A well-established winery could be considering it doesn’t need a new web site as long as the current one is kept up to date and running smoothly. What’s wrong with such an idea? First of all, the winery itself evolved along the years: brands are created or changing, images are evolving and drinkers are moving on other wines or even countries. Then, the technology itself changed drastically over the last two or three years: the rise of social networks, the technological progress with the easy access to video and audio, the will of the consumers to become actors of the industry are important parameters to include in your communication and marketing strategy. Last but not least, a winery needs to heard seen and heard in order to sell its wines.
But what kind of web site should be designed? The first consideration should always be for the target audience. Are there age, cultural or national factors to take into account? Does the audience use the Internet frequently or are they going to be reading your site as a printout from an assistant?
What are visitors looking for? How obvious is the path to various features of the site? The usual print wisdom is to present information in a “who, what, when where” format. Naturally this has to be attractive, adapted to the “web space” and use an original approach. Straying too far from the expected navigation logic will limit and frustrate visitors.
Sometimes company graphics need to be modified to work well with electronic media. Only a specialist can determine if this is needed and how to do it. Specific localization can also be color-dependent. The obvious example are sites in China which look nothing like their American or European counterparts. At the regional level, sometimes colors are associated with a team or a well-known existing local brand.
In 1995 it was enough to be on the Web. In 2000, sites became more dynamic and today, interactivity and evolutive content have become part of the user’s expectations. On the other hand, web visitors have also become more wary about leaving their email or other data on sites they visit. Also impatient with unwanted advertising or useless information, they are installing filters that remove most of these. The user wants to be master of the experience, not be led around on a guided tour.
How do we know what the user is looking for?
Experience has shown that a number of basic principles apply whatever the subject matter or target audience of a web site. However, no one can foresee all the possible combinations of a visitor’s experience, computer hardware and software and connection speed. This is why we use traffic analysis and post-production usability testing. These and other tools help us evaluate how successful we have been in meeting visitors’ needs.
Beware of trying to transpose your own vision of what a site should be and concentrate on your audience. Success on the web comes from matching or exceeding the visitor’s expectations, presenting engaging content in an agreeable looking and easy to navigate manner.
Are there many web sites answering to those very basic principles? I’d be interested in hearing from you who go regularly on wineries’ web sites: what do you like? What do you dislike? What could be improved?