On the dismal state of winery websites

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On the dismal state of winery websites

Postby Harel C » Fri Jan 30, 2009 5:02 pm

It appears one thing that Israeli wineries are really bad in is starting an informative, useful and appealing website, and keeping it up-to-date (this one is even harder, it seems).

Some wineries just don't have a website. Some have it stuck in 2002 with "news" items touting the release of the 2001 wines, some realized they were stuck in the middle ages and took theirs down, pending a new website that just never seems to materialize.

Now, if I were a marketing guy for any of these wineries, a website would be on the top of my list of priorities. If you want to create customer loyalty, this is one of the first things you do. For a wine buyer to come to like your winery, they'll want to visit the winery in person, and until that happens - at least visit the winery's website. I know I do, as a customer.

What's holding them back? Surely not the technology involved, because there are companies that build the website for you. It shouldn't be too expensive either, at least for the medium-sized wineries and up. You just have to supply the information about the winery and the wines, some nice pictures, and - voila - there is enough creative talent out there to build the website. Hopefully the website comes with some easy way for the "technologically challenged" people in the winery to update it.

Another peeve is non-standard HTML which means the websites don't show well on Firefox and other non-IE browsers.

What's you take on the subject?

Some quickly-assembled food for thought (or wine for drink):

http://www.carmelwines.co.il/ (pending)
http://www.dalton-winery.com/ (pending)
http://www.amphorae-v.com/wines.asp (middle ages)
http://www.pelterwinery.com/events.aspx (late middle ages)
http://www.binyaminawines.co.il (surprisingly good website)
http://www.tzubawinery.co.il/ (was middle ages, now much better)
http://www.recanati-winery.com/ (that's the least one can expect)
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Re: On the dismal state of winery websites

Postby Zeev Dunie » Sat Jan 31, 2009 1:54 pm

would like to hear comments on the new http://www.seahorsewines.com
Thanks
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Re: On the dismal state of winery websites

Postby Daniel Rogov » Sat Jan 31, 2009 2:33 pm

Way cool, Ze'ev, but considering that there has been no winter in Israel so far, from where did you import that great snow? You may have discovered the solution to the country's water problem.....

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Re: On the dismal state of winery websites

Postby Mike_F » Sat Jan 31, 2009 5:18 pm

Zeev Dunie wrote:would like to hear comments on the new http://www.seahorsewines.com


Shalom Ze'ev,

The new Sea Horse site is good, but still has some bugs and problems, at least when accessed using Firefox on a Mac. The link to the map gives a screen with the sentence "The requested URL /map.jpg was not found on this server"... . More worrying from your point of view, I could not input an order in the on-line ordering screen. Maybe this works better with Internet Explorer on a PC, but I will not change my computer religion to order wine... . In my case, I just sent an e-mail; in other cases you might miss a customer.

The English pdf download is very nice as an introduction to the winery, although I would prefer to see the whole site mirrored in English, and that might become more important if you want to expand more in export markets.

best,

Mike
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Re: On the dismal state of winery websites

Postby Zeev Dunie » Sat Jan 31, 2009 5:56 pm

the snow picture was taken last year, during February. So, may be there's still hope...
Thanks Mike for your comments. I'll forward them to the person in charge.
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Re: On the dismal state of winery websites

Postby Mike_F » Sat Jan 31, 2009 5:59 pm

Harel C wrote:Now, if I were a marketing guy for any of these wineries, a website would be on the top of my list of priorities. If you want to create customer loyalty, this is one of the first things you do. For a wine buyer to come to like your winery, they'll want to visit the winery in person, and until that happens - at least visit the winery's website. I know I do, as a customer.


Most of the sites you list are for large kosher wineries, and their wines are available in every practically every local supermarket chain and most wine stores. Most people who buy a bottle of supermarket on Friday for consumption that same evening are not the type of clients who are going to look for the winery website, unless they want to complain about a foreign object in the bottle...

