Case Study |Removing the rose colored glasses. An objective view.

Its not a case of beer, but a UX case study

I'm a Craft Beer Lover and I live in San Diego. I am surrounded by some of the best brewing companies in the nation or perhaps even the world. So what better way to spend time as a UX Designer by making a case study I knew the Stone Brewing Co. site would be the perfect candidate. To be honest when it comes to this company, I'm very impartial to the taste of their beer. I am not their No. 1 super fan nor am I their worst critic. The one thing that separates them from other breweries is their ubiquitous nature. I can order Stone in most places that never carry craft beer.

So lets begin! The deconstruction! Lets disect and critique! BTW, my main focus will be branding. And since it would be a gruesome challenge to breakdown every single thing about their website I will only focus on three things that I think will help boost their image and user experience. Lets focus on the information architecture or sitemap, the navigation, and layout.

Problem #1 Splash Page / Intro

It's kind of standard for alcoholic beverage companies to have a an intro page. Asking if you are old enough to drink. In their case, It comes on really strong as a brand. I will try to make my case as simple as possible by writing notes on top of their designs and I will offer my solution as a toggle switch.

The Problem

Stone’s splash page is heavy on graphics. It’s not optimize loads really slow if you have slow internet. And there are ten bottles of beer of which I’m unsure why they are so important when they have released 36 beers. There is also a weird animation of the bottom shaking. I think they spent to much time and effort on this page when the user only has to enter age to get into the site.


The Solution

My solution is simple. Take everything out. Leave the logo and just keep it clean. It will load quickly and it will take the user less time to get to where they want. The home page!

Site Map and Navigation

I hope as you review this that you will agree with me that the Sitemap is poorly planned. Just like this website, you really don't want to go anywhere because it's crammed with links, buttons and drop downs. I have made some notes for each primary age. Please click on the drop downs to see it. My solution is right below my notes.

The Problem

My solution is simple. Take everything out. Leave the logo and just keep it clean. It will load quickly and it will take the user less time to get to where they want. The home page!

  1. In the beer menu you will see some unecessary links. Like the Stone Beer Finder which is next to a find link. Please see the proposed solution below.
  2. Find Link / Page will go completely. I will be consolidating this in to the locations and moving distributing in the about page.
  3. Brewery List One of the things I thought was confusing is they seperated the brewery, the bistro, visit and the find pages. So I am consolidating them into one page. Called Visit or Locations. Brewery also has redundant links andalso irrelevant ones. Visit the Brewery and then there is a Visit link. See the soltution below.
  4. Bistro Tab?I found this most bizarre. With the information on hours of operation. It really makes everything look messy. Unity is key to a solid brand.
  5. Store TabThe shop will also be unified in the page and not so disfunctional like this. Again they have store hours? Why? and no hours for the rest of the other stores. Incositencey really makes this site look lazy and negelected.
  6. News section is not so bad. It's good to have relevant content. I will remove social network and keep most mandatory links
  7. The about section. I find this link bizarre cause there is no single page that desicrbes Stone or any history about the company. I will make this a main page. It will include job boards, team members and the stone finder.
  8. The visit page is one of the most important ones. This needs to be more organized. It iwll be a consolidation of the other three major links/pages. Hopefully this will clean it up.

Solution to Navbar and Sitemap

My goal was to clean up everything in the navigation bar. I hope that you will agree with my proposed solution. So what I did was streamline everything. I consolidated a lot of the links and pages into one and I made sure that there were no more repeated links.







Branding Layout

It the first thing you see. First impressions are everything especially if you are a business. UX is a big part of that impression. I made quick notes and marks of the homepage and also a proposed solution. The second template needs work as well but I will not have time to change that for thsi project.

The Problem

Here are the points of the sites poor usability. Great beer minds, great business model. But the site is stuck in a time capsule. Poor layout, navigation. I'm actually suprised that the text is readable compared to their second template which uses black background with white text.

My solution is a cleaner layout and common design patterns. No fuss. Just clean lines and proper placement. With the removal of the unecessary graphics. The brand stand out more.

Conclusion

I don't work at Stone nor do I know anyone who works there. It seems like they forgot to place any importance to their web presence and user experience. They do have other excellent looking sites like the Stone in Richmond and Stone Berlin. So why was this neglected? I don't know. They are hiring right now for an UI person so maybe this is the job for me! This site was definitely unplanned and it may have been passed from one designer to another cause it is not cohesive at all. I believe I have made some great improvements to the site.


Michael Novido | UI / UX Designer
mike@mikenovido.com | 858-414-5480

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