Is your website setting the best impression for your brand? Don’t forget that someone visiting your site for the first time is no different from a first date. Why wouldn’t you want to look your best? Paying attention to what your website communicates and how you guide the user to buy your wines is not only a good use of time, it is a great investment if you plan to be in business for the long term.

The first thing you need to decide on is the role of your website. Is it to drive sales? Is it for branding? Does it need to do both? If you want to sell wine $25 a bottle or more, you are in the luxury category of the wine market. You are selling a luxury product and your website (as well as your label and all marketing materials) need to reflect a high end, luxury brand.

Often times people are coming to your website because they have already heard about your wines, or are driven to your site by an email. In this case, the role of your site to live up to your reputation as a luxury brand AND reinforce to the customer that buying your wine is a good decision. Featuring awards, scores, tasting notes, customer ratings on your wines can all help.

Once you are happy with your website you need to send people to it on a regular basis. You can’t build a business from organic traffic or people just finding you on Google. All of your traffic drivers need to be in place to drive traffic to your site. These include emails, social media, articles and links from other websites. Your website in turn becomes a conversion tool that will generate sales for your wines.

Here are some helpful website dos and don’ts:

Website do’s

• Work with your designer to create a luxurious / high end look and feel ($25/bottle or more is the luxury wine category). It should be consistent with your label and other marketing materials.
• All images should be professional and high quality.
• Use high quality bottle shots instead of images of labels on your site.
• Wine store call out from the homepage should be obvious. You can call it out through color, by listing it on the left hand side of the navigation bar, and/or have another call to action to buy the wines on the homepage.
• Include social media icons on your homepage, ideally on the top right hand side.
• An email sign up that is easy to find on the home page is important. Keep sign up forms simple otherwise you will lose people. (Name, email and zip is fine). They are not necessarily customers yet, but by signing up, have indicated they want to hear more from you.
• White or empty space is totally ok. Don’t feel like you have to fill it up with copy or images.
• Call out the shopping cart and email sign up in a different color to guide the user to what you want them to do.
• Look at your website on all devices during the design phase. (Desktop, laptop, iPad, phone). You want to make sure the copy, images and formatting look as you intended no matter which device customers want to use.

Website don’ts

• Don’t add too much copy on the home page. People don’t want to read a lot of copy; they want to experience your site. Keep copy on home pages concise and to a minimum.
• Don’t use low quality images. Any image on your site should be high quality and professional. Make sure all images serve a purpose. They should either tell a story or support the sale (i.e. Using bottleshots)
• Avoid too many options on the navigation bar. It is confusing to the user.
• Avoid using similar words on the navigation bar. (i.e: wine store, our wines) It is confusing to the user.
• Do not use images that don’t add to the story you want to tell.
• It is not acceptable to steal copy from other sites.

Getting to know Google:

Organic search (people finding your site through Google and other search engines) is very important. The main things to know are:
• Google these days is largely driven by social sharing, high quality unique content, video and keywords. Keep this in mind when designing your site and writing your copy.
• Your homepage may not be the first page your customers will see. Any page on your site could be the first page they see. Make sure every page gives the right impression about your brand.
• A blog within your site can be a powerful traffic driver. Allowing customers to share your content (through Twitter, Facebook, Google+ etc.) will help your Google ranking.
• Having Google Analytics track your user activity is an absolute must. It is free to add this tracking code to your site. It will enable you to make educated decisions about how to enhance your site by knowing how your customers are using it. Not using Google Analytics is like making decisions blindly.