“I wish this website would devote a lot more space and effort to a ‘welcome to this website’ paragraph that no one will ever read instead of prominently listing their hours of operation.”
—ironic praise for bad restaurant websites, Not anyone
I criticize a lot of websites for having ugly landing pages with cheesy flash animations, loud music, and no useful information.
It’s easy to cut out the flash animation and loud music… but what constitutes useful information?
One important story that should be included in every winery website is a biographical history section. But how do you write that history? How do you convey the right information? And how much is too much?
Writing your history
People want to know about your history, but they will only remember things that are really unique and notable. You don’t need to put this information on the landing page of your website. It can be safely tucked away in a “Biography” section or “About” section.
And keep it short. You can include a manifesto hidden deep within your website, if you must. But there should be an easy to read, brief biography somewhere close to the landing page. If you have trouble keeping the bio short, visit ten other winery websites and delete anything in your history that also appears in their history.
The fact is almost all winery history sections fall into two categories “we’ve been making wine for x generations in the proud tradition of Lord Soandso of Somethingrather” or “I’m passionate about wine so I started making it y years ago and it’s been hard but worth it.” Unless you have something really special to say, this is the part of the website that people will forget ten minutes after reading it. So only say the special stuff.
And again, it doesn’t have to be on the first page. Even though you think your story is super interesting, people might be more interested in accessing basic information about your wines, where they’re available, and what food they go with. So writing a website is about balancing all this information and presenting it in a convenient way for the impatient Internet surfer.
How O’Vineyards handles it
I try to show our personality on every page of the website. The closest thing to a concrete biography is currently located in the “wines” section that talks about our winemaking. But you’ll also learn a bit about my philosophy on tourism by clicking on the “visit” section. There used to be a “Bio” section about our history, but I merged it into wine because it’s more useful there. Still debating this one internally and you might see me move it around more in the future. But it’s not very long and it’s certainly not the landing page.