Showing posts with label websites. Show all posts
Showing posts with label websites. 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.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Do Pubs Help Themselves?

As someone who likes going to the pub, I am always happy when a pub decides to follow my Twitter feed, and I always take the opportunity of checking out a pub's website, if one is listed on the Twitter profile. Often though I find that the key information I am looking for on a pub website is missing.

A couple of weeks ago, I was followed by a pub back in the UK - where pubs are struggling and shutting at an alarming rate.  Naturally I went to have a look at their website, which is of interest both from a personal and professional point of view - for those newish to Fuggled, I work for a web design company. Part of me wonders at times if the growth of breweries without tied estates is negatively impacting the trade of pubs which are tied - and it is interesting that BrewDog are effectively building their own tied estate with their bars.

Said pub had quite a nicely designed and laid out website, easy to navigate, not laden with jarring graphics and thankfully no Flash animations. Judging from the pictures on the site, it looks like a very nice place to go and drink, have a meal and maybe even stay as they have rooms to let. Their menu was very nicely presented, and from the descriptions of the food, I would be surprised if they needed to call in Gordon Ramsey any time soon.

For the wine lovers among us there is an extensive wine list, one that even has descriptions of the wines, whiskies and spirits they have available. Key information for visiting this pub was also easy to find, opening hours seem very reasonable (minor aside, I have so little time for pubs and brewpubs that are not open at lunchtime), the place seems not to have a late license, but that's OK.

Next time I am over in the UK visiting one of my brothers, I would love to visit this pub. I just have one problem. I don't know what beer they have. Time and time again I come across this problem with pubs, I want to know what beer you serve, because I generally go to the pub to drink beer. Having a nice meal is a sideshow option as far as I am concerned, but beer is a given. Yet it is criminally overlooked. From a technical perspective it really isn't all that difficult to keep a beer list up to date on a website, especially if you are using a CMS like WordPress, and yet many pubs just don't say what beers they have.

I wonder at times if pubs are actually their own worst enemies when it comes to advertising what wine they have as opposed to beer, it's almost as though the landlords of Blighty have a Basil Fawlty style desire to entice a better quality of clientele. It's almost as though sections of the pub trade are ashamed of Britain's national drink.

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