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The Unusable and Superficial World of Beer and Alcohol Websites

I was pretty excited when I came up with the idea of examining and showcasing some of the most famous beer and alcohol-related websites from a number of countries around the world. After all, who doesn’t like the odd drink now and again? (Well, besides me — I can’t stand alcohol in any form.) Surely this would make for an interesting article that would elicit quite a few comments. Well, if that’s the result, it wouldn’t be for the reasons I suspected when beginning to research this piece.

Instead, I’ve concluded — due to problems related to typography, accessibility, and usability — that the apparent “beauty” present on many of the websites related to this industry is merely “skin deep”. To put it quite bluntly, the designers and developers people responsible for decision-making in the beer and alcohol website industry should be ashamed of themselves for creating such horrendous user experiences. My analysis here will attempt to inspire modern-day designers and developers to avoid imitating the superficial design and development techniques employed by these web professionals.

But I won’t just focus on the negative. There are some positive things to be mentioned, and a showcase of some of the nice sites is certainly in order, so that will round out the article (and might even fool a few of the “I’m here for the pictures” visitors).

The Painful “Age Verification” Screen Link

Something that is common to nearly every site I found when researching this article is that all the sites require that you confirm your date of birth before you can view the content of the site. Obviously, alcohol is a very serious issue, and reasonable precautions must be taken to ensure that the owners of these sites are not encouraging underage drinking. So, typically, a site will have a “date picker” form where the website visitor can enter their date of birth (month, day, and year), as shown below on the Corona341 website:


Since it is impossible for such a welcome screen to actually ensure the user is really old enough to drink, then why not simplify this process? You’ll notice that the welcome screen on the Corona website also asks the user to enter their country of residence, which further complicates the process of entering the site. But don’t get me wrong; I am not suggesting that alcohol-related websites remove the age verification screen. In most countries, they’re probably required by law to do this. I’m suggesting that they make this process easier for the user.

First of all, if you want to know what part of the world your website visitors are from, use Google Analytics (or similar technology), or track IP addresses. Don’t waste your visitors’ time with a question that they could lie about anyhow. I certainly hope the owners of these sites are not depending on those statistics for any serious demographic analysis.

But more importantly, since the user can enter any date of birth they want, and the site will never permanently block a person that enters a non-qualifying date, why not just have a simple screen that clearly asks if they are of drinking age in their country of residence? It was surprising how many sites did not have a simple means of entering. Below are two of the few examples that I found that had a user-friendly intro page:

Christiania Vodka3



At the very least, if you must ask for their age, why not just ask for the year? It’s true that the person’s exact day of birth could determine whether or not they’re qualified to enter, but let’s be honest here — this screen isn’t stopping anyone. And you can’t drink a website. So simplify the process and get on with what you really want people to see.

During my research, I wondered if there were any laws in Canada or the United States that required the use of such a splash page. I contacted Labatt Breweries of Canada5 and I was informed that there was no law requiring the age verification screen, but that it was a company policy to have the user enter their date of birth. Okay, that’s fair enough. But I wondered why they would opt for the complicated version over the simple examples shown above. The woman I spoke to reemphasized that it was a company policy to have the user enter their exact date of birth. She suspects it’s the same for most other companies as well. I had also contacted Anheuser-Busch6 but hadn’t heard back from them.

Maybe the site owners are ensuring that they don’t risk any legal trouble (regardless of laws), thinking that the more difficult the process, the better it would look in their behalf. But considering the age form isn’t really stopping anyone from entering, it’s more likely that these sites suffer from poor usability management and tend to fall back on bad habits that were carried over from the old days of the web design industry. Also, some sites did have a simplified version of the age verification screen (as shown above), so there really is no reason for the overly complex version of that screen. If anyone involved in the alcohol website industry would like to provide some feedback on this matter in the comments, I will make any corrections as needed.

Unnecessary Complications Link

Some age verification screens are complicated for no good reason, and certainly for no legal reason. Take for example the Budweiser7 landing page:


After selecting the month and day you were born, the years are shown in 10-year blocks, with the start of each decade representing each block. In order to select the specific year you were born, you have to hover over the appropriate block, then slowly move your cursor until the year you want appears. What a usability nightmare!

