9 Winery Website Design Best Practices – 2020 Edition

9 Winery Website Design Best Practices – 2020 Edition

The only constant in digital winery marketing is change. That website you built a few years ago might still have some good bones, but it will probably need at least an update as we move deeper into 2020. User behaviors and expectations are changing as new regulations, standards, and opportunities emerge.

The time to take a close look at your winery marketing and online presence is now. If you want to continue attracting new audiences and growing your winery’s online presence,  these 9 best practices for your winery website deserve a closer look.

1) Prioritize Accessibility

We’ll start the list with a ‘must-have’. If your winery website is not accessible for people with disabilities, you lose out on a significant portion of your audience. The CDC estimates that one in four U.S. adults now have a disability, with the most common (such as hearing and vision) directly affecting the ways your audience sees and interacts with your site.

Especially for wineries, often attracting older audiences that are more likely to have a disability, making your website accessible should be a top priority in 2020. That includes a number of accessibility action steps you can take:

  • Use your headings correctly: H1 is reserved for the page title, H2 denotes major sections, and H3 is for sub-sections of those larger sections.
  • Include descriptive alt text for all images that makes sense when reading out to a visually impaired visitor.
  • Make your links accessible. They should be hyperlinked into a phrase that makes sense, not posted as a raw link or with a ‘click here’ notification.
  • Use all colors in contrast to each other, and use them to clarify the design rather than making it more confusing.

Some more advanced tips include avoiding tables for page layouts, leveraging HTML instead of ARIA, and designing accessible web forms. A closer look at the legal outlook of web accessibility can help up the urgency for making some of these updates.

2) Leverage the Power of Chatbots

In 2020, your audience expects to be heard. They expect instant responses, and might not be willing to wait for an email reply. That’s probably why the chatbot market is expected to grow to $1.3 billion within the next few years.

At their most basic, chatbots are automated programs that offer live chat capabilities without the need for a human to sit on the other side. They’re especially helpful in sales and customer service, where they can answer quick questions and drive the customer through the sale.

On a winery website, these chatbots are especially relevant, able to answer questions like:

  • What’s the best wine to pair with [food x]?
  • How can I sign up for a wine subscription?
  • What does shipping cost for a bottle of wine?
  • How can I schedule a wine tasting?

And many more. Chances are you have an idea of exactly what types of questions your audience tends to ask. Integrating a chatbot into your winery website means being able to answer these questions from the moment they land on your site, reducing frustration and the need for long searches to find the answers they’re looking for.

3) Update Your SEO Practices

SEO is constantly changing, with algorithm update and user behaviors requiring businesses across all industries to stay on their toes and continually update their strategy. For your winery marketing to succeed this year and beyond, it pays to take a look at some SEO trends for 2020 and adjust your marketing accordingly:

  • Understand not just keywords, but the intent behind searches. At its most basic, Google distinguishes between Informational, Navigational, and Transactional intent. Each may require a slightly different approach and build-out.
  • Optimize your website for featured snippets, which appear at the top of Google search results and typically pull from lists, FAQ sections, and tables that answer relevant questions.
  • Improve your EAT score, which stands for expertise, authority, and trustworthiness. Combined these three components form the major axle behind the ways Google ranks your content.
  • Improve your dwell time, the time your visitors actually spend on the site. You can accomplish that through relevant, in-depth content as well as natural, intuitive navigation.
  • Optimize your website for voice search, which according to some estimates will make up 50% of all search by the end of this year.

Your winery’s physical presence also deserves a closer look at local search optimization. In-depth, relevant content with location-based keywords along with location data embedded in your HTML and Google Maps optimization can all play a part in helping your audience find your winery.

Winery marketer holding a wine glass in front of her laptop as she designs a winery website

4) Use Your Winery Website for Storytelling

Storytelling is as old as humanity itself, and it has long played a part in marketing as well. We remember stories more than facts while building stronger emotional connections with brands who tell great stories. 

2020 is the perfect year to leverage stories in marketing your winery, and your website is the perfect spot for it. It can incorporate multi-faceted, multi-channel stories that will captivate your audience. Consider the possibilities:

  • Rich videos that explain the history of the winery, the way the grapes are made, and more compelling narratives.
  • Blog content that goes deep into the stories presented in videos, adding the details that make the story even more compelling.
  • Design that incorporates storytelling throughout, including a natural flow from one web page to the next and engaging, scrolling design that unveils new parts of the story within single pages.

Compelling stories have an arc: they start with a basic intro or thesis, drive up the tension, then present a resolution that brings it back to the beginning. For your winery, that opens the door to countless possibilities. You just have to know how to find them, and how to present them on your website.

5) Evaluate the Current State of CMS Platforms

The beginning of 2020 has not gotten us any closer to deciding exactly which content management system (CMS) is best for your winery. Industry-spanning platforms like Shopify and WordPress might work well for general purposes, while more specific alternatives like WineDirect pride themselves in their winery-specific capabilities.

Which of these works best for your needs depends on a number of factors.

