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June 23, 2009


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I *think* it's because wineries sometimes want to talk in more depth about their wines and because the Our Wines pages often look like printed collateral. It can be hard to get shopping cart software to do that (though there's a very nice plugin for Wordpress based sites that I've used called Shopp which can do this).

This seems to be the case at Erath - the Our Wines page is graphically nicer. Oddly, you can buy the wines from the individual wine pages there, so my first thought was to eliminate the Shop section. However, if you know what Erath wines you want, the Shop page is more efficient in selecting wines. In their case I'd check visitor behavior carefully in their Google Analytics account and see what people do (props to them for installing analytics... now the need to use it!).

Andrew Kamphuis

Mike, you hit the nail on the head. Even if you want to provide more depth about the wine and have the Our Wines page look like printed collateral, it should be fairly trival to add a 'purchase' button on the same page. (I'm pretty sure they could do that with the Nexternal shopping engine)

Having said that, the Erath website does look very nice and has some great photography.

Tyson Caly

I will second Rick's "indepth" comment above. Look to Apple, http://www.apple.com for this direction as well. They have a split between their store and their product pages. On one side the focus is marketing, built to educate. One the other is the commerce side, built to sell. I think the split is actually a good thing, why not promote your products in more than one place on your site. I would think this would also help with keyword density... good for SEO.

Another thing to consider from a design standpoint is that so many of the wine e-commerce platforms out there aren't very designer friendly. I often build wine websites independently of the shopping cart, so there is more control and freedom of design. Integrating that part in often forces you to have a separate wine info and store pages. One project I'm very happy with is Trefethen, http://www.trefethen.com, where we decided to have that divide. I think it works well.

A store page allows you to also post promotions or special items that might not easily fit within your navigation or that don't fall under wine items. The way I see it, there are really numerous advantages to having extra pages... Sure it's more work, but you might just get more out of it.

Good posting Michael!


First off I really like the design of the Erath site, and the site that Tyson linked to - Trefethen is also really nice. Love both of them. Having said that separating the wine story from the buy our wine is going to be and should be done on a winery by winery basis. The reason I say this is because smaller wineries just don't have amazing photography and literature and simply can't fill out a site like that. A larger winery with a larger marketing budget can easily do that.
I do think the apple.com comparison is good, but the language there is a little better. Their navigation doesn't seem to compete where "Our Wines" and "Buy Wines" seem to compete for attention and confuse the visitor a little. Whatever...I think the mega drop down menus are the next big thing a la www.trefethen.com - sweet.

Tyson Caly

Thanks Peter! Glad you like the drop down menus. They were fun to create.

You bring up a good point with the language on Apple vs. wineries. So I pose this question to all. On the ideal wine website, what would be some of the absolute best navigation wording choices? Small winery vs. large winery.


I think it's because the winery looks at the website and shopping cart as two different things due to the fact that many wineries are using outdated or unfriendly e-commerce platforms that don't allow seamless integration. The problem with this is that the consumer doesn't think that way. The consumer doesn't want to look all over the site to figure out how to buy your wines.


Tyson, I checked out the Trefethen site, it looks great in Safari but not so great in Firefox. I'm sure it works fine in internet explorer as well, but shouldn't you also format it for Firefox? (It's the store page that looks funny on my computer - I use a Mac at home.)

I like that you can still add wines to your cart from the "Our Wines" navigation.

Joe Becerra

When I look at "Our Wines" I find a very nice description of the wine but no price. Then, I must go to their wine shop to find out how much the wine is selling for. Please, all in one place.

Joe, the WineTraveler.

Tyson Caly

Tracy, the Firefox issue is all fixed now. It was a misplaced HTML tag that screwed with the formatting. Yes, normally Firefox works just great, and I do look at most browsers to test compatibility. From time to time, when new content is added, strange things happen. I certainly appreciate you bringing it to my attention.

Joe, are you referring to the Trefethen or Erath website? There are prices on both the Our Wines pages and the Store pages. On Trefethen it's in the red Buy Now box. Perhaps it's not quite as apparent? On Erath, it's right below the Cooking description. I agree with you, prices should be in both places. No point in making it extra work for your users. Unless of course, the winery itself does not want pricing displayed...

Tyson Caly

And of course, I wanted to say that the Erath website is very nicely done.



Nicely done, especially the dropdowns.

If anyone decides to use Wordpress as a CMS and needs e-commerce I can recommend that Shopp plugin (http://shopplugin.net) as a cart solution that integrates very well into a design. I used it in another project and we didn't need to alter the visual design at all to accomodate the cart.


Just a technical comment to whom it may concern on www.trefethem.com: when accessing the site with IE 6.0 it doesn't display correctly. Surely you're losing lots of potential viewers by not keeping the site compatible with older browsers.

Tyson Caly

Fabius, that's correct. We looked at what we wanted to do with the Trefethen website and realized that we didn't want to get held back by a legacy browser. So, we made the decision to drop support for IE 6. Some history... It came out back in 2001 and sadly doesn't even support standards created in 1996. It now accounts for around 20% of all traffic on the net. There is a pretty large hatred towards that browser in the web design community... and with good reason. Microsoft really dropped the ball in creating what should have been a good piece of software.

To give you some stats for the last month, less than 14% of the 5,000+ visitors coming to the site were using IE 6. Quite honestly, that's an acceptable loss. Now, those may have been potential buying customers, and no I don't really want to have lost a sale over it, but you have to move on. Supporting older browsers simply gets to be an expensive process that not a lot of people are willing to pay for.

There is a growing trend of companies discontinuing support for IE 6 left and right. Let's face it, if they're doing it, I'm doing it. Technology changes so fast on the web, and so many new a great things are created every day that I want to utilize. I'm not going to say no to it just because a shrinking percentage of users out there can't access it.

That said, we do try to help IE 6 users by displaying a nicely written message on the homepage. We give users the suggestion to upgrade to a modern browser by providing them with links to the latest downloads of Safari, Firefox, Google Chrome and IE. More websites should encourage their users to upgrade, it's a win/win situation for everyone involved.

I conclude by paraphrasing Jason Fried of 37signals, "In the end, we're betting on the future. Legacy support is not the way to build a forward looking product." I couldn't agree more.

Tyson Caly

Rick, sweet plugin for WordPress, I'll be sure to check that out in the future. Have you run into any issues with it not being wine specific?

Tyson Caly

Here's a great posting about IE 6 for those interested. Curious to hear your thoughts.

Drop IE6 Support — Give People a Reason to Upgrade

Larry Chandler

It may very well be that older websites use technology that either doesn't allow detailed information on a product page or doesn't allow the user to choose to see more info about a product or not.

It should be possible on the "our wines" section to include either a buy button or a link to the product page. And all newer websites should permit this.

Far too many sites confuse the user with an "our wines" and a "buy wines" sections. Perhaps there is a way to word them differently such as "read about our wines" and "buy our wines" label so people don't get frustrated.

Many websites are built on the cheap and there isn't always a lot of thought that goes into the navigation. It's true wineries should be more demanding, but that comes with a price, and sometimes the wineries just don't have the resources to optimize their sites.



Sorry I didn't check back sooner - if you're still reading these comments... no, no issues with it not being wine specific. Of course, you don't get the advantages that a wine specific solution will give you e.g. the rules for shipping to various states. If you don't want to ship to a given set of states, then you'll need to account for that either during the add to cart phase or as they checkout.

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