The Samuel Adams9 website goes beyond ridiculous in who it allows to enter. Initially the user is presented with this screen:


Then, after you’ve entered a date of birth, you’re informed that you’ve “signed in” (which is not technically correct and can potentially be confusing) and now you have to reenter your year of birth:


It’s safe to say the Samuel Adams’ website architects have turned the bad intro page into an art form.

Yet another example that has two different age verification screens is the Rémy Martin12 website. When you first visit, you’re presented with this screen, unnecessarily created with a barely usable Flash-based date picker:


Then you’re redirected to a completely different domain, and once again are asked to enter your age:


The site colors and branding are different from the first screen, leaving the user wondering if they’re even still on the correct website. I really don’t know what they’re thinking with this dual age verification system, but it’s obvious that the site architects have little knowledge of modern website usability best practices.

Below is another overly-complex age verification screen, on the ZIMA website. Try to find your year of birth in this unnecessary mess:

Another problem with the age verification screen was that some sites required you to manually enter a 4-digit year, while others allowed you to choose a year from a <select> box. The Busch Beer15 site is one of a few sites that expects the user to enter the year in just two digits:


After customarily entering a year in 4-digit text format, or from a familiar select box, this 2-digit option comes as a bit of a surprise. So naturally, when I tried to enter the site, I typed a 4-digit year beginning with 19 — and the “19” part stuck. I got this error message:


What if I was born in 1919? Well, after some experimentation, I discovered that anyone born before 1930 is considered “too old to drink” (which is fine), but despite initially receiving an error message, if you continue to attempt to enter a year prior to 1930, the site instead redirects the user to Worlds of Discovery18, “a place of enjoyment for people of all ages.” All usability problems aside, that was pretty funny.

You may have also noticed the 1999-style “site requirements” notification in the above screenshots. Another strong reminder that the sites we’re dealing with here seem to be managed and developed by people who have not done a whole lot of research on modern design and usability trends.

Overuse of Superficial Elements Link

What makes a website “cool” today, is not the same as what made a website “cool” 8 years ago. In fact, if you didn’t know any better, after visiting 10 or more alcohol-related websites, you’d think it was 2001. It was astounding how many of these sites employed self-indulgent, superficial techniques that make the entire experience quite a drag.

While perusing some of these sites, I often had no idea what was clickable, when an animation was going to finish, or where a particular sound was coming from.

Too Much Flash Animation Link

Most modern developers understand that creating an entire website in Flash is rarely a good choice. Granted, in some industries Flash is useful for full sites. Kids websites19 and games sites are two good examples. But for the most part, the use of Flash in the alcohol web design niche is often unnecessary and seems to be used in a trendy way because of the false assumption that a complex Flash site equates to a “classy, upscale” experience. As mentioned, around 2001, that may have been the impression that users got, but that’s not the case anymore.

The Seagram’s Gin website is one of many examples of a full Flash website, an extremely common practice in this industry.

Why Not JavaScript-Based Animation? Link

I’m not saying that these sites should never use Flash. Some of the sites I visited had some complex user interactivity that would certainly require the use of Flash-based technology. But in many cases, animation and effects could be implemented through good semantic code manipulated unobtrusively with jQuery or another JavaScript library.

For example, the Finlandia vodka20 website has a mostly-Flash interface with promo boxes that could have been done with plain HTML and JavaScript:


Another site that overused Flash is the Three Olives Vodka22 website. Take a look at the screen capture below:


The content section displays the different vodka flavors, with a Flash-animated rollover effect for each bottle — which is understandable since the animation is somewhat complex. But the entire site is created in Flash, including the very static logo, top navigation, and text-based footer. All of those sections could have been done using conventional coding methods, making the site cleaner and more usable. In fact, many of the animations on this site could have been accomplished with JavaScript, making the experience much more up-to-date, intuitive, and flexible for future development.

The BACARDI24 website is another one done completely in Flash, including the header, footer and dropdown menus — all of which could have been done with HTML and JavaScript without losing anything aesthetically:


Another 8-year-old web design trend used on many commercial alcohol sites is the “skip intro” button, which is obviously a symptom of what was discussed in the previous section — overuse of Flash. Below are a few examples of sites with Flash intros that have the option to be “skipped”.

