WNC Website Review: Pisgah Brewing
(Note: this review was written in May 2011 and was not published because Pisgah is undertaking a redesign. I will link to a post about the redesign process and the new site!)
Anyone familiar with Western North Carolina is probably aware that there are no fewer than 13 regional microbreweries that create a wide variety of delicious beverages. Although Highland might have the highest production and Wedge might have the best location, my favorite bar-none is Pisgah.
When I first moved to Black Mountain, Pisgah was only open to the public on Thursdays and they were still settling on exactly how and where they were going to serve visitors. Flash forward a few years and they are now open 7 days a week and host some of the best concerts in the area. They installed a huge outdoor stage last summer and continually book excellent musicians to go along with their top-notch and ever-changing bevy of organic brews.
So this WNC website review will be for pisgahbrewing.com, the online representation of everything Pisgah stands for. Let’s start at the beginning…
The front page is well-laid out, informal with a nice textured background and a softly-rendered look that seems somewhat dingy but not enough to be off-putting despite what may be urine stains on the logo. A quick look at the source tells us that this is a WordPress theme called “Autumn Forest“. I have a love/hate relationship with WordPress (and other CMS’s for that matter) on one hand they’re great (as evidenced by this site itself) because they make it so easy for people to create and manage websites. But the re-use of templates, especially free templates, makes for a less interesting web. (I think you get the point).
I can appreciate the use of a template especially if it’s an upgrade from an old design , however Pisgah is a well-established regional company with a relaxed and intangibly cool atmosphere coupled with a large following of avid fans. They should have an online presence that reflects who they are and what it’s like to be at the brewery. Autumn Forest doesn’t quite get us there.
The content of the front page focuses on the bands, which is probably one of the main reasons people visit the site in the first place so that’s a plus, but using the default blog format of WordPress leaves something to be desired for this type of information.
When we get off of the main page there is still a lack of cohesiveness and organization that seems at odds with the collected and approachable front I would like to see. We have random text colors, mix and match fonts, a smattering of nav that steps on it’s own toes and a haphazard photo gallery. My guess is that Pisgah went from being a startup to being overly successful and they didn’t pace their online growth with their offline growth. Lets see how well Pisgah is doing with their reviews.
Pisgah is very fortunate that they have a product that people naturally want to share and talk about. Microbrewing is a hot industry and there are plenty of bloggers and traditional journalists who cater to people looking for high quality beer. A quick google search comes up with gobs of gushing reviews for both beer and the venue.
Pisgah doesn’t seem to need to work any harder at getting positive press, they have truckloads to spare.
Again, Pisgah shines here simply because so many people love what they do. They definitely leverage their facebook account especially for updates regarding bands and events.
- Total site redesign
- Restructure nav and content to feature the band calendar
- Automate social integration
- Track reviews and follow up with authors
- Sponsored event list