Scepter & Sword is a wine producer from one of the most promising winemaking regions in the US, the Columbia Valley in Washington state. Their website, courtesy of Workshop Built, is an extraordinary display of stunning architecture, unconventional navigation and jaw-dropping visuals.
Scepter & Sword website design is also much more than that. According to the agency who also built the winery’s entire brand positioning and visual identity, its mission is “building a wine-oriented, experiential platform to help inspire curiosity, provoke discussion and challenge perceptions around social equality while celebrating female empowerment.”
Bearing the winemaker’s core values and UVPs in mind, Workshop Built wanted to promote critical thinking and social change through an experiential web design that tells stories of female monarchs and empresses.
The resulting visually lush brand identity challenges all notions - both of conventional web design and gender roles. Bold imagery, horizontal scroll, big typography and a circular mouse cursor take a user on a journey that ends with captivating product pages featuring wine bottles of an outstanding design.
To better understand the role of female rulers throughout history and apply this to Scepter & Sword’s website design, the agency’s creative team referred to art museums and Post-Renaissance paintings with Queens as their subject matter.
Two outcomes ensued from this research: the eye-catching photo set of a Queen in painting-like, chiaroscuro style, with a few humorous easter eggs (see if you can locate the tablet/computer screen in one of the images) and the symbolical significance of a scepter that is used intensely in the brand’s imagery.
Most notably, the scepter is present on the wine bottle label’s design, upside down. So when the female model posing as a Queen holds the bottle by the neck, it appears as if she’s holding a scepter while sitting on her throne.
Explaining their choice of a scepter as a driving visual element, the agency remarks that the fact it’s not a common object today was “bound to inspire curiosity”. The gleaming pearls, gems and ornaments, silky tapestries, highly contrasting lights and deep colors create a beautiful interplay with large, white fonts and occasional black backdrops.
One of Scepter & Sword website’s unorthodox traits is horizontal scrolling - very rarely used, compared to the traditional, vertical scroll.
The visitor’s mouse cursor takes on a shape of a big circle with “Scroll to navigate” text when it’s not hovering over any clickable elements. The scrolling action starts moving in new images and textual content from the right in an uninterrupted and continuous flow.
The horizontal scroll’s most positive effect is that it makes it easier to follow the brand’s storytelling and user journey. Reading and retaining information sideways, as opposed from top to bottom, comes more naturally to humans.
The main menu is also uniquely positioned as a vertical bar on the left-hand side of the screen. When clicked, it opens across the entire screen, revealing more usage of striking fonts.
The agency behind the Scepter & Sword web design also conceived the stunning label design for the winemaker’s three wines dubbed “I, The Queen”: Red Wine blend, Rosé and Chardonnay.
Clicking through to the Shop page lists all three products (plus two others: a luxurious gift box and the upcoming “I, The King” line of wines) spectacularly. Each wine occupies the entire screen, with the animated image of a leaning bottle against the wine’s name in huge, white font.
For additional eye-candy points, each wine’s screen uses a color of the wine as a background.
Clicking on the “Show Wine” CTA button directs the user to the product page with two large images of flamboyant wine bottles on the left. On the right, product description, price and other relevant messaging supply necessary info for the shopper to make an informed buying decision.
The wine industry (driven by the character of its consumers) is more conservative and less inventive than, say, the beer market. Therefore, implementing risky strategies and reinventing the wheel can often backfire.
However, with the Scepter & Sword website design, Workshop Built made a wonderful job of it.
Starting from their own conclusive research which says that brands and labels are important for half of the wine shoppers in making purchase decisions, the agency created a full brand identity for this client. The website is the cherry on top.
In their own case study for this project, the creators state that:
“These insights told us that consumers were open to new offerings, that wine shopping is a bit of an adventure and that the big opportunities are likely going to brands that can stand out from the crowd.”
DesignRush believes that experiential web design such as this points the way to the future, and so our experts decorate Scepter & Sword with a new crown – the Best Website Design Award.