Recently a client asked me to look over their website and provide a subjective audit on what they could do to make their website cleaner, more user-friendly, more “web 2.0.” In this post you’ll get the cliff notes version gratis.
Web 2.0 might be a new term for you, or sound like jargon. Many people use the term “Web 2.0″ to describe:
a resurgence in the web economy
a new level of technological interactivity between web sites and customer service options
or, social phenomena deriving from new types of online communities and social networks
In the context of this article, we will look at it to reference to a recent school of best-practice web design to move your website from “brochure-ware” (a digital one way communication vehicle) to an interactive platform to engage with your customers.
Some Suggested Elements of a Web 2.0 Website
In addition to large, and limited, text, contrasting colors, and strong images, there are many best practices for web design in 2012. Below is just a partial list appropriate for wineries.
An interactive home page. Hubspot has a great infographic about the elements you should consider, and there are many. My #1 advice is, take some time thinking about your top three objectives for your website, and make sure they are very, very clear to anyone arriving on your home page. If visitors spend more than 10 seconds deciding where to click, you’ve lost them. Some basics:
If you have to put “skip intro”, you already know you’re being annoying.
Don’t have a flash intro, or moving graphics that aren’t click-able. Fight the urge; you’ll lose 30-70% of everyone landing on your home page, in my experience looking at Google Analytics. I don’t get why some executives still want the non-click-able animated graphics in your most useful real-estate – it isn’t innovative or cool anymore and it doesn’t “create a sense of mood”. It just puts up a barrier between you and your customers who’ve arrived at your site for a reason. Just look at your Google Analytics to quantify how much you’re losing on this for management. Non-interactive video is great…as a video. Not as your home page.
Don’t waste a Navigation button for “Home”. Most people now know if you click the logo in the upper right hand corner (note: have your logo in the upper right hand corner) you go back to the main home page. You don’t need a navigation button to go there. (And, since you’ve taken my advice and your home page is now click-able elements to your top three navigation areas on your site, there shouldn’t be a whole lot of customer needs to return to the home page if they get lost. They can use the navigation.)
Don’t waste more than 30% of your real estate on your home page (or any page) in a top banner. Known as the rule of thirds in design, you don’t want readers to have to page down too far to see your content.
And while it is almost impossible to get all your information “above the fold”, meaning no scrolling down, try to limit any long-scrolling pages but especially your home page.
Your navigation should be simple, and hierarchical based on what you want customers to do. If your primary purpose for your site is to sell wine, BUY WINE should be your first navigation tab. If your main goal is to promote your club, the WINE CLUB should be your first navigation tab. I’m pretty sure ABOUT US isn’t more important than selling wine or your club, so it should probably not be #1.
That said, have a clean and clear About Us page. Wine is about stories and relationships. Your customers do want to know about you, but rather than a list of awards or maps of vineyards. Make it engaging and connective content.
There are two schools of thought on the bottom navigation – some say repeat the top. Others say put the non-sales but essential links like trade, shipping, and privacy. You should likely have Contact Us as the bottom right link, as we are trained to look for it there.
Don’t use exclamation points. “90 Point Winner!” sends a mixed message. Either you are yelling at your reader, or you
Can you believe it? I know! We can’t either!!
couldn’t believe you won, yourself. Either way isn’t good. And, this goes double for emails, by the way.
We are now a transparent, sharing, society. Share buttons for Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, Pinterest and Google + are the norm in mainstream media and should be on your website and shopping cart. An added bonus is opportunities for comments and reviews of products.
Pop-up surveys and chat boxes are common in mainstream shopping sites, but are seen by visitors as a big business and intrusive. Use cautiously. While keeping tabs on your abandon carts is admirable, a personal email reaching out to them asking if you could help might be better than an automated pop-up or email. Especially if you’re marketing premise is you’re a small, family winery.
It is estimated that between 7-20% of web traffic to wineries is on mobile devices. If 7-20% of your tasting room traffic was on a wheelchair, wouldn’t you re-arrange your tasting room for wheelchair access to your tasting bar, rather than having it as an afterthought? Mobile shopping is prominent, and will be a very big factor in Q4 holiday sales. Now is the time to make sure your website is mobile optimized. And, this doesn’t mean just a smaller version of your website; there are certain standards that apply to navigation and content and shopping carts on a mobile phone or tablet, so ask your web provider how to ensure your website is accommodating roughly one out of five visitors. Or, hire a consultant. ☺
Remember the number one reason people want to go to your website – to contact you. Don’t bury your contact button. Make sure it is in either the upper right Nav, AND on the lower navigation on the far right. And have sign ups to newsletters and blogs in the sidebars on multiple pages. And, your phone number in the footer, and maybe on the header.
A Web 2.0 website is just an interactive website.
Keep in mind “web 2.0” is a mindset that a website isn’t linear. This isn’t a digital magazine or brochure where you flip through page one to page 8. There should be multiple ways for customers to interact with your content. Some are visual (click on a picture) some are text links, some are navigation bars, but all should help engage the viewer and draw them into interact with you.
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