ZYR Vodka26


Bombay Sapphire® Gin28


Mount Gay Rum5430


Even worse, after verifying your age, the Jameson Irish Whiskey32 website loads up a Flash intro of a super-fancy animated 3-D cube that does not even have a “skip” button:


Auto-Playing Sounds and Video Link

When Flash is overused, it’s inevitable that embedded sounds will be also. Sound should generally only be triggered by the user, and should always have an obvious method for toggling or reducing the volume. Many of the sites I investigated failed miserably in this regard.

After passing the age verification screen, the Corona341 website plays an intro-style photo animation with music playing. As seen in the screen shot below, there is no way to skip this animation and no way to turn off the sound.


The Bud Light36 website doesn’t even wait for you to pass the age verification screen to trigger automatic “ambient sounds” (people talking in the background, like at a party). The sounds are mildly annoying — but at least there’s an easy-to-locate on/off switch in the top right corner of the screen.


The Blue Moon Brewing Company38 website is a very beautifully-designed but nightmarishly-unusable site. It’s done with a book-style look that has nice animation, but is really out of place on the modern web. After verifying your age, a lightbox-style overlay initiates to advertise something about New Year’s Eve. This overlay is accompanied by the sounds of Auld Lange Syne39 — with no apparent method to disable the song.


The Michelob41 website plays a video during the age verification, and again when the site loads. In both cases this is done without initialization from the user. In this case, they weren’t annoying and obtrusive, and they were very brief — so I’ll give them credit for a much nicer and more usable experience than some of those we’ve already considered.


A better option would have been to have a large play button to indicate the video is there, and allow the users to initiate it at their leisure.

The SKYY Vodka43 website plays a series of videos after you verify your age. At first glance, there is no apparent way to disable the videos or the sound. But when you roll your mouse over the video area, a video toolbar appears allowing you to pause the video and/or turn off the sound. Better than some of the other options we’ve considered, but considerably less than user-friendly.


And now for the Russian Standard Vodka45 website. What can I say about this horrendous, irritating, and unusable monster of a site? It’s a full Flash, fluid-width site that embeds a giant video as the background in the Flash movie, and, as is common, does not have an obvious way to disable this annoying video that shocks you to your very core — until you realize that clicking anywhere on the background of the movie will toggle the pause/play option. A true usability nightmare, and one of the most self-indulgent techniques you’ll ever see on a web page.


They weren’t the only ones to implement this bad practice, however. The Hennessy47 website similarly has a giant auto-playing background video with no apparent method to pause or stop it. The sound can be muted, but the background plays a series of videos with no end in sight.


There were so many more examples of sites that embedded sounds and videos. It’s amazing how the sites in this niche hold so much in common in the area of bad practices. The designers and site architects seem to live in their own little world of “trendy” web design and have, for the most part, failed to break out of many old-school techniques from which most modern designers have moved on.

“Mystery Meat” Navigation (in 2009?) Link

Until I started researching this article, I thought mystery meat navigation49 was an old-school practice that was overcome by a modern-day movement of user-centric design — but that is obviously not the case in the commercial alcohol website industry.

Because of the many superficialities, the overuse of Flash, and other self-indulgent design tendencies, many of the sites in this industry suffer from this “mystery meat” or “Where’s Waldo?” phenomenon — that is, pages where the user has no idea what is clickable and what is not. Take a look at some of the screen shots below and see if you can clearly identify the clickable elements. Below each screen shot I’ve included some explanations to decrypt the “mystery” elements so you can see how unusable some of these sites really are.

San Miguel Beer

On the San Miguel Beer website (above), in addition to the navigation bar links, nearly all the graphical elements in the content area are clickable, including the car, the truck, all the doors on the building, and signs. Who knew?

Widmer Brothers Brewery50


On the Widmer Brothers Brewery site (above), there is a “mystery” link associated with each of the following elements: Both Widmer brothers, the big glass of beer, the lemon slice, the bottle cap, the keychain, the laptop, and the dart.

