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August 18, 2011


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Mike, I get that they are trying to incorporate their website with their name, but people won't remember the wine, they will remember the Black website. People try to get too fancy and think too much about what they think is cool rather than the goal.. The goal is to sell the Estate Black Wine, not the website. I know lots of people think a white background is blahh... but with the particular site the black bottle would really pop if they change the color to a white or cream color.

The text (middle) of the site interferes with the navigation. As you scroll up the words go behind the navigation as does one of the entire bottles. Not really appealing.. Looks like they don't know how to design.

I am sure with those fixes the site would be awesome!


Actually, I disagree with Kim. The black (dark grey actually) background works fine since they have a lot of contrast. Note that it also fits their branding (look at the labels on t he bottle images). There's a tendency to think that usable means bland design, but I don't agree with that. Usable means usable. I'd probably bump the font size up a bit, but it seems OK to me from a readability standpoint.
They've hopped on the single page site trend (you see this in the design/advertising community a lot). it gets around page refresh and flickering issues, but the approach is better suited to laptop/desktop browsers and broadband since 1) you're downloading all of the page content in one go and 2) you're assuming a lot about the width of the browser. Loading it on my phone it resizes nicely but the text is far too small to be readable. You can zoom in, but the site's not very usable on a phone. They need to make the site responsive and use media queries to reformat things for various page sizes if they want it to work on mobile devices. I'm also curious about how it works if you disable javascript, but it's probably fine... you'll just lose the page scrolling easing.

I agree with Kim that the nav intrudes into the text at certain points and that feels off. It doens't actually obscure anything important, but it feels like a bug.

Thi bigger lapses are in business goals. If you scroll to Wines you'll note that there's an Order Online link to the right of Wines. Why isn't that in the main nav? Some of the prices are in a dark red which is hard to read. Hello? Make the price easy to see. Finally, most of the Learn more... links (learn more about winemaking philosophy, vineyard, etc) are PDF links which 1) means you probably give up some search rank for the words in the PDF and 2) assumes a fast connection on a device that can read the PDF easily. Great on my 24" monitor, not great on my 4" phone.

Overall? B+. They miss some key conversion tactics (mostly hiding the Order Online and price stuff), and they didn't consider mobile devices which in 2011 is rather silly.


@Mike – I’m glad you enjoyed the tweet. I’ve seen the Black Estate website before and find the layout/navigation to be refreshing. Single page websites aren’t that new anymore (www.1stwebdesigner.com/inspiration/single-page-website-designs) but in the wine industry sites like this are few and far between. I think the clean layout and ‘different’ approach at navigation gives a refined ‘feel’ to the site which also leads me to think that their wine may also be refined. I find that the opposite is also true, if I see a crappy winery website, i instinctively think that the wine they make is crappy.

@ Kim – I agree, the navigation/text should be moved to not interfere with each other and their wine bottles don’t stand out from the page; Jax Vineyards does a superior job at this. They don’t make it easy to purchase online and it seems like they were focused on branding and the consumer experience. Whatever their goal for their online marketing is, I don’t think it would hurt to have the ordering ability called out better with clear buttons, maybe evening using the white or cream colour you suggested for order buttons.

@Rick – Great comments, I liked how you touched on the width issues for desktops and mobile devices.

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