The wineries that I would think most need a good website are the non-kosher boutiques that are producing in larger quantities than a few thousand bottles per year. These cannot enter most supermarkets due to the kashrut barrier, and they need as much marketing exposure as they can get. Out of curiosity I searched for a few that fit this category, and most of them seem to have a functional website. Maybe you can tell us where the following fit on your middle ages to modern era scale...

http://www.seahorsewines.com

http://www.flamwinery.com

http://www.closdegat.com

http://www.margalit-winery.com

http://www.vitkin-winery.co.il/

http://www.tulip-winery.co.il/
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Re: On the dismal state of winery websites

Postby Isi M » Sat Jan 31, 2009 6:13 pm

The trend today is to have "clear and crisp" websites.
Usually black on a white background.
It has been proven that a surfer will stay longer on a black on white website (regarding the text) than on any other fantasy.
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Re: On the dismal state of winery websites

Postby Harel C » Sun Feb 01, 2009 7:59 am

Mike_F wrote:Most of the sites you list are for large kosher wineries, and their wines are available in every practically every local supermarket chain and most wine stores. Most people who buy a bottle of supermarket on Friday for consumption that same evening are not the type of clients who are going to look for the winery website, unless they want to complain about a foreign object in the bottle...

The wineries that I would think most need a good website are the non-kosher boutiques that are producing in larger quantities than a few thousand bottles per year. These cannot enter most supermarkets due to the kashrut barrier, and they need as much marketing exposure as they can get. Out of curiosity I searched for a few that fit this category, and most of them seem to have a functional website. Maybe you can tell us where the following fit on your middle ages to modern era scale...

http://www.seahorsewines.com
http://www.flamwinery.com
http://www.closdegat.com
http://www.margalit-winery.com
http://www.vitkin-winery.co.il/
http://www.tulip-winery.co.il/


I'm not sure about this "supermarket wine" vs. boutique barrier. First, I listed wineries such as Tzuba, Pelter and Amphorae - not exactly typical supermarket wines. And, if anything, then I would expect big, well-known wineries such as Carmel and Dalton to have professional websites before smaller ventures such as Flam or Seahorse. I don't buy my wines in a supermarket, I buy them in wine stores, and I buy kosher not because I care about it, but because my budget wouldn't allow me to buy the likes of CdG or Margalit on a regular basis, or not even Ella Valley for that matter. And I'm still interested in seeing the websites of the wineries whose wines I drink, even if these are Carmel or Dalton.

Anyway, of the websites you listed, Margalit is in that annoying "pending" state which seems never to end (I hope I'm proved wrong soon), Flam has a nice website that seems to have frozen in the last 2-3 years, Tulip have a great website that's kept up-to-date, Seahorse have a new website that looks a tad amateurish (but maybe that's perfectly well for such a small winery), and CdG and Vitkin have reasonable+ websites, as far as I can tell. Vitkin's is in a bit of a mess.
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Re: On the dismal state of winery websites

Postby Avi Hein » Sun Feb 01, 2009 3:14 pm

Social media, and its all-important parent, basic websites is a serious passion of mine – especially when it comes to the wine world. And, like far too many Israeli Internet sites (where the English sites have typos and mistakes – there are native speaking professionals that can help – or when they don’t work properly in any browser but Microsoft Internet Explorer [more than 50% of people use alternative browsers]), the Israeli wine web is seriously lacking.

I’m referring both to English sites, where there is an international market, and even the Hebrew sites. Yes, it’s true that most people don’t buy Carmel Selected or Golan Sion Creek or immediate purchases based on the website, but people will make decisions about the higher (and even mid-range) series, even in a large winery at least in part. This is all the more important in a small winery. In Israel, your Internet presense (website, twitter, facebook, social media) is your window to the world and an essential part of your branding and marketing communications.
In addition, as the largest group of new drinkers are the so-called ‘millenials’ (18 -early 30s), who are naturally comfortable with social media (I would rather send a ‘tweet’ about wine than call someone up – and do at @hakerem), this becomes all the more important. Look, Walmart has a website. It’s basic marketing and branding. You need to have an Internet presence (hopefully more than just a website, also a social media presence) if you have a brand. And if
you want to sell wine, you have a brand.