Malibu Rum52


After enduring through the auto-playing “island” sounds, repeating animations, and the obtrusive “drink mixer” overlay advertisement, the Malibu Rum site visitor is presented with a semi-underwater island scene with “mystery meat” navigation as the focal point of the page. The five primary page elements (the mirror ball, the binoculars, the coconut, the bottle, and the drink mixer), however, are not the only clickable items; there’s also the satellite dish in the background.

Up to this point, all the examples of “mystery meat” navigation display a graphic or text hint, on mouse over, that explains what the clickable item points to. The next example doesn’t even go that far.

Mount Gay Rum5430


The Mount Gay Rum site (above) is all Flash, and the main content area is a book with pages that turn when clicked. First of all, finding the exact spot to click on the corner of each page is not the smoothest experience. But there are other clickable elements outside of the book object; you can click the liquor bottle (the barely-visible object in the top left, not the one in the content area), the glass of rum with ice, and the red hat (top right). In my experience, after turning the pages and clicking the mystery items multiple times, I still don’t know what those extra mystery links are for, and why they’re not labelled.

Outdated Design and Typography Link

From my research, many of the sites that do not suffer greatly from the problems discussed above, and are actually fairly usable, incorporated outdated trends and layouts. A few examples are shown below.

The Miller Lite56 website is too small for modern screen resolutions.


The Martell Cognac58 website has tiny font sizes and other small elements.


Beefeater Gin60 has small navigation text and even smaller drop-down menu text.


The 4Copas Tequila62 site is somewhat old-looking, uses small typography all over its pages, and has an outdated vertical navigation bar.


The Jack Daniel’s64 site is too dark, and many sections are almost unreadable because of the small typography.


Showcase of the Best Sites Link

As promised, although this article did come down quite hard on the designers and developers of many alcohol-related websites, there are many sites that are well-designed, usable, and do not overuse Flash animation and other obtrusive techniques.

Many of the sites I’ve already considered are actually nicely designed (usability issues aside). Therefore, this last section is not necessarily showcasing sites that are “pretty”, but instead taking all factors into consideration to compile a list of the highest quality sites, in line with modern web design and development standards and best practices.

Some of these sites have a few of the weaknesses I’ve discussed, but generally are more intuitive, non-obtrusive, and easier to navigate.



Coors Light68


Sleeman Breweries Ltd.70


Molson Canadian72


Deschutes Brewery74





Mike’s Hard Lemonade Co.78


Aviation Gin80


Silver Oak Cellars82


Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery84


Rombauer Vineyards86


el Jimador Tequila88


Jose Cuervo90


1800® Tequila92


Bushmills Irish Whiskey94


Tullamore Dew Irish Whiskey96


Admiral Nelson’s Rum98


Captain Morgan Rum100


Conclusion Link

In no way does this article mean to imply that the designers of these sites are not talented. In fact, most of the designs presented here are far beyond anything that I could personally accomplish. But, as web developers have learned in recent years, beauty in web design does not guarantee success — and in many cases, a quest for a more visually appealing experience can often weaken the more important aspects of a website.

As shown by the final showcase in this article, not every site in the beer and alcohol website niche is unusable or superficial. But the number of poorly-executed design and navigational techniques and the overwhelming amount of self-indulgent elements I’ve discussed here make it clear that this industry has some important ground to make up in usability, accessibility, and best practices.

If you’re reading this and thinking that I’ve chosen a few specific examples to serve as a basis for an overblown opinion, you should know that there were dozens of other examples of poor usability and downright annoyances that I didn’t include. I also did not discuss special needs users, graceful degradation, semantic markup, and table-based layouts — any of which could have provided further evidence that these sites, for the most part, are downright awful.

Maybe there are underlying reasons for many of the decisions made in these designs. Those reasons could be due to business politics, legal issues, or even a failure to encourage forward thinking — so I will acknowledge that some of these criticisms could be, upon further analysis, overly harsh.

Or maybe these problems have something to do with the possibility that these designers are exposed to a lot of free alcohol…? Hmm…

Footnotes Link

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Louis Lazaris is a freelance web developer and author based in Toronto, Canada. He blogs about front-end code on Impressive Webs and curates Web Tools Weekly, a weekly newsletter for front-end developers.

