Written by Devon Trevathan
The Essentials of Distillery Websites M
ore likely than not, the first and possibly only place that a person has interacted with your business in the last two years has been online, probably via your company’s website. Websites have always been important, but the shift to the digital space since the pandemic should have reprioritized them for all business owners. They are your most important digital asset and, these days, one of your most important assets, period. Certain design trends have taken over the website development space in recent years, including the horizontal scroll, multimedia experiences that tie in visuals, text, video and audio, and 3D images. It almost feels inaccurate to call any retro design choices a “trend” since they always seem to be coming back into style, but particularly in fonts and typography, designs that are inspired by yesteryear, are popular once more. When paired with muted colors — think the subdued counterpoints to more saturated reds, yellows, greens, and blues — you have a very trending aesthetic that can be seen on websites across different industries currently. Another popular choice for modern websites is to include some element that is interactive, with parallax scrolling being a favored feature. Developed around 2010, parallax scrolling is a design technique in which the website background moves at a slower pace than the foreground, creating a 3D effect as viewers scroll, adding depth to the experience. According to Nic Reed, CEO and founder of 253 Media, a web design, SEO, and paid ad agency based in Utah, “The difference between a good website and an incredible website really comes down to content interactions, something that’s going to make me stay on the website longer, something that’s going to make me excited to be
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there.” Reed said that utilizing something like parallax scrolling or some other feature that adds depth and movement, by the numbers, inspires visitors to stay on your site four times as long as they normally would. “Now they’ve been on your site four times longer than they would have, now they’re four times more involved with your brand.” It's not only the design features of your website that matter; content is of equal importance. 253 Media have helped a handful of distilleries create websites or revamp their existing ones, and a couple of consistencies within this business have stuck out to Reed. The first question he asks a client is, what’s the differentiating factor of their company? “Fifty percent of the brands we talk to have no idea why someone should buy their whiskey,” said Reed. They may think that creating a beneficial website is as simple as throwing their contact information, some photos, and the distillery’s address into a template and hitting publish. The process is more involved than that; in fact, it’s more akin to the creation of an experience. Visitors to your website should leave with a sense of that intangible quality that sets your products apart from the rest, which you can create through very tangible design choices and information added to your website.
In general, try thinking of your website as your digital brand ambassador. Consider all the elements that you would want a sales rep employed by your company to communicate to potential buyers. This would include the value and unique qualities of your business, but it would also encompass the tasting notes for each of your products, significant details of your distillations, and your personal background. Now translate that to your website. “I have to be so ingrained in knowing that’s the brand for me, that’s the whiskey for me,” said Reed, “that I’m going to go to the store and look at 15 other whiskeys on the shelf and say that’s the one that I want.” Decide what it is that sets your company apart from all the rest — perhaps it’s the grain you use, or the labored production methods that you feel result in your products’ distinct flavor profile. Maybe you fashioned your own still by hand. Whatever the specifics, your company’s differentiating factor needs to feature prominently on your website. This