Rustle Hill WineryWebsite Optimization JRNL 307 Nanu Iyer Lisa Strait Diana Wright Erin Kressner Kristina Kaganer
Executive Summary Our client is Rustle Hill Winery located in Cobden, Illinois. The winery offers a vine-yard, wine, beer, cabins, food, and an amphitheater. Rustle Hill Winery has a lot to offer tovisitors of the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail. Now in the 21st century, having a well designedwebsite to draw in a business’s target audiences is a part of marketing. Many consumerscheck out companies’ websites before purchase or visiting a place of entertainment. Throughlooking at Rustle Hill Winery’s website and utilizing Google Analytics, we have discoveredthe challenges of the website and we have created viable solutions for website optimization.This proposal will allow Rustle Hill Winery to optimize their website and create more webtraffic. Rustle Hill Winery 8595 US Highway 51 N Cobden, IL 62920 618.893.2700 www.rustlehillwinery.com
Table of ContentsI. Introduction ............................................................................... 1II. Situation Analysis .................................................................... 2III. Strategy and Tactics ............................................................... 6Appendix ...................................................................................... 9References ................................................................................... 15
1 Introduction For this project we will utilize the knowledge we gained through research andtools such as Google Analytics to provide solutions for a local business to optimize theirwebsite. Our client is Rustle Hill Winery, located in Cobden, Illinois, off the ShawneeHills Wine Trail. From meeting with the owner, John Patrick Russell, we discoveredthat his primary objective is to have us observe his website and use statistical tools tosuggest possible changes in order to bring in more visitors and to make the website moreefficient overall. His more specific goals include higher placement on Google searches,better web design, to obtain more sites that link to the Rustle Hill site, as well asbetter reach of the local target audience. After meeting with Russell, we createdour own objectives to help meet his expectations and goals:I. Our first objective is to utilize Google Analytics to evaluate and optimize the Rustle Hill website.II. Our second objective is to assess the website layout in order to give suggestions for better information architecture and usability.III. Our third objective is to create better localization through email list-serves and social media.IV. Our fourth objective is to acquire more business partnerships in order to gain reciprocal linking to the Rustle Hill site.
2 Situation Analysis Aesthetics and Design At first glance, we found the aesthetics of the Rustle Hill Winery’s website to be pleasant but lacking. The logo at the top is welcoming, the color is appropriate for a winery, and the font is fittingly elegant. The rest of the homepage, however, is not as appealing. Aesthetically the website is outdated and resembles websites that were set up a decade ago. Color use is plain and non-existent. It looks very impersonal and business-like rather than serene as a winery website should be. Pictures used on the homepage are cluttered and unclear. The resolution of the pictures is poor and the contrast is far too bright. The design of the website strongly indicates the use of a template. It is very rudimentary and boxy. Like the aesthetics, the website design is outdated compared to current websites. The very basic design is perpetuated by the nominal navigation. By having two static sections, the top banner and side bar, in combination with the moving center of the page amplifies the fact that there is minimal amount of design. The additional mixing of sans serif and serif fonts on the website is also a basic mistake in website design. Information Architecture and Usability Captivating information has creative and logical architecture. Unfortunately, Rustle Hill Winery’s website is primitive in its information architecture. The hours of operation and contact information are out of place in the header of the website. Also, the credit card symbols are awkward under the links on the side bar. During our meeting with Russell, he said that the history of the winery was interesting and important to him, but this information is currently not present on the website. On the homepage, there is no pertinent information about Rustle Hill Winery. The rest of the information provided on the website can be found in the expected, self-explanatory, and exhaustive links. As far as the information given, the website is very user friendly. Even though the design is lacking, the information is extensive and adds to a positive user experience. For a test run of usability, we used the task of finding out information about renting a cabin located on Rustle Hill Winery. From the side bar, we clicked on the link: Rustle Hill Cabins. On the “Rustle Hill Cabins” page, there is information about the dimensions of the cabins, how much it costs to stay there and where they are located in relation to the winery. From that page, we selected the “Check Cabin Availability” link, which brought us to an excel sheet that shows their bookings for 12 months. There is no booking option online, from that page; Rustle Hill Winery asks that a person call for reservations. As shown through this exercise, the website is easy to use.
