5 Most Common Mistakes Wine Websites Make

This is a guest post by 2013 Wine Tourism Conference speaker, Andy Hayes.

Do you remember when we didn’t have the Internet?  You had to call your mom instead of Googling for the answer, and to find out about a winery you either hit up the yellow pages or got a brochure from your travel agent.  Oh, how times have changed….

I think we all can agree that to be in the wine business, you need a web presence, even if it’s just your address and phone number.  But some wine websites are better than others.  Here are the 5 most common mistakes that I see in my travels.

Awesome. Or maybe not.

5. Those fancy flash widgets need to go.

Apple is mostly the reason that those flash animations that you paid so dearly for are now useless. I say mostly because now, most smartphones can’t display them.  Nor can people who arrive to your site via Facebook – that’s important too, right?

Honestly, I never liked Flash anyway – it takes a long time to load, and the custom graphics were always confusing to navigate.  Ditch all those custom animations and simplify – a great photo with a bit of text is better anyway.

Doing It RightVincent Wine Company here in Portland just has a simple WordPress site.  It might not be exciting,but nobody is going to complain that your site is too simple, trust me.

4. I need you to be more specific.

On a recent wine trip to Walla Walla, I had a difficult time organizing our tasting room visits because half of the wineries had no clear hours displayed on their site.  And then, one of the wineries that was a personal fave had really confusing info about their wine club membership – it asked for my birthday and credit card, but didn’t tell me how much it costs!

Consumers are savvy, and they don’t have time nor inclination to email you to ask questions.   Get clear and specific about your offers, or like me, they’ll take their business elsewhere.

Doing It Right: Tallavera Grove, one of my favorite Australian wineries, has details galore on their site – all neatly organized between the tasting room, restaurant, special events, and more.

3. Speaking of specifics, contact details belong on every page.

You should have contact details for your business on every page of your website.  That includes email, phone number, and address (if you are appointment-only, I understand not having the address, but still…).  You’d think this would be obvious, but I remember being lost in the Livermore Valley looking for a winery that had no address on their website, and no one was answering the phone – because the site’s phone number was outdated.

Doing It Right: Da Ma has their tasting room hours & a phone number on the right side of every page, and the address is at the bottom of every page.

2. Tell me about your wines – but don’t make me work.

Your product is wine (or something wine-related), so make sure you’re telling me all about it.  Many wine sites make customers choose between product lines or series that are very confusing – how am I suppose to know, as a new customer, if I want to learn about your ‘Salmon’ Series or the ‘Chateau’ Vintage?

Instead, break it down for me.  If you have wines great for a dinner party, great, show me.  If you have wines great for a newbie wine lover, great, show me.  If you have wines perfect for a splurge or gift, great, show me.

Doing It Right: Pairings Portland mostly use video on their website, but if you’re coming to Portland, visit their shop to understand the kind of experience wine consumers deserve.  People shouldn’t just buy your wine based on which label image they like the most.

1. Show me some personality, would ya?

The wine industry is one of the most personable industries out there, and yet I can’t tell you how many cold, un-personable wine sites I have seen.  If your about page doesn’t tell me your story and have photos of you, I have to wonder what you are hiding.  How about some creativity?

Doing it Right:  Follow Chocolate Shop on Facebook to get an idea about how personality and branding go hand in hand.  You don’t have to like sweet wine to see how much their customers like what they do, and their site pulls in a feed of the tasty stuff they share on Facebook.

About the Author:

Andy Hayes is a creative web producer based in Portland, Oregon and is the founder of Plum Deluxe, a website decided to life’s luxuries big and small.  Andy will be leading the 9:30am breakout session on Friday, Nov 15 titled “Live Website Critiques”.  Come join us in Portland this November and have your website critiqued by Andy in person!