Important considerations when designing (or redesigning) your brewery's website.
So you’ve decided to design (or redesign) your craft brewery’s website. Great! Marketing your craft beverage through an online presence is important when trying to grow your brand. What will your website look like? What will your main header image be? Will you feature flat artwork or nice shots of your cans? Where will your Instagram feed go?
When tackling website design, people tend to jump straight to visuals. And who can blame them—cool graphic design is the easiest (and most fun) thing to wrap your head around. And while this is an important piece of the puzzle, it should come later in the process. There’s a foundational step that can completely make or break your website—information architecture and site mapping.
What is the purpose?
Before diving into this, think of why you want a new website. What pain points are you trying to address? What opportunities are you trying to capture? Maybe you’re expanding into new markets? Maybe you want to give people an easy place to learn more about your beer and your story? Maybe you want to attract investors? Think of your website as a tool—an important one that’s out there working for you 24/7, whether it’s a passive information channel or an active sales piece. By figuring out what role your site plays in your communication strategy, you can intentionally design with these goals in mind.
A few important questions to ask when starting this process:
What do you (and don’t you) like about your current website? (if applicable)
What are your major goals for the site?
Who will visit your website?
How will these people use your website?
What should they do immediately upon visiting your site?
What role will this site play in your communication plan?
How does this site complement your social media?
Who will keep the site updated?
Put yourself in your customers’ shoes. What do they need from your site? Keep in mind that while they may be big fans of your beer, they’re likely as busy as you are. Presenting relevant information in an easy to use manner is crucial.
Choosing Content and Design
Once you have a grasp on your website’s goals, consider what types of content to include. If you’re a brewpub with heavy event programming, maybe an events calendar should be a major component. If you’re a production brewery that distributes all over the region, maybe a beer finder would be helpful.
All of this leads up to the creation of a thorough site map. This serves as the backbone of your site; it organizes all of your content and defines user flow. It ensures that people can intuitively find the information they are searching for without clicking around fruitlessly before leaving the site without finding what they need.
This site map should be represented as a graph, with your header across the top and main navigational links directly underneath. From there, you can easily sort content types, secondary, and tertiary pages into easy to find spots. This is a great way of seeing what content you need to generate as well as making sure you’re not duplicating pages.
A good website is designed to grow
The site map itself isn’t set in stone and in fact, it should expand and contract as you add or remove content. The goal is to not wreck your intuitive site path as your brewery grows. If you’re adding a new page about your brewer, does that go on the Beer page or the About page? If you’re starting a zero waste initiative, does that require its own page or does it go under About? By using the site map as a guide, you can layer in new content in a sustainable way and increase your website’s lifespan, giving you an effective marketing tool for years to come.
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