  1. 1

    Great article. There’s nothing worse than a website that doesn’t work properly. Most of these are from huge companies too! The Sony website, though not an alcohol site, is also a usability nightmare.

    One thing I’ve never understood is the age. Since I was about 6 years old I lied about my age when using the internet to access pages that I wouldn’t usually be able to view, it’s just common sense. There’s absolutely no consequence if you lie. Why put alcohol adverts on during the day if you can’t view the pages online?

  2. 2

    Great article!

  3. 3

    looks like an interesting read..and WOW is that budweiser date thing annoying!

    • 4

      The slightly-over-the-top Budweiser date picker is in Javascript and the rest of the site uses Flash. Interesting.

  4. 5

    Nice review and list of beer brands, you have seem to missed out on Heineken, one of the worlds largest beer brewery. They have a corporate website at and special sites like where you can design your own bottle of beer.

  5. 6

    good article – i recently worked for one of those companies out there and i can tell that all the issues you mentioned here, i experienced during that time as well.

    the main problem is that the designs are often part of campaigns created and build by those huge global advertising agencies – alcohol is usually big business and so are the agencies hired – big.

    these agencies are far away from being web professionals, they usually follow a very offline approach when creating websites – actually the CDs responsible for print outlets are the same who are doing those web designs. that means that you find great professional artwork and poor usability, total ignorance when it comes to seo and all of this lousy flash/skip structures and also browser compatibility is a big issue.

    the problem of a web designer being involved in such a project is that you have no influence at all because you’re coming in too late. from my experince you’re coming in when all creative work is done, the month-long process of approval has finally come to an end and people are just happy that the multi-million-dollar client finally is satisfied with what he’s seen so far.

    that’s why at this point you have no other chance than doing a quick PSD to HTML conversion and people will be happy with that.

    so as far as the big agencies don’t include web professionals into their creative processes there will be no change.

    after all you still have this huge ego thing – a CD working on clients of this size will never listen to a freelance web designer when it comes to suggestions related to usability, seo, social stuff , etc. – he will not even change the color of his links …

    • 7

      And it ain’t just alcohol clients!

    • 8

      Awesome to see the reply from those in the know. Thanks dude!

    • 9

      That comment sums it up perfectly! I’m an in-house web designer in the fashion industry, it’s the same story here!

    • 10

      Excellent perspective. I agree, with great size of project comes a horrible red-tape. It would take years before web designers are included in the whole decision making chain.

    • 11

      Why would these brands need seo?

      Sure the usability of some of these sites are a little poor but that’s what you gamble when you push the boundaries of web design in new directions.

      • 12

        @jimmyink, I’m not so sure that some of these sights are “pushing the boundaries of web design in new directions”. I recently had a chance to design a website for a local beer distributor. I looked at a lot of the sights that Louis commented on and found that not only were they confusing but very poorly thought out in regards to design. I understand that usability is more of a concern in some industries over others but when a user who has no special needs can’t use a sight, that site becomes huge waste of time and money. As Louis put it, it is self indulgent, and in my own words it is ignorant.

  6. 13

    I’ve recently ran into an alcohol website that I found both usable and attractive. What the really amazing was that the site was flash and I found it in google. After disabling javascript I realised the trick :)
    I think that website is the proof that not all alcohol webistes are “unusable”.. :)
    The site is . The english is sometimes quite poor though.

  7. 14

    Thanks for the detailed review.

  8. 15

    Great article.
    I have 2 remarks:
    IP tracking as suggested: as a user, I HATE IT. Happened to me a few times to experience wrong recognition of where I came from, or sometimes you log in from another country and messes things up with inappropriate language.
    Small typo: I thought that, as screen sizes increased, you could make (a bit) smaller elements to get more white space around (which I personnaly like).

    But I’m curious to have other people’s remarks on that.

    • 16

      That’s a different issue. Because the IP gives the user’s location sometimes it is not necessary to have the user enter in their location. If you want to see where your visitors are from just pull it from your analytics. It’ll be more accurate and give the user a better experience by removing an unnecessary step.

      What you’re talking about is forcing location-based language. I agree that it’s a terrible idea, but a different problem.

  9. 17

    I just knew Guinness would be in the list of good examples! Nice article, if not pureply from the point that you found so many bad examples!

