Re-Corkd: Thoughts on Redesigning

I’ve got web design on the brain. My day job has had me buried in web design politics for going on 18 months now. We’ve been through 3 major iterations and have just completed user testing with 37 people from San Jose to Sao Paulo and Boston to Beijing. We’ve broken the project down into a few phases, the first of which will go live (fingers crossed) on November 17. The final phases will probably keep me employed (again fingers crossed) through 2011. From there I hope to be in a position to launch my diabolical wine and coffee world domination plan. In the meantime, I was playing around in one of my favorite wine playground web sites,, and thought I would suggest some redesign opportunities.

Gary Vaynerchuk bought in May of 2007. After several years little attention, Gary announced a commitment to Cork’d hoping to propel it into the wine stratosphere like his other ventures. Recently Cork’d went through a change in direction introducing article content to the site. At first articles were added as a secondary page called Cork’d Content featuring 1-2 articles per day. In April, Cork’d CEO Lindsay Ronga moved in a new direction with 4-5 daily articles bringing Cork’d Content to the front door and the social interaction elements of wine reviews, drinking buddies, and wine education to the background. I am a regular Cork’d Content provider, but I was puzzled by the separation rather than the integration of the two elements. I personally love the interactive element of the review feed, drinking buddies, and fanning grapes and wineries.

I’m not a graphic designer. In my day job, I manage the projects and make sure that the technology partners are delivering on what the line of business wants in a timely manner. In this Re-Cork’d review, I took all the elements that currently exist on the site and arranged them in a way that would make me want to use the site and stay on the site. At a high level, I think Cork’d is in need of some graphic overhaul from the logo to the coloring (the pink and red just aren’t inviting on the eyes). Below are the eight elements of the site that I would have on the page.

  1. Header: I would start by bringing over the header that exists on the wine review portion of the site. This encourages people to create an account and provides a search component for the great wine database within Cork’d. Opportunity exists here for greater visual weight and even incorporation of the navigation (element 2), and a new logo.
  2. Navigation: Navigation is helpful on any site. Currently the existing Cork’d navigation is available by clicking “Wine” from the home page. Bringing this over gives users an easy interaction to the reviews they enter, the people they connect with and the wines they are a fan of.
  3. Articles: Content is king and good content is sticky. Currently Cork’d has 4-5 articles per day. I’ve noticed a decrease in the interaction of articles here (comments, reactions, tweets, and facebook shares). People have a difficult time absorbing that much information. This section could be reduced to 2-3 really good articles per day to increase awareness. If they want a lot of information on site, they may be better off doing what does and creating a feed of top sites on the internet.
  4. Live Feed: I love this interactive part of Cork’d. Right now it is buried on page two. It provides a great way for people to see what is happening in real time with Cork’d users. Interaction can occur and people will stay on the site longer.
  5. Sponsors: I understand the need for sponsors, although I know that Cork’d doesn’t rely on them for their business model. Create a small space to bring awareness to key products but don’t overdo it.
  6. My Reviews: As a user of the reviews section, I would appreciate seeing my current reviews somewhere on the page. If a user doesn’t enter reviews, a default could be added to show the “featured user” current reviews or something similar.
  7. Contributor Reviews: To break up the article volume, a separate section could be created to house the posts by contributors that are wine reviews.
  8. Drinking Buddies and Fan: This section continues the interactive piece that was the original framework of This makes the whole right side of the page very interactive and sticky for the user and builds on the wine community that helped build Cork’d into what it is.

Please understand that I’m not ripping on what Lindsay or Jonathan are doing over at Cork’d. I’m a huge fan. I had the pleasure of meeting Jonathan Troutman of Cork’d and Kristin Murphy from Wine Library on a recent trip to New York City. They are great people and fantastic winos. These are just ideas that I had swirling in my head as I carry my day job into my night hobby.



Owner of Nectar Tasting Room in Spokane, WA. (@nectarwine) Publisher of Spokane Wine Magazine (@spowinemag), author, speaker, consultant and internet marketer with Nectar Media (@nectarmedia)

11 comments on “Re-Corkd: Thoughts on Redesigning

  1. Jon


    It was awesome hangin’ with you over a couple of glasses recently, and I sincerely appreciate your feedback and suggestions for Cork’d. After all, it’s wine lovers like you that we’re working so hard to serve; to build a wine community that is useful, educational, and above all – FUN!

    Like you said, content IS king, and we see the articles that you and others are writing as a key element to making Cork’d attractive. Based on your insight and some other suggestions from site users, it’s clear that we need to better integrate this content into the site. We’ve been brainstorming and will work to make some new improvements. Cork’d is admittedly not perfect, but we believe there’s huge potential for our wine community. After all, it’s people like you that makes Cork’d “go” – again, I can’t thank you enough for the feedback!


    1. drinknectar


      Thanks for being a good sport about this. User feedback is critical to the success and evolution of any product. I was recently reminded of that with my companies web redesign. Our team has been so involved in the work for over a year, it was good to get the perspective of the people who use it. We validated some things, have a few changes that are coming out of it, and a few of the pieces of feedback stung a little.

      I can’t wait to see whats happening over at Cork’d. I love the content, but admittedly I struggle keeping up with it all.


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  3. Joshua S Sweeney

    You might not be a graphic designer, but you have an eye for web design. Mad respect for taking the time to do all that.

    1. drinknectar

      Thanks, Josh! That means a lot coming from you.

  4. Kristen

    Love the feedback Josh..and you certainly have the credentials! :) I was so glad that we could meet up last month when you came into town.

    1. drinknectar

      Thanks, Kristen! I can’t wait to see what next steps Gary, Lindsay and Jonathan take Cork’d. Sounds like it is primed to “pop”

  5. Jim Wilkerson

    Hey Josh,

    Great ideas here. I, too, have been a bit lost with the new Cork’d direction. I like the new content, but the community and wine reviews have been de-emphasized too much. I think you nailed the key elements that should be on the main page. Nice work.

    Jim / @vinegeek

  6. 1WineDude

    You dolt! Why didn’t you CHARGE them for the design consultation?!???



    1. drinknectar

      I know I know, such a fool. It’s sad that when I get bored this is what I do for fun.


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