Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Getting it Right

My minor rant at the poor quality of many craft brewery and brewpub web sites on Monday got me thinking, always dangerous, about those breweries and brewpubs that actually do have good web sites, and what are the features of a good web site? Obviously we all have our own preferences, and also our own idea of what a web site should do, but I think there are some features which are universal to a good web site, regardless of the business a person is in:
  • visually attractive
  • easy navigation
  • engaging content
One brewer who gets all three right from my perspective is Everard's, back in the UK, take a quick look here at their home page:


I am a big fan of the colour green, it is after all the colour of my eyes, and this particular shade of green is very appealing. But notice that the design is not just plain green, the pattern in the background is very reminiscent of the classic pub wallpaper which no doubt every British reader has seen in dozens of traditional pubs. Perhaps I am over psycho-waffling here, but that creates an image of a company that values tradition, and the traditional role of the pub as community centre. Personally I find the layout of the home page very easy to follow, and the navigation bar just underneath the banner has clear labels and there can be no confusing what you are going to see when you click on "Our Ales" for example. In terms of content, Everard's pubs are clearly described and beautifully photographed, while the list of beers includes the Cyclops notes, which of course Everard's pioneered. 

For me, the Everard's web site works on every level, as does the new web site for Lovibonds, another of my favourite breweries, here is their home page:


Now, this is quite different from Everard's, but what it shares with the Everard's site is that it is visually attractive, I particularly like the slide show which forms the bulk of the home page, scrolling through the various beers the brewery makes. Again the navigation is very easy, and as a craft brewer with no pub estate, the "Where to Try" tab on the navigation bar is vital! I also like the fact that they have integrated e-commerce into the web site, so people can order their beer from the brewery.

So there you have it, rather than just ranting about poor web sites, a couple of examples of breweries doing as good a job with their cyber presence as with their brewing.

1 comment:

  1. The plethora of bad sites in myriad industries amazes me and the usability of large, national sites for big brands is often atrocious.

    Arguably fulfilling 'users needs' is the primary goal of any site, and the best ones are the ones that do this in the simplest, easiest to understand way. A great example of sites that continuously let users down are websites for cinema chains that allow you minimal flexibility for making a film selection.

    If a website can be visually attractive, and if the design adds to fulfilling the needs than even better. The more users who's needs you can cater for in this way the better. The more engaging the content the more likely it is to succeed, in general.

    Caveats - 'users needs' are sometimes interchangeable with a companies business or marketing objectives and may depend on a product or web service actually fulfilling a need, although many sites may want you to fulfil their need when there's no intrinsic benefit to the web users e.g. purchase something you don't need!

    Fundamentally though a website should be judged against it's objectives. A website may be an information service, a distribution channel, a customer service tool - it could be all three even - and it should be judged by it's ability to fulfil it's purpose and the needs of it's users.

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