3Google Analytics Report To further assess the Rustle Hill Winery website, we turned to Google Analytics.Fortunately for us, we learned upon meeting with Russell that he had already installed theapplication on his website, but he had not taken the time to use or interpret the data.The first thing we noticed from the data was that in one month, his site had acquired 1,542visits to his site. Of these, 1,235 were unique visitors. This seemed fairly good for a localbusiness website. It also shows that majority of visitors are coming to the website for thefirst time. It is good for a website to have a lot of unique visitors, however, for Rustle HillWinery, it would also be beneficial to have more updated content and a more pleasingsite to keep visitors coming back for additional visits. We also noticed that the average page view count was 5.86, with an averageof 2 minutes and 57 seconds being spent on the site. Since the website has a set of8 links on the sidebar to information about the winery, the concert schedule, etc.,we can assume that the visitors coming to the site are generally clicking throughseveral of these pages before leaving. This could mean that they are normallyinterested in the winery and are searching for more information before leaving.An average of 2 minutes and 57 seconds could be a good sign for the site, sincemost of the information about the winery and upcoming events can be found inseconds. If the average time spent had been less than 30 seconds, we wouldknow that visitors were getting to the site and leaving immediately. However,visitors do appear to be staying and clicking through a few pages before exitingthe site. Also, the bounce rate for the site is only 3.44%, which is pretty low.Most users are staying and looking around. However, since this number is sosignificantly low, we can assume that most of the visitors coming to the websiteare direct visits, from users who know the winery already. The Traffic Sourcessection seems to back up this theory, reporting that 95% of users are direct traffic,with only 0.65% coming from referring websites and only 4.35% coming fromsearch engines. In addition, the search keywords that are most often getting usersto the site are ones such as, “Rustle Hill Winery” or “Russell Hill Winery”. Thisshows us that users are seeking out the website directly, not stumbling upon thesite such as when searching for wineries in Southern Illinois. Also, we found it very interesting that only 0.65% of visitors are coming fromreferring websites. This is somewhat concerning, since Rustle Hill is part of the ShawneeHills Wine Trails, an organization of 12 of the wineries in the area. The organization is meantto tie the wineries together in an effort to create more business and help consumers find all thatthe area has to offer. Though Rustle Hill links to all of these other wineries as well as 16 Bed andBreakfasts, we found that none of these sites link back to the Rustle Hill website. Reciprocal linkingcould be very beneficial to the site, allowing more visitors to find the site as well as possible bump upRustle Hill’s placement on search engines.
4 Observing the Google Analytics Report was very helpful in evaluating the website and its traffic. The website is doing well in terms of visitors; however, there are still some definite weak areas. Several of these issues can be improved very easily, through search engine optimization and encouraging reciprocal linking. With additional changes, such as a more pleasing layout and better navigation, there is definitely good potential for growth through the implementation of our recommendations. Consumer Analysis Rustle Hill Winery has a lot to offer to the Southern Illinois area. The winery is part of the Shawnee Hills Wine trails, a group of wineries in the Shawnee Hills region. The wine trails are popular tourist attractions, offering wine enthusiasts and vacationers alike the ability to tour the area wineries as a day trip or spread out as a weekend activity, making use of the many local Bed and Breakfast locations. According to Russell, the main target market for the winery is middle-aged couples that come to tour the area wine trails. The primary ages that Rustle Hill targets are in the 35 to 50 age bracket, with some additional Baby Boomers. These couples could be empty-nesters, or just people looking for ways to relax and activities to enjoy in the Southern Illinois region. The winery’s amphitheater also brings in crowds, every weekend scheduling various bands and musicians. The music offered is a variety, but consists mainly of classic rock, blues, bluegrass and folk. Though people of all ages can enjoy the live music, the perfor- mances mainly cater to those above the age of 35. The product offering is also geared towards an older crowd, as wines are usually priced as some- what of a luxury product. Therefore it is only natural that the winery will target older age segments, in which more consumers are settled down with steady jobs. Additionally, these are couples whose children are at least somewhat grown, giving them more free time to spend outside of the home.
