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Andrew Kamphuis
January 11, 2011 | Marketing | Andrew Kamphuis

Top 10 Signs Your Winery Website is Stuck in 2008

Its 2011, but a lot of websites I visit still feel like they are in 2008. So here it is, David Letterman style with Wayne's World graphic (for the really retro), the Top 10 Signs Your Winery Website is Stuck in 2008.

10. Your last blog post is dated 2008.
In 2008 you were so innovative that you jumped on the blogging band wagon. Blogging was everywhere and you wanted to take part. Unfortunately your enthusiasm died after about 8 blog posts.

If your blog hasn't been updated since 2008, it's time to remove the blog from your website.

9. Flash on the homepage with no alternative.
Flash animations used to be cool. What better way to express your story? Unfortunately, people got sick of flash intros and have turned flash off. People on the iPad can't see your flash. Mobile visitors usually don't have flash installed, nor do they want to wait for it to load.

If you have flash on your homepage, serve up an alternative, or look to some javascript technology to replace it, or better yet, don't do it.

8. You have birthdate validation on entry.
Birthdate validation on site entry is a visitor turn off (and consumers often enter false dates until they get to the checkout process).

There are so many reasons not to do birthdate validation on site entry that I could write a blog post on it - but consider this - the major wine retailers (,,, etc) all don't have it and I know first hand the amount of testing that goes on at

We do not condone selling alcohol to minors, and believe that birthdate validation should be done on checkout, and ID verification on package delivery.

7. Your product pages don't have your recent vintages and/or contain vintages you no longer have available.
There is nothing more frustrating than seeing out of date product content on a website. It's not only frustrating to customers; it also frustrates your distributors, trade people, and bloggers who all want current images and tasting notes.

6. You're not using a Content Management System
If you have to pay your web designer to update products and other content you are out of date (truthfully you were out of date in 2008 also). It's vitally important for you to be able to update your own content, and content management systems are very mature and pretty much a commodity.

5. Copyright notice still says 2008.
Your visitors know you stuck in 2008 when your copyright still says 2008. If your content is out of date and stale, people won't keep returning to your site.

4. Your heading text is images
The last few years have brought great technology for fonts on the web. It's important that your heading text be text rather than images - important for search engines, for bandwidth, and just for general ease of maintenance.

3. No customer ratings or reviews.
In 1999 Amazon stated that the 2.5 million reviews it featured are what made it popular. We've known for years that customer ratings and reviews help sell products. In 2009 revealed that products with reviews sold more. If you don't have customer ratings and reviews, your site is 2008.

2. You have a splash page.
Splash pages were out in 2008 but I still see them. A splash page does nothing for you other than give a customer a reason to not visit your homepage.

1. No mention of social media anywhere
And the number one sign your website is stuck in 2008 - no mention of social media anywhere.  The last couple of years we've seen a large uptick in social media activity. Facebook with over 500 million users is mainstream. If you don't at least have a Facebook link on your website, you might be stuck in 2008.


And to continue our Top 10 list, here are the Top 10 Signs Your Website Is Stuck In 1998 courtesy of my colleagues.

10. Your web address has the word geocities in it
9. Free hosting ads on your website
8. You have a 'make this your homepage' button on your website
7. You have a 'best viewed in Internet Explorer' button
6. Under construction page
5. Your neighbour’s high school son built your web page
4. The fixed width is designed for 800x600
3. Your site is built in frames
2. Auto playing music
1. Animated gif images


What signs have you seen that still point to 2008? 


Larry Chandler's Gravatar
Larry Chandler
@ Jan 11, 2011 at 8:36 AM
"To order, please print out this page and fax it to us."

Actually, that's not 2008, but 1998.

Larry Chandler's Gravatar
Larry Chandler
@ Jan 12, 2011 at 9:48 AM
Query about item # 8: Birthdate validation on entry.

The sites that do this seem to be mostly the big corporate wineries. They may do so to satisfy various state legislators who want to be sure the winery is not promoting alcohol to minors and wineries can point to this "barrier" on entry. These wineries don't care a great deal about direct sales to consumers anyway; it's a very small part of their business.

But who really objects to this? Does the actual consumer care where he enters birthdate information? Are the people who object to this in the industry and who just like to see winery websites, as designers, or competitors or similar? This group isn't really planning to buy any wine (for the most part). Perhaps it's just annoying to these folks (including me) to have to do it at all. Should the winery really care?

Andrew Kamphuis's Gravatar
Andrew Kamphuis
@ Jan 12, 2011 at 10:16 AM

Your right that birthdate validation on site entry is primarily done by large corporation wineries - although I have seen it at smaller wineries (who emulate large wineries thinking it's a best practice). In general these large wineries don't sell a lot DTC (as a percentage of their total sales).

The primary problems with birthdate validation on site entry are:

a) In A/B tests done by us in 2008, birthdate validation on site entry was a deterrent. Unfortunately I can't release the overall numerical data from our client, but A/B tests show it's a negative customer experience and one more hurdle for customers to jump through.

b) If it's not done right birthdate validation on site entry is bad for SEO. (Doing it right would allow you to deep link into a site and then have a modal window for the birthdate validation so that google could still spider the content - although this seems to contradict the legal excuse as a customer would still see the content before the validation comes up).

