The entire website is displayed in one long, easy to navigate page. The content is organized into a six column grid; although it is more staggered than organized—but that is why this site is so much fun!
Although it is a very long page, finding your way through the site is not difficult at all. The navigation occupies the left-most column, however it stays in place no matter how far down a user is scrolled. When menu items are clicked, the page automatically scrolls in a quick but smooth motion, which is a nice touch that’s been seen somewhat recently on other sites, but works exceptionally well here.
The entire page is set to a dark gray background; however, the readability is not affected due to the wonderful type and color treatment. Starting at the top, visitors are greeted with a big, beautiful title set in Adobe Jenson, along with a photo of the wonderfully designed bottle on the right.
Each section of the website is dominated by large titles, also set in Adobe Jenson, through the use of CSS image replacement. The rest of the copy is set in either Times New Roman or Georgia, which once gain goes to show how accessible and elegant Times New Roman can be when used properly.
Moving down the page, bright and colorful photos are intertwined with each section. This is done superbly. The photos contrast nicely with the light text and the dark background, which makes for a nice change of pace while staring at a mostly dark design. Also notice how most of the photos have a green and yellow color to them. This reinforces a strong color scheme, but is also a sign of very good art direction. Too many random colors, especially in photographs, can be distracting—which this design definitely avoids.
Speaking of color, there is an additional color thrown in occasionally throughout the site: dark red. I can’t get over how perfect this color is for the design. It is used sparsely, mainly for a few small headings, but most notably is used as the background color for the pop-up section of the site called “Stockists.” The white text on an ever-so-slightly transparent dark red, all on top of dark gray, is lovely. Once again, the text is still readable despite the fact that white text on a red background typically brings a big strain to the eyes.
What I am most impressed with is the use of the grid. Text and photos are staggered throughout the entire site, but the placement of the content is so unconventional and unpredictable that one almost forgets that their is some sort of underlying structure. Pull quotes and photos of all sizes are located all over, whereas the actual copy is usually located in the second, third, fourth, and fifth columns. Whoever designed the site did an excellent job of designing around the content rather than copying and pasting the copy into a pre-defined column.
If anything, I’d like to see the wine bottles throughout the page photographed under better light. I’m also not a fan of the random gradient found in the section called “A Brief History of Wine.” The gradient doesn’t fit into the minimal design at all. Other than these few qualms, I don’t have anything negative to add.
The Black Estate Vineyard website is unique, interesting and beautiful. It’s certainly unlike anything I’ve seen in quite a long time. What do you think?Want more? Check out the archives for previous reviews, and don’t forget to subscribe for future reviews, posted weekly.