What is the life expectancy of a website? One year? Five years?
Brands often refresh their websites every 2-3 years.
We got the hint and recently redesigned marketyourcraft.com after two years in service, only to build it back leaner, faster and more focused on the tools that matter to craft beverage producers: how to drive more traffic, build engagement and capture new sales. Coincidentally, many clients have since asked for a fresh new coat of paint for their sites too. Which got us thinking: is there an objective way to know when the time is right for a new website?
Given the cost and time involved, designing a new website is just about as much fun as moving into a new house. First you talk about it. Then you plan for it.
Then you start to dread the idea of it.
Taking inventory of what you have, what you need, and what you can donate to Goodwill. Packing up everything into boxes with clear labels. Finding movers to do the heavy lifting, handling with care until everything finds its way to the new place. Unpacking, decorating, then throwing a party with your closest friends and new neighbors to celebrate. Then sleep. See, it’s just like designing a new website: consider it a fresh new start for your craft beverage brand in the digital world, much like a new home in the physical one.
COVID-19 may have accelerated this process for you. With more drinkers stuck at home, interacting with your craft beverage brand virtually became the only option. Businesses doubled-down on video chats and digital events; developed or expanded online ordering capabilities; and introduced store locator functionality to support a newly-minted retail strategy. Perhaps the time was right for a new website look-and-feel to support the enhanced focus online. Fast forward two years and the situation has changed yet again. We’re [hopefully] moving on past COVID as a pandemic, consumer confidence is rising and summer – the most profitable season for most craft beverage producers – is right around the corner. Is it time for another refresh?
We brainstormed all the reasons businesses may want to redesign. Treat the following list like a worksheet, asking and answering the questions to determine whether it’s time for you to move to a new house.
has my physical space changed
Your website is a brochure for the space and experience guests can expect when visiting your tasting room. If that space has changed, it’s a perfect opportunity to redesign your website to reflect that. Key considerations:
- Notify of indoor or outdoor seating options
- Welcome a second location
- Celebrate additional production capacity
- Draw attention to [seasonal] decorations
- Offer new parking options
- Highlight public transportation routes
- Promote new, relevant neighboring businesses
have business operations changed
At the peak of COVID-19 lockdowns, mask mandates and capacity restrictions, the way you operated your business likely changed regularly. As we get back to normal, a new website can highlight valuable additions and a new way of working:
- Reflect new business hours
- Outline new procedures (think post-COVID guidelines)
- Expose tour availability
- Request reservations
- Introduce new team members
- Support customer service channel
- Allow well-behaved pets or children
- Rename the business (post-sale or for other reasons)
has my customer changed
From online ordering and delivery services to working from home and video meetings, how we approach our day has changed. So has our relationship with brands. Prove you’re listening with a customer-focused website:
- Show cultural, racial or other awareness
- Support the local community
- Recognize buying behavior, frequency has changed
- Cater to evolving interests, including beverage styles, entertainment, tasting room environment
- Participate in sustainability and climate change initiatives
has technology evolved
At some point, the website you built will become obsolete. Outdated information, broken functionality and a poor user experience turn customers away from your tasting room. Now is the time to audit and update your online presence:
- Connect website with backend systems (like Point-of-Sale services)
- Offer a better user experience
- Automate time-consuming tasks
- Control security, build consumer trust
- Improve website speed
- Enable online ordering for delivery/pickup
- Migrate to a new hosting provider
- Complement a mobile app
- Introduce responsive, mobile-friendly interface
- Build a site that’s easier to update
- Dump functionality no longer supported
have I expanded what I offer
Customers want more options when visiting your tasting room. Your website acts as a billboard to draw attention to what’s new:
- Release new beverages
- Expand available merchandise
- Bring food or kitchen in-house
has Marketing changed
Whether your advertising campaign has run its course or you recently introduced an ongoing music series for the summer, your website reflects who you are at a point in time and why customers should care. If the change is big enough, it’s time to redesign:
- Replace stock photos with new photos or content (taken with permission)
- Improve calls-to-action
- Introduce a new series of events
- Sponsor a local group, venue or activity
- Receive positive press mentions
- Launch a contest
- Reveal a new advertising campaign
- Refresh packaging design
- Adopt a social responsibility platform
- Optimize search engine results
- Address a high visitor bounce rate
- Refresh a look that’s dated or not engaging
has Sales changed
Outside factors can also dictate when and how often you update your website. The point is to have a voice in the noisy conversation happening around craft beverage in your area. Consider the following redesign triggers from Sales:
- Participate in a planned route or public “crawl”
- Promote partnerships and collaborations
- Edge ahead of the competition
- …or keep up with competition
- Share new points of distribution
- Highlight new retail locations
- Offer shipping, delivery and pickup options
Not sure what to keep and what to lose during a site redesign? Outdated copy and imagery, retired products and past events may be obvious, but how do you know what pages are valuable to visitors? If your site’s connected to Google Analytics you can take an objective look at what’s working, understand the audience and how/when they are visiting. You may be surprised at the content drinkers care about! With that information you can design a site that pulls valuable information forward, giving customers a clear pathway to the information most relevant to them. Not yet connected to Google Analytics? Here’s a good primer on how to set up your account and connect your site.
Attending the Craft Brewers Conference in Minneapolis this week? Be sure to visit Propagate Lab at Booth 2860.
Propagate Lab offers next day, superior quality yeast for beer, sake, cider and seltzer. Recently the team at Market Your Craft helped them redesign the propagatelab.com website with a focus on making it easy to buy:
- Explore their library of 100+ yeast strains
- Compare specs, origins and reviews
- Calculate the right pitch for your project
- Order and pay in a secured environment
- Track prior purchases for easy reorder
Along with a desire to launch in advance of the tradeshow, they were keenly interested in a mobile-responsive site that offers brewers confidence they’re ordering the perfect pitch for their project. All while automating order and checkout with a seamless integration into their accounting software, freeing Matthew Peetz, MS, and his team to think strategically about growing the business. Check them out!
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