5Competitive Analysis The first competitor is StarView Vineyards. Aesthetically their website is pleasingand classy. The colors used fit the theme of the vineyard, and colors are complimentary toeach other. Design of the website is cohesive and creative but also complex. StarView islacking information on their website, such as the history, owners, and features of thevineyards. The information architecture is simplistic. There is only one top bar that listsall the links. Usability is simple and easy to use. Unfortunately, the online shop cannotbe accessed by the main navigation link, and to get to the online shop you have search forthe link within the wine list page. The second competitor is Von Jakob Vineyard. This site did a good job ofcorrelating the building colors with their website, but could have used more colors.Also, the font of the titles on the homepage is a bit hard to read. However, for themost part, the design is uncomplicated and easy to follow. In addition, Von Jakobeffectively presents an extensive amount of information while still maintaining auser-friendly usability. The third competitor is Alto Vineyards. The main block of the websiteis pleasant on the eyes, although, the background color clashes with the rest ofthe page. However, though the colors are awkward, the overall presentation stilllooks professional. Design of the website is appropriately basic. Alto has alsoincluded many innovative features on the website, such as streaming video and apress kit. Like Von Jakob, Alto’s website presents a substantial amount ofinformation in an easily accessible manner. The fourth and final competitor is Blue Sky Vineyard. The look and feelof the website is similar to a travel agent website, such as travelbyjen.com. Thecolors used on the website are pleasant and do not take away from the readability.However, the wine bottle placed on the homepage is ostentatious anduncomfortable. The design is crowded, busy, and hard to follow. Users that accessthe page will be overloaded with information that is disorganized. Information canbe found in multiple areas on the website, which creates confusion. Overall, the website is not user-friendly.SWOTStrength Opportunities• Easy navigability • More up to date• Simplistic • Easier to look at • More functional • More keywordsWeakness Threats• Lacking • StarView• Plain • Von Jacob• Outdated • Blue Sky• Primitive • Alto Vineyards • recession
6 Strategy and Tactics Targeting Approach The most logical targeting style choices for Rustle Hill are geographic and contextual. Geographic targeting will ensure the reach of people in the area of the winery: Southern Illinois. Contextual targeting will help us establish contact with people who are interested in wineries. The combination of these two approaches will be sufficient for reaching prospective customers. Site Layout and Design The website, in general, is in need of a renovation. The best ways to make the site look more up-to-date are to change the navigation and layout. Display Advertising Rustle Hill’s website currently has no display advertising. The site would majorly benefit from implementing this approach. Search Advertising We feel that Rustle Hill will not benefit from using search advertising. This tactic is best for larger companies with more income. Since Rustle Hill Winery operates on a smaller level, investing in search advertising will be a waste of valuable resources. Search Engine Optimization According to the Google Analytics report, most visitors access the site by direct traffic rather than search engines. Increasing search engine optimization will be an opportunity to reach more people. We need to find ways to increase traffic through search engine use. Social Media Solutions Rustle Hill has a Myspace profile but lacks presence on Facebook. These are two of the more prevalent social media tools in the area. While Twitter is gaining much recognition in the rest of the country, it is not a wise choice for a website that does not get updated with great frequency. Myspace and Facebook are adequate tools for Rustle Hill to reach consumers and potential consumers.
7Recommendations One way to improve the site navigation is to implement c-navigation with a largerfont than what is currently used. Easy navigation contributes to a positive user experienceand enhances usability. Contact information and payment options are best located at thebottom of the page. Other similar sites with good layout have a large box in the center ofone page with content within as the homepage. Rustle Hill should use this format with richcolor use rather than white space. The format should be used on other pages forconsistency. On the present homepage, the main box contains multiple pages of pictures.These would be better served in a slideshow or picture gallery. The Rustle Hill website has links to other wineries on the trail that havedisplay advertising. It would be a good idea to have advertising on these sites.Other possible advertising partnerships include: The Palace Pizzeria, The DavieSchool Inn, Keith Cotton Photography, and Pinch Penny Liquors. To increase web traffic through search engines, we recommend addingmore keywords such as “Southern Illinois wineries” and “Southern Illinoisoutdoor venues”. Diversifying the terms will bring in more traffic. Updatingthe site regularly and adding copy to the wine page will increase the likelihoodthat search bots will pick up the website. The site also needs to add meta-tagssince it does not have any at the moment. Reciprocal links will bring in morevisitors from other websites as well as give Rustle Hill a higher placement onGoogle organic searches. Rustle Hill has a profile on Myspace, but it needs changes. Fortunately,the theme is similar to the website, but the opacity is too weak to see the text.A great advantage of Myspace is the number of local bands that use the mediumto share music. Rustle Hill should capitalize on the bands that play at theamphitheater by placing banners on their pages. Since Facebook is becomingincreasingly popular with older audiences, this would be another good way toreach consumers. Though Twitter is gaining recognition across the country, thiswould be a bad tool for Rustle Hill because the site is not updated regularly enoughto be followed.Evaluation of Goals To evaluate whether the implementation of our ideas is successful, we plan to continuetracking Google Analytics to see if there are any significant changes. We expect that the rateof traffic coming from other sites and search engines will increase after our recommendations arefollowed through. Additionally, we will track the click-through rates from organic searches. Wewill also conduct a survey which will be distributed through the mailing list to evaluate how userswho track the site feel about the changes.
8 Sample Website Wente Vineyards, located in Livermore, California, has developed a website that is a great example and template for website design and layout. They have used c-navigation: top menu bar, side menu bar, and bottom menu bar. The search option is place in the top right corner, which is where most people look for the search option on a website. Wente Vineyards’ website usability is simplistic and there is a wealth of information presented for users. Aesthetically the website is pleasing and uses the colors well without it being too much. In all, this website is a good sample for website development. This website’s domain is: www.wentevineyards.com.