Despite being a high tech country, in terms of the wine web (and throughout the Israeli web -- Israeli websites have these problems with web developers using non-compliant HTML that don’t render properly on Mozilla Firefox, Safari, and other commonly used browsers), the situation is dismal. This is, of course, ludicrous as there are great folks both in social media and in wine social media (Gary Vaynerchuk being the king of wine social media, using these great tools to promote wine and, yes, his business).

I think Harel C has done a great job of pointing out the major problems with the Israeli wine web, so I won’t repeat them more.
However, two comments:

@Isi – It’s essential to have high contrast (i.e. black text, white background). HTML is easy to learn, so you have a lot of people who create websites but aren’t web designers. There are important principles of web and documentation design, and several great books about it. Looking at Ze’ev’s site, I hope that’s not the case.

@Ze’ev – I’m glad you’ve finally got a site for your great wines but your site is your brand – it’s your image to the world. With all due respect, your site is not very usable – the colors don’t contrast, the images are not in proportion, and the resolution (also on the printed brochure) is too low. These are things that need to be paid attention to, and yes, file formats also are important (vector graphics when possible, otherwise TIFF before JPEG, GIF, PNG), so that the images are clear, crisp, and professional. It’s NOT hard to do, but it’s also easy to not do it. In addition to the issues of non-Firefox, Safari, Chrome, etc. compliant websites, the design also needs to look appropriate for 2009. Even a site design from 2004 just doesn’t cut it. With all due respect, the site design doesn’t seem that way. That reflects poorly on what is an awesome brand – Sea Horse. I don’t know how much you paid but a high quality cheap site can be done for 5000-10000NIS. Maybe even less. Or, some (Miriam Schwab @ illuminea is just one person I know) specialize in making basic sites using a CMS like WordPress.

A personal word on social media (and a plug):

I twitter at @hakerem, started an Israeli wine fan page on Facebook, with over 350 fans (http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/pages ... 4839500415), and, of course, blog (which, I know I’m not the most knowledgeable person on this forum, but as a result, I’ve referred journalists to Rogov and others which is leading to an improvement in how Israeli wine is covered in the non-‘trade’ press --- http://www.israeli-wine.org)
Who else is using social media to promote Israeli wine? The only other name I can mention (and I monitor both the English and Hebrew) is Richard Shaffer (@israeliwine, on Twitter) in promoting his business, which, I know, has led him to clientele who may not have otherwise known about Israeli wine. I’m also helping (and I need to help more, I know) Ari Erle @ Israeli Wine Company (http://www.israeliwinecompany.com) with his blog. If anyone else wants some consulting DM me or be in touch.
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Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/avihein - @avihein & http://www.twitter.com/israelwines - @israelwines
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/israelwine
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Re: On the dismal state of winery websites

Postby Avi Hein » Sun Feb 01, 2009 3:27 pm

Sorry for posting twice, I forgot to mention a few great resources relating to winery websites:

The Winery Web Site report specifically discusses basic web usage for wineries - http://blog.winerywebsitereport.com/

CataVino is a consultant in Spain and has a great post on 10 Winery Website Mistakes - http://www.catavino.net/blog/top-ten-wi ... nnoyances/

Tim Elliott also helps wineries use social media, especially blogs - http://timelliott.us/
It's Israeli Wine 2.0 - HaKerem: The Israeli Wine Blog - http://www.israeli-wine.org
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/avihein - @avihein & http://www.twitter.com/israelwines - @israelwines
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/israelwine
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Re: On the dismal state of winery websites

Postby RyanOpaz » Sun Feb 01, 2009 3:59 pm

Some basic rules:
Websites are tools to sell wine - Not billboards to show off imagery
Websites tools and building materials are FREE - Do not try to create your own from scratch use: wordpress, joomla, drupal, etal...
KISS - Keep it simple stupid
One Click to all information - Speed is key let me get the info I need in one click or less!
UPDATE with RSS - I will visit your website only once if you do not have RSS, I will visit it multiple times if you do
FEEDBACK - If there is no way for me to leave feedback you fail and please DO NOT make me click an email address that pops up a compose window...simple forms do the trick.
FLASH IS FOR MOVIES AND SLIDESHOWS - NEVER TEXT...NEVER...NEVER....NEVER...DID i MENTION....NEVER?