Secondary reasons include that it's ineffective (how often do you enter your correct birthdate in that?? I can tell you people often enter a different date from what they use on checkout - especially repeat visitors) and I seriously question the legal argument I've heard from big corporations (given that the biggest wine retailers on the web don't have use it).

Larry, I know that eWinery has a few of these sites with birthdate validation (we got one or two ourselves) - and I suspect it's being forced by the winery rather than a recommended practice. Have you ever done any A/B testing around it and found that it wasn't a deterrent?

Larry Chandler's Gravatar
Larry Chandler
@ Jan 12, 2011 at 10:52 AM
It is the winery's parent company that insists on it. Smaller wineries that emulate larger ones because they think big wineries know things have far more problems than birthdate. They clearly are clueless as to marketing strategy for wineries their own size. I'm not aware which smaller wineries do this, but I'm sure there are some.

Wine retailers don't need to do it to satisfy some government agency. Diageo, Constellation and similar have to deal with 50 state entities and are far more interested in pleasing them than the online wine buyer.

You are right about SEO, but to these companies that is less important than pleasing the states. They also sell massive amounts of spirits as well as wine and they are looking at it in a different way.

Many people enter fake dates not only on entry, but on the cart pages. I do. Everyone knows it can be faked, but as long as it's there, that's all the wineries need to show at least until it gets to the point where it can be verified accurately, easily and cheaply.

eWS has many sites like this, all or almost all of them the product of these large corporations. And I have not personally done A/B testing, though it may have been done by others.

And how much of a deterrent is it really? Will someone who wants to buy a wine from these large companies not do so simply because they are asked their age up front? I obviously don't know the specifics of your A/B testing, but were these people chosen from among consumers of mass-produced wines?

Andrew Kamphuis's Gravatar
Andrew Kamphuis
@ Jan 12, 2011 at 11:03 AM
I don't think you are I are going to convince a large winery who is less intent on selling DTC and more intent on not being disruptive, etc.

On A/B tests - you get a few percent here, a few percent there, and before you know it you've can increase or decrease a large portion of your sales just so by adding or removing some birthdate validation, some flash on the homepage, etc (and it's not validation, it's really ensuring the customer is smart enough to know a date 21 years in the past).

Birthdate validation on site entry is significant enough of a percentage to me that I'll fight it everytime.

Andrew Kamphuis's Gravatar
Andrew Kamphuis
@ Jan 12, 2011 at 11:26 AM
Wow the spelling/grammar on my comment above was brutal. So much for writing comments on this mobile device. Sorry - but hopefully you get the overall message.

Aaron Hirsch's Gravatar
Aaron Hirsch
@ Jan 14, 2011 at 3:00 PM
As few clicks as possible to drive the consumer to your calls to action is the best strategy to employ. It doesn't matter what degree this age verification pop-up deters site traffic, if it deters traffic at all then it shouldn't be there. The point of having a website, especially a high-end designed website which most of these large corporate wineries have, is to have people visit it right?

Larry brought up an interesting point about satisfying state legislators, but implementing a strategy that looks good bust isn't actually effective and that deters site visitors seems like a counter productive measure . State Legislators should be convinced that verifying age at checkout and when the wine is delivered is enough to ensure that underage visitors to the site are not receiving wine from these wineries.

Larry Chandler's Gravatar
Larry Chandler
@ Jan 14, 2011 at 3:46 PM
Aaron, your point about implementing a strategy that looks good but is not effective is besides the point. The reason many of the big wineries have websites is for public relations. It's not that they aren't interested in sales, they are. But direct to consumer is such a small percentage of their sales that it isn't a priority to alter a site to please a customer at the expense of the state agencies or their own particular strategy. A winery that makes 5,000 cases a year has every reason to need and accommodate every website visitor and should not do this. A winery that makes millions of cases (and they may accidentally break 5,000 cases' worth of bottles annually) simply sells nearly all its inventory through the distribution network. Customers who have access to these wines at Safeway and other supermarkets and discount wine shops have little reason to buy from the website.

And "legislators should be convinced..." of anything at all is hard to do without generous campaign donations.

It's a matter of priorities and ROI. Nearly every winery that is owned by a spirits wholesaler has it this way.

Aaron Hirsch's Gravatar
Aaron Hirsch
@ Jan 18, 2011 at 4:45 PM

Thanks for this information. I guess my thinking behind this age verification pop-up was that if it deterred any sales and really didn't perform the function it is meant to do ( not allow underage people to visit the site) then it shouldn't be there. I guess if large wineries that sell all of their wine through distribution networks prioritize appeasing government legislators over deterring some sales then I can see why they implement this pop-up. But if it does not serve its intended purpose then is it necessary?

Larry Chandler's Gravatar
Larry Chandler
@ Jan 18, 2011 at 5:03 PM
You are right that if it doesn't serve its purpose it isn't necessary. But if its purpose is to appease government legislators, then it does serve its purpose. Smaller wineries that do this thinking it's the right thing to do are, of course, harming themselves and should remove it.

And in reality, teenagers do not order wine online. Most of them don't like wine, don't have the money for good wine, and figure they could easily get caught doing so. They probably realize that if all they want is alcohol, there is a friend or older brother who will pick up some beer for them at the local market. I would probably venture a guess that no teenager has ever ordered a bottle of wine online in the history of the world except if put up to it by an adult setting a sting operation.

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