  10. 18

    Does entering your date of birth really matter that much?

    If I was a kid I’m sure I could work out that I need to be over the legal age see the rest of the site.

    • 19

      yes, it does. and if the smashingmag demographic were actual professionals, they’d likely know that there are serious legal requirements for alcohol advertising.

  11. 20

    How would you use Google Analytics to know where an IP was from? I’ve never seen this as an option.

    • 21

      Google Analytics tells you what countries your visitors are from, not their IPs.

      • 22

        I don’t think the country question is purely for analytics purposes. It’s because of different legal ages in different countries. perhaps rather than getting rid of the country Q, they could have just preselected the appropriate selection based on some ip2geo, and then allow the user to change it after if needed.(that is, only if it’s really company policy to have it there anyways)

        while there was a lot of good info in this article i found it an annoying read because of the overall tone of the author. And rather than attacking the poor web guy that got handed the mess perhaps, Louis, you could have done some research into the relationships between big corporations, the agencies they hire for their multi-million dollar campaigns and then the poor saps who get hired by the agency to convert the already finalized non-negotiable designs into the final web websites.

      • 23

        Exactly. The article made it sound like you could use GA to pull the country in real time.

        • 24

          No, the article made it sound like you could use GA to check country origination for tracking and analysis purposes.

  12. 25

    Jason Williams

    December 7, 2009 4:32 am

    Really enjoyed reading this article, thanks. The company I work for has openings into the drinks industry so I have seen some of these horrible/dated UX issues already. Refreshing to see it all explained nicely in an article though.

    If we get a chance to do some new work for one or more of them, then we can hope to change this! Small steps…

  13. 26

    I found a german website which i think is also very nice. It is a company for quickies.
    You can watch the site here:

  14. 27

    Great article! I love the quote “seems to be used in a trendy way because of the false assumption that a complex Flash site equates to a “classy, upscale” experience”. It’s so true. I once worked for a blue chip organisation and it’s funny how people with no experience or knowledge of web usability ignore any advice and drive forward the production of 100% flash sites based on that mantra. They even produced a complete replica of their site in HTML/CSS for ‘accessibility/usability’ purposes afterwards! Ha!

  15. 28

    Andrea Austoni

    December 7, 2009 4:59 am

    Thank you louis. This article was very informative and well written.

  16. 29

    Great Article, greater read.
    You are absolutely right mate.

  17. 30

    A nice round up. I imagine the use of the country field is to check the age of the user against the legal drinking age of the country they’re in – 18 in the UK, 21 in the US for example. It’s a lot of effort to put every country in there though!

  18. 31

    The Beer/Alcohol sites are NOT news-portals, or similar mass usage websites. People that come to Alcohol site are HIGHLY MOTIVATED to be there, and as such, a lot of the usability principles just do not need to apply. As a contrast to that, when user stumbles upon news site, via Google for example, then you need to use absolutely all knowledge to hold that user by making design easy to use, intuitive, etc.

    Users coming to Alcohol sites came there by their free will by typing in the domain name and knowing that they will spend their next 10 minutes there. You do not need to make such site super usable, super intuitive. You can give them intro that can be skipped, why not? Navigation can be “mystery”, let them play with the site for a while.

    Borderline conclusion: we, the designers, need not apply our entire knowledge of usability on every site. Sites vary in user’s will-to-be-there and as such we can vary our designs to fit the need.

    • 32

      well now, I’m just a regular user; I’d like to think my opinion on the entire branding (I include the usability of the website in this) was important to the company. I may go to an alcohol website voluntarily, my opinion of that brand changes when I realise it’s another horrible flash website. Most notably I was disappointed by the Bombay Saphire website when looking for their ingredients for the gin. A nightmare!
      I agree there’s more scope for play as it’s a free-time type site, but these websites should still feel intuitive and interactive, but generally, they don’t. Why just discount the users who are there to look for information & not play around?

      The Babycham website is also disappointing, but there’s a nice lot of info about the history of the drink. They could be so much better, it’s very annoying!

      • 33

        There is a difference between “horrible Flash site” and a well crafted Flash site that just lacks some parts of usability that are needed on high-volume news sites for example.