my two cents...
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Re: On the dismal state of winery websites

Postby Daniel Rogov » Sun Feb 01, 2009 4:19 pm

Speaking perhaps as a member of an older generation, several questions:


1. I have no lived a fair number of years and have had an internet presence for nearly 20 of those years. I do not know what RSS is and I am not familiar with many of the programs to which are referred above. And please do not tell me because if the truth be told, I do not give a good flying fig for the information.

2. When I go to an internet site it is for a specific purpose. If, in addition to serving that purpose, the site pleases me graphically that is a bonus. That will not sell me anything but it will give me a moment of pleasure.

3. Is it the "millenials' who are purchasing upper level wines? And if not, is that the audience one wants to reach?

4. Even when I read a reference book, I expect to have to finger through to the index, the footnotes and the bibliography. As I do not mind flipping pages, nor do I mind hitting the "enter" key once or twice when on an internet site.

5. As many of the best and most informative books are difficult to navigate, so are many of the best internet sites I have found. Anyone ever tried the index of the Larousse?

6. If we were to follow the groundrules for the internet we would be forced to limit every article written to 350 words, to use abberviations that show that we are part of an informed group, to forget that depth and the intelligent use of language can be an advantage and not a disadvange. I don't mind ROFLMAO as it amuses me, but when people use such as "u" for "you" that pisses me off. Shows that they don't care enough about me to spell out their words.

On those curmudgeonly notes

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Re: On the dismal state of winery websites

Postby RyanOpaz » Tue Feb 03, 2009 8:01 pm

Interesting thoughts...mine responses are in bold.

Daniel Rogov wrote:Speaking perhaps as a member of an older generation, several questions:


1. I have no lived a fair number of years and have had an internet presence for nearly 20 of those years. I do not know what RSS is and I am not familiar with many of the programs to which are referred above. And please do not tell me because if the truth be told, I do not give a good flying fig for the information.

Love this...use it like you like

2. When I go to an internet site it is for a specific purpose. If, in addition to serving that purpose, the site pleases me graphically that is a bonus. That will not sell me anything but it will give me a moment of pleasure.

Great! Helps if the site makes sure to help you find your "purpose"

3. Is it the "millenials' who are purchasing upper level wines? And if not, is that the audience one wants to reach?

Yes they are! Tomorrow even more! - Yes you will want to reach that audience sooner than you think, might as well be ready for them, it's easy to do.


4. Even when I read a reference book, I expect to have to finger through to the index, the footnotes and the bibliography. As I do not mind flipping pages, nor do I mind hitting the "enter" key once or twice when on an internet site.

Great for you - Then again from the sound of your response you don't design websites, and those of us that do, find we have many more happy visitors when the site requires minimal navigation.


5. As many of the best and most informative books are difficult to navigate, so are many of the best internet sites I have found. Anyone ever tried the index of the Larousse?

Maybe true, but the hardest to navigate are often the ones that fade into the distance first due to lack of use. Not that Larousse, suffers from that, but in the end because your site is hard to use, is not the reason people come to it. If you make it easy for them to use, imagine home much more "useful" it could be!

6. If we were to follow the groundrules for the internet we would be forced to limit every article written to 350 words, to use abberviations that show that we are part of an informed group, to forget that depth and the intelligent use of language can be an advantage and not a disadvange. I don't mind ROFLMAO as it amuses me, but when people use such as "u" for "you" that pisses me off. Shows that they don't care enough about me to spell out their words.

Not sure where you got the ground rules from? I for sure never heard such stuff. Long text is great, so is short, both work in different ways. Also when they use "u" instead of you "you" they are lazy, and while it bothers me too I hardly think they are worried about our thoughts on it.

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