Believe it or not, breweries aren’t only good for beer. They can teach us something about how to build an engaging website.
As the craft beer industry explodes in our country, so does the need for breweries to create a competitive edge and distinct brand. Which is why offering a professional, engaging website is so important.
Breweries have the enviable opportunity to make their sites fun and creative, because that’s the culture. They don’t have to take themselves too seriously, nor would their customers want them to.
The role of the homepage
The general “fun and creative” business philosophy has resulted in some cool examples of brewery websites and how they present their homepage.
Although these sites don’t have to be perfectly buttoned up, they still need to offer a simple experience that helps visitors accomplish their goals for visiting the site.
No matter what your business is, your website homepage is an essential hub for your customer’s experience. Though you’re not in front of your customer physically, the words of your homepage should still sound like you. Plus, because this is a static interface with only a little room to communicate, you really have to make your words count.
Basically, the words on your homepage should do three major things:
- Inform the visitor about where they are
- Guide the visitor to know where to go
- Motivate the visitor to take action
Almost every homepage has elements that the user expects to see to recognize it as a website. These elements typically include:
- Navigational menu
- Textual introduction
- Buttons/calls to action
With each of these elements, it’s paramount to get the words right, otherwise you’ll leave the user uniformed, unguided and unmotivated.
Today, we’ll take a look at how breweries are effectively using words with the major elements of their homepage.
1. Navigational menu
The primary navigational menu is what your visitor sees when landing on your page, before scrolling over or clicking on the menu.
Due to limited horizontal space and the need to catch skimming eyes, menu items must be 1 to 3 words. They also have to be broad enough to encompass all the other pages beneath it in the sub-navigational menu.
With the primary menu, it’s more important to be familiar than interesting. Visitors want a clear picture of where to go on your site.
Take Stone Brewing’s homepage for example. These guys make some of the tastiest, hoppiest beer on the planet, but they also understand how to guide their visitor through their site. Have a look at the simplicity of their primary navigation:
With only four items, a visitor doesn’t need to do much skimming to choose an option. After all, a simple hover over the items will reveal all of the other pages/paths one can navigate to.
For your own site, consider simple, well-known word choices for your menu, such as “Services,” “About,” and “Resources.”
With the sub-navigational menu, you can be more nuanced. As long as the menu item is clear, it can be more flavorful.
Sierra Nevada, one of the country’s largest brewers, offers a good example of word expansion with their sub-navigation.
When it comes to your site’s navigation, clarity is paramount. People generally don’t click on things out of curiosity. Use clear word choose for menu items and you’ll effectively guide people through your site.
Banners are attention-getters and have prime real estate on your homepage. Words are generally punchy and meaningful, and seek to promote a product or offer a brand’s value proposition.
One brewery that uses effective banner copy is Deschutes Brewery out of Oregon.
Here, Deschutes uses the banner space to reinforce the value proposition of their brand, that they make beer to bring people together. While some breweries are edgier and may promote a party atmosphere, this will resonate with the more laid-back craft beer drinker.
Another good example is from Great Lakes Brewing:
Notice how the headline is attention-getting, punchy, and easy to consume. Then, the sub-headline is used to reinforce the headline and informs us where this goodness exists.
For your banner copy, ensure your headline is interesting and stands out. If you introduce a sub-header, make sure it flows with the headline and reinforces it. You only have room for a sentence or two, so make it count.
3. Textual introduction
Sometimes, images and punchy copy aren’t enough to achieve the message you’re wanting to deliver on your homepage. Finding space to offer an introduction to your brand is important.
One brewer that does a nice job of this is Trophy Brewing, one of our top local breweries here in Raleigh.
In just one sentence, Trophy conveys some important points about their company. First, they’re definitively a Raleigh brewery. Also, they highlight the food and community aspects of their business, both things they do particularly well and differentiate them from brewers who only brew beer. Also with Trophy, you can have a different experience in each of their three locations.
For your homepage, consider crafting a value statement that distinguishes you from everyone else. You don’t need to say a lot, just enough to whet your visitor’s appetite to explore the rest of your site.
4. Buttons/calls to action
On your homepage, you’ll use buttons to direct visitors to other pages on your site.
Typically, button copy is very simple. In most cases, it should be succinct and action-oriented. But it doesn’t hurt to be more specific if it clarifies to the user what to do.
Here’s a simple but helpful example of button copy on the Sierra Nevada site:
In this “beer finder,” it would’ve been easy to label the button “Locate.” However, adding “beers” to the label reinforces the header, makes the button stand out more, and is a little more fun, fitting for a beer website.
For your homepage, look for opportunities to make button labels specific while remaining concise.
Your homepage should aim to guide, inform, and motivate your visitor to take action. By using the right word choice in your navigation, banner, textual introduction, and buttons, your homepage will be a major contributor to the overall customer experience.