Showing posts with label web design. Show all posts
Showing posts with label web design. Show all posts

Friday, March 16, 2012

Take Time for Design

Today I am unemployed, though come Monday I will be employed again. Yesterday was my last day working for Convoy, a graphic design company here in Charlottesville, Monday will be my first day at Silverchair, a software company about 2 blocks up the street from Convoy.

No longer working in the graphic design world means I can finally talk about design for breweries without having to declare a vested interest. It was a couple of years ago that I wrote about the abysmal state of many a brewery's website, and design assets in general, as well as posting about those that get it right.

Have things improved in the 25 months since that pair of posts? In some respects yes, but I still wonder how many breweries and brewpubs out there are neglecting their website and other design elements such as logos, labels and the like?

Clearly the bigger "craft" breweries generally do a good job, Samuel Adams redesigned their website last year sometime. I think it is much improved on the previous iteration, particularly for finding details of their beers and the fact that they are not using Flash anywhere on the site. The same can not be said of Sierra Nevada though, the basic structure and design of the site has not changed since we moved to the States in 2009, though thankfully Flash is also a thing of the past on their website.

Unfortunately there are still too many breweries with websites which are nothing more than a riot of colour, fonts that look like they fell straight off Jimmy Carter's desk just after legalising homebrewing and information which is haphazardly "organised".

Recently I got my hands on the business start up plan for a brewery startup here in Virginia and whilst going through the numbers, one thing jumped out at me, there was no planning whatsoever for brand design, whether logo, labels or website. Perhaps I am being crazy here, but who in their right mind commits potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars to creating a brewery but not a penny to creating their brand and making their beers stand out on the retail shelf, whether physical or virtual?

Yes, good design is expensive but how much more expensive is it in the long run to have your beer ignored on the shelves because of amateurish design?

* all the pictures are examples of beer related design that I like, and that last one was done by my friend Rob of Opta Design in Prague for my LimeLight homebrew.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Getting It Emphatically Right

A couple of months ago I had a gripe about the standard of a large number of breweries' websites, though admittedly I then balanced that with a piece about a couple of website which I think are very good. Well, Unibroue's new website is just about the best brewery website I have seen, anywhere.

It looks great, is easy to navigate and is packed full of interesting information for the beer lover, including where you can find there beers, I think just in North America though because I know I can get them at the (it is I.....) in La Souterraine. Anyway, here are a couple of screenshots to prove my point, and I for one am happy that the great beers at Unibroue finally have a website worthy of them!

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 , 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.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Visit Our Web Shite

I have been somewhat reticent about writing up this post, although it has been pottering around my head for a while, but what the heck.

Marketing is part and parcel of business, you simply can't get away from it. Why is Windows the dominant operating system for PCs? Because its predecessor, MS-DOS, was marketed so well and became the dominant pre-Windows OS - back then there was a raft of other available operating systems, some better than MS-DOS, that went to the wall. Windows built on the success of MS-DOS and ran with it.

So it is with breweries, industrial breweries have larger, more loyal, customer bases,  not because of the quality of their beer but because they have better marketing. Now, of course, this is something that in many ways is a circular argument, of course they have better marketing, they have more money, and because they have more money, they have better marketing. Having said that, BrewDog, I am fairly sure, doesn't have the marketing budget of AB-InBev, yet they do a very good job of marketing their beers, whether or not you agree with their methods.

One thing though that constantly shocks me, and I say this with a professional interest, is that a large number of craft brewers and brewpubs have piss poor web sites, their beer may be great, but their web site lets them down. When I say I have a professional interest, I should declare here that I am the Business Development Director for a web design studio here in Charlottesville, so I spend an inordinate amount of time looking at web sites. To be horribly blunt, many a small brewery's web site looks as though it was designed by someone's nephew, whilst sat in a basement listening to Rammstein or some such. Not just ugly, but with poor navigation and a lack of interesting content, not to mention the regularly broken links which really irks me, taking BrewDog though as my example again, they have a well designed web site, which sells their vision, beer and merchandise very well.

It is too easy for a small brewer to say "I can't afford a fancy web site", but I am not talking here about having a fancy website, with videos of swaying barley and the like. Something that is clean and professional looking, rather than being as spotty and horrible as the nephew that built it, is really not all that expensive. While every brewery has its core, local, customer base, the growing number of beer tourists makes a good looking web site all the more important, because the web site is the gateway to the beer, as well as being a gathering point for the existing customer base to learn about new products and events.

Without good marketing a company will fail, regardless of how good, innovative or drinkable the product is - if people aren't spending money, then you aren't making any, and a good web site will help you make more money, which despite all the "I am in it to make great beer" shite, is the real reason a person starts a business - they want to be richer than they were when they started.

Just a small aside, at the weekend, I was the featured blogger over on the Beer Wench's blog, so pop along and have a read.

Beyond January

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