A little while ago, I got an email from David from Dave’s Brewery Tours looking for some ideas and suggestions for his site. After a brief chat on the phone, I said, ‘Why not make it a website improvement study?’

The Company

Dave’s Brewery Tours is a Sydney-based day tour company which specializes in taking people on…you guessed it…brewery tours. The craft beer scene is exploding in Australia, and Sydney is one of the hubs of this. Dave looked to leap on the growing trend, and with 88 glowing reviews on TripAdvisor – zero negatives – it looks like he may be onto something.

Brewery tours is something that sounds easier than it is. I love my craft beer and have been on ~10 brewery tours, and it truly is a tough act. Something that on the surface seems interesting can actually be fairly boring unless brought to life by a great guide.

Just check out what’s being said:

‘Extremely knowledgable and fun tour guide, really made an effort to educate and also have fun.’

As always, let’s start with the good before we dive into the ‘could be improved’.

THE GOOD

Dave has an attractive website; there’s no doubt about it. When I look at that homepage and see those beers there, I just want to drink them. It’s a bit of a case of Pavlov’s dog, and it is a great idea for any food or drink tour to showcase their activities in such a way. You want to have people salivating.

The headline is a an effective combination of ‘what we do’ and ‘why us’, something which is very important. The key thing here is that the site is attractive to its target market – people who want something that isn’t corporate but instead feels authentic and made with love.

The tours page is presented neatly with each tour having its very own logo, a nice touch that I rarely see.

The tour descriptions are quite good with a detailed look at the day’s itinerary. There are also professional photos in a gallery (tick!) and an embedded calendar, most of this courtesy of an embed from their account with Rezdy.

Overall, the site gives a clear idea of the value proposition, but there’s just one more thing. Google will start penalizing websites that are not mobile-friendly as of April 21, 2015. Does this site work well on mobile? It does!

THE IMPROVEMENTS

No website is perfect, so let’s dive right in.

Tighten up the hero area. The site appears to have been designed on a massive monitor because I actually have to scroll down to see the headline, let alone the ‘Get Onboard and Book Today’ button. My recommendation (just like with VantigoSF) would be to get rid of that logo or make it a lot smaller.

Get rid of the slider. Sliders don’t work and may actually hurt sales, as they distract and even confuse some users. Stick with the first slide!

Navigation, in my mind, is the biggest potential area of improvement on this site. Every additional step in navigating a website causes drop-off because people get confused, impatient…or just plain distracted while waiting for a page to load. It’s amazing how little time you have before someone’s back checking their notifications on Facebook again.

Please note that because I don’t have the actual data, I’m just taking an educated guess. However, there are a couple of clear improvements which I will share.

Move the calendar down. It comes up too early in the process (people aren’t sold yet – they’ve just seen the headline), so people will scroll past this. It took me many visits to this website to even realise that Dave offered private tours despite the fact that it says it in big black letters. For this reason, I believe the calendar should be at the bottom of the page. Keep the headline, but move the calendar, which is so dominant that it completely distracts you from the headline.

Change the navigation options. When I visited this site for the very first time (before Dave added that headline in above the calendar), I was hugely confused as to whether the tours were public or private. I was still confused after navigating the site a while because like most people, I’m a skimmer and don’t take the time to read all the words on a page.

For that reason, I strongly believe Dave should remove the ‘Breweries’ page (which is really just occupying space) such that the three options are:

  1. Private tours. There’s no dedicated page for this, from my basic checking. There needs to be one which details pricing, vehicles, area coverage, types of groups, etc.

    Putting it there as part of the navigation of the site makes it completely unmissable. By the time someone sees that headline with an option to visit a specific page about it, there’s no way they’d have any doubt about the private tours option.

  2. Public tours. We’d be talking about just relabelling the ‘Tours’ option to ‘Public Tours’.
  3. FAQs (some of which should really be also included in the tour descriptions).

‘About’ page needed. At some point in your website, it’s super important to demonstrate your expertise as a tour and activity operator, your experience, your personality and what sets you apart. People do visit ‘About’ pages consistently, and it’s a great opportunity to win a sale, most especially if you can figure out a way to make your visitor smile.

Tour descriptions. Following the B.E.T.T.E.R model, we can see that Dave ticks 4 of the 6 boxes but is missing testimonials and expertise. At the bottom of each tour description, it’s worth having two testimonials with links back to TripAdvisor so people can verify that these are legit reviews.

Not only that, but we also need to see something that shows WHY Dave is so good.

At this stage I’m still wondering who Dave is. It’s important to change this because people must know who they’re giving their money to.

That would be the big factor holding me back from booking, personally. I prefer to go with companies where I can get a read for their personality, and while the TripAdvisor reviews make this experience look excellent, unfortunately this is only shown on TripAdvisor and is not reflected on the actual site.

That’s it! Those are the biggest improvements.

A couple extra ideas:

  1. Blog. There’s a new blog, but it’s a bit general at the moment. The key to a successful blog is to dedicate a lot of time to it, build community around the content, and to pick an audience and make it relevant to them. If Dave starts blogging about the Sydney beer scene, he may well see big rewards from this.
  2. The mailing list sign-up button could be better. People need to have a reason to sign up. What’s in it for the person who subscribes? That’s why we offer free resources if you sign up for our mailing list.
  3. It’d be good to see a page dedicated to photos.

That’s it! I hope all of you reading get some ideas out of this for your own business and also a good look at how we approach the concept of building a website.


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