According to Brian Reich, Media Director for Cone www.coneinc.com the average website is pretty boring. He asked a group of people recently what they thought were the most exciting things happening in the new media space right now. And he got a range of answers: mobile messaging and advertising, games, social networking, video, even podcasting made the list. Nobody mentioned a website they were blown away by or something innovative that an organization, or even a media company, had done with their site. Sure, all the elements they mentioned live on or launch from a website, but they could just as easily be free-standing (and they have become destination elements for most of the people he talked with).

Apparently his little focus group is right on the money. A new study by the Web Marketing Association found that most website development is not keeping pace with consumer expectations. The results were released along with the results of the WMA’s 2006 Web Awards.

To determine the best sites the WMA examined entries from 97 different industries in seven different categories (design, content, technology, interactivity, copywriting, ease of use, and innovation). The award for Beverage Standard of Excellence went to Leo Hillinger www.leo-hillinger.com who count themselves as one of Austria’s top quality wine producers.

Leo Hillinger stands out because it’s not your usual traditional wine website. It’s modern, innovative and intuitive. It’s focused, easy to navigate, and still manages to deliver some very compelling content. 

According to the WMA the best beverage sites are online extensions of the beverage’s brand. They intermingle images, activities and lifestyle themes into a valuable user experience.

Designing focused and engaging sites for the web is not that difficult. Too often we let technology drive our decision making and we forget what its like to be a web user – what information is compelling, how to help someone through the process of completing an activity on our sites, and similar.

So the jury’s out. Modern or traditional? Are wine consumers ready to innovate?

By Mike Carter.


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