others about your wine (the media)
In each case, your primary site navigation needs to get them to the right place—a page focused on addressing their specific needs—with one click. Most sites tend to ignore (3) and (4), although I've seen slow progress in the past couple of years.
Mistake #2: Stagnant as an old pond
The #2 mistake is neglecting the site. Most winery webssites are only updated when there's a new release. People search the web for information, and that makes your web presence key. It's annoying to visit a site which doesn't look like it's been updated in 5 years. For example, ConnValley Vineyards has the exact same home page as when I evaluated the site in 2005. The front page of your website should always feel fresh. One pet peeve I have is a winery home page that trumpets an event two weeks in the past.
Part of the reason that wineries neglect their sites is that they don't have an easy way to make modifications to the site.
Mistake #3: Lack of useful information
Lack of comprehensive information. Ideally, you should have a product page about every wine your winery has ever released. If a visitor can buy it, a big "Buy Now" or "Add to Cart" button should be visible. If it's not available, "Sold Out" does no harm. If you make wines to age, it's useful to place results from your most recent library tasting of the wine. If you have library wines available, this is a good place to capture e-mail addresses from people who might want to order them.
Mistake #4: Awkward e-commerce
# 4 goes to all the crappy e-commerce experiences out there. How can you expect people to buy if you make them register first, or you make it unattractive, or generally get in the way of people who actually want to buy wine? People obsess about the Flash intros to their site, but then theysettle for a clunky third-party shopping cart. If you care about selling wine online, the add-to-cart-and-check-out experience must be close to perfect. This is not rocket science.
Mistake #5: Kissing your customers goodbye
Failure to capture an e-mail address for follow-up contact. Of course, you may need to sell this request—people won't willingly give up their personal information without some incentive. Do they get a newsletter? Special deals? Be specific. If there's a newsletter, let them look at the last issue (or better, all of the past issues). Some wineries don't manage list-building in their tasting rooms very well, either.