        All I am saying is that Alcohol websites and their usability should not be even compared, nor it is necessary to compare them, with news site like usability.

    • 34
    • 35

      I agree that a one-for-one comparison with news sites may not be apt, but if visitors can’t locate information, get lost, have audio they didn’t request or can’t turn off… I think none of these are good, no matter what kind of site.

    • 36

      Jewen Soyterkijns

      December 7, 2009 12:44 pm

      The author should stick to webdevelopment and freelance writing (well focus on the development…). Flash is a very good choice for nearly all those websites.

      – The range of users with flash is incredibly high.
      – Even the most daring design will render just fine in IE6.
      – Manager meetings at alcohol companies are fueled by cocaine and flash is the only way for a designer to meet their expectations and compete in the niche.

      These are not information presentation sites. These are interactive commercials. Compare these to the corporate sites that accompany these sites. You think a distributor of these beverages uses the same sites to get his information and prices?

      Click on the ! in the yahoo logo on Mystery navigation or (not so) subtle branding?

      You give a mute button on the remote control, just like everyone can control their own PC speaker sounds. You don’t start a commercial with: “Hey, if you don’t want to listen to this commercial, put your fingers in your ears: like this!”.

      “I am really sorry client. But my understanding of flashy, interactive, classy and dynamic websites is not adobe flash. I feel personally that is overused and often unneccessary. Why don’t you stop visiting us, a flash design bureau, and go somewhere else, where they can make javascript rotating menu’s and Silverlight that works in IE6”.

      “Ow and here are the numbers from the marketing department. It seems like our target online audiance is: over 21 years old. Hold the presses! We can use this valuable information to steer our online campaigns to great heights.”

    • 37

      I agree on that!

    • 38

      No mate, I think you’re wrong there. If I want to play around on a website, I’m not going to get far if I can’t use it.

      Molson Canadian website as an example: I couldn’t even enter because I couldn’t be arsed working out a valid Canadian postcode to be allowed to enter.

    • 39

      “Users coming to Alcohol sites came there by their free will by typing in the domain name and knowing that they will spend their next 10 minutes there.”

      People don’t go to a website on purpose without a purpose.

      The only people who go to a site to spend 10 minutes exploring all the cool Flash features of a website are other designers, and competitors interested in seeing what others in their industry are doing.

      The rest of the world doesn’t. They go there for a reason. They don’t want to “play with the site for a while”. They want what they originally came for.

      Web users aren’t passively cruising by. You don’t need to attract them with flashy gimmicks the same way you do in traditional advertising. They have come to your site on purpose, they want something from you! Are you going to give it to them? Or are you going to ignore them and hope like hell they want to listen to what you have to say instead?

      @Jewen Soyterkijns
      “These are not information presentation sites. These are interactive commercials.”

      Commercials need to distract a customer’s attention away from whatever they were doing. In print or TV, you use images, sounds and fancy motion to achieve this.

      If someone is visiting your website, you already have their 100% undivided attention! You don’t need to distract them from whatever they’re doing, because that thing is probably what you want them to do anyway! Anything you put in their way is just an obstacle.

      I can’t believe this sort of thinking still exists in the industry in 2009.

    • 41

      Actually, as someone who does use alcohol websites, I’m highly motivated but often disgusted with them. I don’t give a damn about your lifestyle pushing, I want to know ABV, main ingredients, calories, and what notes YOU think your product has. Sometimes, in the case of specialy liquors, I want cocktail suggestions, but usually I want basic info which is often hidden and hard to get to.

    • 42

      Thats just such typical BS. Brands need to wake up to the fact that they are just another brand. They’ve spent squillions to engage with consumers and then they blow it with a bad online experience. Crazy, daft…why?

      Consumers care way less about them (the brand) than the brand owners marketing team or agency of the day. It’s about time brands and agencies wake up to usability – otherwise they’re just chasing consumers away.

      We’re all maturing as web users, and as users we want better experiences.

  19. 43

    Nice Article. I’d say the age verification feature is only put in place due to a request from an alcohol regulation body. I’ve never made any beer/alcohol products website but have dealth with regualtors before. Your website can easily get ripped apart. It’s an external factor controlled by people who don’t know about usuability.

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