10 www.rus tlehillwinery.com Mar 21, 2009 - Apr 20, 2009 Das hboard Comparing to: Site Visits 80 80 40 40 March 23, 2009 March 30, 2009 April 6, 2009 April 13, 2009 April 20, 2009 S ite Us age 1,542 V is its 3.44% B ounce R ate 9,038 P ageviews 00:02:57 Avg. T ime on S ite 5.86 P ages /V is it 74.90% % New V is its V is itors Overview Map Overlay world Visitors 70 70 35 35 March 23, 2009 March 30, 2009 April 6, 2009 April 13, 2009 April 20, 2009 V is itors 1,235 Visits 1 1,533 T raffic S ources Overview C ontent Overview Direct T raffic P ages P ageviews % P ageviews 1,465.00 (95.01%) S earch E ngines /Home%20Page.htm 2,115 23.40% 67.00 (4.35%) R eferring S ites /Contents.htm 1,670 18.48% 10.00 (0.65%) /Rustle%20Hill_header.htm 1,575 17.43% /Concert%20Schedule.htm 954 10.56% /Rustle%20Hill%20Cabins.htm 739 8.18%
11www.rus tlehillwinery.com Mar 21, 2009 - Apr 20, 2009V is itors Overview Comparing to: Site Visitors70 7035 35 March 23, 2009 March 30, 2009 April 6, 2009 April 13, 2009 April 20, 20091,235 people vis ited this s ite 1,542 V is its 1,235 Abs olute Unique V is itors 9,038 P ageviews 5.86 Average P ageviews 00:02:57 T ime on S ite 3.44% B ounce R ate 74.90% New V is itsT echnical P rofileB rows er V is its % vis its C onnection S peed V is its % vis itsInternet Explorer 1,014 65.76% Cable 475 30.80%Firefox 394 25.55% Unknown 403 26.13%Safari 109 7.07% DSL 398 25.81%Chrome 16 1.04% T1 181 11.74%Opera 4 0.26% Dialup 76 4.93%
12www.rus tlehillwinery.com Mar 21, 2009 - Apr 20, 2009T raffic S ources Overview Comparing to: Site Visits80 8040 40 March 23, 2009 March 30, 2009 April 6, 2009 April 13, 2009 April 20, 2009All traffic s ources s ent a total of 1,542 vis its 95.01% Direct T raffic Direct T raffic 1,465.00 (95.01%) S earch E ngines 0.65% R eferring S ites 67.00 (4.35%) R eferring S ites 10.00 (0.65%) 4.35% S earch E nginesT op T raffic S ourcesS ources V is its % vis its K eywords V is its % vis its(direct) ((none)) 1,465 95.01% russell hill winery il 23 34.33%google (organic) 54 3.50% rustle hill winery 10 14.93%msn (organic) 5 0.32% russell hill winery 7 10.45%yahoo (organic) 4 0.26% breeden, bradley & maze 4 5.97%aol (organic) 3 0.19% russell hill winery illinois 2 2.99%
13www.rus tlehillwinery.com Mar 21, 2009 - Apr 20, 2009Map Overlay Comparing to: Site Visits 1 1,5331,542 vis its came from 9 countries /territories Site UsageV is its P ages /V is it Avg. T ime on S ite % New V is its B ounce R ate1,542 5.86 00:02:57 74.97% 3.44%% of Site Total: Site Avg: Site Avg: Site Avg: Site Avg: 100.00% 5.86 (0.00%) 00:02:57 (0.00%) 74.90% (0.09%) 3.44% (0.00%) Avg. Time onCountry/Territory V is its Pages/Visit % New Visits Bounce Rate SiteUnited States 1,533 5.87 00:02:58 74.89% 3.33%Brazil 2 3.50 00:00:46 100.00% 0.00%Japan 1 5.00 00:00:30 0.00% 0.00%Canada 1 6.00 00:00:34 100.00% 0.00%Czech Republic 1 3.00 00:00:00 100.00% 0.00%Greece 1 1.00 00:00:00 100.00% 100.00%Italy 1 1.00 00:00:00 100.00% 100.00%Austria 1 3.00 00:00:00 100.00% 0.00%U.S. Virgin Islands 1 6.00 00:01:23 100.00% 0.00% 1 - 9 of 9 4 Google Analytics
14 www.rus tlehillwinery.com Mar 21, 2009 - Apr 20, 2009 C ontent Overview Comparing to: Site Pageviews 500 500 250 250 March 23, 2009 March 30, 2009 April 6, 2009 April 13, 2009 April 20, 2009 P ages on this s ite were viewed a total of 9,038 times 9,038 P ageviews 6,952 Unique V iews 3.44% B ounce R ate T op C ontent P ages P ageviews % P ageviews /Home%20Page.htm 2,115 23.40% /Contents.htm 1,670 18.48% /Rustle%20Hill_header.htm 1,575 17.43% /Concert%20Schedule.htm 954 10.56% /Rustle%20Hill%20Cabins.htm 739 8.18%