The Hill Farmstead team knew they needed a new website. Their original site had served them well but suffered from the passage of time, old technology, and the accumulation of years of content. It was difficult for fans to connect with the rich story and beers of Hill Farmstead. They needed some outside help.
In the fall of 2018, the Hill Farmstead team put out a request for a proposal aimed at working with an outside vendor to rebuild their website. The goal was to dramatically improve the user experience while highlighting the seven generations of heritage and tradition, expressing the unique sense of place for visitors, allowing their fans to better connect with their story, and finding all the information about their beers. In early December, Hill Farmstead selected Craftpeak to help them with this project. Our CEO, John Kelley, was the initial point of contact for this project and reflects on his first impression of the Hill Farmstead team:
“It was clear from our first interactions that the entire Hill Farmstead team held themselves to incredibly high standards. No detail is too small, and a compromise of quality at any level is unacceptable. It’s obvious why Hill Farmstead continually tops the list of the world’s best breweries.”
Data, Goals, and Creative Direction
The project presented some unique challenges from the start. Craftpeak worked closely with owner, Shaun Hill, assistant manager, Bob Montgomery, and designer, Alex Peltz, to hone the vision for the project. After a creative exploration period, they were able to coalesce in a direction that worked.
Corey Bullman, our Creative Director, explained: “We explored the analytics from the old website and pulled other data to help inform and reinforce the desired goals for this project. One of the biggest challenges was distilling down years of content to its essentials without losing the tradition and ethos that were core to the Hill Farmstead story. To be honest, it was a bit daunting. But once it started to come together, we were all excited by the direction it was taking.”
Visualizing a Beer’s Lineage
The next big challenge was tackling the best way to categorize and represent the nearly 300 unique beers in the Hill Farmstead lineup. A critical question: “how do you make it easy and interesting for people to find the information they are looking for in a particular beer without overwhelming them?”. Julien Melissas, our Technical Director, was up for the challenge:
“We have worked with batches, series, and vintages before for some of our other brewery customers, but the concept of beers linked through a detailed ancestral lineage was a new challenge for us.”
“Bob and I worked back and forth for weeks with the rest of the HF team to collect and refine the styles, ingredients, brewing techniques, and other attributes that would allow visitors to search the vast catalog of beers. We also developed a way to visualize and connect the lineage of beers so that they are all connected together. We are getting lots of great feedback from HF fans about this area of the site. We love with how it turned out, but this is just the current iteration. We are playing around with some more ideas for the future that will help further visualize this repertoire in a more interactive way, but for now, visitors have a comprehensive searchable library that includes almost every beer HF has ever produced.”
With the creative direction nailed down and the beer archive functionality figured out, it came down to content; it was up to our Content Director, Yvonne McKenna, to bring it all home.
“When working with craft breweries it can sometimes be a challenge to have enough (or the right) visual assets to build a stunning website”, Yvonne explains, “but this was not the case with Hill Farmstead. Bob, who is also a great photographer, had a vast catalog of images from the property over the years. We spent months reviewing and refining the image selection with Bob, helping select the best images, adding the right effects, and refining content so that everything would be as perfect as possible for the site launch. We knew HF fans would be passionate about seeing the new site, so we all wanted to try to create a great first impression.”
The much-anticipated launch of the new site occurred at the beginning of May to coincide with the brewery’s anniversary and the beginning of the busy summer season.
“We saw lots of site traffic right way, and just as we would expect from our passionate supporters, we got lots of spirited feedback,” recalls Bob Montgomery. “Some folks expressed how much they enjoyed the beer directory, and they were excited to finally have all the beers discoverable in one place.”
“The majority of the feedback has been really great,” said Corey. “It was fun to see the hard work and effort from the whole team (Hill Farmstead and Craftpeak) result in the accolades the launch received. Of course, some miss the old site, but we have some exciting ideas for the future — and we plan to win them over down the road.”
When we asked Hill Farmstead if they were happy with the final result, Bob expressed his enthusiasm and gratitude.
“Our experience working with Craftpeak has been outstanding. From creative collaboration to attentive, thoughtful management, we could not be more pleased with our relationship with the Craftpeak team. They are an essential element of our communication efforts with our guests and patrons, and we’re overwhelmingly confident in their ability to execute—and enhance—our digital front porch, which greets our guests and helps them explore this place we call home.”
See the results: https://hillfarmstead.com/