  • Budget: WordPress can be free, while Shopify comes with a number of reasonably priced paid plans. WineDirect has a free option, but any paid alternatives bring up the pricing significantly.
  • Website Purpose: WordPress focuses on content. eCommerce is possible but tends to be more awkward. Shopify’s reason for existing is eCommerce, while WineDirect markets itself as a wine fulfillment software that includes advanced features like wine club management.
  • Industry Focus: WordPress and Shopify are purposefully general, but can be somewhat customized to fit your winery needs. Proprietary software like WineDirect is specifically optimized for the wine industry, including advanced features like POS and integrated payments.

The time for evaluating the right system is now. Find your optimal system, then spend 2020 to implement or improve that system in order to position yourself for the near future.

6) Update Your Website’s Look and Feel with Current Design trends

More nuanced trends matter in building the perfect winery website. But sometimes, it just comes down to a great look. Your audience will form an opinion about your business after 0.05 seconds on your website. That’s much faster than any text or structure even becomes visible.  

When it comes to updating the look of your online presence, it helps to be aware and follow a few common web design trends in 2020 according to experts:

  • Dark design or dark mode, which reverses traditional color. A dark background with light foreground elements is easier on the eyes, especially on mobile devices.
  • Imperfect, hand-drawn design elements add personality and charm. They make your winery website more authentic and your audience more likely to engage.
  • Immersive 3D elements accomplish the opposite of hand-drawn elements. They add complexity and draw your users in.
  • Multi-layered designs and floating elements increase the texture and depth of the design, making the content more attractive for your visitors.
  • Photography and graphics no longer have to be separated. Mixing one with the other creates a more immersive, comprehensive experience.
  • White space is making a comeback. Sometimes, it’s better to leave some space empty in order to draw eyes to what really matters: your headlines and feature graphics.
  • Minimalist navigation reduces confusion. Especially for winery websites with a simple value proposition, it gets your audience where they need to go fast and efficiently.
Viticulturist examining red grapes on a vine at a winery.

7) Leverage Video as a Content Powerhouse

Video is by no means a new trend, but its importance in web design just keeps growing. It’s the perfect vehicle to introduce your winery, explains the details about your wine club, or simply capture your audience’s attention for a few minutes as you build a story arc.

Consider these video marketing statistics as context:

  • 80% of users remember a video they watched in the last 30 days.
  • 79% of people prefer watching videos than reading about products.
  • Videos get shared 12 times more than texts and photos together.
  • Watching a review impacts our emotions more than reading a review.
  • 90% of customers make purchasing decisions based on videos they’ve seen.
  • Videos lead to 49% faster revenue growth than any other marketing strategy.
  • 96% of users say they’ve watched an explainer video to learn more about a product or service.

Based on these statistics, it’s not a shock to say that videos should be a central part of your winery web design in 2020 and beyond. Their versatility as anything from explainer videos to customer testimonials makes them especially relevant to your audience as long as they stay short, engaging, and simple.

8) Improve Your Winery’s Digital Performance with Testimonials

As is the case with videos, it’s difficult to overstate the importance of social proof as it relates to winery marketing. Your audience will always be more likely to trust their peers than a company when it comes to your value proposition.

Fortunately, you can leverage that fact through a number of tactics:

  • Simple testimonials: quotes from customers on your product pages that go into why they love your wines and being a part of your wine club.
  • Video testimonials, adding a visual component to the above and becoming more engaging as a result.
  • Average ratings, especially if you can easily show the quality of your wines by showing these ratings on your product pages.
  • Expert reviews, as long as the experts are at least tangentially known by your audience and can credibly speak about your wines.

Gathering these assets can take some time, but that time is well worth the effort. The more you can add the customer voice to your marketing efforts, the more credible those marketing efforts will become.

9) Optimize The Role of Your Blog in 2020

Blogging has been around for years, and you might already have a blog on your website. At its most basic, it’s a tool that helps you improve your search engine optimization by allowing you to post regular content related to common audience keywords and questions.

But, as with anything else in digital marketing, blogging as a promotional tactic has not stood still. Familiarize yourself with these best blogging practices to make sure that the tactic can remain relevant and an important revenue-building factor in 2020:

  • Focus on value above all else. Rather than desperately trying to integrate certain keywords, build relevant content your audience actually wants to read. Google and other search engines have gotten smart enough to recognize and elevate that content.
  • Optimize your blog posts for mobile devices. That means short paragraphs, bullet lists, and visuals where they add to the written content. Anything to avoid that dreaded ‘wall of text’ on a small screen.
  • Learn from past blogs and other content. What content performed well? What posts underperformed? Can you find any common trends that might lead to learnings relevant to your future content? 
  • Prioritize length. It’s closely connected to value, but studies show again and again that longer content ranks better, as long as that content stays unique and relevant. Rather than writing 5 short blog posts a week, go for a single, long post that can go into more depth.

Ready to Optimize Your Winery’s Online Presence? 

These trends are complex. Integrating them will take time, and they cover the entire breadth of your winery marketing strategy. You can get started right now, but you might need some help.

That’s where we come in. The best start is to analyze your current online presence and find the necessary areas for improvement. Book a strategy call today and we’ll go over your site’s design, usability, SEO, and conversion tools. From there, you can decide which of these website best practices is most urgent to implement, and which you’re already performing well in.

It’s never too early. Contact us to schedule your audit now, and begin optimizing your winery website design for 2020 and beyond.

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