17 Jun 2010
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, Corkd.com, and thought I would suggest some redesign opportunities.
Gary Vaynerchuk bought Corkd.com 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 WineBusiness.com does and creating a feed of top sites on the internet.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Contributor Reviews: To break up the article volume, a separate section could be created to house the posts by contributors that are wine reviews.
- Drinking Buddies and Fan: This section continues the interactive piece that was the original framework of Corkd.com. 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.
11 May 2010
The sky is falling, the sky is falling! “Woooolllff!” Run, hide, take cover, the apocalypse is now! “The world is drowning in an ocean of cheap wine.” 2008 and 2009 have been very challenging years. Many of you reading this have had to change your spending habits as your income has been diminished or has vanished entirely. The Great Recession, as it will end up being played out in the history books, has changed the landscape of nearly every industry and left its mark on just about every person in the world. How has the wine industry faired? What is the forecast for the future?
About a month ago, I was presented with the opportunity to purchase a local winery. At that moment, I became VERY interested in the future of the wine business, direct to consumer marketing, inventory gluts, pricing discounts, data collection and marketing strategies. While the business opportunity recently fell through, I did learn an incredible amount during my research. After pouring through nearly 50 pages of information from Silicon Valley Bank’s “State of the Wine Industry” report, Vin65 blog posts, VinQuest Consumer Direct report and others, here is my take on the state of the wine industry. This is intended to be a Readers Digest synopsis – it is highly encouraged to read each of the three links above.
Continue reading the forecast at Cork’d. The synopsis includes Pricing, Distribution, Marketing, Consumers, Inventory, and the Forecast
30 Apr 2010
Today’s post is featured on Cork’d. Last week I asked the Twitterers and Facebook ”likers” if they had any questions for a Sommelier. The result was 8 questions and a BONUS question that was sure to stump our guest Sommelier, Yashar Shayan. Yashar is on the Sommelier team for Seastar Restaurants in the Seattle area. Seastar won Wine Spectator Magazine “Best of Award of Excellence” wine list in 2009.
What question would you ask a Sommelier? Do you have a strange food pairing question? Are you dying to know a particular wine fact? Are you curious if being a sommelier is a good way to attract women? Ask it here? – Head over to Cork’d read the article. The last question deals with Pop Rocks, that’s all I’m sayin’.
Cheers and Drink Happy!
27 Apr 2010
- Plan Ahead. Mapping out your journey can save you hassle and headache. Try not to overdo it. Stopping by 5-6 wineries (along with breaks for lunch and driving) can fill an entire day.
- Hydrate and Eat. Nothing will ruin your day quicker than finding yourself tipsy or drunk. A good rule of thumb is to consume eight ounces of water for each tasting you participate in.
- Be Courteous. Events can be very crowded and often times tasting around a small barrel can feel claustrophobic. Enjoy your sample, ask your question, and then politely allow the next person to enjoy.
- Learn. Opportunities to interact with the winemaker and the process are amazing times to learn about the vintage, terroir, vineyard, grape, blending, etc. While it may be cute, refrain from reverting to snickering when someone asks to sniff the “bung hole.” – FYI: The bung hole is the hole at the top of the barrel.
- Buy Wine: While wineries love hosting guests and sharing the process, they’re not in the business of giving you a free buzz. If you like the wine, purchase some. Don’t wait till you see it at the store, buying direct from the winery helps them continue events like the one you’re at.
- Designate a Driver. No brainer. Don’t drink and drive, it’s stupid!
- Download and print this map so you can stay on coarse!
Before you go, check out these tips from WineTastingRoomReviews.com
A guide to visit all 16
Since you’ll probably be getting off work and won’t have a ton of time, start your wine tasting weekend at the newest winery - Overbluff Cellars. While their tasting room will be at 620 S. Washington, they’ll be presenting their Spring Barrel tasting at Hotel Lusso. Wrap up the night by dropping down Washington to Caterina Winery at 906 N. Washington (tell Jen hello).
Head north and celebrate with some bubbly at Mountain Dome, then stop by Greenbluff and visit Townshend Cellars. Take a pic-nic lunch and enjoy the amazing views from Townshend. Your next stop will be at Knipprath Cellars just North of Trent off Fancher. Continue your valley journey by heading back East on Trent, South on Argonne, East on Montgomery for stops at Nodland Cellars and then off to Latah Creek (13030 E Indiana). Finally, as the day draws to a close enjoy your final sip of the day overlooking views of Liberty Lake from Liberty Lake Cellars
For your final day of Spring Barrel tasting, you’ll spend the bulk of the day downtown. If you park somewhere around 1st and Monroe, you can walk to the first three spots. With eight wineries left, you’re going to have to stick to the game plan. Walk to Whitestone Winery (111 S. Cedar) and then make your way back to Barrister. They’re tucked in an allyway at 1213 W. Railroad Ave. (Between 1st and 2nd off Jefferson). After that you can head back past your car and stop at Grande Ronde (be sure to check out their new meeting space). Now is a good time to stop for lunch. Chances are you are near the Davenport or Post Street Ale House. Once you’ve fueled up for the afternoon. Continue the journey East to Barili Cellars and Vintage Hill (both on 2nd Ave). Your last stop IN the downtown core will be at Robert Karl. Rebecca Gunselman is such a wealth of information. Be sure to see their barrel room. Get back in your car and head East on Sprague. Take a right on Scott Ave and look for the signs to Lone Canary (109 S. Scott). If you’ve timed it right you can head back out to the valley and end your day with a majestic view of Spokane at Arbor Crest.
What’s your plan? Is there something that has you excited. Leave a comment, I would love to hear from you.
Enjoy and Drink Happy!
22 Apr 2010
Today’s DrinkNectar post is featured on Cork’d. Head over there and check out the story about Twitter wine tasting events. Cork’d is becoming a fantastic resource for wine news and I’m proud to be a part of it.
Twitter wine tasting events are changing the wine community. I had the honor of co-sponsoring #WAMerlot and saw firsthand the power of the online community. As a wine brand, these events offer little or no cost opportunities for brand impressions, building your customer base and interacting with your existing customers. As a wine consumer, they provide an opportunity learn, engage and connect.
Please take some time to familiarize yourself with the following Taste and Tweet events.
Taste Live – The premier web site for online wine and beer tastings
Community Wine Tastings on Twitter – A Facebook community to compliment the Taste and Tweet events on Twitter
Upcoming Taste and Tweet Events
June ??: Shhhh don’t tell, but a very special #WAWine tasting event will help bloggers get their palate primed for Washington wine before they converge upon Walla Walla. Hosted by NectarWine and several other amazing Washington ambassadors – Details coming on May 7!